• Quebec customers were left disappointed yesterday when trying to participate in Starbucks' free holiday reusable cup giveaway.
  • Not only did many stores not have cups available, but it also seemed that they had only received English-language cups.
  • We asked Starbucks what happened, but their response didn't explain too much.

The holiday season really hit Montreal with a bang yesterday. We had our first real snow of the season on the very same day that Starbucks launched their holiday drink menu, complete with the giveaway of a free holiday reusable Starbucks cup upon purchase of a holiday drink. However, it seems the OQLF managed to play Grinch once again as many people reported not being able to get their hands on a reusable cup, even despite waking up early to get to their local Starbucks before supplies ran out.

Several anonymous sources who spoke to MTL Blog informed us that Starbucks employees were not giving out the free reusable holiday cups, and it doesn't seem to have had anything to do with supplies lasting.

So, why were these cups never given out? Because the cups that these Quebec locations received were decorated with words that were only in English.

In the press release about the new holiday cups, Starbucks explains, "Typography is used as the main illustrative element for three of the designs," which presents the first issue immediately.

Naturally, as Starbucks drama always does, this event got the online world talking.

The designs, centred around typography and therefore text, were designed in English, a language that only flies in Quebec if accompanied by a little French. (Okay, not a little. The same amount or more.)


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According to our sources, stores that received the English cups opted to tell customers that they had already given them all away, while others said that they had never received the cups at all.

Though, clearly, some stores did manage to get French language cups.

Unfortunately, the design had clearly been given a lot less time and consideration than the English cups, and some coffee lovers were left a little unimpressed.

We reached out to Starbucks to ask them what exactly happened and this was their response:

Our valued Quebec customers are important to us. We specially designed a free limited-edition holiday reusable cup for the Quebec market. [...] English language reusable holiday cups are not in compliance with Quebec language laws and were not intended for Quebec customers.

I can't help but wonder why one of the paper cups above, which are all compliant with Quebec language laws, wasn't chosen as the reusable cup design.

That polka-dot number would've circumvented a lot of problems and would have been a perfect option Canada-wide.

Oh well, peut-être l'année prochaine.

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