A Starbucks customer was left horrified when she noticed the barista who served her had written not her name on the cup but the word ‘hippo’.
Nadia Khan, 25, expected to see her name scrawled across the cup when she ordered a Cookies and Cream Frappuccino last week – or maybe even a misspelled version of it.
Instead, Nadia was baffled to see the insulting term written on the side of her Frappuccino when the drink was handed to her in the coffee store in Feltham, London.
At first, the admin worker thought she’d made a mistake and dismissed the apparent insult as bad handwriting. Which is understandable, until you realise ‘hippo’ looks nothing like ‘Nadia’ therefore it’s unlikely the barista intended to write her name.
Nadia told the Mirror:
When I got my drink, I noticed ‘Hippo’ but I dismissed it as really bad writing.
It wasn’t until Nadia showed the cup to her mum, Andria, that she started to think perhaps there was some malice behind the writing. ‘Going absolutely ballistic,’ Andria went to the store and confronted the staff member in question directly.
When she got there, Andria ‘told him he should treat customers with respect, no matter how skinny, fat or whatever’ they were.
Tagging the coffee company in a complaint on Twitter, Nadia asked whether Starbucks thought it was ‘appropriate’ for their staff to write ‘hippo’ on her cup when she ‘did not tell [them] that was [her] name’.
Many who replied to the tweet wondered why her weight was ever considered a factor in the company’s customer service, with one person writing: ‘Being thin is not the rent you pay to exist in the world as a woman’.
Others urged Starbucks to take action, questioning whether the company believes this type of behaviour is ‘okay’ and demanding they either fire the employee in question or make them attend sensitivity training.
In response to Nadia’s complaint that the insult was ‘grotesquely unprofessional,’ Starbucks said they had apologised to the young woman directly.
A spokesperson for the company said, as per the Mirror:
We have a longstanding tradition of connecting with our customers by writing their names on our cups.
This incident is not indicative of the welcoming environment we aim to provide in our stores, and have apologised to the customer directly. We are working closely with the store team to ensure it doesn’t happen again.
Hopefully this incident was a one-off which won’t happen to any future customers within the store, and Nadia is able to put it behind her.
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A Broadcast Journalism Masters graduate who went on to achieve an NCTJ level 3 Diploma in Journalism, Lucy has done stints at ITV, BBC Inside Out and Key 103. While working as a journalist for UNILAD, Lucy has reported on breaking news stories while also writing features about mental health, cervical screening awareness, and Little Mix (who she is unapologetically obsessed with).