My Account Was Hacked! A Lesson in Customer Service

If you’ve read my blog before, you know I love Starbucks. When taking a road trip, I use Google maps to find the closest location when I need a little pick-me-up. When flying, I seek them out in airports. And while recently strolling down the street in Lima, Peru, I spied that familiar green logo and my husband immediately knew I’d have to stop in for my favorite latté.

If you’ve read my blog before, you know I love Starbucks. When taking a road trip, I use Google maps to find the closest location when I need a little pick-me-up. When flying, I seek them out in airports. And while recently strolling down the street in Lima, Peru, I spied that familiar green logo and my husband immediately knew I’d have to stop in for my favorite latté.

Several years ago I signed up for their loyalty program, tied my Starbucks card into one of my credit cards and now proudly carry my own personal Starbucks Gold Card that is always “filled” with enough financial credit to ensure I can support my addiction.

I was sitting at my desk last week responding to emails when suddenly an automated email from Starbucks popped up thanking me for “reloading” my Gold Card. I thought it a bit odd, as I hadn’t visited a Starbucks in over a week and usually, as soon as I hit my pre-determined minimum, it reloads on the spot.

A minute later I received another automated email telling me they had “reloaded” my card. “Hmmm …” I thought, “There’s a glitch in their email system because I got that email twice.”

A minute after that, I received another email confirming my Starbucks Card Balance Transfer of $XXX from my Gold Card to a different Starbucks card number.

Wait … What?!?

I looked back at the first reload email and compared it to the second reload email and realized there were two different transaction numbers … And now it all made sense.

It seems someone had hacked into my account, transferred $XXX from my credit card to my Gold Card, did it again, and then transferred the entire amount to their own Starbucks card! I was flabbergasted.

I immediately called Starbucks customer service and the guy on the other end of the phone could not have handled the situation any better if he tried.

Author: Carolyn Goodman

A blog that challenges B-to-B marketers to learn, share, question, and focus on getting it right—the first time. Carolyn Goodman is President/Creative Director of Goodman Marketing Partners. An award-winning creative director, writer and in-demand speaker, Carolyn has spent her 30-year career helping both B-to-B and B-to-C clients cut through business challenges in order to deliver strategically sound, creatively brilliant marketing solutions that deliver on program objectives. To keep her mind sharp, Carolyn can be found most evenings in the boxing ring, practicing various combinations. You can find her at the Goodman Marketing website, on LinkedIn, or on Twitter @CarolynGoodman.

5 thoughts on “My Account Was Hacked! A Lesson in Customer Service”

  1. Now that’s an example of Customer Experience where the “customer is always right” — and, yes, kudos to Starbucks! Not only did the brand recover, but the “gold” in Gold Member was validated. I wonder had you not been a Gold Member would the experience been any different? In any event, the LTV just got one big boost!

  2. I don’t drink Starbucks and sorry to hear about your Starbucks card, but I am impressed with how well you were treated by the representative. My biggest pet peeve are with customer service reps with thick accents in other countries and I have to ask them to repeat everything. Plus they all seem to have the same names of John, Jack, Joe, or Jason.

    1. You’re so right, Laura. Reps with heavy accents, reading from some poorly worded script, doesn’t allow them to really listen to the customer, absorb the problem, and apply the appropriate solution quickly. Starbucks gets 10 gold stars for avoiding THAT issue entirely!

  3. @Carolyn Great post and kudos to Starbucks. With the proliferation of apps, companies need to ensure their apps are secure and do not put customers’ at risk rather than cutting corners on application security in an effort to be first to market. Application security needs to be part of the application development process for customer-centric companies. As marketers, we need to ensure this is happening for our customers or risk damaging our brand.

    1. I’ll admit that my password did NOT contain symbols (just alphas and numerics), but you’re right, application security is a mandatory for all the online retailers who store customer information. This experience made me go back and change my password on every online account I used (tedious, painful work); but I’ve learned my lesson.

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