Starbucks is no longer giving away free drinks to customers who are unable to purchase their daily dose of caffeine-laced picker-upper after the coffee company fixed the computer glitch that affected thousands of stores in the U.S. and Canada.
Point-of-sale registers at Starbucks stores in the West Coast went down starting Friday afternoon followed by East Coast coffee shops seeing the same problem later on in the early evening, prompting Starbucks employees to give away free drinks to customers who couldn't pay for their orders. Around 7,000 stores in the U.S. and 1,000 in Canada were affected. Some Evolution Fresh stores and Teavana Tea Bar stores were also affected.
The outage, says Starbucks spokesperson Jim Olson, was due to a problem that occurred in the computer system during a regular system refresh. He was quick to say that it was purely an internal issue and not an external breach in Starbucks' computer system.
"Yes, it is true," Olson told CNNMoney. "The point of sale cash registers are down in the U.S. and Canada. It is not a hack. It happened during a typical daily menu refresh on the system. Something went wrong and they are working as quickly as possible to get them up."
Several Starbucks stars took the service interruption as a PR opportunity by giving away free drinks to customers whose orders they were unable to process. However, not all stores did it the same way. In one Starbucks store in Hollywood, baristas were giving away all kinds of orders in all quantities, but other stores were limiting their give-aways to tall drinks and requiring cash for food purchases. Others only gave drinks to customers who ordered on the Starbucks app, and other stores closed up shop.
"I have a sleeping baby in the back and I'm waiting for a prescription," one customer who was unable to get her coffee complained. "I wanted a coffee! I'm bummed!"
However, no customers will be grumbling now as Starbucks has fixed its computer system. All point-of-sale registers are now working again, and all Starbucks stores are back in operation on Saturday.
"The point of register outage has been resolved and all Starbucks stores in the U.S. and Canada are expected to open for business as usual on Saturday, April 25," Starbucks said. "We apologize to our customers for this inconvenience. Evolution Fresh and Teavana Tea Bar stores are also expected to open as scheduled on Saturday."
Photo: Marco Paköeningrat | Flickr