Man who sued WeHo Starbucks for denying $1.70 cash back from gift card heads to arbitration

A lawsuit filed by a man who alleges Starbucks Corp. in 2019 wrongfully denied him a $1.70 cash redemption for the balance on his gift card at one of its West Hollywood stores is headed to arbitration next month.

Plaintiff Robert Paskey brought the suit in Los Angeles Superior Court in March 2020, seeking compensatory and punitive damages as well as a court order that Starbucks provide cash redemptions for gift cards having a balance of less than $10.

Paskey, 37, also sought class-action status for his suit. His court papers state that the number of Starbucks gift cards in circulation with balances less than $10 is “quite large.”

However, Starbucks attorneys filed a motion to compel arbitration, saying Paskey agreed to resolve any disputes in that manner when he used the gift card. Judge Yvette M. Palazuelos heard arguments, took the case under submission and later granted the motion in January 2021 while putting a stay on Paskey’s case.

In court papers filed Monday, Paskey’s attorneys state that an arbitrator has been selected and that arbitration will begin June 8.

Paskey went to the location in the 8900 block of Santa Monica Boulevard on Dec. 26, 2019, and a clerk denied him his request for the $1.70 cash redemption on his gift card, telling him the sales software system did not provide for cash redemptions on card balances of less than $10, the suit states.

Other Starbucks stores in California have the same practice and the writing on the back of the company’s cards states that gift cards are not redeemable for cash “unless otherwise required by law,” the suit states.

“But no relevant laws are identified informing consumers that gift cards with balances of less than $10 are, in fact, redeemable for cash in California,” according to the plaintiff.

The Starbucks website states that cash redemptions for cards with less than a $10 balance can be obtained online, but a request must be made and a wait of seven to 10 days is required, according to the suit, which alleges the policy is not posted in stores or on the back of gift cards so as to better inform patrons.

In a sworn declaration, Paskey says the gift card was given to him as a present by a third party. He further says he did not read the information on the back of the card or visit the Starbucks website.

“I was not aware of any arbitration agreement — in connection with my receipt and use of the gift card,” Paskey says.

Consumers should not have to undertake “independent online research projects” to determine their rights regarding Starbucks gift cards, according to his suit.

The online cash redemption policy was implemented by Starbucks in September 2020, a month after the expiration of a 2009 injunction issued by a Shasta County judge mandating that customers be permitted to obtain card cash balances of less than $10 in stores and that a notice of their rights be conspicuously posted at the locations, the suit says.

“It therefore appears that Starbucks will not comply with (the state Civil Code) unless explicitly required to do so by court order …,” the suit states.

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DesertBob
DesertBob
4 months ago

Go to arbitration = guaranteed loss for plaintiff. Ask any labor attorney.

Unfair Business Practices
Unfair Business Practices
3 months ago
Reply to  DesertBob

Spoke with this gentleman’s attorney and learned despite myriad claims arbitration is the well crafted suicide route. Well crafted by the corporations in their issuance of gift cards. The legalize puts every ball in their court making it an undeniable windfall for them.

Steve Carry
Steve Carry
4 months ago

$1.70. Really? OMG. Are you desperate? We’re taking up the courts time with the this juvenal escaped?

jacktwist
jacktwist
4 months ago

SUE THEIR ASSES OFF…….why should they keep 17 cents , 1.70, 11.70…170?????? IT’S HIS MONEY- NOT ONLY HORRID PR FOR HORRID COFFEE PLACE…but just—– stupid.

Curtis
Curtis
4 months ago

If I were the manager, I would have given him the $1.70…it would have ended right there

John Smith
John Smith
4 months ago

Arbitration keeps the decision out of the public spotlight. Consumers rarely win in arbitration. Corporations know this.

DesertBob
DesertBob
4 months ago
Reply to  John Smith

Precisely. Only dummies go to arbitration with hopes of winning.

Unfair Business Practice
Unfair Business Practice
4 months ago

Hey folks, this gentleman was given a gift card by a third party for how much, we don’t know and it doesn’t matter..

The fact is that it is a pain in the arse to be involved in a lawsuit. Mr. Paskey saw a wrong that affected others and thought it could be easily corrected. It could have been and can.

Hopefully his lawsuit includes “unfair business practices” which this type of thing is.

Curious
Curious
4 months ago

Starbucks holds more cash than many banks – $1.2 billion loaded onto cards and app:

https://www.forbes.com/sites/niallmccarthy/2016/08/01/starbucks-holds-more-cash-than-many-banks-infographic/?sh=2f2e9b0f231a

Unfair Business Practices
Unfair Business Practices
4 months ago
Reply to  Curious

Not surprised. Thanks for the quick research!

Shag
Shag
4 months ago

Who cares about this story. Nothing but babble

angry gay pope
4 months ago

Why not just brew coffee at home????? Oh, he probably wanted to be seen in public typing his “screenplay.”

Josh Kurpies
Josh Kurpies
4 months ago
Reply to  angry gay pope

I suspect he was going to use the $1.70 to do just that, but Starbucks denied him that right. 🤣

Unfair Business Practice
Unfair Business Practice
4 months ago
Reply to  Josh Kurpies

Wrong speculation. You should know better.🙄

Steve Martin
Steve Martin
4 months ago

While this may only be $1.70 you multiply that by millions of gift cards you are taking real money. The local manager should have just given him the money to generate goodwill. This is where corporate greed trumps common sense and civic responsibility. I guess I won’t be buying any Star Bucks gift cards until this is resolved.

jacktwist
jacktwist
4 months ago
Reply to  angry gay pope

oh sweet heart- bitter looks so normal on you

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