Costa Coffee Accused of Imposing a ‘Hospital Tax’ in its NHS Locations

Costa CoffeeCosta Coffee : News last week-end that Costa Coffee were getting serious stick – for making drinks at its hospital sites 10p more expensive than the same products in its High Street stores – would have brought a wry smile to the lips of quite a few operators I could name… One MD in particular will be pulling his hair out and although he’s not the kind of guy to say ‘I told you so’, that’s exactly what he will have thought when he read the story.

In a typically emotive turn of phrase, The Sun on Sunday accused the popular chain of imposing a ‘hospital tax’.

According to the paper, Costa Coffee charges £3.05 for a small latte or cappuccino at its branch on Northumberland Street, Newcastle, and £3.35 for a medium one. However, a stone’s throw away at the Royal Victoria Infirmary, the self same drinks will cost you £3.15 or £3.45 respectively.

And there’s more. At St. Richard’s Hospital in Chichester, West Sussex, you’ll pay £2.65 for an Americano, £3.25 for a flat white and £3.15 for a latte or cappuccino. Once again that’s 10p more than you’ll have to stump up at the Costa Coffee East Street branch in Chichester.

‘…they have captive customers who need refreshments, so they slap on a hospital surcharge.’

Dennis Read, Director of Silver Voices, told the Sun on Sunday that the extra charges were unfair, as those in the hospital were ‘captive customers’. He said: ‘They know with long waiting times for patients and their relatives, they have captive customers who need refreshments, so they slap on a hospital surcharge.’

A spokesperson for Costa responded by saying: ‘It is not uncommon to find some Costa Coffee products that are priced higher, reflecting the unique locations and operating costs associated with those locations.’

You wonder how much these hospitals benefit from sales of Costa coffee on their premises. You wonder whether there might be a better way to provide hot drinks, when people need them, at a price and of a quality that hits the spot when the spot needs hitting…

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Planet Vending’s Editor is Ian Reynolds-Young and it’s Ian’s unique writing talent that has made PV what it is today – the best read (red) vending blog in the world, and vending’s best read (reed). Ian ‘tripped and fell into vending’, in the capacity of PR executive, before launching a specialist agency, ‘reynoldscopy’, dedicated to the UK Vending business. The company continues to represent the interests of many of the sector’s leading brands.

‘It’s all about telling stories’, he says. ‘We want to make every visit to PV a rewarding experience. By celebrating the achievements of the UK’s operating companies, we’re on a mission to debunk the idea that vending is retailing’s poor relation.’

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