Family charged $4,444 for tip during trip to Starbucks

TULSA, Okla. — A trip to Starbucks for coffee turned into an expensive adventure after a family was unexpectedly charged nearly $4,500.

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Jesse O’Dell told “Today” that he went through the drive-through at a Tulsa, Oklahoma, Starbucks on Jan. 7 and ordered two coffees for a total cost of $11.83. O’Dell said he paid using a credit card and selected the “no tip” option using the computerized system.

Days later, O’Dell’s wife was shopping with their children when her credit card was declined, O’Dell told McClatchy News. When O’Dell looked at the account, he saw an unexpected charge of $4,456.27 at Starbucks.

A review of the receipt from Starbucks showed that O’Dell was charged $3.95 for one drink, $5.95 for the other, $1.00 for an additional shot of espresso and $4,444.44 in gratuity. The receipt was shared with Today and shows the total purchase price as $4,456.27.

“I entered no tip,” O’Dell told “Today.” “But somehow there’s a massive tip on it.”

O’Dell immediately reached out to Starbucks, saying that he believed the charge was made in error. The company told him that the charge was legitimate and that he had entered the massive tip, McClatchy News reported.

“I know how to press buttons. I didn’t press that button,” O’Dell told McClatchy News. “If it wasn’t the barista then it’s definitely your network, which is a really big issue.”

After speaking to multiple managers, O’Dell was told they would be sent a refund by check. Two checks arrived in late January, but O’Dell told “Today” that both checks bounced.

At that point, O’Dell filed a theft report with the Tulsa Police Department.

“We’ve had to ask for help, we’ve had to cancel trips,” O’Dell told McClatchy News, saying that the loss of money was a burden for the family of six.

“Detectives with our Financial Crimes Unit investigated the case and found the gratuity was added either by accident or by machine error. Detectives did not find any intent of fraud from the employees working at the time,” a spokesperson for the Tulsa Police Department told Today. “We are no longer investigating the case because it is our understanding that Starbucks is making a good faith effort to refund the customers and we did not find any evidence of fraud.”

O’Dell told McClatchy News that Starbucks sent replacement reimbursement checks that were successfully deposited.

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