Starbucks iPhone App Could Have Glitch ... or Benefit, Depending

Can you trust the people around whom you leave your iPhone? If the answer is "yes," than you can consider the following news a bonus; the Starbucks Mobile Card app can be used on your Android phone. If not, your unscrupulous friends, co-workers, babysitters, or children can make off with a screengrab of your Starbucks card's unique bar code and, if you have enormous quantities of cash on your card as I do ($6.30!), spend it recklessly.

I'm rather less than shocked and awed by this news; my children, babysitters, and unscrupulous friends could also steal cash out of my wallet if I were to leave it (rather less valuable, most days, than my iPod touch) within their grasp while I went off to the restroom, or to chase an errant 3-year-old, or to chat with another friend. As I trust them with my cash, I also trust them not to press the "pay now" button on one of my cards, take a screen grab of the resultant image, and email it to themselves. It's a complicated way of stealing money from me, and there are lots easier ways of getting me to pay for their coffee. "Please could I get you to buy me a coffee?" is one of them. (Try the new ristretto bianco. It's very good!)If, like me, you trust your family and friends, and don't have much to lose if you end up having been wrong to do so, this could be a benefit to you, if you have an Android smartphone and you have access to one of those aforementioned trustworthy people and their iPhone or iPod touch. Set up the mobile card on their phone; press the pay now button; screen grab; email to your Android phone. You'll be able to use the bar code to pay for your drink.

Complicated? Sure. But it really is a convenient app, especially if, like me, you have several forgetful bones in your body, and those bones are often causing you to leave your wallet in your coat pocket and grab the now-walletless bag to take the boys to school ... and then you're there, at a corner with a Starbucks and 25 minutes to burn and it's so cold you don't want to wait outside ... bingo! A mobile card would be just the thing right about now. It's saved me a few times from a cold, coffee-less wait.

Curious if this had been a problem for any Starbucks consumers, I contacted the company. A spokesperson hadn't heard of any thefts, but released a statement: "We take security seriously. To increase security, customers are encouraged to password protect their iPhone and BlackBerry®. Additionally, we offer balance protection for registered customers," the spokesperson went on.

If you have a lost smartphone with a mobile app installed, or a stolen Starbucks card, you can report the loss. The spokesperson went on, "we'll freeze the remaining balance at the time the Card is reported as lost or stolen, transfer it to a new Starbucks Card, and mail a replacement Card immediately -- without hassles or fees."

The chances for loss are quite small here; it may be a little early to raise such a loud alarm. I will keep my iPod Touch out of the way of known criminals ... and relax.

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