Redditors who identified themselves as Starbucks employees shared warnings about how TikTokers had started asking for receipts after figuring out that Starbucks partner numbers (employee ID numbers) were printed at the top of receipts to keep track of who was in charge of which transaction.
However, TikTok users also reportedly figured out that the partner numbers can be used by Starbucks employees to get employee discounts, free food and drinks. Both posts insinuated that people were taking advantage of the discovery and pretending to be Starbucks partners to get employee-only perks.
In The Know spoke to someone who said they’re an employee at a Starbucks location in Flagstaff, Ariz. who wishes to remain anonymous. They claimed to have found out about the trend when a coworker of theirs saw it on TikTok. The TikTok has since been deleted.
“I definitely noticed some people who claimed to be partners but didn’t seem to work a day in their lives,” the employee told In The Know. “Corporate has a whole group [that] monitors partner numbers and if you use them too much or they’re in different locations every time … they will fire you.”
Related: Starbucks barista shows TikTok how to order a ‘secret’ drink
Not only is the alleged TikTok trend an attempt at impersonation and stealing, but employee jobs can also be at risk if TikTok users take full advantage.
“This Tik Tok challenge is real, and is designed to get us fired,” one of the original posts claims.
“Someone did this with the partner numbers of someone at my store, AT OUR STORE,” a Reddit user shared in response. “We caught them about a week later at another store in the district trying to do the same thing.”
The Flagstaff employee said that while they had heard rumors of corporate making a change to the point of sale (POS) systems (Starbucks’ cash registers) to not print out full partner numbers, their manager hadn’t said anything since being made aware of the TikTok trend.
Commenters on the Reddit posts pointed out that using a Sharpie on the receipt paper doesn’t actually make the numbers impossible to read.
When In The Know reached out to Starbucks about the trend, a representative replied with: “To obtain the partner (employee) discount, a partner must present their current Partner Card at the Point of Sale (POS) register in the participating company-operated store.”
But according to a 2014 post by Starbucks, the company implemented a “digital partner card” plan where employees can “opt-in” to order a physical card which would take up to two weeks to be delivered to them. Otherwise, everything would be online and all employees need in stores would be their 16-digit number.
Other posters on the Starbucks subreddit said that it is technically policy to show government ID when presenting partner numbers — although In The Know could not find this rule explicitly written in available Starbucks policies and handbooks online — but that poses another issue. Trans employees might not necessarily have the same name listed on their driver’s license as they do under their partner number.
This isn’t the first time Starbucks employees and TikTok trends have clashed.
“When [it] comes to TikTok drinks, they are the bane of my existence,” the Flagstaff employee told In The Know. “We have had people in the middle of a rush, drive through the speaker box to show us a video instead of knowing what was inside [the drink] beforehand.”
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