IBS sufferer accuses Collier Row Costa Coffee of discrimination after toilet mishap left him ‘publicly humiliated’

PUBLISHED: 17:00 24 February 2020

The toilet mishap happened at the Costa Coffee in Collier Row Lane. Picture: Google Maps

The toilet mishap happened at the Costa Coffee in Collier Row Lane. Picture: Google Maps


A man with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) said a staff member at the Costa Coffee in Collier Row called him an “animal” after the cafe’s flush stopped working in the toilets.

The 48-year-old - who has asked to remain anonymous - has IBS, a condition which affects the digestive system and causes symptoms such as stomach cramps, bloating, diarrhoea and constipation.

Every day he would order a soya milk Latte from the Costa Coffee in Collier Row Lane, as he says the soya milk helps his condition.

But on January 16 he was confronted by a member of staff after using the toilet.

He told the Recorder: "I went to use the toilet and I pulled the chain.

"I went and sat back down with my friends when this lady comes out of the toilets shouting at me saying I'm a disgusting pig.

"She said 'you don't treat your toilet at home like this'.

"She said to me 'don't ever come back to this branch'."

The devastated coffee lover said he was shocked that the staff member confronted him while he was sitting with his business colleagues.

"It's just outrageous behaviour," said the 48-year-old.

"It's the way she came into the middle of the store and said 'you don't know how to use the toilet, you're an animal'.

"I won't be using [Costa] ever again. This is such a personal matter and it's been treated so badly."

The man filed a complaint to the branch on the grounds that the staff member telling him he could not return to the cafe was discrimination.

Scoffs Group, the franchise owner of the cafe, responded to that complaint on February 20.

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The owners said they had taken statements from all members of staff on shift at the time of the incident and reviewed CCTV footage.

They also stated that it wasn't the first time the staff had discussed the state of the toilet facilities with him after his visits, which he has denied.

"My findings have highlighted that you left the facilities in a state that no other customer should have to experience," wrote a representative from Scoffs Group.

"As a matter of courtesy to our staff and to customers I do not consider it unreasonable that you would alert a staff member that the toilet required an additional clean immediately following your use.

"Whilst this business has every sympathy to your medical condition, at the same time this is personal and private to you and our staff would not have known this.

"They approached you, on the same basis they would approach any other visitor to the store who treated the facilities in the way you did."

The franchise company said it had found no evidence of discrimination but admitted that the staff member had approached him in an "abrupt" way and said coaching had been provided to ensure "feedback to our customers is given in a more balanced way going forward".

Scoffs group concluded the letter by saying it was happy to invite him back to the store on the basis that he left the toilet facilities clean and in a "state that you would expect to find them in".

The IBS sufferer said: "I haven't treated the facilities in any bad way.

"I've been to the toilet and I've tried to flush.

"Sixty per cent of people in this country have IBS.

"Never in my life have I been so embarrassed and they haven't really apologised.

"As the customer I was publicly humiliated and insulted and [they] have banned me for a month from going into the store.

"This has got to be exposed for the simple reason if a member of staff can do this to me, they can do it to anybody."

A Costa Coffee spokeswoman said: "At Costa Coffee we take pride in offering a friendly and welcoming environment for everyone and were therefore disappointed to learn of the customers experience.

"We take the needs of all customers very seriously and would like to sincerely apologise for any distress caused."

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