Published On: Tue, Jul 28th, 2015

Rob Rowen’s Starbucks ban for asking customers not to park in handicap spots lifted

A Florida man who set out to keep the wrong people out of the handicapped spot at Starbucks ended up being banned for life. After a public outcry, Rob Rowen will be able to get his overpriced coffee as he likes.

Rowen, 62, was hit with the lifetime ban after he repeatedly asked customers visiting the South Dale Mabry Starbucks store in Tampa to move when they parked in handicapped spots without the proper pass.

“My son-in-law has muscular dystrophy and is in a power wheelchair. I’ve seen so many times, the issue of him trying to find a parking space,” Rowen said to WTSP as the news broke.

Self-proclaimed Rob “Starbucks Wake Up and Smell the Coffee” Rowen wrote on his personal Facebook page that he spoike with a senior vice president from Starbucks’ regional office in Austin, Texas.

“The ban is lifted, but it is not about the ban; it is about the way they relate to their handicapped patrons,” Rowen wrote.

Rowen said he told the VP there needed to be more discussion about protecting their disabled customers and better training for managers.

“One easy fix is to have signage that you can see when you order, letting a person know that they have their handicapped parking reserved for those who need it,” Rowen wrote. “Finally, as a way of saying they are sorry, how about a latte one day for all their disabled customers? Talk is cheap, let’s see some action from you Starbucks to show that you really care.”

Rowen was usually just ask the customer not to park there, but had resorted to extreme measures in the past to convince people to move from the spot, even taking a picture of one woman’s car that was parked illegally.

“She said I’m calling the police, you’re harassing me. I said go right ahead, so she ended up getting a ticket, which felt really good,” Rowen said to WTSP.

photo Elvert Barnes

photo Elvert Barnes

The coffee chain also took issue with Rowen’s advocacy for the disabled.

A local store manager allegedly sent him a letter indefinitely banning him from visiting Starbucks’ locations.

In the letter obtained by ABC News, the coffee chain detailed Rowen’s behavior as, “causing disruption to business” and “threatening the well-being of a customer or partner (employee).”

Customers banded around Rowen in support, many praising him for raising awareness to an issue often overlooked.

Their cries have been heard and answered.


Will the protests effect Starbucks? The shareholders and CEO may be battling over the issue. photo Mason Wendell

Will the protests effect Starbucks? The shareholders and CEO may be battling over the issue. photo Mason Wendell

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