Patrons Are Threatening to Boycott Starbucks—Here's Why

The company is trying to set the record straight amid a flurry of upset customers.

No need to deny it: Many of us rely on coffee to get through every single day. For millions of people the world, there is only one place that can adequately satisfy such a caffeine addiction: Starbucks. But now, even the most loyal Starbucks patrons may have found themselves caught up in a damaging rumor circulating about the popular coffee chain. Many of these customers are now so upset they're even threatening to boycott the company. Read on to find out what has Starbucks patrons so fired up—and how the coffee chain is trying hard to set the record straight.

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Starbucks has been working on overhauling its operations.

starbucks logo in window
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Starbucks is seemingly on the cusp of a major overhaul, in part due to higher customer demand and burnt out workers, The Wall Street Journal reported. According to the newspaper, cafes that once averaged 1,200 orders a day are now trying to make 1,500 orders daily. At the same time, turnover is rising as workers have been pushing for better pay, staffing levels, and hours. Internal figures show that 1 in 4 U.S. baristas are quitting their jobs within 90 days now, which is a significant increase from roughly 1 in 10 previously.

Katie Young, Starbucks' senior vice president of global growth and development, told the WSJ that many U.S. locations need to be overhauled because while increased customer demand is a positive, it also brings about new problems. But they're still figuring out what new cafes should look like. According to the newspaper, Starbucks has been testing how to overhaul operations to improve the experience for both workers and patrons for more than a year now.

"It's the complexity of those cold beverages," Howard Schultz, who has served as both chairman and CEO of Starbucks several times since 1986, and took over again as an interim CEO in 2022, told the WSJ. "We will fix that. We will design new stores from scratch."

Some locations have recently announced that they're going cashless.

In the midst of calls for an overhaul of operations, some Starbucks stores have announced that they will no longer be accepting cash soon.

British political commentator Sophie Corcoran tweeted a photo on Aug. 29 of a "We're Going Cashless" sign in one of the coffee company's stores. "We will only be accepting card, contactless, [and] Starbucks rewards payments," the sign reads, indicating that the start date of the cashless initiative would be Oct. 1, 2022. "Please ask our team for further details."

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Patrons have threatened to boycott Starbucks over the policy.

A disposable coffee cup with the Starbucks franchise logo on it.
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On Aug. 30, a report from the Telegraph & Argus newspaper in the U.K. confirmed that this exact sign was posted in at least one Starbucks location in Bradford, England. But despite no confirmation of signs in other stores, several since-viral social media posts have implied that the policy is going into effect in locations across the U.K., U.S., and Canada, according to Reuters.

This rumor has prompted outrage. The sign from Corcoran's photo has already been re-posted on Twitter several times by other users, with additional comments such as "Please boycott @Starbucks" and "Time to boycott Starbucks!"

"Starbucks is going cashless from October. I will never buy from them again. If our cash is not good enough, boycott," one Twitter user wrote on Aug. 30. Another said, "Don't shop at Starbucks is the answer. Boycott this business and all other businesses who attempt to follow suit. Paying by card may be convenient and seem good but going cashless is bad in the long term."

But the coffee chain says it has "no plans" to establish a company-wide cashless policy.

A Starbucks employee hands a customer their change as businesses begin to reopen around the country in the wake of the Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic, Friday, May 8, 2020, in Louisville, Kentucky, United States.
iStock

Your local Starbucks is likely not going to stop accepting cash in October, however. A spokesperson for the company told Reuters that claims circulating in several countries that all Starbucks coffee locations are going cashless are false. "Starbucks has no plans to go cashless across our U.K., U.S. or Canada stores," the spokesperson told the news outlet.

It is likely that the sign only impacts a minority of U.K. locations, according to Reuters. The official Starbucks U.K. Twitter account explained that the coffee company operates "alongside various licensee business partners in the U.K.," and these partners may choose to go cashless—like the store in Bradford. The company said payment policies will vary from store to store, but the majority of locations will continue to offer cash as a payment option. "Starbucks has no plans to go cashless across our U.K. stores," the company tweeted.

Meanwhile, an official Starbucks customer support Twitter account for the U.S. and Canada confirmed on Aug. 29 that no stores in either country have kickstarted plans to stop accepting cash. "In the U.S. and Canada, we have made no announcement of going cashless," the Starbucks Care team replied to a customer. "Starbucks accepts cash."

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