Starbucks computer glitch turns into … free drinks, at least for a while

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SEATTLE -- Starbucks stores across the U.S. and Canada were hit by a computer glitch Friday and some stores responded by giving away free drinks until the system was fixed.

But the free drinks only lasted for a few hours late Friday afternoon -- until Starbucks told its stores to close.

"We are aware of the point of sale register outage at company-operated Starbucks stores in the U.S. and Canada," Starbucks said on its news page. "Our stores that have not already closed for the evening are closing early. The outage was caused by a failure during a daily system refresh."

Then about 9:30 p.m. Friday, Starbucks announced: "The point of sale register outage has been resolved and all Starbucks stores in the U.S. and Canada are expected to open for business as usual on Saturday, April 25. We apologize to our customers for this inconvenience."

The 24-hour Starbucks at Northgate said it would reopen at 5 a.m. Saturday.

[The Associated Press reported: Company spokesman Jim Olson said the problem affected 7,000 U.S. stores and 1,000 in Canada.

Earlier, customers found some stores closed and others offering free coffee.

Customer Suveer Sharma at a Seattle store said, "I'm not going to complain about a free cup of coffee."]

Delighted Starbucks fans were tweeting Friday afternoon that some stores were giving away freebies until the computer problem could be fixed.

"Starbucks systems are down so I got my drink for free. Seems like all Starbucks are doing this. Be sure to tip the barista!" tweeted @octopuscandy who lives in Los Angeles.

"the machines at Starbucks are down so they're giving away free drinks. #you'rewelcome," tweeted @nicolemariko14 in Washington.

@mackenziecrotty said the problem extended to Edmonton, Canada, tweeting, "apparently the servers at starbucks are down across canada so i just got free coffee."

Some stores simply closed down, however.

The computer glitch came on a day that Starbucks reported robust sales. The coffee chain said Friday that sales and profits for its fiscal second-quarter that were up nearly 20% from a year ago and ahead of Wall Street's forecasts.


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