A police spokesperson has confirmed that seventeen officers attended an incident at Southend Waitrose earlier this afternoon after fighting erupted over problems with the machines that dispense complimentary coffee.
According to witnesses who witnessed the incident, the trouble first flared up at around 11.45am when one of the two machines stopped dispensing steamed milk – this effectively made it impossible to obtain a latte or a cappuccino without a long wait for the other machine.
Within a few minutes of this first malfunction, queues for the single fully-functioning machine became ‘inhumane,’ and terrified staff were forced to call cops when fighting broke out amongst outraged MyWaitrose cardholders.
Horrified shopper Jemima Clenge said: ‘I am one of the fortunate ones who only wanted a simple and elegant black coffee, but the people in front of me turned into absolute animals when it emerged that there would be an extra wait for any milk-based coffee drinks.’
‘After a bit of pushing and shoving, a man in a The North Face waterproof jacket threw a punch at another man in a Cotton Traders rugby jersey, and two ladies were trying to strangle each other with hemp-based ethical carrier bags. It was like a scene from Platoon or something like that.’
Ms Clenge added: ‘Some people begged staff to let them into the café to get their hot drinks, but they were told that this area was for sit-down customers only – some were even willing to buy a cake just to escape the violence.’
Although security guards managed to calm things down within a few minutes, the peace was shattered when the second machine had to be taken out of service for ten minutes of maintenance – it emerged that excessive demand for hot milk had lead to a blockage in the dispenser’s steam dispersal flue.
Some shoppers had already been waiting for FIFTEEN MINUTES at this point, and the violence spilled over into the car park.
Police arrived within three minutes of the alarm being raised, but by this stage a 74-year-old man had already been knocked unconscious with a 9kg Serrano ham and chopping block – police have issued an urgent appeal after the attacker allegedly fled the scene, and nine people were arrested for a variety of offences.
A member of staff at Waitrose spoke to our Chief Reporter a few moments ago. They said: ‘As a result of the unacceptable behaviour of a small minority of customers, we are looking into revoking MyWaitrose privileges from anyone who can be seen fighting on our CCTV systems.’
‘We would like to remind all customers that our complimentary coffee and tea promotion is a benefit that can be withdrawn at any time.’
‘If any of our UK stores experience further incidents of mindless violence over on-site hot drinks facilities, we will be left with no other option, and we will take a very firm approach against anyone rolling up their complimentary copy of the Daily Mail and using it as an offensive weapon.’