Starbucks baristas are known to frequently misspell customers’ names, but one customer in California believes that in his case, it was deliberate and even racially charged.
Johncarl Festejo, a Filipino-American veteran from Vacaville, alleges that a barista from the coffee chain called him by a racist name based on his appearance. He served in the United States Air Force for 18 years and retired last year.
Last Monday, Nov. 26, Festejo passed by one of the coffee chain’s branches with his 12-year-old daughter while bringing her to school, reported KCRA 3 on Saturday, Dec. 1.
At the counter, he ordered a hot cocoa for himself, a banana nut bread and a chocolate Frapuccino for his daughter.
When asked for his name, he told the barista it was “John.” His full name “Johncarl” was on the cafe’s app which was used to pay for the orders.
While waiting for his order, he heard a female barista yell, “Is there a Chang here? We got a hot cocoa.” He did not think at first that it was his. But after it was repeated along with the other items he ordered, he suspected that they were his.
He went to the counter to confirm if they were his order and why his name wasn’t called. “Ma’am, is this my order? Because my name is not Chang,” he asked.
The employee suggested that it must have been the name on the app, but Festejo confirmed that it was not the case. “Is this some kind of joke?” he asked.
He alleged that when the employee asked the barista why it was “Chang” printed on the order, he saw her “slightly snicker.”
While he did not press the issue further at the store, he called the corporate office after dropping off his daughter at the school. He received an apology from the office and from the district manager.
The barista does not have assigned shifts while the matter is being investigated.
The company said in a statement: ”At Starbucks, we take great pride in providing a warm and welcoming environment for everyone who enters our stores and expect our partners to uphold our values and follow through on our commitment.”
“We have a zero-tolerance stance on discrimination of any kind, and the experience in question was not reflective of our mission and values,” it said. “We have reached out to the customer and shared our deep regret for their experience, are conducting an investigation into the matter and will take the appropriate actions.”
Last May, the coffee chain shut down over 8,000 stores for a day of training on racial bias education. The move was a response to an incident where employees in Philadelphia claimed two black men were trespassing and got them arrested. Niña V. Guno/JB