Starbucks has landed in hot water again after a Philadelphia barista allegedly mocked a customer with a stutter.
A University of Pennsylvania graduate student claims he was made fun of when he ordered an iced coffee at a Starbucks in University City, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
The Starbucks employee mimicked the Wharton student’s name, saying, “OK, S-S-Sam,” according to the report.
The employee also allegedly wrote “SSSam” on the customer’s coffee cup.
“It’s rare, as an adult, that that kind of disrespect happens,” Sam told the Philadelphia Inquirer. He withheld his last name because he did not want to be forever linked to the alleged bias. “It happens, but it’s really rare to see it in print,” he said.
Sam, who has had a stutter since he was 6, said he doesn’t want to be the face of the disability.
Sam reported the incident to Starbucks customer service via email, and received what he described as a “generic” reply, and an offer for a $5 Starbucks credit.
“I thought it was kind of insulting,” he told The Philadelphia Inquirer. “I also thought they didn’t take my issue seriously. It was as if they give $5 to anyone who complains about anything.”
Starbucks last month closed all 800 of its U.S. stores for a day of anti-bias training following the wrongful arrest of Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson, two black men who were waiting for a business meeting at a different Philadelphia Starbucks.
The coffee giant declined to press charges against the men, both 23 years old.
Sam says he has no plans to boycott Starbucks over the incident.
“I don’t want to generalize one person’s behavior,” he said. “I’m not going to impugn an entire organization because of one person.”
Sam’s classmate, Tan Lekwijit, shared the incident on Facebook.
“I’m writing this not because I want to get anybody into trouble, but because I want to raise awareness among the employees. There are many people with speech disorders who are in a worse position than my friend’s and struggle with self-esteem and self-confidence. Getting this kind of treatment from people, especially service employees, only scars them — and I beg Starbucks employees to have this in mind,” he wrote.
“I don’t know if the training they just had covered people with speech disabilities, but it should,” he added.
He claims Starbucks deleted his original post and that he had to re-post his comments. Starbucks said it is looking into whether the original post was deleted.
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