Starbucks barista recalls customer's infuriating scheme to get free drinks every day

Do you have a horror story about the most aggravating customer ever at a coffee chop or fast food restaurant? Brad Halsey likely has you beat.

Share your 'worst customer ever' stories in the comments section

A Starbucks barista shared a story about one customer's infuriatingly complex scheme to get free drinks every day with Gawker's Horrible Restaurant Customers column. (David Ryder/Reuters)

Do you have a horror story about the most aggravating customer ever at a coffee chop or fast food restaurant? Brad Halsey likely has you beat.

Halsey, a Starbucks barista, told Gawker's Horrible Restaurant Customers column about what might be the worst, most deliberately infuriating customer of all time.

Regular Starbucks customers will know that if you register a Starbucks gift card, you will be rewarded with a free drink on your birthday. The unnamed customer purchased 365 cards, each registered with a different date to land him a free drink every day of the calendar year.

"Even though I know exactly how he 'beat the system' there, he pretends that his app is just malfunctioning and it magically gives him the same free birthday drink every day," wrote Halsey.

Before ordering his drink, the customer asks for a cup with a marker, allowing him to write indicator lines and arrows, along with instructions for his iced quad venti vanilla white mocha with heavy cream.

He then orders the drink to be rung up as a "quad espresso, add white mocha, sub vanilla, sub heavy cream" to make it $3 US drink instead of $6.50 US — which he then uses one of his cards to not pay for anyway.

The story was later picked up by multiple news sites, including Business Insider, the National Post. Other blogs described the method to extract free drinks as "extremely shady" and "ingeniously sleazy."

We asked some people who work in the service industry, or have in the past, to share some of their personal horror stories — because everyone who's manned the till has one. 

A former Starbucks barista from Toronto: "There was this kid, probably 8 to 10 years old, who came in and asked for seven free drink coupons. [They're given to customers to compensate for poor service or incorrectly made orders.] He claimed that he'd been to another store a few blocks down and they messed up his order and owed him the coupons, but the store ran out and told him to come to us."

The store's beleagured supervisor "caved" and gave him the coupons rather than investigate whether he was making the story up.

Brian Sharon from Toronto: "Briefly, I worked as a waiter at a fine dining establishment. One night we had a party that spent $5,000 on dinner. We had a mandatory 10 per cent tip for large bills, however most tables paid much more as a big meal means a lot of work for the wait staff.

After paying the bill for the table, the patriarch of this particularly frugal family pulled me aside, gave me a pat on the back and told me that I did a great job. He then proceeded to hand me a toonie and two quarters."

Do you have any customer service horror stories, from either side of the counter? Let us know in the comments section below or share them with us on Facebook or Twitter.


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