Starbucks Resolves Computer Failure That Hit Thousands Of Outlets


The incident disabled the point-of-sale registers of outlets across the US and Canada, causing some shops to give out free cups of coffee

A computer failure disabled cash registers for thousands of Starbucks outlets in North America on Friday, causing some to give away free drinks or close early.

The glitch, which lasted several hours before being resolved on Friday night, affected about 7,000 company-operated stores in the US and 1,000 in Canada, Starbucks said. Licensed outlets were not hit. Cash registers of Starbucks’ four Evolution Fresh outlets and six Teavana Tea Bars were also disabled, the company said.

Java security breach spill coffee cup © Melica Shutterstock

The incident highlights the widespread failures that can affect the complex, large-scale systems deployed by large companies and increasingly relied upon by third parties. Many small companies, for instance, build their IT systems on the cloud-based infrastructure offered by Amazon, Microsoft and others and are affected when that infrastructure is hit by outages.

The Starbucks outage, caused by a “failure during a daily system refresh”, began at around 4 p.m. PST on Friday afternoon and was resolved by 9:30 p.m. PST on Friday, according to Starbucks.

“We are aware of the point of sale register outage at company-operated Starbucks stores in the US and Canada,” Starbucks said in a statement. “We are actively working to resolve the outage. We apologise to our customers for any inconvenience or confusion.”

Free coffee

Some outlets closed early, but others remained open, offering customers free cups of coffee or tea. In Phoenix, Arizona, some outlets reportedly blocked drive-through entrances, causing visitors to drive off angrily.

All outlets were able to open as usual on Saturday, Starbucks said.

“The point of sale register outage has been resolved and all Starbucks stores in the US and Canada are opening for business today as usual,” the company stated on Saturday morning. “Our Evolution Fresh and Teavana Tea Bar stores are also opening as scheduled.”

The company emphasised that the issue was “not the result of an external breach”.

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