Scary Fundamentalist over on the left coast picked up this little gem from the Winterpeg Sun yesterday, and wrote a post on it here.
Life Columnist Robin Anderson pretends to know all, and opines on how to resolve problems, but as you will see needs REAL sensitivity training, not HRC style.
She got this letter from a reader:
I am not sure if this is the right column to write this to. Last week I was on a shopping trip to London, Ont. I tried to enter a store, but my wheelchair set the security alarm off. The manager and other staff came over and tried to de-activate my chair, but to no avail.
The manager then told me I was not allowed in the store. I said, "you are denying a disabled person access to one of the leading retailers in the country?" When I got home, I contacted the customer service line. They said someone would be in touch with me by Monday, but there's been nothing yet. Do you know who to contact to bring this to the public eye, and if there is a possibility to sue for a discrimination of my disability?
-- Cause for alarm
So, the first question is (as a native Londoner) who in their right mind comes to London on a shopping trip from Winterpeg? Heck, people from Arkona and Lucan, 20 minutes away, can barely stand coming in to London to shop. Again, as a Londoner, I am mystified at what leading retailers are here. There are a lot of leaden retailers, and there is Tim's, but Tim's is everywhere. The only difference between coffee in London and in Winterpeg, is that Iced Cap is an option here.
As SF notes, as to why Cause for Alarm was refused admittance to the store:
For starters, retailers sometimes refuse entry to someone who sets off a metal-detection alarm that catches so-called "booster bags", shielded containers which mask the signal of electronic article surveillance tags and allow the shoplifter to defeat the security system. The store's policy may be to refuse entry to anyone who sets off that component of the alarm system.
But Cause for Alarm wants blood, well not blood actually, blood money, as she asks:
"Do you know who to contact to bring this to the public eye, and if there is a possibility to sue for a discrimination of my disability?"
Well, Robin Hood, er Anderson comes to the rescue on her white steed Roxinante and opines as follows:
Dear Cause for Alarm
I am shocked that this happened to you. I have gone into many stores and set off the alarm because of a purchase from another store, but have never been refused entry. I can't understand why they wouldn't let you in, unless your chair has a huge magnet in it that would wreck all the electronic equipment -- which is doubtful.
If you feel wronged, and I don't blame you one bit, don't sit and take it. You said you haven't heard from them yet, so keep on it and call them back. Tell them you want a formal apology and for their staff to undergo disability awareness training (not to mention you'd like a new TV, computer, etc.) or you will be taking your concerns to the news media.
Talk to the Canada Human Rights Commission and see what your options are as far as legal proceedings go. If you get nowhere with the retailer, take it to the media. Write a letter to the editor, and CC it to the top dog of the retailer.
Put a call in to the "people helper" at your local news station. I would advise you to first offer the retailer an opportunity to apologize for their ignorance and offer some kind of compensation before you jump on the legal action bandwagon.
First off, Robin Anderson is the winner of Sun Media's national advice competition. Well, they should take back the award for this pearl of unwisdom.
First, Robin is not very bright with her first paragraph. She was shocked, as well as ignorant. SF has a better concept of why this happened. But, victims need to be mollified, so mollify she must. At least, I hope that is why her response was so dumb. Frankly, the rest of her response is equally ignorant.
Here is my response to Cause for Alarm:
Before you go off half cocked trying to find someone else to beat down because of your own plight, find out from the store why they refused you entrance. This is the year 2009, and we are in a recession. Retailers are attempting to get business, not turn it away. Alarm systems are sensitive to wheelchairs because of theft perpetrated by individuals using wheelchair hideaways, which has nothing to do with you personally.
Rather than trying to sue some store because they were unable to accommodate you, thereby probably saving you money, and reducing their sales for the day, look upon this as an opportunity to better understand why this happened and how you can prevent it from happening again. Take some responsibility yourself to be better informed, not just about your rights, but about your responsibilities here on planet Earth.
Life has challenges and as that famous 20th century philosopher Mick Jagger sang:
"You can't always get what you want,
and if you try sometime you find
you get what you need."