Editor’s Note: We have removed Jake Kim’s photo from this article upon his request.
A Korean-American man has recently posted about an experience at an undisclosed Starbucks location, stating that the employees labeled his beverage with a racist slur instead of his name.
Jake Kim posted to his FaceBook page on Tuesday, saying that he told the employee his name repeatedly, even spelling it out for them, only to receive a beverage with the word “Ching” on it. Angry, he informed the employees that this was not okay, but his complaints were unsatisfactorily addressed; instead of apologizing, Kim said the employees laughed off the offense, even joking about it with other customers. They then offered to pour his drink into a cup that did not feature a racial slur, hastily writing his name directly on the cup.
Later, he called the store and asked to speak to the manager, who initially excused the incident, reportedly saying that racism sometimes happens in the store. Kim asked if, should he have been African-American and someone wrote the “N-word” on his cup, would the manager also excuse this behavior? The manager then reportedly said there was nothing he could do, but ultimately apologized.
Not satisfied, Kim called corporate, hoping that the matter would be handled better. The customer service representative offered Kim a $20 gift card, which Kim found unacceptable. “If I offered her $20, she would experience racism like I did,” he asked her, to which she apologized and promised she would file the complaint.
Upset with the incident and the way in which Starbucks responded, Kim vowed to seek legal action against the company.
“Ever since I’ve moved to the States, I’ve been a regular #starbucks customer, drinking at least a cup of #Starbucks coffee everyday and its been almost 5years. But something that should not have had happened, happened today. I stayed up all night to work on some projects and at 7:30 am I went to Starbucks in front of my house to get a coffee.
“While I was waiting in the line, I was on the phone with my parents for an emergency, and when I got to the front of the line, I was still on the phone with my parents. I ordered grande iced Americano. The worker asked for my name, so I replied ‘Jake’. she asked me once more, so I told her ‘Jake’ again but she rudely questioned me again. So I literally spelt my name ‘J.A.K.E’ for her and paid for the coffee.
“For just a grande iced Americano, I had to wait too long but then I noticed a cup of coffee with ‘Ching’ tagged on, on the pick-up counter. So I asked the worker if my order was ready. Then she/he said, pointing at the coffee with ‘ching’ tagged on, ‘That is your coffee, its the only one I have for grande iced Americano’.
“‘Ching’ is clearly not my name and unless your name is really Ching, it’s a racist slur. So I told them that Ching isnt my name then he asked me if I’d liked a new one or grab a new cup with my name on it. Seriously? If you make a mistake, especially in this case, a mistake that involves racism, the first thing you should do is apologize.
“But their soultion? Pour the coffee into a new cup and write ‘jake’ on it and makes fun of me and laughs out loud in the store with other customers. But at that moment I needed to finish the conversation with my parents, so I just left.
“Once I got home, I contacted the manager at the Starbucks. But instead of an apology, the manager tells me that this kind of incidents happen sometimes in the store. But this kind of incident is racism and should not happen AT ALL no matter what. I asked him in reverse, if African American person came to their Starbucks and told them his name, would they put the ‘N word’ on his coffee and when he complains about it, would they tell him that ‘racism sometimes happen’ in the store? The manager said there is nothing he could do to help, then finally apologizes.
“I called the customer service and explained what had happened,and she offered me a $20 gift card. Ridiculous. So I asked her if I offered her $20, she would experience racism like I did. She said sorry and she filed my complaint. I am contacting lawyers for this right now.
“I love the diverse culture here in the States and have respect for all the race and religion. I guess it’s the uneducated minorities that makes the world dirty #Terrible #racismstarbucks #racist #starbucks #racism #dirty #raciststarbucks”
Netizens responded to his post, offering their support (as well as their criticisms):
A similar incident happened in New York City in August, where an Asian customer received a receipt with the words “Ching Chong” on it instead of her name. The restaurant initially defended the employee and her actions before ultimately firing her and shutting down their FaceBook page.
NextShark has reached out to Kim and Starbucks for comments.
Feature Image via Facebook / Jake Kim