Starbucks facing backlash from Chinese consumers, after its store asked policemen to go away
Published: Feb 14, 2022 02:35 PM
Starbucks to open its first Greener Store outside of North America in Shanghai Photo:Chen Xia/GT

Starbucks to open its first Greener Store outside of North America in Shanghai Photo:Chen Xia/GT

US coffee giant Starbucks is facing a backlash from Chinese social media users after staff in one of its stores in Chongqing, Southwest China, reportedly drove out local police who were eating food at the doorstep of the store, citing that the latter's behavior could affect the coffee brand's image.

The US company apologized on its Weibo account on Monday for a misunderstanding in communication, but denied online accusations that it "asked policemen to go away" or that it "issued complaints against policemen."

According to a screenshot of a written description posted by a Weibo blogger on Sunday, Starbucks employees at the store, located in Ciqikou, an ancient town in the Shapingba district of Chongqing city, asked policemen on duty, who were having food at the doorstep, move to another place because it would "affect the brand's image".

"Around 5 pm on Sunday, there were four policemen coming to the store and they were eating outside. But later some customers came and said they'd also like to eat outside. When employees were coordinating seats with the policemen, they had misunderstandings in communication due to 'improper language,'" Starbucks China said in a post on Weibo. 

The screenshot quickly went viral on Chinese social media and drew anger from many users saying the US brand was too arrogant, and some are calling for a boycott of the coffee.

One users said: "The police just borrowed a place to eat, how could it be linked to affecting the image of Starbucks? Now, to the contrary, chasing the police out from the store has seriously affected the image of Starbucks. There are a lot of coffee shops, so we don't have to drink Starbucks."

The police did not leave rubbish un-cleaned while eating and did not cause any negative hygienic impact at the doorstep, but they were yet still asked to leave by Starbucks staff, according to another screenshot circulating online.

A Starbucks customer service person responded on Monday that the firm is verifying the matter with the store, and if it is true, the employee involved will be "punished", adding that there is no rule that people cannot eat at its doorstep.

The US coffee chain shop currently operates more than 5,400 stores in more than 200 cities in the Chinese mainland, according to its official website.