Coffee trader refuses to serve customers talking on phones

A coffee trader says he is "striking a blow for basic manners" by refusing to serve any customer who places an order while talking on a mobile phone.

Darren Groom, 36, said he was "fed up" with people expecting him to "lip read" their order at his shop in Norwich.

He has now put up signs telling customers they will not be served while using a mobile phone.

Etiquette experts Debrett's said Mr Groom was "performing a public service".

Mr Groom, who sells coffee at his city centre shop and market stall, said the reaction to the signs had been very positive.

'Basic manners'

"We've had lots and lots of comments," he said. "People are saying how much they agree with it.

"A couple of years ago it became a real problem with people trying to lip read their order to us.

"In the shop we need to ask a few questions, like whether they are having it in or taking it away, whether they want whole milk or not, sugar or not.

"Also, when people come in we like to say 'hello'. It's nice if people respond to that.

"They should have the basic manners to converse with us."

Mr Groom runs his Little Red Roaster business with his wife, Kate, 29. He has had a coffee stall on Norwich Market for 10 years and opened the shop five years ago.

He said he understood people needed to use their mobile phones in modern life.

"We don't mind people having phones in the shop," he said.

'One man's battle'

Image caption Coffee trader Darren Groom refuses to serve anyone who places an order while talking on a mobile phone

"I have to answer my phone in the shop sometimes. It's a small business and we all need to take calls.

"It's just a case of common sense really. We wanted to strike a blow for basic manners.

"We just got a little bit fed up with how it made us feel. We feel it's basic manners to not be talking to someone when you are ordering from us."

The printed sign has been placed at both the coffee shop, in Grove Road, and on the market stall.

It states: "Sorry we are unable to serve you if you are on the phone. Thank you."

Liz Wyse, of etiquette experts Debrett's, praised the "brave stand" taken by Mr Groom.

"This is one man battling against something that's happening everywhere," she said.

"It's rude to place an order while talking on a mobile phone. There's no doubt about it.

"You see it all the time. It's like saying to the person who you are dealing with that they are not as important as the person you are talking to on the phone.

"He is making quite a brave stand and I think he's performing a public service in teaching people about manners."

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