Starbucks Accused of Rigging Payments in App for Nearly $900 Million Gain Over 5 Years by Consumer Watchdog Group

Starbucks is facing criticism from the Washington Consumer Protection Coalition for allegedly exploiting customers through its gift card and app payments, forcing them into a spending cycle where they cannot fully spend the remaining balance of prepaid amounts. The group claims that Starbucks rigs its payment platform to encourage consumers to leave unspent money on their cards and apps, resulting in Starbucks claiming nearly $900 million in unspent gift card and app money as corporate revenue over the last five years. Starbucks spokesperson Sam Jefferies stated that the company is committed to working with the State of Washington to ensure compliance with all state laws and regulations.

The complaint alleges that Starbucks’ mobile app and digital payment cards are akin to an “involuntary subscription,” with customers only reloading money in $5 increments, with a $10 minimum purchase. This prevents customers from reaching a zero balance, resulting in Starbucks pocketing more of their money. Starbucks disputes this, stating that customers can pay for their purchase with whatever money remains on the app or gift card, then pay the balance in cash at the store.

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