Bernard Barrett has sworn off Tim Hortons.
Wednesday morning the Spryfield resident, who requires a large, four-wheeled, electric-powered scooter to get about, was told he will no longer be served at the local drive-thru.
Barrett likes to do whatever errands he has early in the morning and when he can, he likes to use drive-thrus.
“I go to McDonald’s drive-thru and I do my banking at the drive-thru,” he said during a telephone interview Wednesday evening.
And, until Wednesday, he would fetch his wife a coffee from the Tim Hortons drive-thru at the intersection of Pinegrove Drive and Herring Cove Road.
The coffee shop is mainly set up for drive-thru business, Barrett said, and its small storefront is too small for him to manoeuvre his large scooter.
But when he pulled up to get a coffee Wednesday morning, a woman at the service window told him it would be the last time he would be served at the drive-thru.
“I looked at her in shock,” Barrett said. “I just shook my head and drove away.”
When the clerk couldn’t explain why the outlet wasn’t allowed to serve people using scooters at the drive-thru anymore, Barrett figured he was being discriminated against and called the newspaper.
However, it appears Barrett should never have been served at the drive-thru.
Tim Hortons spokesman David Morelli said there has been a long-standing corporate policy that bans non-licenced, non-motorized vehicles from drive-thrus.
“It’s a safety issue. We don’t want our guests to risk getting hurt in our drive-thru lanes,” he said.
“I’d rather be talking about preventing someone from going through than talking to you about somebody who went through and unfortunately got hurt.”
He said motorized, licenced vehicles are more visible and have more bulk and therefore offer protection.
“If it’s a car or even a motorcycle, there’s at least more protection than they would get (on a scooter),” Morelli said.
“We want to make it as easy for the guests as possible to come visit us, but safety is number one. There’s no exceptions to that. We don’t want anyone getting hurt.”
Morelli said he couldn’t reach the restaurant so he’s not sure why Barrett was only told of the policy this week, but it was possible the store received a reminder.
Wednesday evening a woman answered the phone at the shop, but said they were too busy to speak to The Chronicle Herald.
“It’s rush hour. It’s extremely busy and it’s cheque day,” she said.
Barrett said he was content to find out the reason for the service change.
“Well, if that’s their policy. That’s their policy,” he said.
But Barrett figures, the coffee shop will lose a lot of business.
“There’s a lot of folks around here who ride on scooters” and a lot of them go to that Tim Hortons, he said.
Morelli said he’s sure there is a way Barrett can still pick up his wife’s morning java.
Most Tim Hortons are willing to accommodate customers with special needs, he said.
If they call ahead “they’ll get extra assistance to either get in or to have their order ready for them (at the door).”
He invited Barrett to make that phone call.
But Barrett doesn’t think that will work for him.
“Call ahead, at 4:30 a.m.,” Barrett said. “I just won’t go to Tim Hortons anymore.”