A Bay area man who said he was banned from Starbucks for life over a parking issue can get his latte fix again.
Rob Rowen said the ban has been lifted, but he wants to see more changes made.
Rowen said he was banned from Starbucks for life because he called out customers who were breaking the law. He said he noticed several customers illegally parking in handicapped spots at the Starbucks on South Dale Mabry Highway, in Tampa.
“I saw someone park, and it was obvious they weren’t handicapped,” Rowen said. “There was no handicapped parking sticker. It wasn’t a handicapped plate. And so I said to him, ‘You’re parked in the one handicapped space, and you need to move your car.'”
Rowen used his cellphone to take pictures of the violations, and then confronted them inside of the coffee shop. He said the manager accused him of harassing customers and sent Rowen a letter banning him from Starbucks for life.
“She said to me, ‘You’re harassing my customers,'” Rowen said. “I said, ‘I’m one of your customers. I’m a regular customer, and I’m trying to help you protect your other customers who might not be able to park anywhere else.'”
Calling himself the Rob “Starbucks Wake Up and Smell the Coffee” Rowen, he wrote an update to the story on his personal Facebook page after speaking with a senior vice president from Starbucks’ regional office in Austin, Texas.
“The ban is lifted, but it is not about the ban; it is about the way they relate to their handicapped patrons,” Rowen wrote.
Rowen said he told the VP there needed to be more discussion about protecting their disabled customers and better training for managers.
“One easy fix is to have signage that you can see when you order, letting a person know that they have their handicapped parking reserved for those who need it,” Rowen wrote. “Finally, as a way of saying they are sorry, how about a latte one day for all their disabled customers? Talk is cheap, let’s see some action from you Starbucks to show that you really care.”
If you’re wondering why Rowen is so passionate about the issue despite not being handicapped, himself, he said it’s personal.
“I care because I have a big heart,” he said. “I care because my son-in-law is one of those people who use those parking spots.”
A Starbucks spokesperson sent the following statement:
“We are working with the landlord of the property where this store is located to improve the parking situation. It is our goal to provide a warm, friendly and positive experience for all of our customers.”