SEATTLE – The head of a Brooklyn ambulance company said Tuesday that the president of Starbucks has personally apologized after rescue workers in New York were forced to pay a Starbucks shop $130 for water to treat victims of the terrorist attack.
Midwood Ambulance Service President Al Rapisarda said he received a hand-delivered reimbursement check — and a personal call from Starbucks president Orin Smith — after reports of the incident became public.
"It was a misunderstanding with Starbucks," Rapisarda said after talking to Smith.
Midwood Ambulance Service alerted Starbucks to the incident in an e-mail, which was obtained by the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.
Smith said Tuesday he did not know why the coffee shop near the World Trade Center towers charged the rescue workers.
"It's totally inconsistent with the kind of behavior we would have expected from our people, so it has been very upsetting to learn of this," Smith said in an interview with The Associated Press.
Shortly after the Sept. 11 attack, rescue workers rushed into a nearby Starbucks store to get water to treat shock victims, Rapisarda said. Ambulance company workers said employees in the shop demanded they pay $130 for three cases of bottled water. The workers paid cash, out of their own pockets.
Reached by telephone, the manager of the shop, the Battery Park Plaza Starbucks, declined to comment.
Rapisarda said he was happy with Starbucks' conciliatory gestures, which Smith said included free coffee and other gifts.
"It's not a big deal anymore," Rapisarda said.
Starbucks closed stores nationwide for a day after the attacks, although the company said several stores near the World Trade Center and New York City hospitals served coffee — and water — to rescue workers for free.
He said the company also has donated coffee and other services throughout New York City since the attacks.