On Sunday, May 19, 2013 a little after 10:00am I walked into World Market in Santa Barbara, CA located at 610 State Street. I purchased an item in the store the evening before and was truly looking forward to picking up my brand new TV Media Easel that had already been paid for. As I made a right turn into the parking lot I yielded for two pedestrians (male and female) making a left into the World Market parking lot as well. Focused on the two pedestrians entering the small parking lot I happened to notice the female pedestrian mouth “I don’t know where she is going, there is no parking here”. I proceeded to look for a parking space, as there were none available; I pulled into the handicapped spot. I got out of my vehicle, proceeded to enter the store only to be approached by the female pedestrian who obviously was waiting for me to enter the store so that she could give me a piece of her mind. When the female customer came up to me she said, “That space is for handicapped people only”. I completely ignored her comment, did not make eye contact with her and said “good morning, my name is _____, I purchased an item last night and am here to pick it up. I am parked in the handicapped spot right there” to the cashier on duty. The cashier (male) asked me for my receipt and as I reached into my purse the female customer called me a “***”. I turned to her and said “what did you say to me?” She responded, “I was talking to my husband”.
The reason for this letter is to express my dissatisfaction and disappointment in the way the situation was handled by the store members, especially the manager, Paul on Sunday and Monday. I would also like to note my follow up call to the store on Monday, May 20, 2013 only exacerbated an already deplorable experience at World Market.
On Sunday, May 19, 2013 after I was called a “***” by a customer within earshot of other customers and World Market associates, not once was my safety, security and well being ensured or considered. Not once did I receive an apology. I was however, told by the manager to “calm down” when I made the situation known to everyone who could hear me yell, “this woman just called me a ***!” Paul, also asked me whether I had called the police as opposed to immediately doing so himself once he realized the gravity of the situation and how physically shaken I appeared. Paul did not come to my defense in any way, in fact it took me to yell for help when I stepped out of the store, was on the phone with 9-1-1 and the female customer came out and continued to verbally attack me. It was not until I yelled “get away from me now, someone please tell this woman to get away from me!” that Paul approached her and asked her to leave me alone because she was “only going to make the situation worse”. In short, Paul did absolutely nothing to diffuse an escalating situation and instead made me to feel like I was the offending party. In addition, once the item I purchased was delivered to my car (after repeated requests), Paul added insult to injury by telling me that in the future I should call prior to arriving to pick up an item instead of parking in the handicapped spot since it is obvious that I do not have a handicapped sticker. The response I received from Paul was absolutely insensitive, unnecessary, beside the point, hurtful and preposterous!
On Monday, May 20, 2013 I called World Market a little after 8:30am to make a formal complaint about the issue. I was again made to feel like the problem, was not treated with kindness and never received a genuine apology from anyone that I spoke with. I requested a phone call back from Paul, left my name, phone number, but did not receive a call back for over 4 hours. The return phone call came only after following up for a second time via phone to inquire about the reason I had yet to receive a phone call back as I had requested that morning. When I did follow up the second time, I was told by an associate (Grant) that the reason Paul had not called me back yet was because Paul “was busy”. A situation of this magnitude should be the ABSOLUTE NUMBER ONE PRIORITY.
As a paying customer and petite female that entered the store alone, I felt like I was not being protected as a human being, American citizen or paying store customer should. I was repeatedly verbally attacked by an individual in and outside of the store and NO ONE CAME TO MY DEFENSE. If the store manager had asked her to leave after both the customers and store associates became aware of the issue, I would have felt like my safety was not in immediate risk, but unfortunately that was not the case. I felt like I was being attacked by all parties including World Market. We have all seen instances where a store manager will ask a person to leave the store when they are creating a scene and making other customers feel uncomfortable. This did not happen for me.
The only person in the situation that did the right thing was me. I prevented a major PR nightmare for World Market by keeping a level head and not allowing the situation to escalate into a violent encounter. Believe me when I say this, it could have easily turned violent if the wrong Black person were called a *** in public by a white person!
I am the Executive Director of a national non-profit organization. I have local and national media contacts and a very large social media network. I would like to provide World Market with the opportunity to rectify this situation IMMEDIATELY in WRITING and via PHONE before I decide to take things to the next level. I am a professional person and am providing World Market with the same professional courtesy that I would hope someone who has a grievance with my Association would give me. I would like to know in detail what steps are going to be taken to ensure that something like this NEVER happens again.