Premium

‘Starbucks blocked £100 gift card but won’t explain why’

Starbucks cups in a holder
A Starbucks gift card was mysteriously blocked  

Has a company treated you unfairly? Our consumer champion, Katie Morley, is here to help. For how to contact her click here.  

Dear Katie,

My mates and I pitched in and bought a Starbucks gift card for another friend’s birthday. We loaded it with £100, but he was only able to use it once before it was blocked. Starbucks’s customer care told him they couldn’t help as he wasn’t the original purchaser of the card.

I rang Starbucks to give it the account details that I had set up. I was told that the information would be passed to its fraud team, and that I would be emailed with an update. After that the card was closed permanently. I asked for an explanation and a refund but have received no reply.

HP, London

Dear HP,

How awkward that this card, which you generously gave to your friend as a gift, has now been frozen on suspicion that fraud has occurred.

Starbucks has been cagey about exactly why the card was blocked. It said that when “unusual” activity is detected on a gift card, it deactivates it, and works with the account holder to issue a full reimbursement.

Quite what it found suspicious about your friend using the card to buy coffee remains a mystery. It has now put the remaining money back on the card so you can all move on.

However, it hasn’t made up for the hassle and embarrassment created by what should have been the simplest of birthday presents.

A Starbucks spokesman said: “We have robust processes in place to safeguard our customers’ accounts.”

The full Katie Morley Investigates column will appear in print every Saturday and Sunday. You can get an early taste every Friday at 1200.

For the week's most important personal finance news, analysis and expert advice, from pensions and property to investment ideas and savings tips, sign up to our weekly newsletter.