The company that introduced (and hooked) us all on $4 cups of coffee is -- surprise! -- struggling.

With founder Howard Schultz back in as CEO, the company is looking to get its sales moving upward again. One possible strategy? Free coffees and discounts with a rewards card and a possible expansion of the company's $1 coffee campaign -- with free refills.

Will these plans help boost sales in the midst of a struggling economy? Only time will tell. But, if I were a Starbucks shareholder, I'd be concerned about the damage to the brand. The fact is that Starbucks has become one of the best companies in the world -- that's not an exaggeration -- with an emphasis on quality and customer experience that made it, for a long time, essentially immune to the competitive pressures that other companies deal with.

But times are hard now for everyone. The era of $4 coffee may finally be coming to an end.

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