Ex-Costa Coffee franchise boss tells all, from rat infestation to drug overdoses

An ex-manager of a franchise-owned branch of high street coffee chain Costa Coffee has revealed the gory details of the reality of what it was like running the store.

Megan, whose name we have changed to protect her anonymity, ran a franchise-owned store of Costa Coffee in the North West of England. The exact details of the store's location and the name of the franchise company owning the outlet can not be revealed to protect the former staffer.

Megan left the branch at the start of September, having worked her way up from barista to store manager during around an 18-month period. And it only hit her how bad things were once she took the top role – only to find the place was “filthy”, had a “rat infestation” and a “serious fly issue”.

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She claims she was also made to work 60 hour weeks, with no overtime pay. The former manager said customers even helped out trying to repair an under-the-sink pipe issue, which became a focal point for flies to swarm, as the fly zapping tech on-site was not big enough to cope.

She also claimed that, during her first month working there, she was forced to break into the premises' toilet as a homeless person had taken a drug overdose and was found with drug paraphernalia in his arm.

Costa Coffee has acknowledged the issues raised when questioned by the Daily Star, but has chosen not to respond at this stage while an investigation takes place, however we did make it clear to them that Megan was adamant this was not an issue caused by Costa Coffee the company.

However, Megan said: “I didn't really notice it was that bad until I stepped up into the manager role because before I became manager, the the area manager and the actual owner never interacted with the baristas, and it was only ever straight to store so they never spoke to the the regular people. Up until then it was fine, but when you become store manager you can't take holidays and even if you are, you're constantly being contacted – was just a nightmare.”

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Speaking of nightmare, she went on to recall finding someone overdosed in the bathroom during her first month working there, which was also one of the first times she had been told to lock up the building.

“The store manager had gone, everyone had left. “she recalled. “And we had someone lock themselves into the bathroom, but because it's a lock that you can get a knife in I got the knife and unlocked it because they weren't responding to me.

“I opened it and someone had overdosed in the bathroom, and I had to get the emergency services out. I spoke to the management, and they were just like 'is it all sorted now?' – they didn't ask if I was OK or anything.

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“It was my first month of being there, and somehow I didn't see that as a red flag.”

Megan has shared pictures with the Daily Star of two of the many occasions she found mice and rats on site. Another source from the place told us that the building has “structural issues” that “the owners won't fix” leaving a hole for the creatures to enter via.

The place also has a huge fly issue, and Megan claims it stems from a leak under the sink that the owners refuse to get fixed. She said: “The one thing I'll miss is the customers, as they were amazing.

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“One of them tried to fix the sink issue, but couldn't – nobody asked them to, but they saw how bad it was. I reported it to the owners but nothing ever got done. They refused to spend money on the place.

"I also came in and found a huge dead rat in the stockroom, as well as a mouse in the sink. The mouse was alive, so we released it out the back."

The situation there is now so bad that Megan's replacement reportedly handed their notice in just a week after taking on the role.

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She added: “I'm sure if you're working for the actual Costa company itself, it's great, but working under a franchise that didn't want to put any effort or money into the store is horrific – the place has not been refurbished in around 15 years, while some of the other branches owned by Costa have had at least three or four refits during that time.

“I was made to work 60 hour weeks, and 13 hour shifts because we never had enough staff, yet I didn't get paid any overtime, and never got a percentage of tips, even though some days I was the only one working the entire time.”

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