How public reacted to Starbucks’ 40% discount for seniors, other eligible citizens

January 23, 2024 - 7:14 PM
Interior of one of Starbucks Philippines' branches in this photo posted on its Facebook page on Jan. 11, 2024 (StarbucksPhilippines/Facebook)

A popular coffee chain’s special treat for people eligible for government-mandated discounts earned mixed reactions after its previous policy on it drew flak and prompted a hearing in Congress.

Starbucks Philippines on Tuesday announced that it is giving a 40% discount to seniors, persons with disabilities (PWDs), national athletes, eligible solo parents, and Medal of Valor recipients on all food and drinks.

The promo will apply on Wednesday, January 24.

It said that eligible customers can avail of the discount — which is double the government-mandated 20% rate — for their exclusive use and personal consumption if they present a valid, original, actual and/or physical identification card (ID).

The coffee chain did not give any specific reason for the treat, but it came after it drew widespread criticism over its previous policy which limited seniors’ and PWD’s government discounts to only “one food item and one beverage” per visit.

The policy began to be implemented in its stores on January 15.

Not long after, a post of it became viral on social media.

It quickly prompted the National Commission for Senior Citizens and the National Council For Disability Affairs to order an investigation into the policy.

A representative of Starbucks Philippines was also summoned in an inquiry by the House of Representatives on January 17.

The inquiry also tackled reports of some establishments allegedly refusing to honor the 20% discount for various reasons, including the availability of ongoing promos.

Some local governments also reportedly require senior citizens to register as voters before they can avail of the discount.

During the hearing, Starbucks Philippines Operations Manager Angela Cole admitted the coffee chain’s “error” and said that their signage was “not properly worded.”

“We are taking full accountability and acknowledge the mistake. We are disappointed at the confusion we caused because of the erroneous signage,” she said earlier this month.

Cole said that Starbucks “will continue to extend full discount privileges to senior citizens (and PWDs) for their personal use and enjoyment.”

She also said the policy was in response to their “employees asking for a suggested approach.”

“However, we fully comply and value our senior citizens and extend the discount as a privilege to them,” Cole said.

“Upon the first complaint, we immediately removed the signage,” she added.

Meanwhile, the coffee chain’s upcoming promo received mixed reactions following its announcement online.

Others were elated over the treat.

“Bumabawi din [naman]!,” a Filipino wrote in the comments section of its post.

“Good job, Starbucks Philippines!” another user exclaimed.

“Apology accepted, Starbucks Philippines. As a PWD, I appreciate you handled the situation very well,” wrote a different Pinoy.

Some, on the other hand, were not amused by the discount promo.

“Kailangan pa talaga ireklamo at mag-viral para ibigay ang government mandated discounts? Yikes,” a Pinoy commented.

“Huli ka [kasi],” another Pinoy wrote with a laughing emoji.

“Ulol! Damage has been done!” exclaimed a different user.

Republic Act 9994 or the Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2010 states that seniors, or those ages 60 and above, are entitled to a 20% discount on goods and services.

PWDs are likewise entitled to the same privilege under Republic Act 10754 or Act Expanding the Benefits and Privileges of Persons with Disability.

Amanda Nograles, assistant secretary at the Department of Trade and Industry, also said that the law “does not limit one food item and one drink.”

“It only says for personal and exclusive consumption of the senior citizen or PWD,” she told PhilSTAR Life before.

“This cannot be limited by any establishment as long as the senior citizen or PWD is going to consume the food and drinks,” Nograles added.

Starbucks is an American multinational chain of coffeehouses and roastery reserves headquartered in Seattle. It has over 420 outlets in the Philippines.