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Starbucks Giveth, Starbucks Taketh Away...

Quirk

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Extra 8/30/2006 11:04 AM ET

Starbucks yanks free-coffee deal

A widely posted employee promotion becomes a little bit too successful for the coffee chain.

By MSN Money staff with wires

The free-coffee tap is getting turned off.

Starbucks (SBUX, news, msgs) announced on Tuesday that it was withdrawing an offer of free iced coffee to a limited number of employees and their friends and families in the southeastern United States.

In a statement, Starbucks said the offer "has been redistributed beyond the original intent and modified beyond Starbucks' control."

The company said an e-mail offering a free Starbucks iced coffee was sent to a limited group of employees in the southeast on August 23, with instructions to forward it to friends and family.

But apparently the promotional coupon, which was widely posted on the Web, was a little bit too successful: Starbucks said on Tuesday that, effective immediately, the offer would no longer be valid at any Starbucks locations.

In July, Starbucks posted its weakest monthly same-store sales increase since 2001, saying heavy demand for cold drinks like Frappuccinos slowed service during busy morning hours, prompting customers to go elsewhere for their daily jolt.

The ubiquitous coffee chain, which is facing stepped-up competition from rivals and slower sales growth at established stores, has been making an aggressive push this fall to remind consumers who is king when it comes to coffee.

The company earlier this week said that in addition to its usual array of seasonal drinks and coffee blends, it will be holding coffee tastings at its North American stores and will launch a series of podcasts about coffee on its Web site.The aim is to focus its marketing on what Starbucks says is the quality of its coffee -- something the chain said is key to set itself apart from anyone else hawking a cup of joe.

"We know that because of the level of care and passion we put into it that it translates to a better experience for our customers than our competitors can do," said Jim Alling, the head of Starbucks' flagship U.S. business.

In recent months, fast-food chain McDonald's Corp. has made a strong push to promote its new coffee blend and rival coffee shop chain Dunkin' Donuts has launched a new advertising campaign as it seeks to expand its business into the Starbucks-heavy Western United States.
What do you think of this? Bad planning on Starbucks' part? Or did employees abuse the original intent of the promotion?
 

lawyerdad

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Originally Posted by Quirk
What do you think of this? Bad planning on Starbucks' part? Or did employees abuse the original intent of the promotion?
I'd say both. Hasn't anybody in Starbucks management seen the frenzy that ensues when an SF member gets a CT or Polo discount code?
 

Quirk

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Originally Posted by lawyerdad
I'd say both. Hasn't anybody in Starbucks management seen the frenzy that ensues when an SF member gets a CT or Polo discount code?

The coupons should have read "Bearer must provide notarized proof that he/she is no more than two (2) degrees of separation from a current full-time Starbucks employee."
 

colin_

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Eh. For some reason Starbucks coffee makes me ill..
 

JBZ

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Originally Posted by DocHolliday
Makes me think of STP's crackdown on discount codes/shipping riddles. You'd think companies would learn their lesson -- don't be messin' with the Internet.

That's the thing. The internet and email are great for a lot of things, and many companies have used them to do some pretty innovative stuff. However, an offer like this, when distributed online, is always going to get abused. Starbucks should have handed out the old tried and true paper coupons (say ten per employee or something like that). Would have avoided all of this.
 

stach

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I've always thought their coffee was bad.
 

montecristo#4

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I love Starbucks coffee.

I had the coupon forwarded it to me and it was so obviously a hoax that I went in to Starbucks and asked them about it. They actually offered to honor it, but I told them I didn't want them to if it wasn't for real.
 

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