A Starbucks barista has been suspended from their job after apparently ‘humiliating’ a man with a speech impediment by writing his name as ‘RRR…ichard’ on his order.
Richard Procter says when he collected the cup after paying, he was horrified to see the extra letters written on it. In his view this was a cruel act designed to mock the fact he has a stutter.
He wrote to complain about the incident – which took place in the coffee chain’s branch at Ashford International railway station in Kent, England – on the Starbucks UK Facebook page, triggering the barista’s exit from their job.
Mr Procter, who runs an IT company, wrote: “The treatment I received from one of the [Starbucks] staff was extremely offensive and humiliating. Would this be acceptable to a person with more obvious disabilities? I highly doubt it. Yes I have a speech impediment, and have been subjected to many jokes over the years, of which most I can handle, however there are many people that struggle to cope in public and this could be extremely upsetting for them. This is not unique but for some reason some of society think it’s acceptable behaviour. The only difference in this instance is that I was handed the proof instead of having to listen to the comment.”
Starbucks has so far not named the member of staff responsible.
Many British customers hate Starbucks’ policy of baristas asking them for their name in order to appear friendly and then writing it on their order. They routinely get their own back by claiming to be called something ridiculous or embarassing. But this time the shoe was on the other foot.
A British Stammering Association (BSA) spokesman said: “This is just another example of the ridicule and thoughtlessness that people who stammer face every day and which makes living your life with a stammer so hard. We know that stammering is a physical, neurological disability, covered by the Equality Act – one is left wondering what kind of service others, for example people with cerebral palsy, can expect from Starbucks? BSA is working hard to educate service providers, employers and others to ensure this kind of discrimination becomes a thing of the past.”
A Starbucks spokesman said: “We were disappointed to hear of this customer’s experience and have been in touch directly to apologise. The actions of the partner involved were unacceptable and they have been suspended pending further disciplinary action. We aim to provide a warm and welcoming environment for all of our customers, and plan to provide additional awareness training for our store partners in future.”