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The other day, I was a victim of mistreatment at my local Toys R Us Store, and I wrote a lengthy status about what happened on my Facebook account. I was encouraged to write an e-mail to them to complain about what had happened. I have since done that and I am here to share both my e-mail and the response from Toys R Us.
To everyone who encouraged me to write a e-mail to them I thank you all for the words of engorgement.
This is the e-mail I sent them:
To whom it may concern,
I am writing this letter to complain about an incident of mistreatment at my local Toys R Us store in Gateshead that I experienced on Tuesday, 17th January, 2017, at around 11:30, that left me appalled.
Five to ten minutes after I entered the store, I heard a voice shouting, “Excuse me, Sir. Excuse me”. I was unaware that this was directed towards me but such was the volume it made me turn around to see a Toys R Us employee rush towards me. This staff member informed me that I would have to leave my bag at the customer service desk before I could continue shopping. I asked why to which he replied that it is now policy for Toys R Us to ask all customers to leave bags over at the customer service desk. Take note of the word ‘all’.
Hearing this conversation, a lady who entered after me asked if she had to hand over her bag. This member of staff then smiled at her and informed her that her bag was okay and that there was no need for her to part with her bag. I assumed that the idea behind leaving bags at customer service was Toy R Us’ way of tackling theft concerning bags that may be large enough to conceal products yet this lady’s bag was more or less the same size as mine and like her handbag I use my bag for utility to carry that which may be everyday necessary. The other thing that confused me were the exact words the employee used upon my arrival which were “all customers had to hand their bags in at customer services”, not “we pick and choose”. When I pointed out the similarities in size between my bag and hers, his response was “women carry bags”.
This infuriated me because in modern life it’s certainly not uncommon for men to carry bags equal to that of a lady carrying a handbag to carry everyday items which may not fit into pockets. I was also infuriated that because of my gender I was being profiled as a criminal in the eyes of this employee.
I asked to speak to the manager at once.
When finally the manager (I didn’t catch his name) came to hear my complaint, I voiced my mistreatment only for the manager to echo the same sentiment that women carry bags. This member had clearly been trained to profile potential criminals according to gender, I was truly horrified. I was also uncomfortable that other staff members and customers were watching what was going on, and already being written off as a criminal in the eyes of many.
Whiles sex discrimination, like many other discrimination laws, were introduced to protect those most vulnerable in society, the laws do exist to protect us all equally. As a customer, I expect to be treated equally and not to be victimised because of my gender or my appearance. Just because discrimination against men is not common in society, the Toys R Us staff who confronted me should still have a perspective of the gender discrimination they may be victim of and how it upset me no less than it would had I been a woman.
Double standards are appalling, and as Toys R Us are seemingly using gender to target what customers are most likely to shoplift, do they also use race and religion? If security policies are not exercised equally across all customers entering the store, then it only creates weakness and loopholes for professional criminals to exploit.
The policy is redundant. It only creates space for customers like myself to feel mistreated and discriminated against.
Aside from the manager having no empathy or understanding to this discrimination, he proceeded to lie to me by telling me that this has always been in operation. I’ve shopped at Toys R Us for at least 3-4 times a month for a number of years and have never been asked to hand over my bag upon entry. With my feeling of ill-treatment not being understood by the manager, and that the store does not use CCTV (considering the size of the store I found this outrageous), hence the security policy, which I also thought was a lie but can’t prove otherwise, I informed him that I would not be shopping there, even after he said my bag was “under second thoughts” suitable to take into the store. Likely with his desire not to continue this conversation with me, he shrugged my statement off and said: “that’s up to you”.
This is where I bring up a serious point about my custom history with Toys R Us that the manager failed to understand and feels totally indifferent to losing.
I’m a Platinum Card customer, having joined the scheme in 2009. Haven’t just check my award statement, I’ve earned 3678 points in the eight years since signing up to the scheme, thus in that period with Toys R Us has seen me spend £3,678 breaking down on average to an annual spend of £460. While for a company as big as Toys R Us this may seem like loose change, yet considering the state of the economy that business now operate in, I pity any business that is prepared to turn away the loss of a loyal customer such as myself. Other toy retailers exist who I’m more than happy to spend the potential £3,678 with, but it does sadden me that the relationship I had with Toys R Us may come to an end after many enjoyable visits I had previously.
I’m also a member of a passionate online action figure collector community, and I wrote on many forums/ social media sites concerning the discrimination I received. I’ve largely received comments which echo shock and disgust. One comment said that he was asked to leave a baby change bag at customer service (this occurred in a different Toys R Us branch, not the Gateshead store). Like with many other places, Toys R Us supplies a baby change facility in the store it blows my mind that this customer was denied the essentials to use that facility. If this inconvenience, and frankly, in that case, stupidity continues, I assure you that I will not be the first loyal customer your company may lose.
I look forward to your response, and how in responding you can possibly justify the discrimination and mistreatment of one of your most loyal customers.
Mr. Andrew D. Sheriff
Phew. It’s a lengthy e-mail I know, but I felt that I had a lot to say and a lot of points I wanted to bring across to them.
Now, this is Toys R Us’ response:
Dear Mr. Sheriff,
Thank you for your e-mail, which has been passed on to me for my attention in regards to the problems you experienced during your recent visit to our Gateshead store on Tuesday.
Firstly, please allow me to apologise for any offence caused. A general approach towards our bag policy is in the interest of safety and security for all of our customers, and our intention is that it is implied consistently. Due to customer feedback we will be reviewing the bag policy and how we can operate it in a way that problems such as the ones you encountered will not occur again.
I was concerned to read your comments and whiles I’m confident that any action taken by our staff was not a result of gender discrimination, I will be investigating the matter with the general store manager to ensure our instructions relating to the implementation of this procedure is understood and followed.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank you once again for your e-mail and for your feedback. As a show of good faith and demonstration that no ill intention was meant, I have attached a £20 voucher to this e-mail.
Firstly, the voucher is a nice touch, and I’m encouraged by the fact that certain aspects are being reviewed. I just hope that Colin Harper is a man of his word and that staff at that store are contacted to make sure they understand and follow the procedures.
Perhaps more common sense is taken with the bag policy. I’ve no problem with following procedure, I’d prefer not to leave my bag at customer service, but I understand the reasoning behind it, and I’ll willing to follow throw as long as it applies to every other customer.
Will I shop there again? Yeah, but it will be some time before I do, and hopefully common sense prevails the next time I go back. Still pretty pissed off with them.
Anyway, in the meantime, it looks like the Gateshead branch will have to try and achieve their financial targets without me for the short term.
I promise, my next blog will be a much positive one. Trust me.
Thanks for reading.