Starbucks' Customer Star Debt, Explained

There are plenty of companies out there with reward programs that offer perks if you spend a little at their locations. However, in a particularly peculiar case with mega coffee mainstay Starbucks, they have actually placed some customers' reward cards in the red. On April 24, a customer shared on Twitter that "Starbucks accidentally gave me enough stars for a free drink but they caught the error and now they're making me work off my star debt ... just big and greedy."

The user shared two distinct screenshots of their Starbucks Star balance, which actually displays a negative star balance. For those not in the know, Starbucks Reward members can earn a certain number of stars depending on how they choose to pay — for example, if you use your Starbucks Card you get 2 stars for every $1 spent — or through Promotional Bonus Star Offers and partnership programs. But how exactly did this reward member find themselves in star debt?

How this Starbucks customer went into star debt

To explain how this star debt debacle came about, Tasting Table reached out to Starbucks for an explanation of the situation. In response, Starbucks said that "On Saturday, April 22, a QR code for bonus Stars given to attendees at an in-person event spread online, going beyond the intended audience. The Stars redeemed through this code have been removed from ineligible accounts. We apologize for the inconvenience."

Some commenters to the customer's original tweet responded with their feelings toward his situation, as well as the recent changes to their rewards program, which upped the number of stars you need to redeem to get a free beverage or snack. One person said, "I hate Starbucks now. I used to go there multiple times a week. Now I go there if I'm on a vacation once every few months. So sick of them, raising price and taking away promotions, increasing star requirements." Another rewards member shared a similar story, "Same here! I got the 200 stars and got a drink and now I'm in star debt lmao." With many others in the same boat, only time will tell if Starbucks will take any further action with this grande decision on its loyalty members.