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Starbucks sued

Posted in Business + Economy, Law + Social Policy by expresscheckout on 14 September, 2006

Starbucks in London, 2003

Starbucks sued for pulling offer 
By Stuart Cohen
BBC News, Washington
September 14, 2006

A Starbucks customer in the US who was told her free drink voucher was worthless is launching a $114m (£60m) lawsuit against the coffee colossus.

Starbucks pulled the free drink offer, saying it had been redistributed beyond its original intent. The woman’s lawyer says $114m equals the cost of drinks for all those turned away when the company decided to cancel its offer. He hopes millions of other disappointed customers will join the legal effort.

The company originally e-mailed the offer to employees in the south-east of the US, with instructions to forward it to family and friends. Like many popular things on the internet, the e-mail quickly got out of control, being forwarded to perhaps millions of people around the country and posted on websites. When Starbucks realised how many people were coming in for their free drink, it rescinded the offer.

McDonald’s case

But one customer in New York city felt so betrayed she approached a lawyer. He is accusing the company of fraud and is requesting class-action status for the lawsuit, hoping to sign-up countless others around the country who also missed out on their free drink. Legal experts do not think the case has much chance of winning.

Nevertheless, many are comparing it to the infamous McDonald’s coffee lawsuit a decade ago. In that case, the hamburger restaurant was sued by a woman who scalded herself after spilling a hot cup of coffee. She claimed McDonald’s made their coffee too hot. The company lost and was ordered to pay nearly $3m in damages.

Now, coffee cups from McDonald’s, Starbucks and other companies in the US carry a warning label similar to cigarette packages, saying that the beverage could cause injury if not consumed properly.

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