Surrey drive-thru worker faces blistering barrage of abuse over cup of coffee

Police are investigating after a seeing a video showing a Tim Hortons customer at a drive-thru in Surrey verbally abusing an employee. Monika Gul hears from a witness who says the customer was upset the franchise was only accepting cash payments.

Once again, footage of a customer losing it on an employee is going viral — this time it’s a person screaming and cursing at top of their lungs at a drive-thru in Surrey Sunday morning.

The abusive tirade is racking up views on TikTok. The customer is clearly visible, along with their truck’s license plate, and the person who recorded the clip can’t believe the level of anger over a single cup of coffee.

Jennifer Volkmann tells CityNews the Tim Hortons location at 152nd Street and Highway 10 was having payment issues and was cash only at the time. She believes the customer ahead of her was upset he couldn’t get his extra large “double double.”

Tim Hortons location in Surrey

(CityNews Image)

Editor’s note: Video contains explicit language

@apoxonindustries Dude, I don’t care how badly you want your coffee, you don’t get to verbally assault service workers. #unacceptablebehavior #Vancouver #RoadRage ♬ original sound – Apoxon Industries

“[The employees] were trying, you know, customer service, being polite and telling him they were sorry he didn’t have cash, they couldn’t serve him, but he was not having it,” she says.

“He was at an 11 already, by the time we pulled up, saying ‘you should have had a sign, you should have had a sign before the drive through, give me my coffee!” I couldn’t hear what the employees were saying up until the point they said ‘we are going to call the police.'”

Volkmann describes the customer’s behaviour as “absurd,” screaming and slamming his hand on the door of his truck. Eventually, an employee hands over a coffee and the customer started to drive away, bumping up over the curb to get around someone who was now standing in front of the truck, apparently trying to block it from leaving.

“There’s no excuse for this,” she adds. “It doesn’t matter whether they screwed up your order, whether they didn’t understand what you’re saying, you don’t treat people like this. Period. A two or three-dollar coffee is not worth what [the employees] had to put up with.”

Volkmann — who says the employees’ behaviour was “exemplary” given the situation — offered to text the video to them to use in a police report and later posted it to TikTok, where it has been viewed tens of thousands of times, as of Tuesday morning.

Employees should not have to face abuse: Industry spokesperson

The head of the BC Restaurant and Food Services Association says incidents like this happen too often, and they need to stop.

“I was astounded,” CEO Ian Tostenson said. “We’ve all been to a Tim Hortons drive through — these are young people who don’t go through training for bullies.”

Ian Tostenson being interviewed

Ian Tostenson, BC Restaurant and Food Services Association. (CityNews Image)

He suggests customers caught on video behaving badly should be named and shamed.

“I think as a society — his license plate was made clear — we have to disclose who these people are and start to let the public know this kind of behaviour is unacceptable and you are going to get outed and/or face public scrutiny.”

Tostenson points out we don’t know if the customer had mental health issues but, regardless, employees should not have to face this kind of abuse.

“We can’t be, in hospitality, aggravating that or fighting it in any way. Just go about your business, close the window, phone the police, get the manager and be very quiet about it because you just don’t know,” he said.

He feels, in a case like this, police should become involved and so should the public. He encourages people to call when they see things get abusive.

“We can’t just hope that somebody else is doing it. I think passing things on to police is the best advice I can give.”

But he adds publicly identifying abusive customers might have even more of an effect on stopping the behaviour, making people think twice before letting loose.

“I think the public are the ones who are really going to push back and have little tolerance for this kind of stuff.”

On Tuesday, the Surrey RCMP confirmed to CityNews that it is looking into an incident where a man had been “verbally harassing” people at the Tim Hortons on 56 Avenue on Sunday morning.

Mounties say they have identified the driver in question and are continuing to follow up with others who were involved to get a clearer picture of what happened.

Cpl. Vanessa Munn being interviewed

Cpl. Vanessa Munn, Surrey RCMP. (CityNews Image)

“Certainly, the behaviour displayed in the video by the driver towards a staff member at Tim Hortons is unacceptable,” the RCMP said.

-With files from Monika Gul

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