man with hat on backward (l) hand holding cup with *Karen* as name (r)


Man says Starbucks workers called him a ‘Karen’ on his drink label after he couldn’t redeem birthday reward (updated)

'Why are they forcing us to get it on our actual birthday now?'


Brooke Sjoberg

Internet Culture

Posted on Jul 13, 2022   Updated on Jul 23, 2022, 8:25 am CDT

A TikTok creator’s claim he was dubbed a “Karen” by Starbucks staff after he couldn’t get a free beverage the day before his birthday sparked a discussion about the chain’s birthday reward.

TikToker @verifiedbluecheckmarc tells viewers in a viral video that when he tried to order an $11 frappuccino—one he says he gets every year with a birthday reward—he was told he can only use the reward on his birthday. As it was the day before his actual birthday, he said he changed his order to an iced coffee. He shows the coffee he received; the digital label on the cup says “Karen.”

“Guess who is having a birthday chat with the manager tomorrow,” he captioned the video.

@verifiedbluecheckmarc Guess who is having a birthday chat with the manager tomorrow #starbucks #starbucksrewards ♬ original sound – Marc (insert blue badge here)

However, some commenters cast doubt on this claim, pointing out that the label has asterisks around the name.

“When it has those asterisks that means you mobile ordered it meaning you chose your own name lol,” one of the top comments reads.

@verifiedbluecheckmarc replied to the commenter to reiterate he ordered his drink in person.

Other commenters focused on the birthday reward, also sharing in @verifiedbluecheckmarc’s frustration that customers can only use it on the day of their birthday.

“Why are they forcing us to get it on our actual birthday now?” one commenter wrote. “Like girl I’m busy that day let me go the day after for my hangover coffee.”

“My moms birthday is on Christmas and she’s called to ask if she can go the day after/before and they said no, so now she just goes on Christmas morning,” another commenter wrote.

“I had plans to use mine for the first time ever,” a third said. “The night before my birthday I went out drinking, fell went to the ER, and couldn’t use my reward!”

It is not unheard of for a customer to allegedly be referred to as a “Karen” by businesses. A Trader Joe’s customer claimed the grocery chain called her a “Karen” in response to an email she sent regarding alleged moldy peppers in its store.

The Daily Dot has reached out to @verifiedbluecheckmarc via Instagram direct message and to Starbucks via email.

Update 8:25 am CT, July 23: Marc Frank, known as @verifiedbluecheckmarc on TikTok, gave further context to the situation in a phone interview with The Daily Dot.

Frank says he definitely did not pay with the Starbucks app, as some commenters suggested. When he was unable to use his birthday reward, Frank ordered two entirely different drinks for himself and his wife and paid for them with a credit card.

Frank also made it clear that his video and caption were not meant to be taken very seriously.

“My caption was half a joke, saying I’m going to be going to the manager tomorrow on my birthday. I just didn’t,” he says. “What am I going to do, get a gift card for $50? I’d rather have this be out there on the web.”

Despite intending the video as a joke, Frank says that he received many more comments accusing him of behaving like a Karen after the video received a second wave of views.

“The first wave [of comments] was typical, what you would get for such subject matter,” he says. “But the second wave is definitely like people who are really angry and like ‘yes, you deserve that.'”

Frank suggests that the employee who put “Karen” on his cup may have just been making a joke because they were “a little over tired of their job.” However, he maintains that he did not deserve to be called a Karen.

“I was a customer, and that is not the way you respond to [being frustrated],” he says. “When you give them your proper name and they type in a different name, that’s not the way to handle it.”

“I don’t know if they are still there,” Frank says of the employee. “I did not contact that store, did not contact corporate.”

Frank also confirmed that Starbucks has not reached out to him since posting the video in June.

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*First Published: Jul 13, 2022, 9:45 am CDT