A California 7-Eleven has a new strategy for dealing with ‘riffraff’ — and it reveals a growing problem that’s plaguing chains like Starbucks and McDonald’s

At least one 7-Eleven is using classical music to keep loiterers out.

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At least one 7-Eleven is using classical music to keep loiterers out.
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Shutterstock/Tupungato

  • A 7-Eleven location in California is blasting opera music to drive out panhandlers, loiterers, and other “riffraff.”
  • After the recent arrest of two black men at a Starbucks in Philadelphia, chains’ treatment of nonpaying customers has been under the microscope.
  • Companies including 7-Eleven and McDonald’s are testing out new methods to drive out certain groups, such as playing loud classical music and “The Mosquito,” which emits a high-pitched noise that can be heard only by young people.

A 7-Eleven franchisee has a new method to deal with loitering “riffraff.”

The owner of a California 7-Eleven, Sukhi Sandhu, told The Modesto Bee that he began playing opera and classical music last year in an effort to drive out panhandlers and other loiterers from the convenience store.

“Once the music started, the riffraff left,” Manuel Souza, who is homeless, jokingly told paper. “It’s hard to hang out and gossip and joke around.”

7-Eleven isn’t the only chain looking for solutions to reduce the number of loiterers and other people who aren’t purchasing items in its stores.

In April, Starbucks was heavily criticized after a manager called the police to arrest two black men who refused to leave the store. Certain locations of the coffee chain had previously locked their bathrooms in an attempt to reduce the number of homeless people frequenting the stores. And McDonald’s and KFC locations in a town in the UK barred all teenage customers after fights broke out between high schoolers who congregated at the chains to use the free WiFi.

Chains are in a difficult situation in that they want to create an inviting environment, especially for customers willing to spend the most amount of money in the least amount of time. But attracting these wealthier customers often means keeping the “riffraff” out.

“While it appears to offer equal access, in reality, it serves the needs of only some,” Temple University professor Bryant Simon writes in his book “Everything But the Coffee: Learning About America From Starbucks.”

Companies hoping to avoid the backlash that Starbucks faced for calling the cops on customers who didn’t immediately buy a coffee are turning to less confrontational methods.

Some McDonald’s locations in the UK have also adopted the classical music method during late-night hours, in an effort to reduce rowdiness. Other businesses have installed “The Mosquito” – a device that emits a high-pitched sound that can’t be heard by people over the age of 25 – to drive rambunctious teens out of stores.