Starbucks' decision to charge customers for syrups and soy milk has stirred up a frothy latté of angry customers. In fact, one petition on Change.org has nearly 2,000 signatures asking the company to not charge Gold Card Rewards members for the extras.
"[Starbucks'] Gold card was great because it rewarded people on a daily basis for supporting them. Now, with the new card changes, there is no reward, and no benefit," said the petiton's author, Chris Hansen of Huntington Beach, Calif. Hansen visits Starbucks daily to get a Venti iced coffee with soy, vanilla and caramel but said he'll go less frequently when the charges take effect on Oct. 16.
"The most ridiculous part for me is that after all this time of having a cool benefit, Starbucks wants to now charge customers more if they're vegan or lactose intolerant or just like soy milk better," Hansen said.
Twitter users are also calling out the chain. Laura Yasinitsy writes: "@VeganCapitalist @starbucks I can't believe they're charging. Major letdown. Booooooo!!!!"
Another Starbucks follower — @TiraStrategies — writes "Just found out that #Starbucks is now charging rewards members for soy milk in drinks. I'm fighting back. #boycottstarbucks"
And another — @scooperrr — "I will not return to @Starbucks until they stop charging extra for soy. #standup #vegansunite"
Hansen is confident that if enough Starbucks fans speak up, they can change the company's mind.
"Customers were able to convince Starbucks to stop using crushed up bugs in some products; I know we can get them to reconsider on this decision too," he said.
Starbucks doesn't seem interested in changing its mind, however. A spokesman from the company wrote in an email to FastCasual.com that the chain routinely evaluates its service levels and strives to provide the most relevant and the most requested benefits based on customer feedback.
"We understand that our customers want to receive the highest level of benefits from Starbucks, which includes free drinks and food faster and digital rewards," he wrote. "As we strive to provide the best benefits to the greatest number of customers, we realize there will be some trade-offs."
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Cherryh Butler has been a reporter for nearly 10 years, writing on a variety of topics ranging from the restaurant industry to business and health and fitness news. Before joining FastCasual.com as editor, she oversaw KioskMarketplace.com and PizzaMarketplace.com and contributed to RetailCustomerExperience.com. She's also written for several daily newspapers, magazines and websites, including The Kansas City Star and American Fitness magazine.