Distaste for Starbucks' new refill policy

Although it's been an unwritten rule for a long time, Starbucks started posted signs this Spring about their refill policy, stating that $0.50 refills on coffee and tea would only be honored for same store, same visit customers. Apparently a lot of people would "Starbucks hop," going from store to store to get refills all day long. I'm not going to lie, I've done that on occasion. But now, many baristas (the ones who live by the rules), are sticking to the policy and refusing refills.

I understand Starbucks is trying to make more money, but my question is...how badly do these refills have the reverse effect in terms of lack of daily repeat customers who now don't get refills at other stores? In other words, how many refills are they now missing out on, now that they're refusing refills for Starbucks hoppers? I don't know the cost per cup, but I would assume the refill price covers it. (Naturally, Starbucks wouldn't deliberately lose money on a transaction.) I know this new policy has changed my behavior in terms of making trips to Starbucks. Before, I would hang out, get refills, drive to another store, get a refill, and buy more pastries or overpriced sandwiches. The point is, even though I got refills, I spent more money. If anything, giving refills made Starbucks more money, not less. Besides, anyone in their right mind is bound to get refills at $0.50, but not buy an entirely NEW drink at full price. I'm not sure if this move was purely profit motivated, but I know I'm spending less time in Starbucks, and consequently, spending less money there.

Now, of course there are people that abuse the system and try to get endless refills, and I understand that isn't totally fair. So what would I suggest? Allow one refill at any Starbucks location. Just indicate a refill has been given by marking an X at the top of the cup. If a customer tries to get another refill, the barista will see the X and know they already received a refill. Or if for some reason that idea doesn't make sense to them, just charge $1 for a refill if you're Starbucks hopping.

The point is, repeat customers are your best customers. Enforcing a policy like this does nothing more than offend the most loyal customer base. Starbucks should realize that even though they might not make as much money as compared to charging full price for every visit, happy, loyal customers are the best form of viral marketing, and they shouldn't screw up something as valuable as the relationship with the very people that have made them such a strong brand in the first place.