There’s nothing worse that an irresponsible party putting addictive substances into the hands of addicts. Just ask the judge who sentenced Conrad Murray, or the many juries who have ruled against cigarette companies after hearing evidence that they promoted addiction through manipulation of nicotine levels, engaged in secret campaigns to hook teens and even pre-teens, and lied to government officials and to the public about it.
Which brings us to Starbucks. Now you may be saying, “hey wait a minute, coffee might be addictive but a Venti Soy Hazelnut Vanilla Cinnamon White Mocha with Extra Caramel is not the same as Propofol or Marlboros. And besides, unlike cigarette companies or criminal doctors, Starbucks is a responsible company. They boast all over the place about what good corporate citizens they are. And they keeping winning these ‘Best Corporate Citizens’ awards.”
Well, that’s all true. And let’s even forget for a moment controversies like their market saturation strategies, anti-union practices, or lawsuits by baristas who were "denied" their tips. We just learned that Starbucks is now stripping away the legal rights of their own customers and I’m sorry, that just goes too far.
Four consumer groups - Public Citizen, Alliance for Justice, National Association of Consumer Advocates and National Consumers League – sent a letter to Starbucks this week and have now launched an educational and action campaign against the company for its outrageous forced arbitration and outright class actions ban, which it has imposed on all pre-paid gift card users.
Writes Public Citizen:
The forced arbitration clause means that if you ever have a dispute with the company, you can’t go to a public court. You’ll have to go to a private, secretive tribunal chosen by Starbucks — in Seattle!
The class action ban means that you can’t band together with other customers to make pursuing claims worthwhile. If Starbucks rips off every gift card holder by a few dollars, that would mean millions of dollars in ill-gotten gains with no accountability.
Punitive damages are also banned. And the class action ban means – as the company itself puts it – that every customer must individually bear the expense of “attorney experts, witnesses and preparation and presentation of evidence,” while splitting the costs of the arbitration (above $1,000) with the company – assuming the person even gets to Seattle. And forget any court appeal. Findings by the company arbiters are “final and binding”. (Read here the exact language from the company’s web site.) So even if some billionaire could afford to file an individual claim, the process is so biased that they'd never win. Sound like complete corporate immunity to me!
So here is how to “Tell Starbucks to Stop Taking Away Your Customer’s Rights.” Sign this petition today!
Starbucks thinks it is “being responsible and doing things that are good for the planet and each other” and “creat[ing] more opportunities for learning and success that benefit customers, partners (employees) and suppliers.”
Tell them that stripping away the legal rights of their own customers in order to pad their bottom line is neither “doing good for each other” nor a “benefit" for their customers - and the 99% are watching.