Grab your free coffee while you still can, America. A nationwide failure of Starbucks' cash registers -- or point-of-sale systems -- led to the national coffee chain giving away free coffee at locations across the country late Friday afternoon. At close to 7 p.m. EDT, the systems began failing after a database update. Posts on the Starbucks subreddit said that systems failed in Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Maine, Washington and Wisconsin. Posters said district managers told employees the system was down across the United States as well as Canada.
On Twitter, word got out that coffee was being given away, prompting a tide of people to flood to their closest Starbucks location.
ATTENTION: STARBUCKS SYSTEMS ARE DOWN AND THAT MEANS YOU DONT HAVE TO PAY FREE STARBUCKS
â€” ✖️Tiffany✖️ (@TiffanyAmendola) April 25, 2015
â€” Tamara Baluja (@tamara_baluja) April 24, 2015
PSA: Starbucks computers are down nationwide (currently 7:26 p.m. ET, Friday) and drinks are free.
â€” Romenesko (@romenesko) April 24, 2015
Starbucks does not have a storewide policy for how to respond to the failure of these systems. Some locations simply switched to a cash-only system. Others decided to give product away, ranging from just coffee or tea at some locations to other items at other locations. Still other stores decided to close their doors early.
Starbucks' media office, which closes at 5 p.m. on Fridays, did not return requests for comment.
According to a customer service manager who declined to give his full name because he is not authorized to speak to reporters, the register failure was not related to a separate issue Starbucks is having with its reward cards; callers to Starbucks’ customer service line were greeted with an automated message saying it was having trouble with its website and its rewards system.
He had no information about the cause of the system’s failure, or whether it was related to a hack or any form of outside interference. In November, the company responded swiftly when a security researcher pointed out a possible vulnerability in the Starbucks mobile app, which some 10 million customers keep on their phones.