Why I don’t begrudge the instant Golds

Last week there were a few people on my Twitter timeline bemoaning the fact that, in a new January promotion, people could achieve Gold status at Starbucks by signing up and using their new card.

Now this is a travel blog primarily, but I thought it interesting that so many of the people talking about it were frequent flyers. I think this is down to 2 reasons:

  1. Travellers like the familiar when they are in new places. T geographer in me would call this “third-space” – it doesn’t matter where in the world you are, you can pop into Starbucks and get the same as you would at home.
  2. They have a nice app and you can earn points / status!

Normally this takes 50 stars – 1 earned per drink. The benefits of Gold include free extra shots, free syrups and free upgrades to their Origin espresso, all in addition to the free drink per 15 stars.

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I am a fully paid up member, and had qualified for Gold until February 2017 pretty early on last year.

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The trick for me was that I was using the Starbucks up the road as my afternoon office for the first 6 weeks of last year. I always had a small filter, as they will give you a free refill if you sit in. These are £1.75, so you will need to spend £87.50 on coffee to get your 50 stars. In reality, there are often bonus stars to be had so you may have to spend less. To find my account, I could have added £100 using my AmEx earning 150 Avios but there is a better way! Buying 100 of gift cards in Tesco earns 300 clubcard points, or 720 Avios which, coupled with the spend nets 870 Avios. You would also have earned at least 3 free drinks, which it makes sense to go mad with extra shots and flavours!

But what about all these people jumping in and getting this for free? Do I not feel that they are cheating and that my efforts have been undermined? Not really, and here is why.

I’ve written before about status matching, and have benefitted from it by now having mid-level status with Star Alliance, Sky Team from my BA Silver, and Hilton Diamond from my IHG Platinum. Without the match, I wouldn’t have them, so I can’t begrudge others getting comped status. Having status with Hilton won’t cost them anything until I choose to stay with them, and if I like what I get, I may choose to move my business to them from IHG. In the same way, Starbucks aren’t loosing out of they give someone Gold status if they don’t use it. The fact that they are attracting new business can only be good for them which, hopefully, in turn is good for me as they continue to expand (and use their profits to pay the tax that they should be paying!)

I was made to think about this by comments on http://www.flyertalk.com where people were suggesting ways to make it harder to qualify for Gold or Gold Guest List as they felt that the lounge was becoming too crowded and they were loosing their exclusivity. One poster, a retiree from Jersey who, by all accounts, is having a whale of a time jetting off around the world, made the point that it was a shame that some people were deliberately trying to exclude people from something they already had to preserve it for themselves. I agreed entirely and was pleased that there were some people who were willing to share and welcome others, rather than exclude and be selfish.

So welcome, new Starbucks goldies! Mine’s a quad origin vente skinny sugar free vanilla latte.

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