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Starbucks charging $1 for "no water" Refresher drinks, angering brand loyalists

Starbucks is famous for encouraging customers to create their own personalized concoctions. But at least one of those special requests will now cost you extra. 

Starting Tuesday, the coffee chain will charge customers a dollar extra to get their Refresher beverages made without water, angering some brand loyalists. Starbucks said the charge is necessary because the juice drinks are more expensive to make when they're not diluted. 

"There will be an additional cost of $1 for Starbucks Refreshers Beverages customized with no water, as this customization requires extra ingredients," the company said in a statement. 

Refreshers are cold beverages consisting of flavored juices, freeze-dried fruit chunks, water, various milk choices and lemonade, according to the chain's website

"Refresher drinks without water cost more to make, so Starbucks is really just asking customers to pay a fair value for what they're getting," Neil Saunders, managing director of retail at GlobalData, said in an email. "In the current environment where raw material costs are rising and margins are squeezed, Starbucks probably finds it necessary to take a more stringent stance on pricing. However, like any change it will not be welcomed by customers some of whom will see it as stingy and a rip off."

Fans of the drinks took to social media to express their disappointment. 

"Bye Starbucks, constant changes, price increases and treat your employees better," said one Reddit user, referring to ongoing unionization efforts by Starbucks employees at various locations across the country.

Several Starbucks fans complained that some stores seem to have misinterpreted the new corporate policy, causing confusion among customers. One user shared a photo of a sign outside their local Starbucks saying that Refreshers ordered with "light ice" are also subject to the $1 charge, which is not the case. 

Starbucks fans on Reddit lamented that some stores have misinterpreted the new corporate policy, causing confusion among customers.  Reddit r/Starbucks

"Lmao how are store managers even getting this so wrong," another Reddit user replied to the post. "It says on every single resource that the $1 upcharge is for NO WATER ONLY, and the resources also back up the fact that ice modifiers will be unaffected and filling it to the top is still standard."

Another user expressed doubts that the company's stores would be able to adjust to the changes without hiccups. 

"Corporate [is] implementing something that's just going to create confusion and chaos for the workers," the Reddit user wrote. 

This isn't the first time Starbucks has made its customers frothing mad over cost hikes to its menu. In February, the coffee chain said it would raise its prices for a third time due to inflation.

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