Some Starbucks customers would like to give him a cup. In the United States, the American coffee chain is accused by a consumer rights group of having deceived its customers via its payments application.
For several years, Starbucks coffee drinkers have gotten into the habit of paying for their coffee using their cell phone. To facilitate their ordering, the American giant has set up a mobile application with a rechargeable account. To those who use it, Starbucks promises free coffees or birthday gifts.
But the application would hide a darker side. In a fifteen-page complaint, the Washington Consumer Protection Coalition, a consumer defense association in Washington state, accuses Starbucks of rigging its mobile application to prevent its customers from using their entire balance. “Consumers say they are trapped in a strange cycle,” notes the association in a press release published on December 20.
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In its press release, the association denounces two misleading practices for consumers. The first is to encourage customers to reload their account with a minimum amount of 10 dollars while offering by default to replenish their balance by 25 dollars. The second consists of limiting the tips that can be made from the application. As a result, many customers forget or leave a few dollars on their application in desperation. Like small streams make big rivers, these different techniques would have allowed Starbucks to amass nearly 900 million dollars (825 million euros) unclaimed over the last five years, according to the consumer association.
Faced with these accusations, the group based in Seattle (Washington State) defended itself from any deception. “The Starbucks app is the easiest way for customers to find a nearby store, check opening hours, order ahead and use contactless payment,” said a spokesperson. word from Starbucks to the American media Business Insider. The company also stressed that it would help customers if they accidentally added the wrong amount of money to their Starbucks card.