Starwatch Consumer

Starbucks expands its loyalty program

Updated: 2013-03-21T03:55:10Z

Loyalty brewing

Starbucks hopes to double membership this year in its points-earning loyalty program.

Starting in May, the world’s biggest coffee company told its shareholders at their annual meeting, members will be able to earn points when they buy bags of Starbucks coffee at supermarkets. Customers will have to go online and enter a code on the bag to get their points.

Lean quarter

Restaurants are reeling from their worst three months since 2010 as American diners spooked by higher payroll taxes cut back on eating out.

Sales at casual-dining establishments fell 5.4 percent last month after declining 0.6 percent in January and 1.6 percent in December, according to the Knapp-Track Index of monthly restaurant sales.

This was the first three months of consecutive declines in almost three years.

Lobster lunch

Trying to lure time-starved customers, Red Lobster this week began testing “Seaside Express” at two Florida restaurants, where diners can order and pay for lunch at the counter.

The traditional sit-down lunch is also still available.

Red Lobster owner Darden Restaurants would not say whether it was testing anything similar at its other chains, which include Olive Garden and LongHorn Steakhouse.

Applebee’s recently began testing a similar counter-service option in the Kansas City area.

GM recall

General Motors is recalling nearly 34,000 Buicks and Cadillacs in the U.S., Canada and elsewhere to fix a problem with the automatic transmissions.

The recall affects Buick LaCrosse full-size cars and Cadillac SRX crossover SUVs from the 2013 model year.

GM will reprogram the transmission at no cost to the owners.

Payday protection

JPMorgan Chase will take steps to protect its customers from fees and other charges that payday lenders may slap on them.

The bank said it will limit the fees that customers are charged when they overdraw their accounts to make payments to payday lenders. It will also “enhance communication and require additional training” for employees to make it easier for customers to stop payments.

Ruling for monks

A federal appeals court said Benedictine monks may keep selling caskets from their monastery in Louisiana.

The three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a ruling in favor of St. Joseph Abbey and against the state board of funeral directors’ rule that only state-licensed funeral directors could legally sell caskets in Louisiana.

| Star news services

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