Starbucks Customers Pay it Forward — It’s Viral, but is it Official?

Here’s how the story goes: Johnathan Stark, a mobile developer, decided to create a good karma experiment with his Starbucks card. He created screenshot of his mobile Starbucks card and loaded it up with a bit of cash. Then he posted it online for the Internet to have its way with, instructing everyone to take the image on their phones, order a coffee and pay with the card. He also requested that people consider adding money to the card.

The hypothesis of this little experiment was that the card would defy all cynicism and remain usable. Stark set up a Twitter account for the card to track its coming and goings, and so far his theory has proved out: the card hasn’t gone a significant amount of time empty yet, and while lots of people are making use of it, many are also reloading it.

So as you can imagine, this has been generating a lot of buzz. It’s a feel-good story for sure, and it’s right in line with Starbucks’ focus on generosity. But is it authentic? Everyone involved claims that it’s in no way affiliated with Starbucks’ marketing, but some people are not so sure. If the doubters are right, the revelation could cause quite a hit to that good will that’s been earned.

Update: The latest news suggests this entirely organic and fan created. That would be a very happy ending to this story.

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