Waitrose is facing a middle class revolt from shoppers who claim that its free coffee and tea are attracting the wrong type of customers.
The high-end supermarket currently offers a free cup of coffee or tea for customers holding a myWaitrose loyalty card - even if they don't make a purchase.
Angry shoppers used Facebook and Twitter to vent their frustration, arguing that handing out free drinks is turning Waitrose into a soup kitchen and the stores are packed with less affluent customers, which is putting some customers off.
One Facebook user wrote on the supermarket's page: "Please stop the free coffee at Barry Waitrose, it is putting me off shopping in the store people are coming with two cards two free coffee no shopping, with their Tesco bags.
"I think seeing people walking round the store holding on to takeaway cups of tea and coffee looks quite ridiculous and brings down the image of Waitrose until it is just like everywhere else – in which case I might as well shop anywhere else."
Another angry shopper said: "Bit disconcerting seeing people carrying cups of hot coffee around Waitrose whilst they text and push trolleys with their bellies."
Shoppers holding a myWaitrose loyalty card can choose from a selection of hot drinks including tea, lattes, mochas, Americanos and cappuccinos.
Mark Price, head of Waitrose, defended the scheme insisting that customers prefer immediate rewards, such as grabbing a free cup of coffee on their way to work, to collecting points.
According to the supermarket, "nothing says welcome more than a lovely cup of coffee or tea". But it seems that some customers disagree.Reuse content