Article originally published in the Philadelphia Business Journal on September 21, 2015
A negative story that goes viral on social media and is covered by numerous print and Internet news outlets is every company’s nightmare. On Sept. 11, a police officer asked a Center City Philadelphia Starbucks barista for the code to the store’s restroom. The Starbucks employee refused to give the officer the code, stating in a voice that other customers could hear, “The bathroom is for paying customers only.” According to the officer, he asked for the code once again, and the employee responded in the “same loud manner and with a smirk, ‘Are you a paying customer?’”
The police officer’s description of the incident was posted by a fellow officer on Starbucks’ Facebook page. Included in the Facebook post was the officer’s comment, “It’s hip for this generation to berate and totally disrespect cops in front of the public and praise cop killers as the heroes of their time.”
The post received thousands of views and comments expressing displeasure and hostility towards Starbucks and the actions of their employee. Of course, Starbucks corporate office apologized to the officer and made the obligatory statement that the police officer’s experience was “not consistent with the welcoming and friendly environment we strive to create for everyone. We have personally apologized to the customer and look forward to welcoming him back to our store.