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Starbucks Announces Free Wi-Fi Service

Starbucks Corp began offering coffee drinkers a way to get free Wi-Fi access at its shops on Tuesday, but some customers had a hard time cashing in.

Some visitors to Starbuck’s Card Rewards site were greeted with a pop-up window stating: “Due to overwhelming interest in Card Rewards, we are currently experiencing difficulty accessing Starbucks Card accounts. We are working to fix the problem and ask that you please try again later.”

Starbucks said the problems were on Starbucks’ end, not AT&T’s. The problem started in the morning and was solved by midday on the West Coast.

“Customers overwhelmed the site when joining Starbucks Card Rewards,” said Doug Cavarocchi, a Starbucks spokesman. The problem affected visitors in the U.S. and Canada trying to sign onto Starbucks.com with a username and password, he said, although other users trying to sign up for the program also saw the error message.

Customers were encouraged to visit the Card Rewards Web page to either buy a new rewards card for $5 or to register an existing gift card to be part of the program. Users who sign up before July 14 will get a free drink, and everyone who signs up can use two hours of AT&T Wi-Fi access in Starbucks shops free every day.

The Card Rewards program was first announced in February when Starbucks said it would begin using AT&T as the provider of in-store Wi-Fi service. For now, T-Mobile USA Inc continues to occasionally operate Wi-Fi networks in some of the stores. Starbucks said that it plans to roll out A&T Wi-Fi in all of its U.S. stores by the end of this year.