E is for e.starbucks.com – or Epic Fail, Depending on How You Look at It

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E A2Z-BADGE-0002014-small_zps8300775c

Remember a little while ago, I mentioned the end of my love affair with Starbucks over a little heartbreak we like to call “hacking”?  Someone got into my Starbucks account and began charging Starbucks gift cards to the tune of $100 a pop.  Not that I can blame them, of course, as I myself suffer from an addiction, but as bad as I think I am, I’m not turning tricks on a street corner in exchange for sugar free cinnamon dolce lattes.  Nor am I hacking accounts to get my fix.

We were compensated for our inconvenience in the amount of a $25 Starbucks gift card- and although I don’t know the going rate for hours on the phone with our credit card companies and Starbucks themselves,  $25 seemed like a nice gesture, and we bought back into the security of our card, with the one added security feature on our part that we didn’t reload the card ourselves using the iPhone app, we instead gave the money and a physical card to a barista to reload at the register.

SBUX

Epic Fail.

Part 2 of the hacking was detected Thursday night, when we were charged multiple Starbucks charges of $50 each for the purchase of e-gifts.  Jim got on the phone immediately, Starbucks offered another bit of compensation for the inconvenience, and the world continues to revolve, with the one big exception that we are now never going to use our Starbucks iPhone app again.

This comes just as I get an email from “e.starbucks.com” offering me a bonus – if I click the link to reload my Starbucks card using my VISA, they will give me an extra $5 if I load $10 and an extra $20 if I load $40.  I would not have thought twice about doing it before, but if I try to go to e.starbucks.com, it comes up as an invalid address.

Things that make you go hmmmmm…..

End of a Beautiful Love Affair – Sorry, Starbucks

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SBUX

What’s a girl to do?  Devastating betrayal.  Sneaky, behind my back antics.  Dare I say it – cheating?

Where did things go wrong?

It’s not me – it’s them.

So late last night, just as insomnia was losing to OHMYGODI’MTIRED, my husband comes hurriedly into the bedroom on his phone and asks if I’ve reloaded my Starbucks card.  Unless I’ve done some sleep reloading, no, I haven’t; but just to be on the safe side, I pull my phone over and check my Starbucks card balance on my iPhone app.  Nope – no changes at all.

A normal person would have wondered why my husband was checking Starbucks card balances at midnight, but with my feet all warm and snuggly underneath a sleeping cat, and my pillows sufficiently cooled off from the few minutes I sat up to check my card balances, I drift back off to sleep.

This morning, I roll over and see my husband, who would normally be snoring, staring at me.

“Someone charged $400 on our credit card through our Starbucks card.”

Wait, did he just say he bought me a $400 Starbucks card?  Dude is so going to have a happy anniversary weekend!

Oh, wait, no.  No one’s getting lucky.

Someone hacked into our Starbucks account, and reloaded one of our Starbucks cards with four $100 charges.  Then, the money was transferred off of our Starbucks card to an unknown Starbucks card (well, unknown to us).

Thank goodness my husband gets notified immediately when a charge hits our bank account.  He was able to call Starbucks, and while there wasn’t anyone in the security office to help us, they took all of our information to have someone handle it as soon as they came into work this morning.  He then called our bank, and they immediately cancelled our bank cards; cancelled three of the $400 charges, assuming they were duplicates made in error, and promised to follow up with the last $100 as soon as we got more information from Starbucks.

Starbucks called us back early this afternoon, and they also took aggressive steps to rectify the situation.  They were able to cancel the card that was on the receiving end of our balance transfer, reversed the charges made on our credit card, and even put back on our card the small balance that we did have on there that was stolen in the balance transfer to the stolen card.

I did a quick internet search, and I found quite a few cards available on eBay in the $400 range – some with the exact wording but different sellers.  I also found articles online about a possible security breach detected with the iPhone app that was supposed to be an issue only if your cellphone was stolen.

Just be really careful and monitor your Starbucks cards – especially if your card is automatically reloaded.  And please don’t buy your Starbucks gift cards from eBay – get them at Starbucks.  If something seems too good to be true – like $80 worth of free Starbucks – it probably is.

It’s scary.  You feel violated, unsafe, and worried.

Let’s just hope I can pick up the pieces and move on.  If you see me buying WaWa coffee, you’ll know the pain was just too much.

30 Days of Thanks – Day 8 – The Super Starbucks Lady

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I may have mentioned a passing fondness for Starbucks.  Once or twice.

When we came back to Seattle after our Alaska cruise last summer, we took our “every time we’re in Seattle, we must….” visit to Pike Place Market, which includes a trip to the very first ever Starbucks store.  The Mecca.

We built up the excitement by putting off the stop at Starbucks.  We strolled through the market, bought things that we had no idea how we’d get on the plane and home, and when the anticipation was too much to stand, we headed over for our drinks.

Aaaahhhhh.

We bought a souvenir for my friend Sandi, a Starbucks manager who was watching our dogs for us.  It was the first time I think we’ve ever purchased anything but coffee, but since our last visit, we have become more frequent users of our registered Starbucks gift card, which gets us points to get free drinks.  Jim saw this card, depicting the original store, and we decided we loved it (okay, I decided I loved it) and bought it.

The card became quite a conversation piece whenever we went to a Starbucks store.  The baristas always made a comment on how neat it was, and none of them had seen one like it.  I loved that card.

Then it got lost.  I say it got lost so as not to point the finger of blame in any particular direction, especially not the one with the adorable balding, dimpled man standing in it.

We called Starbucks, who cancelled the card and called the store.  They spoke with a manager, and she offered to send one to us to replace the one we lost.  We waited weeks and weeks.  It never arrived.  Then we took the car to be detailed.  Lo and behold, there was the missing card!!

Oh, snap.

The card is cancelled.  Why no, they can’t activate it again, it’s been reported lost or stolen. No, they don’t know where the replacement one is that we never received.  We got quite a run around.

Until we finally got Nica Tovey on the phone.  She is the Super Starbucks lady who saved the day.  Faster than a speeding bullet, she got a replacement card in the mail to us, and I am now in possession of my favorite Starbucks gift card, ever.

And I am so thankful for Nica Tovey today!  I have no future trips planned to the west coast, didn’t know when I’d be able to personally pick up another one, and she was so kind and so helpful, she got one right out to me.

That is what real customer service is all about; that’s what Starbucks is all about.  And I’m thankful.

Day 2 – 30 Days of Thanks – A Little Dog’ll Do Ya!

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I had decided we were not pet people.  Jim and I had the most amazing dog ever when we first got married, and she passed away peacefully when she was nine.  Then we hit a rough patch.  I made it my mission to only find pets that would destroy my house, terrorize my children, and cause pet behavioralists to run screaming from my home.  No, seriously.

The nail in our family pet coffin came when we realized our Irish Wolfhound, Rosie, was the reason our Irish-American baby, Granuaile, was breaking out in horrible rashes and experiencing breathing difficulties.  She had dog allergies.  The pet nazi voice loomed ominously in my head – “No dog for you!”

But kids and dogs seem to go together, and it wasn’t too long before we started looking at pets again.  In the end, we decided to bring home two dogs with good reputations for being hypo-allergenic.  Lusi, who came to us from Italy, is a smart, amazing, and eager to please Lagotto Romagnolo.  She is a one of a kind dog who will do anything you ask.

And then there’s Harper Vee Marti.  Named after (a) a character from the Wizards of Waverly Place (b) the amazing Dr. V – Nestor Veitia and (c) the famous Cuban poet/patriot, Jose Marti, she is a Havanese.  Fuzzy, compact, and a little bit aloof, there’s something special about Harper.

Harper’s special talent is knowing.  When I was recovering from my kidney failure last summer, she would sit on the arm of the chair while I slept, knowing that I needed her company.  When the kids want to put bows in her hair and dresses on her fuzzy butt, she knows not to snap or growl while little hands manipulate her into humiliation.  And when Jim has two pieces of lunch meat in his hands, she knows just which side the big piece is on, and that’s the hand she sits near.  She knows when Lusi needs someone to play with, Eilis needs someone to talk to, or Jim needs someone to laugh at.  She just knows.

I love both of our dogs.  It’s almost like we’ve hit the dog lottery not once, but twice.  I am thankful for both of them.

But I am so, so thankful for the things that Harper knows.

Mother’s Day, Keurig Style – A Single Cup Coffee Brewer Review

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Yes, I know Mother’s Day is still a week away.  But if you know me, you will be well aware of my Starbucks addiction.  We’ve been considering making this purchase for months, and have browsed the coffee maker aisles of every store in South Jersey.  I almost bought one this morning at Target, but, as I have every other time, I walked out without one.

Then we went to Costco.  And there it was – the Keurig deal too great to walk away from.  So we took the plunge!  And tonight, for the first time, I made coffee!

Now, even if you know me, you may not know that despite  my frequent (sometimes twice daily) trips to Starbucks, I do not like coffee.  My drink always has extra pumps of coffee flavor killing syrup.  That was my biggest concern with the Keurig.

I have seen the light!

With the enormous variety of flavors, I was bound to find some that I liked, and in the variety packs that came with my purchase, I found a French Vanilla that was tasty.  I didn’t want to have to figure out the coffee maker and the milk foamer with company here, so I just added cold milk and some Splenda, and it was a reasonable facsimile of my beloved latte.  With a little practice, it will be perfect!

The machine was super easy to use, and I had coffee in a matter of seconds.  Costco had a great deal – the Keurig Platinum B70, 60 K – Cups, and a personal K – Cup reusable filter (for brewing your own coffee) for $149.99.  It was a great deal compared to the ones we looked at elsewhere.

I’ll probably post another review in a few weeks, just to let you know if I’ve been avoiding Starbucks in favor of my Keurig, but I can’t imagine needing to hit up the ‘Bucks once I become a pro at this Keurig stuff.

I’ll be saving so much money – it may mean more trips to Walt Disney World!

 

Five Things I Couldn’t Live Without – 2011 Edition

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Product reviews are a funny thing.  I hate having to say unkind things about products.  I’ll tell you if I really and truly hate something, or have a bad experience (Archer Farms scallops wrapped in bacon – NOT a good idea), but for the most part, if I don’t like something, I recognize that it might just be personal preference, and I keep my mouth shut.

But there are some things that I love, couldn’t live without, and as we close out the year, these are some things you should really check out.

1 – Wegmans Supermarket – I’m surprised at how much I love Wegmans.  It’s a supermarket, after all, and how much can one love a supermarket?  Not only have they done a price comparison in our area to find out that Wegmans offers lower prices than the other big name grocery chains in our area, but the specialty items are amazing.  No time to cook?  Grab a crab cake platter, some hot soup, or a complete Asian meal – hot and ready to serve.  Want to cook something fast and easy?  Check out their selection of ready to cook (or reheat) items – everything from freshly marinated fish to BBQ spareribs.  My favorite thing?  If you sign up for the Wegmans customer savings card, you get the Wegmans Menu magazine in the mail.  Some of our favorite family recipes have come from that magazine. Fresh sushi, all sorts of samples, people walking around in chef coats – way better than the Acme.  I definitely could not live without Wegmans.

2 – Kerastase Bain Satin Shampoo – Have you seen my hair?  It looks an awful lot like that stuff they use to make scarecrows – on a good day.  This year, I discovered this L’Oreal shampoo, and I think we might be on our way to better hair!  My hair is what I like to call “crunchy”, and Kerastase is taking some of the crunch out.  It’s a little bit pricey compared to your drugstore or grocery store shampoo, but a little goes a long way, and it really has done some remarkable things for my hair.  Combined with the Kerastase conditioner, you could be the next, ummm, you know, I can’t think of anyone with famous hair after Farrah Fawcett!

3 – Bill’s Wonderland of Pets – This is not your typical pet store.  You won’t go in and find aisle after aisle and bag after bag of discount, run of the mill pet foods.  Bill’s is sort of a health food store for your pets.  He carries foods that aren’t primarily some kind of filler or pet food nastiness that you wouldn’t feed your dog if you knew that’s what you were feeding your dog.  There are bones, treats, even freshly baked dog cookies – all made with healthy, good for you ingredients.  And the staff there is so knowledgeable!  I went in looking for a fish based food for Lusi, who was on a fish based food in Italy, and ended up switching Harper – guess what?  No more itchy dogs!  I didn’t even realize how much Harper was itching until she wasn’t doing it anymore with the better food!  And now, you can buy Bill’s own dog treats – small, cookie shaped morsels of deliciousness that causes your dog to do anything you ask in exchange for one!  (note that I said your dog, because mine are as incorrigible as ever).  Great store, great people, great local business.

4 – Starbucks – You knew it was going to end up here, didn’t you?  As routine as brushing my teeth is my morning drive to my favorite Starbucks – and not just for a morning coffee (well, a morning drizzle of coffee hidden beneath a half a cup of milk and a very healthy splash of sugar free syrup).  It’s a warm, happy way to start my morning, and it’s really one of the few things I do on a daily basis that I feel indulges me.  I may swap my Starbucks budget this coming year for a personal trainer budget, but at least in 2011, Starbucks was yet again one of those things I could not live without.

5 – Disney World – Everyone should have a happy place.  Whether it’s a far off destination or snuggled in your bed with your fuzzy pajamas and a good book.  In my life, it’s Disney World.  I’ve celebrated just about every occasion there, forgotten troubles there, remembered being a kid there, and made many friends through Disney.  I’ve gone right after surgeries to aid in healing (because happy helps healing), and I’ve gone with the expectation that I could do a 5K (I didn’t, but I know I could have!).  I know, no matter what else is going on in life, I find comfort and happiness at Walt Disney World.  I always will.

 

Happy New Year!

Thankful…

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It’s that time of year – everyone is taking stock of their lives and acknowledging their gratitude for the things in life that they are most appreciative of.  And, of course, I do the same thing.  It goes without saying – I’m grateful for my family, our home, our wonderful friends, and even the dogs.  But here’s a list of things I’m grateful for, because I’m not quite sure I could get through life without them.

Cream Cheese

Yes, I think my life would be decidedly less tasty without cream cheese.  Not only am I a huge fan of cheesecake (for which I am equally as grateful), but I can eat cream cheese on potato chips, pretzels, celery (see, it’s a healthy food!) – anything that will stand still tastes better with cream cheese.

Mickey Mouse Front Door Key

Every time I open my front door, I do it with my Mickey front door key.  And it makes me smile.  And I’m not even all that fond of rodents.

Pine Sol

I don’t smell it often enough in my house, but I love the smell of Pine Sol.  It makes me appreciate a clean house, because I know with three kids, two dogs, and a husband, not only does the house not stay clean very long, but the other, ummmm, smells soon kill that Pine Sol smell.

Hot Tub

I have only gotten to use the hot tub we bought over the summer twice.  With an open wound that has persisted since my March surgery, anytime I mentioned it, Dr. Veitia would get an eye twitch and a lip tremor.  I am, however, nearly healed, and am so excited to sit in my hot tub, with the snow slowly drifting down on me as I relax in the hot water.  I’m so grateful, I haven’t even done it yet and it makes me happy!

Comfortable Shoes

Never underestimate your gratitude for comfortable feet.  I love my Crocs, even if they look obnoxious.  I love my sneakers – even the ones that claimed they would give me buns of steel (but apparently, that doesn’t work while you’re eating buns of cinnamon).  I love my Ugg Boots.  I never leave the house without my very own Happy Feet.

Starbucks

This isn’t just about the coffee.  Although, admittedly, I do love me a hot vanilla latte in the morning.  I like the routine, I like the socialization, AND I like the coffee.

And yes, I am so grateful for Jim, Brighid, Eilis, Granuaile, my parents (all of them!), my sisters, and even my dogs.

Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mine! They’re All Mine!

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I make no secret of my love of Starbucks lattes.  They have been a daily staple, part of my every day routine, as important as the good morning kiss from my husband and the goodbye kisses dropping the girls off at school (okay, maybe not THAT important).

So when Starbucks came out a while back with the card registration program – where you register your Starbucks gift card and you get things like free syrups – I was thrilled!  Imagine when the program was revamped, and my newly minted Starbucks gold card was now bringing me the reward of a free drink after every 15 drinks!  It was like a visit from Santa every three weeks! 

Today, when I got home to check the mail, I’m sure you heard me SQUEE with delight when I found not one, but TWO of the magic free drink reward cards waiting for me!!  It rarely happens that I would get two at a time, and I could barely wait to run out the door and use one!

Then Jim read the cards.  The second card is not mine 🙁  Not only is it not mine, but it belongs to someone who doesn’t live on my street, doesn’t have a similar name, doesn’t have the same house number.  He just happens to live in my town.

And the post office just assumed it was mine, and sorted it into my mail.

UGH. Of course, now I have to find the rightful recipient of the magical free drink card so that he can SQUEE with delight.  But perhaps it’s an indication of my undying dedication to my beverage company that the post office – one of the largest in South Jersey, BTW – would automatically sort the Starbucks free drink coupons into my mail. 

Only one free drink today 🙁  Oh, the humanity.

So long $4 lattes – or not ?

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Is it really possible to stop buying $4 lattes at my local Starbucks and make them at home? And do it cheaper and easier?  And would I miss my favorite baristas?

I stopped by this display at my local Target, and none of these machines seems to do what the sign implies – which is allow me to quit my Starbucks habit. One requires me to buy K cups of coffee, decide what kind, strength, aroma, and flavor I want, then heat my milk on the stove, froth the milk in my blender, and mix in my own syrup.  I don’t know how much energy you have in the morning, but this almost requires me to drink a cup of coffee just to have the energy to make my morning coffee!!   If we are taking things this far, why bother with the K cup?  While I am definitely not a professional barista, I think I could figure out how to use a regular espresso/cappuccino machine on a daily basis.  I have used them in the past, and even at 2 AM, which is when my husband notoriously gets espresso cravings and starts putzing around my kitchen, making all sorts of noises that make me fear what I might find when I wake up.

My current vote is that I just don’t get it – these $99 and up machines just don’t have the features, compartments, or my favorite barista Sandi, to get me to replace my daily morning ritual.

And the winner is….

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We did our drawing the other night for the Starbucks gift card, but we have yet to hear back from the winner.  We sent an email, and had hoped to announce the winner today, but she’s not responding!

I’m sending one more email, but then I’m not sure what’s next!

What do you guys think?  How long is long enough to give a person to respond before we choose another name?