Some said the deal was too good to be true, and in the end, they were right.

After a week of giving away free iced coffee, Starbucks has canceled the coupons that made it all possible.


The bonanza started last Wednesday with an e-mail to some employees in the Southeast, who were encouraged to forward friends and family a coupon for a free grande iced beverage.

And forward it they did.

Within a week, the coupon had made the rounds on e-mail, blogs and Web sites such as Many doubted it was real, and some recounted tales of coupons not being honored.

But enough coupons were honored to get Starbucks’ attention. The jig was up Tuesday night, when the Seattle-based coffee giant issued a news release canceling the offer immediately, even though the coupons carry a Sept. 30 expiration date.

The release said the offer had been “redistributed beyond the original intent and modified beyond Starbucks control.” A spokeswoman declined to elaborate.

It is not clear why Starbucks launched the promotion, but it would be interesting to know whether the coupons, good from noon to 9 p.m., shifted demand for iced beverages from mornings to the afternoon.

Starbucks has blamed its lackluster July sales figures on high demand for iced beverages during peak morning hours, a quandary that led to longer wait times.

August sales figures come out Thursday.

Elizabeth Hoogs of Seattle wasn’t too disappointed about the demise of the coupon, which she learned was invalid just moments after it appeared in her in-box on Wednesday morning.

“I don’t even like Starbucks, but I would’ve gone if I had a free coupon,” she said.



  1. 1 Ed August 4, 2008 at 4:45 am

    Didn’t Starbucks have a similar promotion done two years ago where they had to stop it also? They really have to have control numbers on these promotions…a similar thing happened here in the Philippines too with Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf. We got to print out the coupon without voting on their site. When they noticed that a lot were getting free drinks, they had to change their rules in the middle lol Nice post..I’d be linking a post to your site..:)

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