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Costa Coffee’s Twitter profile boasts that it’s “the Nation’s Favorite Coffee Shop.” However, the British chain is currently in hot water after the release of a video taken at their Waterloo Station shop. The video shows a barista refusing to let a customer buy something for a homeless man.
Enter the Filmmaker
Adrian Pinsent is an independent filmmaker with four directing credits, eight cinematography credits, and awards from BAFTA and FX to his name. He’s also the Good Samaritan who tried and was denied from purchasing food for a homeless man. The Independent quoted Pinsent as saying, “I asked him pick what he wanted, a sarnie and a Pepsi, and when I tried to pay for it, they refused.” Shortly after the argument with the barista started, Pinsent whipped out his camera and started recording.
— Adrian Pinsent (@Filmquotebloke) July 18, 2017
The video starts with the barista half-heartedly apologizing to Pinsent. He grills the employee throughout the video. At one point, he asks, “Is that Costa Coffee policy that I can’t buy food for a homeless person in your shop?” The barista responds, “It’s not our policy, it’s from the security of the station and the police.” In addition, he claims they would be prosecuted if they allowed this, which Pinsent insists is untrue. In the end, an impatient and frustrated Pinsent leaves ten pounds on the table and takes the sandwich and Pepsi.
Enter the Presenter
Curiously, if you read Pinsent’s tweet, you can see that he tags Julia Bradbury. For those who don’t know her, Bradbury is a British TV personality known for presentation and broadcasting. Maybe he knows her personally, or professionally. Or maybe he reached out to her for “help with this #homeless issue” because she has some idea of what that experience is like. Bradbury was featured in a BBC two-parter called Famous, Rich and Homeless, which highlighted the difficulties of homelessness.
— Julia Bradbury🇺🇦 (@JuliaBradbury) July 18, 2017
Whatever the reason, he was wise to reach her. She publicly blasted the incident as “disgusting” and made sure the Twitter pages for Waterloo Station and Costa knew it. Waterloo quickly responded that this was not their policy, nor Costa’s, calling it a “local misunderstanding.” Bradbury said, “We’ll wait for @Costa’s response.” They have yet to address her.
Well, sorta. At one point, she received a response from a parody account, telling her not to believe everything she sees on the news. It prompted her to ask Pinsent if he could somehow verify the footage. Then, Costa’s Twitter account replied to her, saying that tweet was not from them. Bradbury realized they denounced a “fake, parody account” faster than a barista refusing to let a poor man eat. She blasted them for it.
— Julia Bradbury🇺🇦 (@JuliaBradbury) July 21, 2017
One manager of the Twitter page, known only as “Ella,” has repeatedly insisted that this is not Costa policy. Despite this, people continue tweeting their anger at the chain. Perhaps they’re unaware of Ella’s tweets because they were only replies to critical posts. As of this writing, Costa Coffee has yet to release a firm, direct statement on Twitter regarding this video.
What they did do is send a message to Huffington Post UK. They stated, “We can confirm we do not have a policy that restricts customers purchasing food for anyone who is homeless. We believe the store was given misinformation, which has now been corrected.”
On that note, they also affirmed that they will not issue an apology for what happened. A Costa spokesperson told HuffPo UK, “Our barista thought he was communicating the right information.” While the incident provoked reactionary comments from customers, Costa Coffee seems to not wish to assume the worst. That, or they just want to save face.
Of course, the barista did say it was the station’s policy and the police’s rules, not Costa’s. For their part, a spokesman for Network Rail, which manages Waterloo Station, said buying food for homeless people was not against their policy. British Transport Police also denied that they would prosecute anyone for this.
Here’s a story about another British man who successfully bought a homeless man breakfast – and did so much more.