Oh, Starbucks: this is what happens when you piss off a nation by evading taxes. In what's kind of a hilarious backfire, the U.K. branch of Starbucks inadvertently opened a can of worms for British customers to respond to its little tax evasion problem with a Twitter #spreadthecheer hashtag.
Starbucks recently agreed to pay up to $16.5 million (or £10 million) per year in response to rumors of paying very miniscule corporate taxes, The New York Times reported this month. In its 14 years of business in the U.K., Starbucks has only paid about $13.8 million (or £8 million). But that hasn't exactly put out the fire: news spread earlier this month that Starbucks was also planning on slashing sick leave, paid lunch breaks, and maternity leave for its workers.
When customers got ahold of the #spreadthecheer hashtag, reports Eater, it turned into a Twitter mess. And one of those tweets got displayed prominently at the London Natural History Museum's Starbucks-sponsored ice rink — whoops. What got the cameras flashing? "Hey #Starbucks, PAY YOUR F*CKING TAX #spreadthecheer." Starbucks quickly responded and apologized for the inappropriate tweet, and said its filtering system for its Twitter feed display was on the fritz. "As a family-friendly, responsible company we are committed to ensuring that our publicly displayed content is appropriate for all audiences and profanity filters have been in constant operation since the ice rink opened in November," said a spokesperson.