Starbucks just lost a small source of income, thanks to a chance purchase this August by Barbara Anthony, who happens to be the undersecretary of consumer affairs for the Massachusetts Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation.
Anthony purchased a partial bag of coffee beans at a Starbucks and was dismayed to find that she was charged an extra $1.50 that wasn’t mentioned in the store itself or on her receipt, the Associated Press reports. So her office got to work and discovered that this wasn’t an isolated incident. It was happening across Massachusetts. Anthony asked friends and relatives to inquire about the surcharge in other states; sure enough, it was lurking elsewhere, too.
“People have the right to know how much they are paying for a commodity,” Anthony told the AP. As a result, the state of Massachusetts fined Starbucks $1,575 for overcharge violations at five stores, prompting Starbucks to abolish the practice nationwide on Nov. 7.
The Seattle-based coffee company justified the surcharge was “to cover the extra labor and packaging” involved when employees need to break open the presealed one-pound bags and measure out a lesser amount for consumers. The decision to stop dinging customers comes as the coffee giant rolls out its new holiday campaign.
Starbucks is introducing a new mobile app, Starbucks Cup Magic, that allows holiday characters on the company’s cups and bags to “come to life” via the app (available today in the iTunes and Android app stores), described as: “From carolers singing holiday tunes, to an ice skater practicing her spins, to a boy and his dog having a wonderful time sledding down a hill, the Starbucks Cup Magic app allows customers to interact with Starbucks characters in a festive and fun way.”
How it works: "Use the app to find and scan all five Starbucks Holiday Characters — on Red Cups, Christmas Blend bags, in-store and more — and watch as they magically come to life through augmented reality on your mobile device."
If that doesn’t bring you enough good cheer, Starbucks is also bring back some wintertime flavors: Peppermint Mocha, Gingerbread Latte, Eggnog Latte, and Caramel Brulée Latte, and, hold onto your espresso tamper, the brand new Skinny Peppermint Mocha, which the company claims is “much anticipated.” The drink’s genesis actually comes from the My Starbucks Idea customer crowdsourcing platform.
Starbucks is also looking to cash in on Thanksgiving lovers with the release of its own Thanksgiving Blend. The company says the flavor was “created to go perfectly with stuffing and pumpkin pie” and is available only in the United States, but missed the opportunity to test it in Canada for its Thanksgiving celebration last month.
The Seattle-based chain is also trotting out a holiday-music CD with swinging tunes by fellow Pacific Northwesters — Portland, Oregon’s acclaimed Pink Martini — for an aural dose of holiday cheer.