Hey there people,
Just wondering if any of you have some cheap customers that come into your shop.
Over the past couple months I have seen people a few...

1- One person asked for an espresso shot and hot water on the side, they then mixed them and used the milk on the tables to make a little flat white.

2- Another comes in almost daily with her own tea bag and asks for hot water but refuses to pay, she just sits there and drinks her own tea.

3- And finally the last one is people sharing tea, I've had people order tea then their friend comes up a couple mins later and asks for a mug of hot water and is less than happy when we charge them for it but when she returns to her table she takes her friends tea bags and sticks it in her water.

All of these people sit at tables and wont move for well over an hour while they chat away to their friends.
Have any of you had customers like this?

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I have had a customer order a cup of coffee (takeout) & two empty cups! Then watch them divide the coffee add generous portions of milk & walk away with 3 coffees!?!?!?

It is frustrating as hell I know.

I try not to let these customers upset me to much (biting my tongue till bleeds some days), we try to go the extra mile to win these people over. I have been amazed sometimes that a customer that may have been difficult to deal with, ending up leading us to a great business opportunity or become one of our biggest supporters.

You really never know "who" the person is or "who they know" that you are serving, so we try to treat them all like they are our biggest investor!
Lol! In this coffee shop where I used to work, every day the MAYOR and his wife would come in and order the 'for here' mug, which comes with one free refill. One of them would drink the first cup, and the other would come back and get the refill!!
1. Charge the same price for an espresso shot and an single shot Americano.
2. The economy is tough for alot of folks, does you cafe have a purchase/solicitation policy?
3. Not sure what to say about this one.

I usually order 2 shots of espresso over ice, and add a little bit of half and half. I don't consider myself cheap-a** but do consider myself underbudget, which is why I prepare my espresso beverages at home.
We used to serve drip coffee for a penny every Friday. The shop was in a bad location, and we used it as a promotional to get new customers in and facilitate people talking about our shop. Actually, Fridays were our best business days because people would get a baked good or something because they felt kinda bad...but then there were the other customers who came in, got a coffee, and left. I was floored when a customer came to the drive-thru window, asked for a coffee, and sheepishly admitted that he didn't have a penny! I just gave him the coffee, and he left. We eventually stopped because the goal was to get new customers into the shop, and after a while, we noticed the penny coffee customers only came on fridays. That was over a year ago, and we still occasionally get people coming to the drive-thru window asking for penny coffee and we tell them we no longer offer that and they drive off...sigh. Some people.
First and foremost, your shop should have some sort of policies in place in order to deal with these scenarios. If it doesn't, I would get crackin on that ASAP.
And now onto how I would have dealt with these problems:
1. I would charge them for an americano. Thats two sets of dishes you have to wash. If you have milk out for customers to doctor up their drinks, you should probably expect them to.
2. I would refuse. Simply put, this is in the same realm of people asking if they can pour their own drinks (there's a thread on here somewhere about this very situation), which is rude, degrades your position, and shouldn't be tolerated. We don't sell hot water, we sell tea. This lady should, theoretically, have hot water at home.
3. The problem here is "tea bag" and "for here". If you have a loose leaf option, I'm all for people sharing tea.

I would say that you shouldn't be complaining about these scenarios when you (your company, not you personally) have done nothing to rectify the problem.
It wasn't so much of a complaint, I just wanted to know if anyone else had customers like this.
I'm not in the position to make changes at this job, I'm a barista, the only one that knows coffee extensively but I'm not a supervisor. I could put the ideas forward but thats all, I'm sure the owner is aware of this anyways.

Benza Lance said:
First and foremost, your shop should have some sort of policies in place in order to deal with these scenarios. If it doesn't, I would get crackin on that ASAP.
And now onto how I would have dealt with these problems:
1. I would charge them for an americano. Thats two sets of dishes you have to wash. If you have milk out for customers to doctor up their drinks, you should probably expect them to.
2. I would refuse. Simply put, this is in the same realm of people asking if they can pour their own drinks (there's a thread on here somewhere about this very situation), which is rude, degrades your position, and shouldn't be tolerated. We don't sell hot water, we sell tea. This lady should, theoretically, have hot water at home.
3. The problem here is "tea bag" and "for here". If you have a loose leaf option, I'm all for people sharing tea.

I would say that you shouldn't be complaining about these scenarios when you (your company, not you personally) have done nothing to rectify the problem.
For the past couple of weeks, or thereabouts, a regular customer has been coming in our back door and sitting down at a table, with her laptop. From out of her computer case she also pulls one of our paper cups and props it on the table, lid and all.

The only trouble is: we changed the colour of our cup jacket, and she's still got the old one.

Oh well, God bless her for trying to look like she bought something.
Fraser, try this: Take a new cup and jacket to her table, and ask her if she would like a new one, as the one she is using is last year's model. I am curious what her response would be... :)
Paul Yates said:
Fraser, try this: Take a new cup and jacket to her table, and ask her if she would like a new one, as the one she is using is last year's model. I am curious what her response would be... :)

I would LOVE to do that! Though I think I would ask her if she would like to buy another coffee because the cup she is using....

As for people sharing coffee...I have seen a cafe charge for hot cups of coffee by the hour. I think it was like a dollar per hour or something and they would keep your coffee nice and hot or just give you a refill when you are almost out. I think it was a much better customer service option for those that want to pluck away on the laptop and sit around a coffee shop.

As someone who would buy a drink and sit in the corner working for a few hours (always on off peak hours and I would leave if they tables filled up). I like the option of feeling like I am welcome to sit and pay a small fee for being there. I seldom want two coffees as I will get all crazy and jittery.
Some funny stuff on here.

A little while ago we added a "cup charge" to cover scenarios where people would want to split one drink. Want another cup? 30 cents. Covers cost plus markup... and the cups do cost, so it is totally reasonable. You do mugs? There's still labor to wash, extra breakage, etc. It has been a real useful thing to help in situations like this. It also gives you a button to hit for things like mugs of water, etc.

As for the lady that brings back an old cup... make a pass through the dining room and bus tables :). And encrypt that network for goodness sake!
One thing that I rely on when doing a budget sheet for any shop is add in "incidentals". In that category I also lump in things like giving away about a dozen cups per week, time spent talking to customers who dont seem to be a patron of the establishment yet hang out there, and refilling coffee for someone who is at the shop for a few hours. This category ends up being very small percentage of our operations budget. It helps me keep things in perspective through tracking some of these expenses and seeing just how much or how little we are actually spending. THEN I can focus on actually making money in my shop and keep the "cheep customer" conversations to a minimum.
It's a beautiful day in the neighbourhood. No, not in the Mr. Roger's sort of way...That Lady bough a new coffee today and now has a larger cup!
As for the Internet: We have it on free for the month. Normally, it's through Roger's. NO! Not the creepy Mr. Roger's from the kids show, the other one.

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