Canadian-based coffee franchise Tim Hortons are coming under fire amid allegations that a customer was refused service because they were buying food for a homeless person. The incident is alleged to have taken place in the city of Birmingham, UK, and has unsurprisingly caused a stir on social media.
According to local customer Angela Sheridan-Hunt Ash, the controversial exchange took place at the store near New Street station on Sunday. In a video shared to Facebook, Sheridan-Hunt Ash can be seen standing outside the offending outlet, filming herself and relaying what she has just experienced. As she explains, Tim Hortons policy appears to be that “If you walk into Tim Hortons with a homeless person, they’re saying across the board, across all of their stores, if they believe you’re buying food for a homeless person, then they will not serve you.”
Sheridan-Hunt Ash continues, claiming that the manager of the store informed her that “if you come in as a ‘normal’ person, then they will serve you.” When asked to make clear what they meant by “normal person”, the manager allegedly responded, “Uh, oh, erm, well, you know, not homeless.” The video concludes with an irate Sheridan-Hunt Ash declaring, “if that is [Tim Hortons] policy and it is what they state as a company policy then please, do not go to this f***ing place.”
Since it was first posted Sheridan-Hunt Ash’s post has been shared over 1,500 times and has attracted hundreds of angry comments. Particularly vociferous criticism came from the former host of Channel 4’s “The Paedophile Hunter”, Stinson Hunter, who described the story as “utterly vile,” adding that the franchise should "Treat our homeless with respect or get out of our city. Simple."
Other Twitter users have been equally damning in their response. Local homelessness campaigner Tracey Patterson called out the company, asking, “Can you pls explain how you prevent customers from purchasing hot drinks for homeless people outside your Birmingham branch? (sic.)" Other social media users have called for a “boycott” and praised Sheridan-Hunt Ash for “naming and shaming”.
Tim Hortons have since responded directly to several messages via Twitter, denying that their business is in anyway discriminatory. As they put it, “Thanks for your concern, we will be investigating what happened yesterday. However, we can confirm that there is no company policy to discriminate against anybody at Tim Hortons.” While there is no direct evidence pertaining to the event described by Sheridan-Hunt Ash in her video, it’s clear from developments on social media that the chain is now under serious scrutiny.