Why I won’t be going to Costa Coffee anymore

 

Unfortunately, today Costa Coffee lost a customer (hint: it’s me).

After getting Maggie a few months back, I have been going to the Costa Coffee on Cowley Road multiple times a week – sometimes every day.  I was told that this is fine, and I’ve got to know the staff quite well. They have all commented on how beautiful and well-baheved Maggie is. Today, however, I was unceremoniously shouted at, called a liar, and kicked out of Costa, just for having Maggie in there with me while grabbing a take-out coffee. The ‘manager’ told me that dogs have never been allowed in there, that it was against the law, and that because he has never seen me I was lying about being in there multiple times a week for the last 3 months. He then refused to tell me his name when I said I would be making a complaint, and then after escorting me out of the premises, actually came out again to shout at me on the street. I honestly can say I’ve never been treated so rudely or with such contempt by a shop or restaurant worker.

Not cool, Costa. Not cool.

I have copied my letter of complain to Costa Coffee below.

No more Costa for Maggie.
No more Costa for Maggie.

 

Dear Sir/Madam,

I am writing to raise a complaint about the behaviour of one of your ‘managers’ at a local branch, and to seek to clarify information concerning your policy of dogs in Costa Coffee.
 
I am a regular customer of Costa Coffee, and have been for many years. I have always been impressed by the quality of the service and the staff in particular. For the last few years, I have frequented most often the Costa Coffee in Oxford (141 Cowley Road, Oxford, OX4 1HU). I live just around the corner, and this has become my ‘go-to’ coffee place.
 

In June I acquired a small dog. I first went into the Costa here in June and enquired about bringing my dog, Maggie, in when I come and get a take-away coffee. I was informed that this was perfectly fine, and that I could bring her in but could only have coffee to take-away or to sit outside in the small patio area. Since then, I have been to Costa approximately 3-4 times every week, often going once a day. The staff have all met me, and Maggie, and indeed nearly all of them have commented on what a beautiful and well-behaved dog she is. There have never been any issues at all, and in approximately 80% of my visits other customers in the shop have actually approached me and asked what her name is, what breed she is, and asked to pet her. I keep her on a short lead close to me, and as soon as our coffee is made we leave and sit outside.

However, today I entered the coffee and was about to order when a man came up to me and told – very rudely – that I had to leave as the sign on the door said no dogs. I explained that I asked the staff months ago, and that they gave me the information above (she could come in, but if I wanted my coffee to stay in I should sit outside). I told him – very politely – that I thought this was a bit confusing because I have been in so frequently over the last months and have never had a problem, as I discussed above. At this point, he told me that he had never seen me and so this wasn’t true, and that I had to leave immediately. After accusing me of lying, I then asked to see the manager, but he told me that it was him (despite never seeing him before in the shop). He told me I was breaking the law, and that I had to leave. I pointed out that there is not actually any laws against allowing dogs in places where food or drink is served, and that the only legal obligation on the owner is to make sure there is no risk of contamination and that all food preparation areas are up to specified hygiene standards. There was no risk of contamination as she is a tiny dog – not even reaching 2/3 of the way to the top of the counter, and was not in any danger of even being remotely near any food preparation areas. After first accusing me of lying, he then told me that I was wrong. He raised his voice substantially and told me rudely to leave. I then asked him for his name so that I could include it in this letter, but he refused, saying that he would not give me his name and told me to leave again. This was incredibly embarrassing, as you can imagine. The man was incredibly rude, and forcibly escorted me out the shop. Once I left, he then came out again to tell me that I was wrong and that dogs are never allowed in that shop.

I would sincerely appreciate you letting me know the exact policy of Costa Coffee on allowing dogs on the premises, and in particular in this specific branch. I would also like to hear how you will be discussing this with the manager. As I’m sure you’ll agree, I don’t think that accusing your regular customers of lying and then forcibly escorting from the shop – before actually coming out again of the shop to shout at them in the street – is appropriate behaviour. I would like to know how you intend to deal with this, as well as informing him on the laws of allowing dogs on premises.

 
Yours sincerely,
 
Jim A.C. Everett

 

8 Responses

  1. Lucy Coogan
    |

    Hi Jim,

    I too have very recently bought a dog and ‘Googled’ Costa’s policy on dogs as I would be very interested to know what their stance is. I was very disappointed to read about your experience. Did you ever get a satisfactory reply?

  2. Jim A.C. Everett
    |

    Hi Lucy,

    I did receive a response, but it wasn’t helpful at all. They explained that their policy is that dogs are allowed in, BUT this is at the discretion of the employees working at any given time in the shop. In other words, it can be OK to take your dog in a Costa in the morning, but not in the afternoon. Even at the same time of day, in the same shop, it is dependent on how the people working that day feel (they don’t need any other reason).

    I still haven’t been back, and continue to encourage dog owners (of whom I know many) not to go to Costa.

    • Barista Maestro
      |

      I who work for costa know (as I have been told by my manager) it is down to the discretion of the manager of the shop. I doubt you would have been told such a vague and unhelpful response. I also doubt that the manager who shouted at you was not wearing a name badge. I hate working for Costa but the way you described you’re incident just sounds unbelievable. Anyone who reads this should know the actual policy and know that nothing like this is likely so happen at all. If you are told you are not allowed to bring you’re dog in one shop and are allowed in another that is the reason. Not due to any other member of staff.

  3. Alexandra
    |

    Hello

    I am so sorry about your experience and i hope that costa resolved the poor customer service that this person had.

    Just to let you know that Paul French Bakery, patisserie, coffee and tea salon has opened in Oxford. You should try it. Im sure you would love it!!

    Take care

  4. Barista maestro no.2
    |

    Hi, I also work in a costa!
    Personally I am not a huge fan of dogs, but would always let someone (especially a regular customer with a well behaved dog) come into the store with their dog. The only exception to this would be during peak times when the store would be very busy, but I would never do so in a rude way, and always be sure to explain the reason as to why the dog could not come into the shop. I always made sure if the dog couldn’t come in that there was a bowl of water available outside.
    So sorry to hear about this, I don’t think this was dealt with in a professional manner. I would like to think that the manager had his reasons for saying that Maggie couldn’t enter the storel, but the way you’ve described it sounds as though there wasn’t.
    Be sure to remember that not all costas are like this.
    Xx

  5. Dave
    |

    Why is it Costa’s fault that there is one shitty employee out there?

    • Unknown name
      |

      Because they hired him????

  6. Costa Manager
    |

    First I would like to tell You Maggie is beautiful. I work in London, manage a huge costa coffee shop, and I know costa policy allow dogs in shop only if they’re with blind or disabled person. If not, It all depends on the manager, if He/She kind enough to let You in. In my shop I have two regulars they’re coming at morning for TA, with dogs. I always allowed them to come, and serve them as quickly as I can, because some other customers are afraid of dogs, but it doesent mean He doesen’t have to be flexible, specially if You are a regular! Costa is slowly slowly changing their flexibility, getting better and better, day by day, and that manager clearly wasn’t aware of that!