Starbucks tipping error costs family over $4,000 and their trip to Thailand

Feb 16 2023, 1:00 pm

A US couple’s regular Starbucks run turned bitter after a tipping error cost them over $4,000 and their family trip to Thailand.

Tulsa, Oklahoma, resident Jesse O’Dell told NBC News that he ordered two coffees from a Starbucks drive-thru last month — a venti iced Americano for himself and a venti Caramel Frappuccino with a single shot of espresso for his wife, Deedee O’Dell.

He said he selected the “no tip” option at checkout and paid $11.83 — or so he thought.

Two days later, while Deedee and her kids were out shopping for their family vacation, her credit card was declined, and Jesse found a whopping $4,456.27 Starbucks charge on their account, reported the Kansas City Star.

“I felt disbelief,” he told the publication. “I don’t have that kind of money sitting around to just play with.”


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The couple began a monthlong mission to get their money back.

Jesse said they returned to the Starbucks location to contest the charge but were initially told by the coffee giant that the cost was legitimate and he had entered a tip of $4,444.44 at checkout.

“I entered no tip,” he told NBC News.

They were then told that they would be mailed cheques to cover the tip after speaking with numerous managers.

While Jesse told NBC News that two cheques did arrive in late January, they both bounced.

The ordeal led them to ultimately cancel their family trip to visit Chonburi, Thailand, where Deedee is from.

The couple even went to the police because they weren’t sure if the tip was added on purpose and whether they’d get their money back.

Tulsa police told NBC News in an email statement that no one was charged in the case, but a fraud investigation was opened on January 26.

“Detectives with our Financial Crimes Unit investigated the case and found the gratuity was added either by accident or by machine error. Detectives did not find any intent of fraud from the employees working at the time,” reads the statement.

“We are no longer investigating the case because it is our understanding that Starbucks is making a good faith effort to refund the customers and we did not find any evidence of fraud,” the spokesperson added.

In a statement obtained by NBC News, a Starbucks spokesperson confirmed that the matter had been “resolved.”

“This is an unfortunate situation that is now resolved,” said the spokesperson. “There was an error made regarding a customer tip at a Starbucks drive-thru and we worked to address the situation as quickly as possible. Checks have been issued and were cashed by the customer on Monday, February 6.”

Jesse confirmed that the checks were cashed.

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