No more sneaking around. It’s now official Starbucks policy that anyone can sit in their cafés and use their bathrooms without having to actually purchase anything. Store managers and baristas have long complained that the company’s policy on the issue was vague at best, but now there should be no confusion on the issue.
In a letter to employees Saturday the company said “any person who enters our spaces, including patios, cafes and restrooms, regardless of whether they make a purchase, is considered a customer.” The new Starbucks policy applies to its more than 8,000 company-operated stores in the United States.
The move isn’t exactly a surprise considering Starbucks Chairman Howard Schultz had made it clear earlier this month that was the direction the company was headed. “We don’t want to become a public bathroom, but we’re going to make the right decision 100% of the time and give people the key,” he said.
The company’s unclear policy on the use of its facilities came to the forefront after two black men were arrested last month at a Philadelphia store. The men said they were waiting on a third person for a meeting. They spent four hours in jail. The men later settled with Starbucks for an undisclosed sum of money as well as an offer of a free college education.
Despite the new permissive policy, Starbucks still made it clear to employees they still need to deal with customers who are “behaving in a disruptive manner.”