Friday, April 29, 2016

Starbuck Again

Update II.-- It turns out the old reward was there after all. The barista today found it when I asked about it, and she discovered you have to enter in the account code twice for the old reward, the first to use earned stars, which the barista did Sunday, and again to see if any old reward(s) were still there, which is was, so I used it.

Kudos goes to both the barista Monday who gave me the free drink and coupon, and the barista today who found the old reward. Since I've used the last to the old rewards, it's now just adding to the stars I earn, all 4 with my Doppio con Panna.

I still haven't gotten Spotify to work on the Starbucks app. It's supposed to show what's playing at Starbucks with your location. It worked before, then didn't work and now after the latest release, still doesn't work. Or, as usual, I'm missing something.

Update.--Yesterday (Sunday) I went to the local Starbucks for the 3 newspapers I buy and I used one reward I had left under the old rewards system, keeping the one (125 stars) I have under the new system. But when I checked my Starbucks this morning for my normal coffee, both rewards were gone, the old missing and my stars reset to 34, the amount I had accured above 125.

The barista explained the barista likely coded in using the stars instead of the old reward but the system used both. Since correcting this would incur another round with Starbucks reps, which I've given up hearing the same story, the barita gave me a free drink and a coupon for some stars.

I'll take it so I don't have to deal their reps again in endless e-mails, which always results, eventually, in them giving me stars or credit, but not worth the hassle anymore. It's clear their system still has problems, which eats customers rewards and stars.

Original Post.-- I wrote about my experience with Starbucks and their new rewards system and iPbone app.  They switched from using visits and purchases to count stars for rewards (free drink(s)) to how much the customer spends, which turns out the break even point is $5, just more than the normal 12 oz drink.

But the majority of customers buy a larger drink or a drink and food, which costs them from $6-10, and where they'll earn more stars and rewards sooner. Folks like me who buy just a regular coffee or a $2 espresso drink lose in the deal where it takes 2.5 times more purchases to earn a reward as before.

That's enough for me not to care about rewards with them anymore. I'll still buy my Doppio con Panna (own cup which gives a 10-cent discount) and use the two rewards and have and the rest whenever I get them. My other complaint was their new system with the new app.

To put it mildly, the app sucks for design and user friendliness. and it was plagued with problems from day one. It lost a reward I earned on the day of the rollout, and they never credited me for it, but gave me 50 starts and a $5 credit on my account.

After that the app kept losing Spotify. I only turn location services on when I use the app, which is almost always when I'm at a Starbucks so they can't track me more than what cafes I visit. In addition the dashboard, the open space for messages, receipts, etc. was always blank except for "Caught up."

They released an update recently which fixed some of the issues, but left one confusing one. The stars are supposed to count to 125 and then credit you with a reward. Except they changed it so the stars just keep adding up and you cash in the stars when and after you reach 125 stars.

In additon they changed the rewards from a 30-day expiration period to a 6-month expiration period for the stars, meaning, as I understand their explanation, the stars will reduce when the oldest reaches 6 months, and continues there after.

So it's use them or lose them. Now that I know that I'll work from there. Since I only use the rewards for occasional special drinks, usually mochas, it's not that important to me anymore. I buy my mochas as other cafes in Tacoma or Gig Harbor, or on trips in Seattle, where they're better and often cheaper, some with better customer rewards programs.

And where pray tell are these cafes? Well there are four excellent local ones, three in Tacoma and one in Gig Harbor (this is correction from the previous entry about these because I forgot one). The best is the Diversions Cafe on the University of Puget Sound campus. And it about a buck and a half cheaper.

The others are a tie. The cafe in the Metropolitan Market in Proctor neighborhood is great and they have a card, buy 12 get 1 free. The other is the Spar Cafe next door to the Spar Pub in Old Town. Great everything about it and it's better than the Starbucks across the street.

The last is the Cutters Point cafe in Gig Harbor just down from Fred Meyer Market. There are two other Cutters Point in the immediate area, one in the Uptown Mall south of Safeway, and one in the Main and Vine Market next to the Starbucks I usually visit. These two are good, the former better, and both better than Starbucks.

So that's the story to date. Starbucks is still the cafe for my turnaround on my morning 6-mile walk but that's about the extent of my business with them anymore, except to use my rewards when I earn them. I'll buy my other coffee drinks at the cafes above.

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