Everyone loves coffee, and when you hear the name Starbucks, suddenly you can almost smell the coffee, feel the warmth of the familiar shop and taste the delicious first sip of your favorite drink. But for me, Starbucks has left a bad taste in my mouth.
This semester, I am taking organizational communication with Dr. Greg Kielmeyer. In this course, we study several case studies. Case studies consist of a variety of incidents that have happened in the real world and are analyzed to present a main idea. In these studies, we examine each case and apply different principles of what we have learned in the class. One case we recently discussed was a Starbucks incident in Philadelphia several years ago involving two African American men.
An employee of that Starbucks called the police on two African American men for “trespassing.” This employee assumed that because the men were not ordering anything from the coffee shop, they were trespassing on Starbucks’ property. The employee asked the men to order something or leave, but they refused, as they were waiting for someone for a business meeting. The employee promptly called the police, who showed up quickly to remove them from the shop.
The incident created a lot of controversy and discussion about how the situation was handled. More importantly, the question arose as to whether their race played a strong role in their being kicked out of the coffee shop. I believe that this was an issue of race, and that is the exact way that others saw it also.
As an African American woman and college student, I have experienced the unfortunate situation of being racially profiled in a store before. Though it is not right, it is common for someone to see an African American as a “thief” and automatically assume that they are up to no good. This is precisely what happened in this Starbucks incident.
These two men were delivered apologies and substantial incentives, such as an opportunity to study online at Arizona State University and $200,000, which they gave to local organizations to support young entrepreneurs. I commend Starbucks for how they handled the incident, as they took care of the problem speedily. However, it does not change what happened to the two men.
A few of my friends said this incident did affect whether they would go back to Starbucks for a while. Their opinion quickly changed over time, as Starbucks promptly resolved the issue.
Starbucks is a common place where many people go to study, meet and more. For me, it had always been a peaceful and comforting place to go to when I had a lot to do. I could easily concentrate and get my work done promptly.
As a busy college student, I have visited multiple Starbucks with friends to study, and I never ordered anything. I have never been an avid coffee drinker, as it happens to make me incredibly hyper and nervous. Therefore, every time I have gone, I went to study and then leave. While I had been there multiple times, I had never been kicked out of the store or confronted about not making a purchase.
I think that this situation with the two men at Starbucks was not handled fairly. The two men should not have been misjudged and arrested for simply not ordering anything. I do not feel that they did anything warranting their arrest.
For example, imagine going into a bookstore. It is not guaranteed that you are going to buy something, and you understand that, as do as the employees there. Some people visit these bookstores, stay and read the books and then leave.
In a way, it is the same thing that people do when visiting Starbucks.
In another aspect, people visiting the shop and not ordering anything right away might still benefit Starbucks’ business. After sitting in Starbucks for a while, someone might feel the need to order something.
When I asked a few friends their opinions, most of them said they think that you should at least order something. “It’s a common courtesy,” one of them said.
I believe it is important to reflect a Christlike attitude in everything that you do; therefore, I agree that you should respect all places of business. However, though a common courtesy, I believe that Starbucks should clearly state it in their policy and make it known to its customers whether they require purchases.