Waitrose Stopping Free Coffee Because of “Chavs”

I’ve been aware for quite a while that if you have a Waitrose card, you can get free coffee while you’re in there, Americano, Espresso, Cappuccino & Latte. I got a Waitrose card for this very reason, and then discovered that you can also get a free newspaper if you spend over a fiver there in the week, bonus.

It’s bean to cup, and while I wouldn’t rate it as good as coffee you’d expect to be served by a Barista at an indie coffee shop, I’ve been quite impressed by it. I wouldn’t go there specifically for the free coffee, but if I’m there shopping (and I’d only go there for something specific, I would only do my regular shopping in Waitrose because I can find a lot of the same brand products cheaper elsewhere) I’ll sometimes go and get a free coffee. I’ve never had to wait any more than a couple of minutes, and I’ve never had to stand in what I would call a queue, I think the most people that I’ve ever stood behind has been two.

I’ve never seen a “Chav” in my local Waitrose except once when there was a fellow that most would probably class as such who was being followed by security, who had apparently been reported for stealing bottles of pricey booze from the local Asda. I’ve certainly never seen what I would class as “chavvy” folk queing for free coffee there. The vast majority of people I’ve seen getting free coffee there have been folk from local businesses on their lunch breaks, pensioners, and the odd mum and toddler.

So the story I’ve just read which claims that Waitrose are stopping the offer because they’ve had complaints that it’s attracting “Chavs”  seems like a weird one to me. The people I see in Waitrose are normal people, the only thing I have noticed is that I tend to see more older people in there on average than I would in other Supermarkets, but that might just be down to where my local Waitrose is located. I certainly don’t recall having seen crowds of chavs in Waitrose.

I suppose it depends on what you class as a chav though. The Oxford English Dictionary definition is : “a young lower-class person who displays brash and loutish behaviour and wears real or imitation designer clothes”. For me personally this definition is out of date. I don’t think it’s got anything to do with the way people dress, or their age. I’ve seen some people I’d class as Chavvy wearing completely normal clothes, and I’ve seen people wearing what might make them look like a stereotypical Chav who appear to be nothing of the sort, and I’ve certainly seen older people acting in a chavvy manner.

To me, it’s not about age or the way people dress, or how much expendable money they happen to have, it’s just about the way people behave. If someone walks around in public openly swearing, or being loud and obnoxious, or spitting on the floor, chucking litter on the floor, or other antisocial behaviour, this to me is what would class someone as being a “chav”, regardless of their age, what they’re wearing, or how much money they have, chav is what chav does.

But going back to the story, it is being portrayed by the mainstream press that the free Waitrose coffee is bringing out people on lower incomes desperate for free coffee,  that it’s truning waitrose cafe’s into “soup kitchens”.

Look at the images that are used along with this story:

Waitrose Free Coffee Queue

Photo Credit: Michal Tesar















Doesn’t look like a crowd of chavs to me, doesn’t look like a queue of low income people desperate for free coffee, certainly doesn’t look like a “soup kitchen” which the Mirror reported.

How about this one:

Waitrose Coffee Queue

Photo Credit: Emma Murray

Does that look like a soup kitchen to you? Just looks like a queue of normal people to me, and if you read the text in this twitter post it seems the queue is so big because there is only one working machine, and it’s in a particularly busy location, Canary Wharf!

I think what people are probably moaning about more than anything is the size of the queues, and that the odd daft comment from someone who thinks they’re a cut above the rest is being pounced upon by journalists, as they it makes for more interesting story.

I find it amazing actually that anyone would stand in a queue that long for a coffee whether it’s free or not, but again it could be down to the location. This image above is Canary Wharf, it could be that at this particular time of the day this is considered a small queue. I remember being at Canary Wharf a while ago and seeing queues to get in every bar and restaurant at lunch time on a Friday.

The press are making a mountain out of a molehill anyway, when you read what Waitrose are actually doing, they’re testing some small changes, including bringing in a clause that you need to buy something in the store in order to qualify for the free coffee. I doubt that these changes have anything to do with these alleged customer complaints, I heard quite some time ago that Waitrose were testing out different versions of the free coffee offer because in some stores it was losing them money. They’ll just want to check that it’s a worthwhile offer, and if it isn’t then they’ll want to tweak it accordingly, makes sense.

Life is like a box of chocolates, so follow me on twitter, and that’s all I have to say about that.



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