Since launching the Starbucks My rewards programme last week (5 January) Starbucks Facebook page has been inundated with complaints calling it “disappointing ” and “badly thought out”. Many have threatened to defect to rivals such as Costa, Pret a Manger and Nero.
Regular customers have complained that Starbucks card users no longer receive 50p off filter coffee, that an offer giving a free drink with the purchase of a bag of Starbucks ground coffee has been revoked and that the 50 stars necessary to retain “Gold membership” is too high, and more than the 30 stars required by US customers.
The chain is also facing criticism that the scheme only rewards the number of transactions, rather than the value, which means that customers buying multiple drinks in one transaction only receive one loyalty star, rather than one star per drink.
Starbucks concedes that while it is removing these offers, it has chosen to do so because the majority of customers are latte and cappuccino drinkers and only a small minority of its customers chose filter coffee, adding that the new scheme has been designed to reward all customers irrespective of what drink they chose.
A spokeswoman for Starbucks says: “We appreciate that a small number of customers on social media are being very vocal, in our stores we’re seeing a positive movement towards the My Rewards scheme and record traffic on our site for people registering cards and opting in to offers. by far, latte and cappuccino are our best sellers and only a small percentage of sales is filter coffee. The scheme looks at rewarding a lot more people than the previous niche offer.”
She adds that Starbucks will take feedback on board but could not say whether the 50p off filter coffee deal would be reinstated at a later date.
Starbucks is also answering questions via social media and that its store staff are well briefed to talk to customers about the details.
When asked by Marketing Week about early criticisms on Facebook as the UK programme launched, Brian Waring, Starbucks vice president of marketing for the EMEA region, insisted that “no one will lose benefits” because existing registered users will automatically become Gold members.
Waring also highlighted that the scheme “subtly” differs from the US scheme by rewarding frequency of visits to Starbucks above additional products to customise drinks.