Is "Free Starbucks for Life" Too Good to Be True?

There are few phrases in the English language sweeter than “win free Starbucks for life!” — and hey, guess what? It’s an actual thing! As a promotion this holiday season, the mighty ‘Bux is offering all of its customers the chance to win a lifetime supply of free coffee and food items… as long as you play by the rules. And the rules, as you might have suspected, aren’t exactly what they seem.

First off, you can’t use cash if you want to be eligible. You can’t use credit or debit cards, either. Using the Starbucks mobile app or gift cards to pay for your caffeine boost, however, will both enter you into the race. There will be a total of ten winners over the course of the promo, which will run from December 2 through Christmas; if you end up being one of the lucky ten, you’ll be on the receiving end of one drink or food item per day… but not really for life. As is the case with most things that seem too good to be true, there’s a catch: The benefits run out after 30 years, which isn't exactly a lifetime supply. In 30 years’ time, for example, I’ll be 59 — and I don’t know about you, but I’m definitely planning on still being alive then, as well as for at least the next decade or two following.

According to Consumerist, there are also some particular reasons the promo only applies to folks who use gift cards or the app. One of them should be fairly obvious: They want to boost sales of gift cards for the holiday season, as well as encourage people to use the app. That’s just good business. The other, though, is a little more insidious: It allows them to target their advertising specifically towards you based on what you buy. Paying with these methods allows the company to send you future promotions and coupons based on your purchasing history… which also has a habit of freaking people out. But hey, at least it’s not as easy to read what’s going on in your life based on your coffee choices as it is, say, your Target choices, right?

Starbucks CEO Harold Schultz told the Wall Street Journal that people do occasionally ask if there’s a way they can gift someone they love free Starbucks for life; other CEOs and celebrities (read: not us plebeians) are the ones who usually pose the question, but he still thinks the promo will have a wide-reaching draw. “We know intrinsically that this will have broad-based excitement and will drive incremental traffic into our stores. That’s what every retailer has to accomplish,” he said.

But I still think they could have found more accurate ways to word it. What about:

1. Win a 30 Years’ Supply of Starbucks!

Short, simple, to the point, and still impressive.

2. Win 1,027 Gallons of Starbucks!

This is assuming you drink 12 ounces of coffee a day, 365 days a year, for 30 years.

3. Coffee’s On Us for the Next Three Decades!

A variation on option number one.

4. Win Enough Starbucks to Fill 1/14th of a Swimming Pool!

Apparently your average swimming pool holds around 14,000 gallons. Swimming in Starbucks might be a little sticky, but hey, coffee-based beauty benefits, here you come!

5. Win 3,000 Pumpkin Spice Lattes!

Assuming one PSL per day, three months a year (PSL season), for 30 years. The Basic Bitch in you will love you forever.

6. Win 88 iPad Air 2’s Worth of Coffee!

Assuming $4 per drink and $499 per iPad Air 2. Of course, it'll be fewer iPad Air 2s if you go for the more expensive models, but whatever.

7. Unlimited Peppermint Mochas for 30 Years? Yes Please!

Your move, Starbucks.

Images: Biomedical Ephemera/Tumblr; Christy Lou/Pinterest; Giphy