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Poor Starbucks: Free Coffee Deemed Illegal

When I read yesterday about Starbuck’s offering a free cup of coffee to anyone who would go into one of their shops and say they had voted, I thought: “What a neat and generous idea.” Appears though, such a thing is illegal. Poor Starbucks.

Prior to Monday afternoon, Starbucks was promoting an ad that said anyone who says enters a Starbucks on Election Day and says that they voted would get a free cup of tall coffee. RAW VIDEO: Starbucks’ Election Day Ad

Election officials for the state of Washington told KIRO 7 that rewarding voters with free coffee is illegal.”No good deed goes unpunished,” said Nick Handy, director of elections. Handy said there is a federal statute that prohibits any reward for voting.

So, Starbucks decided, We’ll give a cup of coffee to anyone who comes in on election day and asks for one.

Go! everyone. Vote, dash into the nearest Starbucks and claim a free tall cup.

Not going to vote, you say? Well, Starbucks has decided to give you a cup anyway, but do you deserve it?

What possible reason is there for not voting? I’d like to hear from you if you will not be voting today. We’ll be nice, and promise not to chew you up and spit you out!

EDIT: Seems there are other food outlets involved in the election day give-away.

MILWAUKEE -Americans will pick a new leader for the country on Tuesday, and will be able to pick up some free coffee, ice cream and other goodies too.
Starbucks Corp. is offering a free cup of brewed coffee to anyone who asks on Tuesday, while Krispy Kreme Doughnuts Inc. is giving away star-shaped doughnuts. Ice cream maker Ben and Jerry’s is offering a free scoop as part of a celebration of the election.
Seattle-based Starbucks had originally planned to give away the “tall” brewed coffees to anyone who reported that they voted, saying in an ad: “If you care enough to vote, we care enough to give you a free cup of coffee.”
The company broadened its offer to all customers to ensure it was in compliance with election law, spokeswoman Tara Darrow said Monday evening.
“We hope there is a record turnout on Tuesday and look forward to celebrating with our customers over a great cup of coffee,” she said in a statement.
David Ammons, spokesman for the state elections division of Washington state, had said earlier that a promotion tied to whether people voted could be construed as rewarding someone for voting and could violate federal and state law. He said the state’s attorney general’s office contacted Starbucks about the issue on Monday.
Source AOL News
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Court Orders Starbucks to Pay One Million Dollars

In a file phnoto customers wait for their orders inside a Starbuck's coffee house Thursday, Nov. 17, 2005, in Alameda, Calif.  A Superior Court judge on Thursday, March 20, 2008,  ordered Starbucks Corp. to pay its California baristas more than $100 million in back tips and interest that the coffee chain paid to shift supervisors.    (AP Photo/Ben Margot/file)

A few weeks ago, here on this site, we got to talking about tipping–and during that conversation someone brought up the subject of dropping tips into containers in such places as Starbucks, where, beyond the preparation of the product, little service is given. Well, it seems Starbucks has got themselves into a bit of a bind–at least in one court in California–for the tips have not been going to the barristas, but management has been giving the tips to supervisors. And that appears to be illegal.

SAN DIEGO — A Superior Court judge on Thursday ordered Starbucks Corp. to pay its California baristas more than $100 million in back tips and interest that the coffee chain paid to shift supervisors.

San Diego Superior Court Judge Patricia Cowett also issued an injunction that prevents Starbucks’ shift supervisors from sharing in future tips, saying state law prohibits managers and supervisors from sharing in employee gratuities.

All the details are here and here.

Although I tip well in a restaurant or a hotel, I don’t usually leave a tip in this kind of place, for I don’t feel I am being served–I pick up my own coffee, take it to the table, clean up and so on. I really never considered that the barristas had to count on tips to earn a fair wage. I think I resent that, for these drinks are already pricey to begin with, and I believe Starbucks and other such companies should pay their workers an adequate wage. Someone is making lots of money.

Well, because of this ruling Starbuck’s barristas will get some money back, but by the time the attorneys get their fees for this class-action suit, there will be little left.


My devotional blog is here.

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McDonald’s Takes on Starbucks

McDonald’s will soon be going toe-to-toe with cofee giant Starbucks. The fast food king plans on rolling out high-end bars in all of its restaurants starting in 2009. AP
NEW YORK (CBS) ― Now that we’re all used to paying $3 for a cup of coffee, one of the biggest names in fast food is jumping on the chuck wagon.
I recall my first truly great cup of coffee. Jerry and I were in New York City, and were walking either to the Metropolitan Museum of Art or returning from it, when we turned into the plush coffee shop of a small, but elegant hotel. It was a fine moment, for I had never tasted such coffee. It was hot, bold and smooth. The ambience was perfect.
A very good cup of coffee is important to me. One of the things I quite enjoyed about the Radisson in Tucson was the coffee they served at breakfast. It was so tasty, I commented to the waitress.
“It’s Starbucks,” she said. “Starbuck’s Special Blend.” It was excellent.
Now here comes McDonald’s promising us a fine cup at 60 to 80 cents cheaper than Starbucks. Bring it on!
EDIT Wednesday January 7: In response to Von De Leigh’s comment, I am creating a link to an article I wrote in 2006 concerning the ambience in one Starbuck’s place.
My devotional blog is here.