Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Bog Off - Exhibit 31 A Second Starbucks Sorry?

The only way I could describe this Bog Off found in the Liverpool One Starbucks was to say "It's minging. Oh and a bit rank too." Deeply disappointing after such high hopes of Starbucks. 

Back in October my friend @trufflepotamus was refused entry to a disabled toilet in a Norwich Starbucks as she wasn't in a wheelchair. As soon as Starbucks were tweeted this information they responsed promptly with an apology, investigation and staff retraining. We were impressed and yesterday Truffle and I had a tweet up in Liverpool One to enjoy the free coffee Starbucks gave us as an apology. 

To be fair, I did enjoy my coffee, well caramel hot chocolate actually. It was delicious. But I made the mistake of going to the toilet before I'd finished my drink, after which it just didn't taste so good. The toilet was so disgusting, I felt sick.  Having worked in restaurants I know only too well that the state of the toilets is a good general indicator of the condition of the food preparing facilities and hand hygeine of the staff. This toilet was so smelly and disgusting that I had to have a bath when I got home as I still felt contaminated. There were urine soaked tissues behind the cistern, urine splashed across the seat and thick dust coating the grab rails indicating a long term lack of cleaning rather than the more forgivable overwhelmed by the Christmas rush problem. 

Dark Blue toilet seat with visible urine splashes
The good points about the toilet rather got lost in fighting the urge to vomit the smell was so overpowering. Starbucks use constrasting blue grab rails which is great as they stand out easy to be seen. There were also two mirrors, one full length and one above the sink, at a good height for a wheelchair user. However the poor hygeine was so widespread I feared touching any of the grab rails, if the dust is that thick right next to the actual toilet then the germs must've been having an orgy. There was a help cord and it wasn't tied up, but it was too short to reach the floor and in a very awkward place. Frankly anyone unfortunate enough to end up needing to pull that cord for help would need a chemical decontamination unit after contact with anything in there, and new clothes as theirs would have been soaked with stranger's urine. 

Toilet with seat lifted and urine soaked toilet paper visible behind it

Sink with surrounding grab rails in contrasting dark blue and mirror above, too high to be visible from a wheelchair

Dark blue lower down grab rail directly adjacent to toilet, coated with a thick layer of dust

Full length mirror. Nappy bin obstructing access to sanitary dispoal bin from toilet area

Help cord adjacent to soiled toilet area, cord too short to be reached from floor
I am fortunate enough to be able to grab fistfulls of loo roll to lift up a toilet seat with, but others are not. It wouldn't have done them any good however as once lifted it was clear the cistern was equally generously coated with urine. Hovering over a soiled loo seat trying to pee while avoiding contact is difficult enough for the physically able but impossible for most disabled people...especially as the grab rails were too dirty to hold on to. 

The big question is not will Starbucks apologise for this smelly, sorrowful disabled toilet, but will they lead the way in improving their staff training and accessible facilities nationwide? I'm willing to drink alot of coffee to find out...

The managing director of Starbucks UK can be contacted via twitter

Update 03/01/2011 The following email was received from Starbucks on 31/12/2010

Our ref: 334909
31 December 2010
Dear BendyGirl
I have recently read your blog following your visit to the Liverpool One - Paradise Street Store and I am very sorry, and disappointed to hear about the appearance of the toilets.
We endeavour to provide a clean and comfortable environment that is accessible to all customers, in which you can relax and enjoy your favourite beverage, so we appreciate you bringing your concerns to our attention. 
I have shared your feedback with my district management team for their attention and investigation, to ensure no such situation arises in the future.  I have also instructed immediate deep cleaning in the store today to ensure the issues you have raised are addressed. 
I am sorry that you have had to bring this issue to our attention and I can assure you that your thoughts will be acted upon.  
I understand we have already tried to restore your faith in Starbucks once, however I hope we can continue to welcome you into our stores.  So that we can do this I would like to send you a Starbucks Card for you to continue to use in Starbucks. We have your address on file already please let me now if this is the right address to send it to
Once again, thank you very much for sharing your feedback with us and for giving us the opportunity to improve our operations.
Yours sincerely
Jane Coleman
Regional Director of Operations


Nemonie said...

Ewwwww. Rather unfortunately this is a site that regularly greats me in accessible loos all over the place. I have some BogOff pics too send you off good and bad examples, but was unable to take pictures of a toilet in an almost identical state in a MacDonalds in Sheffield due to no battery in my phone (I only went in to use the loo, didn't even get any coffee out of it!).
I'm contemplating carrying disinfectant wipes around with me as my knees won't hold me up to hover over a seat.

Anonymous said...

and i thought the mcds had just been renovated... shame shame

Carl said...

Sounds disgusting! I suppose the one good thing is at least they HAVE a disabled loo, and steps.

I wrote a related post here - - I'm not a fan of Starbucks coffee as you'll find out!


Anonymous said...

So, have you hovered over the seat or the bowl? If you lifted the seat, I will ask you why? The seat was already pee-splashed...