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People Are Not Happy About Changes To The Starbucks Rewards Program

Small spenders expect to earn fewer points in the new program.

Posted on February 22, 2016, at 2:08 p.m. ET

Luiz Filipe Carneiro Machado / Via Flickr: luizfilipe

Starbucks announced Monday morning that starting in April, customers in the United States, Canada, and Puerto Rico who participate its rewards program will start earning points per dollar spent, and no longer per visit as in the current program.

The new system incentivizes higher spending and larger orders. Previously, customers earned one point, or "star" as they are called in the Starbucks system, per visit or transaction, and received a free food or drink item per 12 visits, no matter how much they spent. So if you ordered a $2 coffee every day, you could earn a reward after spending about $24.

Starting April, customers will earn two stars per dollar spent and will receive a free item only after accumulating 125 points, or spending more than $62.

Starbucks said it currently has about 11 million active rewards customers. Nationwide, its U.S. cafes receive 75 million customers each month.

Starbucks Global Chief Strategy Officer Matthew Ryan told investors this was "the number-one customer-requested update" and "as we switch the mechanics of the program, we are not using it as an opportunity to opaquely weaken the rewards proposition." He added that most customers spend about $5, and that "there are a small minority of people who would either be advantaged or disadvantaged" by the change.

That disadvantaged group, however, is not pleased.

Starbucks rewards program changes are bullshit IMO

Thanks @Starbucks for punishing those of us who enjoy regular black coffee. #rewards #stars #customerservice

The new @starbucks rewards system is bullshit. The fact that they said its what customers are requesting makes it worst and insulting.

@starbucksgold the new rewards program doesn't help the customers who come in and just buy a coffee...that's the majority of your customers

Not cool @Starbucks. Now I have to spend 3X as much to gain any rewards..... Sincerely, a tall dark roast drinker

@starbucksgold @KarlaPotterWho that's such a lie. Don't spin it like its customer based. BS its corporate greed based.

"If customers simply continue to engage as they currently do, instead of engaging more as we believe they will, the vast majority of our customers will earn rewards just as fast as or faster than they would today," a Starbucks spokesperson told BuzzFeed News.

Starbucks has been responding to consumer complaints on Twitter and Facebook.

Facebook / Via Facebook: Starbucks
Facebook / Via Facebook: Starbucks
Facebook / Via Facebook: Starbucks

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.