Starbucks Freezes Internet Coupons

    September 1, 2006
    WebProNews Staff

A small campaign aimed at bringing iced coffee drinkers to Starbucks in the afternoons and evenings backfired when their coupons quickly multiplied online.

Iced drinks were a problem for Starbucks, particularly in the hot Southeast region of the US. Amazingly enough, people headed to work in the morning on 90+ degree days wanted no part of steaming hot espressos or similar drinks, opting for the cooler choices instead.

Those drinks take longer for the typical Starbucks barista to conjure up, and that led to long lines at stores as well as a drop in sales in July, according to an AP report.

Starbucks did just fine on the financial side anyway, with their most recent quarterly profits rising by 16 percent. Perhaps the giddiness of the profit increase along with meeting analyst expectations led the company to try to shift some of that interest in Frappuccinos to later periods in the day.

The company sent out an undisclosed number of coupons to a few employees in the Southeast. reported these coupons for free icy drinks quickly spread well beyond the handful of friends and family Starbucks anticipated. Copies of the coupons began showing up across North America in massive numbers.

Their report cited a comment from a customer service representative at Starbucks, who declined to be identified: “It snowballed and got out of hand. Starbucks had to put a stop to it.”

That meant stores had to post signs telling customers the coupons, listing an expiration date of September 30th, would not be honored at any Starbucks. Frappucinos and other iced drinks sell for $3 to $4 each normally, and a month of free drinks could have had some eventual impact.


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David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.