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Glitch affects Starbucks pricing


A computer error caused Starbucks to overcharge some customers and forced the coffee giant to disclose a planned price increase.

In a brief statement released on the retailer’s corporate blog at about 8 p.m. ET Friday, July 1 and updated about 11 a.m. ET Saturday, July 2. Starbucks said a price adjustment was prematurely entered into the POS systems of U.S. company-owned stores. As a result, some customers were overcharged by as much as 30 cents for their beverages.

According to Starbucks, the error had been rectified as of the morning of July 2. The company is requesting any customer who believes they were overcharged contact its customer service department to rectify the situation.

Starbucks did not specify how long the error was in place or how many customers it thinks may have been affected by premature price increases. The company also did not elaborate on what products would have higher prices, or what the new prices will be. The blog post only stated that on July 12, Starbucks is planning a “small price increase on select beverages.”

Starbucks deserves kudos for directly admitting to the error (although the timing during the long July Fourth weekend may or not have been coincidental). Between the company’s honesty and the small amount of the overcharging, it is unlikely any lasting negative brand impact will occur.

What is of more concern for Starbucks is that both customers and rival coffee retailers now have advance notice of an upcoming price change. Small errors can have big consequences, and in an age of automation and connectivity, more small errors can happen more quickly than ever before, to enterprises of any size.
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