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Photo via Flickr user Kate Haskell.
Photo via Flickr user Kate Haskell.

Loyal Starbucks customers are waking up to some frustrating news this morning.

The Seattle coffee giant is canceling Gold Card reward accounts of members over issues with its compliance policy. Scott King, a writer and photographer from Texas, told GeekWire that his membership card was canceled because Starbucks didn’t have proof that he was over 13 years old.

King spent spent 43 minutes on hold with Starbucks customer service this morning.

“I told the woman that they had my birthday because I get free drinks on my birthday and she didn’t have an answer, but insisted that it was nothing personal because several thousand people had their accounts canceled,” King noted.

Many others are having similar issues today:

Starbucks told King to start a new account, but he requested that the company do it for him. They agreed, and created a new rewards account for King with his previous balance and gave him his Gold status back, in addition to a $25 gift card. But he’s not happy.

“Now that’s its all said and done I’m really annoyed,” King said. “The whole thing was handled poorly and their age excuse doesn’t add up since my birthday was on file. I don’t know what happened, but I don’t believe the story I was told.”

Customers reach “Gold” status by spending a certain amount at Starbucks every year. Members earn discounts on drinks and food, in addition to other benefits.

GeekWire columnist Frank Catalano couldn’t figure out a way to edit his birthday year on his Starbucks Card profile, nor could he find out where the year was actually listed:


When I just registered for a card, Starbucks asked me for my birthday, but did not want to know my exact age:


We’ve reached out to Starbucks for more details and will update when we hear back.

Update, 11:10 a.m. — We just spoke with Starbucks spokesman Zack Hutson, who said it’s “normal course of doing business” when the company closes accounts that don’t comply with its terms of use.

Other than the age requirement, Starbucks has other rules that protects itself from fraud or deceptive practices. For example, the company may de-activate customers if they have more than one account.

But it appears that a majority of today’s cancelations are related to the age requirement of customers who are clearly at least 13 years old. Hutson said Starbucks can’t discuss individual customer accounts. He did note that those who have had an account de-activated will have their account balance refunded in the form of an e-gift, and if they are a “Gold” member, they can contact customer service to receive their status again.

“We recognize it’s an inconvenience but we do require accounts to be in compliance with terms of use in order to be active,” Hutson said.

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