Suspecting they'd been over charged, Kim Sze asked to see the receipt after ordering breakfast at Coffee Supreme, Christchurch.
What she didn't expect was to read a strange insult targeted at her two-year-old daughter, Micah.
Instead of asking for a name for the table, the receipt showed that staff had called their table "Family with the terrifying kid".
Sze said Supreme Coffee's management had "apologised profusely" after she contacted them. Managers and the chain's chief executive had been in touch to apologise, and she would be meeting with the company on Monday, as they wanted to apologise in person.
But Sze said she was still frustrated about how young families can be treated when they go out.
She and her partner operated their own cafe, Flora, in the Christchurch health precinct.
She said she understood that people made mistakes, and that a company couldn't couldn't stop one of its employees from making a mistake.
"The bigger issue for me is that as a young family, I have a two-year-old and a 10-month old, even though we go out a lot I still find it difficult to take my kids out. I'm always thinking, 'are people staring at us? Are my kids too loud? Are they being disruptive?'"
When the cafe labelled her daughter "terrifying", Sze said her child had been sitting on a stool minding her own business. The only issue came about when they left, and Sze said her daughter was angry about missing out on eggs for breakfast.
Had this happened to another family, Sze was worried about the impact that could have on already stressed parents.
"Are they doing this to other people? That could make someone who barely gets out of the house with their kids, because they have so much anxiety, just never want to leave the house again," she said.
Coffee Supreme's food and beverage manager Tim Norriss said he had travelled down from Wellington to meet with Sze to apologise. The meeting would take place on Monday afternoon.
"We just want to make it really clear the standards were dropped, and it's below the expectations that we have of anyone who works for Coffee Supreme," he said.
"We really love families coming into our spaces, we want everyone to feel comfortable, and we're incredibly disappointed that something like this has happened."
Norriss said the employee who wrote the message had been put on leave while the company dealt with the situation.
While there was currently no official approach for identifying customers, Norriss said as a result of the incident he would be working to issue a formal policy across all the Coffee Supreme sites.
Coffee Supreme has cafes in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.
Mum Kim, carrying Micah on her shoulders and Benjamin on the front. Photo: Supplied