Starbucks Gold (Black) Card - $25 to them, Not to You

Just call me stupid for being sucked into an ingenius marketing promotion without reading the small print. I recently purchased the Starbucks Gold card, which is actually black, for $25.00. Thinking $25.00 would also go on the card as a credit, just like the non-black/gold cards. WRONG. I bought it because I was willing to give Starbucks the use of my money, interest free, in exchange for their keeping me as a customer and my loyalty would earn me a 10% discount. Seems like a win-win to me. I don't stray to Peet's and they pay me for my loyalty while using my money now. WRONG.

So, I am now the proud owner of this very prestigious Starbucks Gold Card - with zero balance. Moreover, I just read (now I read) that this is an annual fee! Are you kidding me? What do they think I plan to do with their card, show it to my envious friends. Flash it before purchasing a cup of coffee looking around for applause? Now, I could live with this if say 50% went to saving the environment, or providing clean water to a third world nation. But, being suckered out of $25.00 for a plastic card worth maybe $0.15? Every year? No.

Call it buyers' remorse. Call it slick marketing with a huge ROI. Call it just plain dumb. Ok, I take full responsibility. No one threatened me with hot pot of coffee or a 20 minute wait for a cup of Joe. It's all my fault and I am not blaming Starbucks, or the cashier. I just wanted you to know that the initial $25.00 you pay for this coffee debit card, goes to Starbucks, not to you.

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Tags: card, gold, starbucks


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Comment by Brian Webster on January 1, 2010 at 8:44pm
It is New Years Day 2010 and I just opened my mail from Starbucks telling me the are automatically switching me from my Black gold card program to their new Gold gold card program. I was happy to pay $25 originally to join. I knew it was a one time fee to get their 10% discount on all my purchases and I knew I spend Over $1,000 a year at Starbucks. So for me it was a good deal. I can't find any reference to the 10% discount on this new thing they sent me - just one free drink for every time I get 15 purchases - called 15 stars. My average workday morning coffee & pastry purchase is $3.80. So it looks like every 15 days I will spend $57. and get a free $2.00 coffee instead of a $5.70 / 10% discount. I like the original deal better. It was good $25 investment for me.

Comment by Keith Bernhardt on May 30, 2009 at 3:04am
Does anyone know if they're still using this ?

Comment by Paul Paz on March 13, 2009 at 12:10am
Hilarious that the "Head Hog at the Trough" for FOHBOH is just as gullible as the average "Joe" by not reading the fine print.
Comment by Leslie Howard on March 11, 2009 at 10:26am
I must admit that I was laughing a little while reading this story. I guess you could say that I was laughing because of my own past experiances. It's a shame that we can't take companies at face value anymore. Thanks for sharing a story that will make us a little more aware.
Comment by Patrick O on March 10, 2009 at 11:33am
It appears to be a great ploy at raising much needed cash due to dwindling sales margins, closing of stores as well as lost market share.
Up here in Canada, Tim Horton's has a one to two block line up for their coffee, Starbucks, one to two cars. Oh yes, did I mention the cost of a Tim Horton's large double/double...$1.49 versus the extreme $3+ at Starbucks.
But look at the bright side Michael (if there is one), you just bought yourself something that you could sell on E-Bay in a few years.
Comment by John Dumbrille on March 10, 2009 at 8:03am
Starbucks has been a great exponent of long tail marketing - even now there is a conspicuous/prestige market, and Starbucks wants this segment, too. But backlash suggests that, in tough times, companies can't be richly segmented and value free.
Any initiative counter to the real, value-conscious direction that we are headed in can backfire, like this black card, on this post. Interesting NY times story...

Comment by Keith Bernhardt on March 10, 2009 at 7:40am
Apparently, they're pretty proud of this "loyalyty card".

I'm with Christopher, I'll bet there will be several folks at Starbuck's who will say there is
no balance on the card.
Comment by Christopher Adams on March 9, 2009 at 1:41pm
I had to go to the site ad figure out what this is supposed to be for - the idea just seems crazy. Apparently this is for people who REALLY like Starbucks, so you get that prestige, I guess.

"What's That?"
"My gold/black Starbuck's Card"
"What's it for?"
"Oh, I'm not supposed to talk about it. Can I have a double-tall harmless to go please?"

So, the math. $25 investment gets you a birthday drink ($4) and another when you buy the card (we're up to $8). The 10% discount means you card is paid for in 48.5 visits at $3.50 per visit. After that . . . .gravy baby.

Still, it seems like one more thing to manage in life.

I can't help but wonder how many baristas are going to swipe your exclusive card and tell you "there is nothing left on this one".
Comment by Christopher Adams on March 9, 2009 at 1:24pm
Michael, I will give you $3.00 for it!?




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