Starbucks: Ya Can't Win for Losin'

During election day, Starbucks was offering a free coffee to anyone who voted.

Sounded pretty patriotic to me! Except for me, I voted in the afternoon and coffee and me are just not the best match up in the latter part of the day.

But the spin was if you voted, you can have a free coffee.

Oops. Offering up a freebie in this fashion can be considered illegal, under election laws, regardless of the product or offer. It could be considered a "buy-a-vote" scam. (At this point, I'm shaking my head at the technicality of it all... as it gets absurd.)

Bottom Line, there is a federal statute that prohibits any reward for voting. Obviously the intent of the law is pointed at special interest groups who try to influence who and how people vote.

This recent free-offer effort comes on the heels of Starbucks first ever quarterly loss in over 16 years... wow... that's a long running profit schedule. We are addicted to our coffee, aren't we? They were hoping to drive more traffic to their stores, get them back in the door and possibly reinvigorate sales.


As it turned out, when Starbucks learned of the issue, they converted their offer so instead of all voters, the free coffee was to everyone.

A statement from Tara Darrow of Starbucks says,

"We've been excited by the number of positive responses received about our free coffee offer. To ensure we are in compliance with election law, we are extending our offer to all customers who request a tall brewed coffee. We're pleased to honor our commitment to communities on this important Election Day. We hope there is a record turnout on Tuesday and look forward to celebrating with our customers over a great cup of coffee."