Agreed Starbucks is not an airline or a hotel chain. But they recently re-launched their Rewards program. So, it falls under the scope of my coverage of Loyalty Programs. Anyways, its my blog and I want to write (read rant) about this. Also, as a traveler, Starbucks has become a staple of my travel routine. They are ubiquitous and there are very few airports and even hotels out there that do not have a Starbucks in them. Washington National (DCA) is one of the few Starbucks-free airport I go thru.
Participating in Starbucks program is pretty easy and straightforward. All you have to do is buy a Starbucks Gift card, any card, load it with some cash, register it online on Starbucks website and you are good to go. Everytime you swipe the card, you get a ‘Star’. Rewards, the measly ones you do get, are based on the number of stars you earn. You have to use that registered card to make purchases. There is no account number to give to get credit for the purchase if you pay cash. There is no way to get retroactive credit. You can register more than one card to your account.
You get one Star per swipe, irrespective of the amount you are charging. One Star for a single ‘Tall drip’ or five ‘Venti de-caf double half caf, with a twist of lemon‘ (Ok, that’s Steve Martin’s order in LA Story, but Starbucks now says I have have my order ‘My Way’). So, next time you are paying for multiple cups, have them charge you individually for each cup and get all the Stars. Re-charging the card can be done at any Starbucks store (even with cash) or can be done online with a credit or debit card.
There are three levels out there. Everyone starts at ‘Welcome’. Five Stars makes you a Green. 30 stars makes you Gold. Once you are a Gold, you need to earn another 30 stars to requalify Gold for another year. Pretty straightforward. Stars and levels expire every year.
Here is where I was totally unimpressed. I mean, why bother. I get better rewards (a free cup of any coffee beverage after every 10 purchased) at the Deli down the street. They give everyone a card and they punch it everytime you buy any coffee beverage. Really, they need to hire some creative people up there in Seattle to come up with something that would make me want to strive to achieve. Here are the rewards at different levels.
- A Free Beverage on Your Birthday
- Free Wi-Fi – Up to 2 Hours a Day
All the ones from Welcome level and:
- Free Beverage Customization
- Free Brewed Coffee or Tea Refills with Each Visit
- Free Tall Beverage with Whole Bean Purchase
- Free Trial Offers
- All the ones from Welcome and Green levels and:
- Free Drink Every 15 Stars
- Personalized Gold Card (got mine last week)
- Personalized Offers and Coupons
Whoopee, I am 3 stars away from my next free Latte. I get another free one on my Birthday. Yawn! The only redeeming part is the free WiFi. But then again, other coffee shops like Panera Bread and even some McDonalds have free WiFi for any customer, irrespective of their ‘Elite’ level or how many cups of coffee they have purchased in the past. Furthermore, Starbucks just announced that all WiFi will be free in all cafes starting July 1st. So, that benefit is also not a benefit anymore either.
Starbucks really needs to ‘Venti-up’ their rewards program or do away with it all together.