Starbucks' (NASDAQ:SBUX) public relations have suffered a bit after its recent move to invalidate emailed coupons for free drinks, originally intended for friends and families of Starbucks employees, which apparently ended up distributed far and wide. But things have now gone from silly to sillier: A lawsuit is brewing over what some apparently think is just too bum a deal.

The lawsuit was filed on Friday in New York City by attorney Peter Sullivan, who is suing Starbucks for fraud on behalf of a 23-year-old customer who apparently felt "betrayed" by the defunct offer for a free drink. The lawsuit seeks $114 million and angles for class action status on behalf of potential customers who were angered by the pulled promotion.

I've already noted my disappointment in Starbucks' misstep, which might give its rivals an advantage. For example, Caribou (NASDAQ:CBOU) tried to take advantage of the situation by offering people holding the defunct Starbucks coupons its own free drinks on one specified day. And if some customers were miffed by their worthless coupons -- I thought it was an ill-conceived plan, since any email promotion these days risks being altered and distributed in a viral manner -- they could always stage boycotts of their own, alleviating their caffeine cravings with offerings from Caribou, Peet's (NASDAQ:PEET), Green Mountain Coffee Roasters (NASDAQ:GMCR), or an independent local coffee house instead. Is this really the type of injury that warrants calling lawyers?

As both a shareholder and a customer, I think Starbucks made a dumb move by offering the coupon only to rescind it. But a lawsuit over lost drinks worth a couple dollars apiece just gives lawyers and lawsuits a bad name.

And isn't "betrayed" a ridiculous way to describe losing out on a free beverage? Bummed out? Sure. But betrayed? According to Merriam-Webster, to betray means "to lead astray," "to deliver to an enemy by treachery," or "to fail or desert especially in a time of need." Let's get real.

Of course, as long as Starbucks has its reputation as a success story and a leader in its industry, it's vulnerable to increased scrutiny. Sometimes, it seems such scrutiny is bound to spiral into the depths of opportunistic silliness.

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Alyce Lomax owns shares of Starbucks. The Fool has a disclosure policy.