A barista at Costa Coffee refused to serve a customer a sandwich and a soft drink because it was being purchased for a homeless man.
TV Cameraman Adrian Pinsent was left ‘gobsmacked’ when he was refused service at Waterloo Station, with the barista even claiming the store could be prosecuted.
Adrian had kindly brought the homeless man into Costa Coffee to treat him to some food items of his choice.
40-year-old Adrian shared footage of the incident on Facebook and Twitter, which shows the barista saying:
If we do that we will get prosecuted. It’s not our policy, it’s from the security of the station and the police.
You can watch it here:
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The disagreement had been going on for some time before Adrian began filming, with the barista blaming the policies of the train station.
Despite protests, the footage ends with Adrian putting £10 down on the counter and taking the food for the hungry man.
Okay, we all worry about getting into trouble at work, but if the barista’s excuse sounds like complete bull, then that’s because it is…
Adrian had strong suspicions that the employee was mistaken, and made the following statement to the Press Association:
I was amazed. As a cameraman and journalist myself, I know that the idea of Costa being prosecuted by either the police or station security as the barista says is utterly wrong.
And it turns out that Adrian was absolutely right…
— Max McMurdo reestore (@maxreestore) July 19, 2017
It was later confirmed that neither Costa Coffee nor Network Rail has any such policies in place that restrict the selling of food to homeless people.
In fact, Costa Coffee has released the following statement:
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
Network Rail have released a similar statement:
We do not have a policy against passengers buying food in our stations and giving the food to anyone who is homeless.
We will be asking our retailers to remind their staff of this, so we can avoid any incidents such as this in the future.
Furthermore, the British Transport Police have also made it abundantly clear that they would not prosecute a person ‘caught’ selling food for a homeless person.
As someone who regularly buys food for the homeless, found this utterly disgusting! Well done for videoing!
— Beth Murray – author (@BethMurrayBooks) July 19, 2017
Speaking with UNILAD, Adrian has made the following statement:
Generally I have been very pleased with the response to this incident.
Mostly it has been positive and supportive, but there have been a select few who have been abusive, but I suppose that’s what you get with twitter!
Seriously though, I am pleased that people have noticed this incident and seem to want to share and highlight the issue.
It’s all too easy to brush the homeless aside and simply pretend they don’t exist. Society does not do enough, and I am probably as guilty of that as the next guy.
Back in May of this year, Lambeth police were scrutinised for putting offensive ‘anti-begging’ signs outside of Waterloo Station, the very same location where this new incident of demonisation has taken place.
According to Adrian:
Putting spikes in doorways in London so homeless people can’t sleep there has been happening more and more and is also a disgrace.
I have no idea what the solution is to homelessness, but ignoring it, dismissing it and looking the other way certainly isn’t the answer.
All it does is move the issue to another area, if that makes sense.
If you would like to support homeless people, please visit the Shelter website and make a donation.
Jules studied English Literature with Creative Writing at Lancaster University before earning her masters in International Relations at Leiden University in The Netherlands (Hoi!). She then trained as a journalist through News Associates in Manchester. Jules has previously worked as a mental health blogger, copywriter and freelancer for various publications.