BIG problem at the Grocery!

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by susiestar, Apr 15, 2010.

  1. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    A couple of weeks ago Jess and I went to the medium size grocery in our town (FP). FP is nice, has a Starbucks, but is not as big as Walmart. That is why we went there. I carefully timed our visit so we would NOT be there after school when it gets busy because Jessie's knee and ankle were both messed up.

    Jessie and I both used the electric carts. This is normally no problem as she is very well behaved with them. That day was no exception. I let her go off to look at an item while I grabbed another. We were both getting tired and wanted to go home.

    As I went from one aisle to another I saw a manager talking to her. NOT the store mgr, but another one. I didn't think anything about it as we are there often and they are usually friendly.

    I got my items and found Jessie right where she was, with the same manager. She was looking upset. I went to her to see what the problem was. As he saw me drive up the mgr left. He hurried away so he would not have to talk to me.

    He went to Jess and asked if she really "NEEDED" the cart, with lots of emphasis on the word needed. She said she did. He then proceeded to ask what was wrong, what the exact medical name for it was, who her doctor was, etc... After she told him that one knee and the other ankle were injured and were likely to give out and cause her to fall she told him he should speak to me.

    He kept pushing for medical info, telling her she didn't really need the cart or she would know these things and tell him. She did tell him that he had no right to ask those questions.

    I was FURIOUS!! It took me a week to calm down enough to write a letter to corporate. I have gotten a response from the store mgr, who I know fairly well as a reasonable person. He says that of course they know us, and that none of the staff has ever seen Jessica be a problem on or off the cart. He cannot get any of the mgrs to admit to the incident, but he thinks he knows which one is the culprit.

    He wants me to drop in for coffee to settle this.

    I usually like to have something in mind to ask for when I make a complaint. It makes it easier for the company to "make it right". This time I have NO idea what to ask for. Or to accept if they offer soemthing.

    THis is a clear ADA violation and our area is home to a RABID atty who loves to sue over ADA violations. I am SURE he would love to get involved in this but I don't want to go that way.

    Right now Jess doesn't even want to go back because she thinks they all think she is faking her problems. (She was shaking/trembling so much she couldn't suppress it that day also.)

    Any ideas/suggestions?
  2. Wiped Out

    Wiped Out Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I'm so sorry Jesse was treated this way-completely unacceptable:mad::mad::mad::mad::mad::mad::mad::mad:

    Poor Jesse-no way should she have to deal with such a JERK!!!!!!! Give her an extra hug from this board Auntie.

    As for what to ask for I am stumped right now. Wishing you well today as you go.

    by the way, I had one more angry face there but I guess we're only allowed to post eight-it wouldn't take it-lol!
  3. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    I would demand the mgr have to apologize to Jess in person. It's the very least he can do. If you have to, point him out to the store mgr so he gets the right jerk.

    Personally, I'd make it have to be a public apology to embarrass the heck out of this idiot and assure Jess doesn't get harassed again, front of all the other dept mgrs. But that's just me.

    Was a time with Travis he liked to wear coats. Sensory thing. He got used to wearing his big bulky winter coat everywhere. Big chain store here security suddenly decided because he was wearing a big bulky winter coat in spring when it wasn't that cold that he was shoplifting. As usual Travis didn't tell me about it until the 4 th incident. Now the kid stayed with me in the store. At checkout he'd get bored and go a head to the car.......and that's when they'd get him. I was waiting for them that last time and I went off like a she bear on steroids.:mad: It was not pretty. Store mgr was furious with security, especially when he got them to admit they'd never once found anything on the boy, nor had he ever set off the store alarms. They were forced to apologize loudy right then and there in front of employees and customers. Store mgr bawled them out the same way. A customer can wear anything they want into the store, but you'd better be danged sure you SAW them take something before you stop them! Of course they never had because he'd never taken anything.

    They left him alone after that. But he still is uncomfortable going into that store.
  4. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    What to ask for - you need to make it clear how Jess feels now, and how hurt she feels as well as how she now feels nobody believes her genuine need.

    So perhaps what to ask for - clear evidence that first of all, she IS believed (a letter from management that she can show to any officious ratbag in the future?) as well as an apology from the person responsible.

    I know they can't be sure who it is, but I'm certain that if he suspects who it is, he will be able to lean on the guy, pointing out tat the alternative could be a lawsuit which you are very kindly trying to avoid; but failure of the store to be able to reassure Jess may require a lawsuit as the only way she can feel vindicated. And that would be a shame, if it has to go that far. An apology form the guy concerned would of course obviate the need for taking legal action in order to make it clear that Jess was not shamming.

    You get the gist of what I'm trying to say?

    Also talk to Jess, find out what SHE needs, in order to feel OK about shopping there again. What about calling in the local paper to do a story on the subject?Would that help Jess feel that her point has been made sufficiently well, so nobody would ever question her again?

    So, in summary, several things you have to make clear to the manager -

    1) Be graphic about how bad Jess felt at the time as well as how bad she still feels;

    2) Make it clear just how badly her rights were violated, as well as how she did all the right things including directing the guy to talk to you and he STILL continued to do the wrong thing;

    3) Spell out what your rights in this now are, including your right to legal action as well as how likely your success in such action would be, as well as what it would do to the store;

    4) Let them know you prefer to NOT do this, because you want things resolved quickly, satisfactorily and you do not see this as something money can fix anyway;

    5) Then give him the shopping list of what you feel will help Jess to once more feel happy to shop there again, in the full understanding that she will be treated respectfully.

    See how that goes.

    Go prod buttock for us! Steel-capped boots on, but with velvet suede...

  5. tiredmommy

    tiredmommy Site Moderator

    I didn't read the other responses but I'm thinking some kind of sensitivity training be mandated: medical/privacy and dealing with minors. You may want to point out that this could have been a discrimination lawsuit instead of a letter to corporate.
  6. Andy

    Andy Active Member

    Hounddog is correct. An apology is in line. After the apology, an invitation from the main manager inviting Jessie to come back again. A letter stating how the staff enjoy having Jesse shop and that this was an isolated incident in which ONE staff stepped over the line and BULLIED a customer. The management letter can include that this type of bullying is NOT tolerated in their store and thank her for letting them know about it. Apologies both in person and in writing on both of these. I think it is easier for people to put more thought into a written note/letter than to talk in person. The letter asking her to continue to shop would be a positive something she can reread each day.

    If you have never felt uncomfortable shopping before and do like the other employees and managers, I would NOT make this a public news for the local paper. That sort of news would only point out that the store is a bad place to go. The purpose of your actions is against one employee, not the store. You do not want to create bad relations with this store. I would reserve that sort of action for when there are constant issues. And I don't think Jesse would like that sort of attention being brought to herself.

    When Diva was in 1st grade, we ordered Valentine balloons - one for each student in Diva's class - from a local florist the night before. When I went to pick them up, the lady who took our order REFUSED to fill it. She made a point of filling everyone else's walk-in orders telling me she didn't have time for mine. She would do one at a time between everyone else's orders. Since Diva was with me, I held my tongue but did tell EVERYONE who was in line and was offered help before me that she would not fulfill my order. Finally the other person working with his back to us figured out what was going on and told her that I thought she was rude. My grief was with her, not with the entire store. I wrote a letter to the manager of the store and told him that as long as I saw her behind the counter, I would not go into that department (floral dept in a grocery store). I received a very nice letter of apology back (and a huge floral bouquet) that I was not expecting but it was nice to know they read and heard my complaint.

    You know that when this jerk is denying this that he KNOWS he is in trouble and hopes the issue will go away.
  7. busywend

    busywend Well-Known Member Staff Member

    In reality he is going to put a memo in the man's file. He will learn his lesson (hopefully) and everyone will move on.

    What will help Jessie? Some way of feeling comfortable to use the cart again and know she will not be questioned. Maybe they should have some sort of card system for regular customers.
    When you were talking about what to ask for - I was thinking gift card! LOL! I am so not expecting much from these people that I was thinking how you could get something out of the situation.
  8. Star*

    Star* call 911

    What does Jess want? I think this was her embarrassment ergo - it should be she that is satisfied with the outcome of any compensation. Of course I get that as adults we have to guide. I don't know Jessie personally, but at her age had my Mom made a big to-do of this kind of situation in my name where my friends or other kids my age would have seen it? Would have only further served to "separate me" from an already separated lot. So going public in my humble opinion isn't necessarily a good way. Asking for a house full of 650 count Egyptian cotton sheets isn't good either - although nice in the (pithy humor there)

    I like TM's idea of store wide sensitivity training. When someone is wronged I think you have to look at the long term questions -
    Is the problem likely to happen again if not addressed now?
    Was this an isolated incident with one person or is this something the store needs to address with current staff or with current staff and future staff? Should this become a mandated program for future associates? (Jessies law)

    I think this would make an awesome project for home schooling credits - IF you can come to some agreement with the stores corporate headquarters. Training of this nature is going to be very costly. It may end up that you will need to get that chomping at the bit ADA atty.
    Keep in mind - The publicity it will draw if you do and the limelight that this will put Jess in......If being cornered and questioned by one butt-head store manager upset her like it did.....keep in mind what the public will say when/if you decide to take this further. People are cruel.

    Final thought - It may benefit you and Jess more to accept a personal apology from this man (who if he had any sensitivity at all wouldn't have pushed the issue like he did with a little kid) and probably isn't going to feel anything even if reprimanded, but to explain more in depth to Jess how to defend HERSELF when confronted like this because this will NOT be the last time [sadly]. Therein I believe is the hard lesson for my lovey. No matter how much WE defend them from the world, and educated the few, the dumb, the unknowing? There will always be that guy in the store telling a little girl in a motorized cart she doesn't belong there.

    I'm not sure what the BEST thing is, but I do think it's ultimately Jessie's decision.

    I'm really sorry there are insensitive nerds in the world like him Jess. It shouldn't be your job to educate them or advocate for people with bad ankles....but sometimes a girl has to do what a girl has to do. Be STRONG! Hugs & Love AUntie Star;)
  9. hearts and roses

    hearts and roses Mind Reader

    I agree with Marg - if you decide to meet with this manager, have your notes ready so you can refer to them. Describing how Jess felt is very important. Reminding him/her that this is a legal issue and although you do not want to go that route, legally you can. Demanding an apology from the manager in question as well as the store is in order.

    And I would demand to meet the other managers so you can point out the jerk so there is no mistaking who was at fault.

    They want to do damage control. However, they will also likely use words or actions that takes the blame off them, such as "your daughter wsa not up front about why she was using the cart - or - when questioned, your daughter became argumentative...." you get the idea. Head them off at the pass and be firm and solid regarding your/Jess's rights. I would even drop the attorney's name you mentioned if the manager seems to be treating this is something trivial. Something to the effect of, "I have a call into Attorney _________'s office just in case this cannot be resolved amicably". You better believe they will try to accommodate you!

    Hugs to Jess.
  10. flutterby

    flutterby Fly away!

    I think this manager requires retraining. He has no right to ask her medical condition and/or the name of her doctors. And the weasel scooted off when you arrived. He was clearly harassing a minor child and breaking the law. Not only ADA, but privacy laws as well. When she told him to talk to you, the conversation should have ceased immediately until you arrived.

    I would remind them that there is no requirement, such as a handicap sticker, to use those carts. She was using it responsibly, and she was embarrassed, insulted, singled out, and made to feel like, yet again, no one believes her. The manager should apologize, a formal reprimand in his personnel file, and be sent back to be retrained.
  11. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Just to clarify - in my earlier post I raised the question about calling in the local paper, form the point of view of what does Jess want. I agree, from what you describe it doesn't sound like anything Jess would really want, when it comes down to it. But raising the subject means the possibility is on the table to think about - and then hopefully reject. But sometimes when this sort of thing happens, part of us wants to shout and scream loud enough for everybody to take notice and say, "That was wrong!"

    Yes, it can backfire and in this situation, I don't think it is what Jess would choose once she thought about it. The thing is, the store doesn't know this. Considering all the things you could do to rub their noses in it, I would say they're getting off very lightly and are probably collectively sweating a lot right now.

    I like the way you're handling this, Susie.

    I do like the suggestion of a written apology as well as a verbal one. And an apology directed to Jess personally, not delivered via her mother.

    You're in a good bargaining position right now. Use it to make some positive changes. If you have some constructive suggestions for them to improve their system to reduce the chances of this happening again to someone else, now is the time to give them that too. Actually, having some constructive suggestions for them now will improve your position even more.

    An example - you could suggest the card system Busywend mentioned.

    We have mobility scooters available in our mall also. I used to use them regularly but haven't had to for a few years now. But they have a contract we have to sign each time, plus very strict conditions. In fact, in our area we'd have problems getting one made available to anyone under 18.

    What we have to do - it varies, but it generally involves them having all our personal details on file (name, address, phone no) and also showing some ID (my driver's licence, always). The scooter is booked out at a certain time and I have to have it returned by the time they specify. They have my mobile phone number so they can call me if they need it back or there is a problem. Any problems, and they know who it is and they will ban some people if there are negative reports. I actually had someone report me for driving like a maniac (I hadn't been and fortunately could prove it) because this person had a grudge against me and wanted to make trouble for me. Because they had my part clean record on file, they took my word for it.

    For us it's not so much a card system, as a computer system. They lend out not only mobility scooters but also wheelchairs, prams and other cute gadgets that combine a shopping trolley/basket thing with a sort of toy car for kids to ride in at the front. That one costs, but it keeps kids quiet and happy while their parents push around the groceries. It all is recorded on the computer and the files kept.

    A good system might help here - that way a manager who is resentful of a kid using an aid for old people, can ask to see the computer and realise that the loan was not made frivolously, and that the child in question was under adult supervision. Frankly, that is all the guy needed to know.

  12. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I think the guy needs to take a course on invisible disabilities and write a dissertation on it after he is finished to go in his personal file. Then he can apologize with real meaning to Jess.
  13. I love TM's idea, it's a beautiful win-win. But, it really is up to Jessie.

    A few months after difficult child's accident and his subsequent amputation, he went to the grocery store with me to get out of the house, and, of course, he used the riding cart. A store employee came up to us and said to him, "Aren't you ashamed to be using that cart that someone else really needs'? 'I was very, very hot - so I know how you feel Susie. It was just the wrong thing for someone to say after we had been through our three month hospital journey.

    I said "difficult child take off your splint "- so she could see his poor residual limb. She walked away backwards with her hands up saying "Oh, I'm so sorry, Oh, I'm so sorry" "I didn't know" and she began to follow us around the store saying she really didn't know, etc. etc. - what could she do to help us? Honestly, I think she feared for her job.

    I really didn't have the energy at that time to follow up with her manager - and I do believe that she learned a very, very important lesson. All disabilities are not immediately obvious, and any one of any age can have one. The more people who learn that, the more compassionate our society will be, in my humble opinion.

  14. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    You have all give me some really good ideas.

    Marg, our shopping malls have systems like that for wheelchairs and strollers, though many do not have electric carts. Our Walmarts and grocery stores that have carts have no sign out procedure. WalMart has the carts inside by the greeters (person standing at the door who tags return merchandise, gives directions, passes out stickers to kids, etc...). The greeters make sure the carts are plugged in when not in use and can contact the other main entrance to see if they have any carts if their entrance is out of them. Most grocery stores, like FP, have the electric carts with the shopping carts. FP has them between the entrance doors in that lobby area. If you want a cart you get on, turn it on and go (unplugging it if someone has had the courtesy to do that). There is no sign out procedure and people would probably protest greatly if there was one, esp with the cutbacks in customer service employees lately. I would still sign one out, but many people would have a hissy fit and possibly sue because "you don't have to sign out a shopping cart". I have heard people at the malls use this argument to get out of checking out a cart.

    Thanks for all your support.

    Valerie, I am so sorry you had to go through this also. Stupid people are everywhere, we just can't get away from them, can we? Makes me want to start a "no stupid people" policy, but then how do you enforce it? (KIDDING!)

    Jess appreciates all the support, and so do I.

  15. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Crikey, no sign out procedure?

    Our malls have Customer Service desks and that is where the scooters are kept on their chargers. The scooters are numbered and this also helps with their service log. Generally they have enough, but on busy days (pension day, when the welfare payment comes in) the centre is full and all the carts will be out. So we have a system where we can ring up and book wheels. I might call up and say, "I need a scooter form 11 am on Thursday in the name of..." and it's logged in under my name and my file. They ask me which desk I want to collect it form and when I get there, they make sure it is there ready for me.

    Shopping trolleys - most of our supermarkets in the mall have trolley bays, but increasingly, they are coin in the slot. At the mall they aren't coin in the slot yet apart from Aldi, but in other shopping centres sometimes it's ALL coin in the slot. That means we need either a $1 or $2 coin to make the trolley unchain itself. People really objected when this was brought in, but the trolleys get returned, so they're in better condition, so we realise that coin in the slot trolleys work better - people now accept it.

    It's interesting how different it can be in different places.

    I hope you get some satisfaction here that Jess will be happy with.

  16. KTMom91

    KTMom91 Well-Known Member

    My stepmother has had a seizure disorder for many years, and her service dog is an Australian Shepherd, which tends to freak managers out, since it's not one of the traditional breeds. She has photocopies of the ADA regs pertaining to service animals with her, and very calmly hands them to anyone who challenges her about her "pet." Maybe something like this would help Jessie, making it a little easier to stand up for herself against someone like this clown. Sounds like he's taking his manager badge way too seriously.

    I was also thinking gift card for Jessie! Along with a formal apology. Sending big hugs to you both.
  17. flutterby

    flutterby Fly away!

    Oooohhhh, I like the gift card for Jessie.

    My stepfather had a seeing eye dog years ago - a yellow lab. This was over 20 years ago and there was a lot more ignorance, but even then most people knew they were allowed. They had trouble with a couple of places - one being a gym. Really? A gym?