A Starbucks Barista Made Fun Of A Customer With A Speech Impediment, And Seriously?

starbucks employee mocked speech impediment

It seems like Starbucks employees might be in need of another round of sensitivity training. In a recent Facebook post that has since gone viral, a customer says that a Starbucks barista made fun of them because of their speech impediment. Yes, really.

In the Facebook post, user Tanner Lekwijit wrote about the experience of his friend named “Sam,” a 28-year-old graduate student from the University of Pennsylvania. According to Philly.com, he ordered an iced coffee, and when he gave his name to the barista, he says she made fun of him by saying, “Okay, S-S-Sam.” Even worse? He later realized that the name on his cup read “SSSam.”

After it happened, Lekwijit wrote that Sam “wrote an email to Starbucks Customer Service and got a pretty standardized email saying they were sorry that he ‘felt disrespectful’ for the way they wrote his name and offered him $5.'” Sam was understandably frustrated. Lekwijit wrote, “Clearly, Starbucks missed the point. It was about how you treat people with speech impairments, not how you write names.”

Sam spoke with Philly.com and said that he has had a stutter since he was six years old. He stated, “It’s rare, as an adult, that that kind of disrespect happens. It happens, but it’s really rare to see it in print. Stuttering is an affliction that harms people every day. But I’m not the right person to be the face of that fight.”

Lekwijit said he had originally posted the story on Starbucks’s Facebook page, but they deleted it, so he wrote it on his own page. The post quickly gained attention and started getting more and more shares.

Starbucks eventually responded to Lekwijit’s post, leaving a comment that said, “Hi, Tan. Thank you for bringing this to our attention. We want our stores to serve as a welcoming place for everyone who visits and want to ensure our partners provide a positive experience. Our local leadership has reached out to Sam to better understand what took place and the specifics of his experience and apologize directly. We have zero tolerance for discrimination and are addressing this immediately.”

Huffington Post reached out to Starbucks, and a spokesman said that the company had reached out to Sam on Monday to apologize. Sam confirmed to Philly.com that an executive had apologized to him, and he said, “As someone who studies these kind of things [corporate decisions and operations], I believe she was sincere in her apology.”

This is the second time in only a few months that Starbucks has made the news for employees who aren’t treating customers fairly. Earlier this year, a Starbucks employee, also in Philadelphia, had two black men arrested for trespassing. On May 29th, the company closed 8,000 Starbucks for four hours for “racial bias training.” Starbucks advisers claim they need to be doing more.

We hope that Starbucks employees can learn from this incident and change the way they treat customers.

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