Postgraduate slams ‘discriminatory’ sign in Costa Coffee that asks students to leave after just 30 minutes – following ‘complaints from older customers’
- Francesca Franklin spotted the sign at a Birmingham branch of the coffee chain
- Read more: Hundreds outraged by woman’s ‘rude’ and ‘inconsiderate’ act on three-hour flight
A postgraduate has criticised a branch of Costa Coffee in Birmingham after staff put a sign up advising students they must only stay a maximum of 30 minutes – following ‘complaints from older customers’.
Francesca Franklin, from Birmingham, says she was shocked to see the ‘gentle reminder’ after ordering a latte at the Selly Oak Retail Park branch of the coffee chain on May 12th.
The printed note – now removed – advised students who study in the cafe that they’re only permitted to stay for a maximum of half an hour, and only if any food or drink had been purchased from the branch.
The 23-year-old claims she was told by a staff member they’d received complaints from older customers who were ‘fed up’ with students sitting in the store for hours working on laptops, saying some don’t even buy anything.
Drink up! Students visiting the Selly Oak Retail Park are only permitted to stay in the cafe for 30 minutes, a sign on the counter, now removed, told those buying food and drink
The fourth-year Geology student who enjoys working in the space and buys something each time she visits, claims the notice was ‘discriminating’ against students.
The master’s student contacted Costa on Twitter and claims she’d been assured it will be investigated internally.
As an apology and gesture of goodwill, she says she was given two free drinks vouchers. Costa also said the sign has now been removed.
Francesca said: ‘I was quite annoyed when I saw the sign. I thought it was quite bad to say ‘students can’t go in there’, there’s nothing stopping anyone else from sitting in there and not buying anything, they’re just targeting students.
‘I feel like they’re discriminating against students, they don’t want students in there longer than 30 minutes.
‘It says they can stay for a maximum of 30 minutes if they’ve bought food or drink, but it’s not saying that for just ‘normal’ people [not students].
‘I think it’s tarring all students with the same brush, it’s not nice.’
Francesca says she had planned to sit down for a short while and enjoy her coffee but decided to take it away after reading the ‘discriminatory’ note
The postgrad geology student said she felt uncomfortable after staff asked her if she was a student during a visit to the cafe
Francesca, who’s considering a career as a secondary school teacher, said the branch is her favourite and that she goes in there to work sometimes as it has good Wi-Fi.
On this occasion, she said she wasn’t going in there to study and probably would have sat down for a short while to enjoy her coffee, but decided to take it away.
Afterwards, she shared a tweet asking if the sign was ‘acceptable’.
Francesca said: ‘I usually go into that Costa quite a lot just to work and I went in there last week and they had that sign there, and I thought it looked kind of weird.
‘I was a bit surprised. She asked me if I was a student and I just said no, I felt a bit uncomfortable to say yes.
She revealed that staff in the store told her that older customers complained that students would set up at tables and not leave ‘for hours’ because they were studying
‘I asked why and she said that they’ve had some complaints from some of the older customers getting fed up with students sitting in there, so they put up that sign.
‘She said older people have complained that there’s not enough seats for other people to sit down because students are sitting in there for hours, and some of them aren’t buying something.’
The postgraduate says she’ll choose another cafe to buy her lattes from, saying she’d feel uncomfortable now opening her laptop to work in the retail park branch.
‘I just don’t really want to go back in there, I feel a bit awkward.’
A Costa spokesman said: ‘This situation was flagged to the Area Manager, and we can confirm that the sign has now been removed.’
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