Starbucks could not cope with the demand for Wi-Fi when it began offering coffee drinkers free access at its US shops on 3 June.
That is because many people were unable to access Starbucks' Card Rewards Web site in order to sign up for the programme, which offers two hours of free Wi-Fi access per day to participants.
Some visitors to the 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 announced the new programme on Tuesday. People were encouraged to visit the Card Rewards Web page to either buy a new rewards card for US$5 or to register an existing gift card to be part of the programme. Users who sign up before 14 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.
In order to get the two free hours every day, Card Rewards programme users must buy something with the card at least once a month.
A Starbucks spokesman said that the problems were on Starbucks' end, not its supplier AT&T. "Customers overwhelmed the site when joining Starbucks Card Rewards," said Doug Cavarocchi, a Starbucks spokesman, in an e-mail. The problem started in the morning and was solved by midday on the West Coast.
The problem affected visitors in the U.S. and Canada trying to sign on to Starbucks.com with a user name and password, he said, although other users trying to sign up for the program also saw the error message.