An article by Business Insider (“This guy figured out a way to get free Starbucks every day — and it’s driving his barista crazy”) has quickly made the rounds on the Internet which takes from “Stories of Horrible Restaurant Customers, Part 1” on Kitchenette about a man who has, according to Starbuck’s employee Brad Halsey, found a (not so) clever way to get a daily Starbucks drink (or food item really) for $1, as that is the minimum load price to purchase a new Starbucks gift card for each day of the year.

starbucks hacks

Should Starbucks take action against improper freebie claims?

Confused yet? The very annoyed Starbuck’s barista puts it this way:

There is a man who comes to my Starbucks every single day and orders the most horrible drink in an infuriating way. He purchased 365 Starbucks cards and registered every one of them online with a different birthday so that he gets a “free birthday drink” EVERY DAY OF THE YEAR. Even though I know exactly how he “beat the system” there, he pretends that his app is just malfunctioning and it magically gives him the same free birthday drink every day. If he was a nice guy, I might not be so irritated. But he’s not a nice guy. …

Clearly there are several many ways to get free drinks and food at Starbucks. In fact, being a fan of ‘Buckies myself, I have complied My ULTIMATE Starbucks Tips List! 18+ Tips To Enjoy Starbucks And Save Money.

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However, in this guy’s case, has “Mr. X” learned how to “beat the system” as the article describes? Is this an ethical hack? Or is this over the line as an unethical hack or even worse a crime such as theft, fraud, or even burglary?

“Wait a minute,” you may say. “Burglary!? … How’s that?”

starbucks hacks

Did he hack Starbucks? Or did he commit theft, fraud, or burglary?

In general, an intentional or “planned” theft can meet the definition of a burglary, which typically carries a more serious punishment. Take Illinois as an example. Burglary and theft are defined as:

A person commits burglary when without authority he or she knowingly enters or without authority remains within a building, housetrailer, watercraft, aircraft, motor vehicle, railroad car, or any part thereof, with intent to commit therein a felony or theft. 720 ILCS 5/19-1(a).

A person commits theft when he or she knowingly: (1) Obtains or exerts unauthorized control over property of the owner; or (2) Obtains by deception control over property of the owner; … 720 ILCS 5/16-1(a).

So, did Mr. X hack Starbucks?
Or did he commit theft, fraud, or burglary? (Did he knowing enter the business with the intent to commit a theft?)
Or should Starbucks ban him from that store (and other local stores near him)?

I’m interested in your thoughts.


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Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.