Starbucks got in trouble five weeks ago when the manager called police to eject two black men who were refusing to leave one of their Philadelphia stores after the men were denied use of the bathroom because they had not bought anything.
Starbucks response was to immediately blame the manager, imply her actions were racist and order their 8000 stores to close for a day of ‘unconscious bias training’ for all of their employees across the country on May 29.
But on Saturday, they went even one step further, making a move that is going to guarantee some of their managers trouble for sure in the future.
They have announced a new policy that allows anyone to sit in their stores or use their bathrooms even if the people don’t buy anything.
Company executives have said its previous policies were loose and ambiguous, leaving decisions on whether people could sit in its stores or use the restroom up to store managers.
Starbucks said it has told workers to consider anyone who walks into its stores a customer, “regardless of whether they make a purchase.”
The company said anyone can use its cafes, patios or restrooms without buying anything, but it noted workers should still call the police if someone is a safety threat.
“We are committed to creating a culture of warmth and belonging where everyone is welcome,” Starbucks said in a statement.
The Philadelphia incident was a major embarrassment for Starbucks.
The men who were arrested settled with Starbucks earlier this month for an undisclosed sum and an offer of a free college education. They also reached a deal with Philadelphia for a symbolic $1 each and a promise from city officials to set up a $200,000 program for young entrepreneurs.
But they may have bought the managers of their stores a lot of trouble.
In urban stores, the homeless may just have found a new place to live.
In the Starbucks at the Port Authority in NYC, it’s a daily, perhaps hourly occurrence of homeless people coming in and trying to solicit actual customers for money. The night manager a small 5’3″ black woman, has called the police countless times. Corporate has now left her hanging out to dry.
In busier Starbucks, such as the one in Philadephia or the one in the Port Authority, seats are a premium. Now, someone can camp there all day long (as they were already wont to do and again, what option does the manager have unless the person is a threat? At least requiring people to buy something kept the turnover moving. Now this means that someone could truly move in and make Starbucks their office or home.
Most people saw a problem, even if Starbucks doesn’t get it yet.
Starbucks may just have gored themselves in their haste to be politically correct and in the process hurt themselves with their hipster clientele who aren’t going to want to be hanging out with the homeless.