Starbucks accused of evicting laptop lounger

A financial analyst claims he was kicked out of a New York City Starbucks by a Starbucks district manager for spending too long there without buying a drink. Has Starbucks changed its policies?

Chris Matyszczyk
4 min read

Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz has had enough of gridlock.

If you thought he was merely talking about Congress, you might be in for an awakening far more unpleasant than a drip coffee from your local 7-Thirteen.

You see, a man named Jonathan ("JJ for short") contacted me to tell me about his recent experience at the Starbucks at 168th and Broadway in New York.

JJ, who says he is a financial analyst and Web designer, conveniently wrote down the fun from his point of view on his blog. What fun am I referring to? Oh, JJ claims that a Starbucks district manager threw him out of that Starbucks for being a laptop lounger.

You might, especially if you live in New York, be aware that certain Starbucks have been covering up their power outlets to deter the hard-working (or deeply lazy) members of America society from lingering too long in its fragrant bosom.

Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

However, personal eviction by a Starbucks district manager appears to take the issue to a more elevated and entertaining level.

In JJ's version, the manager in question didn't have a business card, but allowed JJ to note his name, e-mail address, and phone number. His name was allegedly Damian Waugh. This does, according to LinkedIn, correspond with the existence of a Damian Waugh who is a New York district manager for Starbucks.

Waugh clearly has a feel for customer relations, as his previous job was district manager for Radio Shack.

JJ freely admits that he goes to Starbucks to work. He likes to be around people, as he normally works from his small apartment. Yesterday, he says: "I stood in line, ordered my toasted bagel with cream cheese along with a grande, bold coffee in a venti cup."

He freely admits he had been sitting in Starbucks--near a power outlet--for around two and a half hours. He then claims the following took place: "A man in a button down approached me and politely asked, 'What brings you into Starbucks today?'"

JJ could have answered: "Truth, justice, and the American way." Or perhaps: "Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."

He says he did not. He says he admitted he was there to work. Waugh allegedly responded: "Okay, well we like to reserve our seating for those who are enjoying our beverages."

There then allegedly followed a standoff in which JJ insisted he wasn't quite ready for another beverage and the district manager kept asking him whether he'd like another beverage because Starbucks prefers to reserve its seating for those who are enjoying their beverages. (But what if you're seated and not enjoying your beverage?)

JJ says he got the message, packed his bags, and made to leave--but not before he asked for the man's business card. The man allegedly said he didn't have one, but seemed happy enough to give JJ his name, e-mail address, and phone number.

JJ felt especially miffed because, he says, there were other laptop loungers there who hadn't bought anything at all. Oddly, JJ says he is a former Starbucks employee and understands very well the values the store attempts to inculcate into its employees and community.

What he says he found odd was that there was plenty of seating available. He surmises that his scruffy attire might have had something to do with Mr. Button-Down buttoning down on him in particular.

JJ isn't interested in taking any sort of legal action. As if he could anyway. Instead, he says, he wants to be able to enjoy what, to him, is the full Starbucks experience.

"What I DO want is to be able to go into a Starbucks, enjoy my toasted bagel with cream cheese and bold coffee. I want to be able to sit down and get some work done in a place where I can be around other human beings."

Anything else? As it happens, yes.

JJ wants to be "taking breaks to say hello to the complete stranger I'm sharing a table with; listening to the barista tell me with excitement that he gets off work at 3:15 and he doesn't have to work again until Friday; share a smile with yet another barista because I thought she said 'you owe me 2 cents' when in reality she said 'you owe me two-o-seven' after I used the remaining balance on a gift card; happily agreeing to watch a blonde-haired girl's laptop while she uses the restroom."

To JJ, that is what Starbucks is all about.

Because Judge Judy is my guide, I have tried to contact both Damian Waugh and Starbucks itself to hear their side of this painful and seemingly unnecessary story. I will update, should I hear anything from either.