Starbucks' desperation means free Internet for card customers


With the purchase of a $5 gift card, or by entering your personal information in the company's database for a rewards program, Starbucks will allow you to sip on two hours of free Wi-Fi from AT&T at stores. The Seattle-based fast food chain may be one of the first to be hit by any economic downturn as Americans cut back on the affordable luxury of $4 caffeinated drinks and spend that money at competitors like McDonald's. One look at the stock's performance over the last year, down over 30 percent, and you can see why CEO Howard Schultz would look to freebies like Wi-Fi to keep the company's FrappucinoTM junkies coming back. As our very special correspondent once put it, "Wi-Fi isn't a luxury or even a commodity. It's a condiment."