So there I was – On my way home but had to mail something quick. I work near Bingham Farms and live in Novi, Michigan. So the easiest thing (and the quickest) is to stop by the Meijer store which is located on 12 Mile/Telegraph, and has a USPS counter. I have been there before and have mailed a few things, without much of an effort. Not exactly a typical USPS set up but you could get by using this place for things that don’t involve geographical or scientific questions, which the Meijer clerks are not prepared to handle, perhaps as they are trained to, since this involves USPS and they would much rather take the ‘I don’t know..This is not our problem. You check with USPS’ attitude.
On 08/26/14 – sometime between 3:45 PM and 3:50 PM, I walk into the store carrying a few books which I had to send to Memphis. I walk to the USPS counter inside this Meijer and the clerk there is absolutely nonchalant to my presence. I knock on the counter to grab her attention (after waiting for her to serve the customer ahead of me who was returning a previously purchased item). She acknowledges me and I ask her if she could give me some packaging supplies to send these books, as they are a bit bulky.
She: Almost ready to explode at me..”Why do you ask me? I don’t have any packaging supplies here. I don’t sell them. Go buy them from the store..”, in a rude tone.
She: “..there..”, pointing in the general direction where office supplies are sold.
I walk over there. 4-5 minutes of analysis later, I pick an envelope that I think would work for what I want to ship. I come back to the counter. I see her chatting with a gentleman (no business transaction but a general, casual chat). I patently wait for 2-3 minutes for her to finish her personal conversation and then start walking towards the counter, thinking that they don’t know that I am waiting. The woman, who can clearly see me, as I she is on the other side of the counter facing the customers, continues to talk to him, pretending to ignore me, while the man realizes my presence and starts walking away.
Me: “Can I get an address label that goes with Priority mail?” (Note that this is something they definitely carry in the postal counter there, as I have used this before).
Me: “But..I normally get it here..”
She: “No. I don’t have no address labels”..(in an irritating voice).
Me: “I am concerned that if I write the address here..” pointing at the place on the envelope where one is supposed to write the To address, “It won’t be legible. So I prefer an address label”.
She: “I told you..I don’t have address labels. Go get them..”
Me: (Ready to write the address on the envelope as I was running out of time to go pick up my kids from the summer day care facility)..”…Ok..I will write the address on the envelope..”. I start searching for my pen which I normally don’t carry in my pocket, but on occasions when I remember I need a pen, I grab one from my office bag and keep it in my pocket. Apparently I didn’t do that on this occasion. “Sorry..I don’t have a pen. Can I borrow a pen?”.
She: “No…”, in a loud, rude, irritating and a hateful tone.
I start thinking if she is being racist. If she doesn’t want to serve me because of how I look.
Me: “..Just want it for a couple of minutes..”
She: “No. I don’t give my pen away..”, again in a disdainful, hateful and almost an annoying voice.
Me: “Can you check if there is any other pen..please..??”
She: “You can go buy a pen..”.
Me: “I have enough pens in the car..But I am in a hurry and all I need is a pen to write these 4 lines of address..” (knowing very well that walking back to the car is an option but it would add an extra 5-10 minutes to my commute time as the car is parked far away from the store entrance on a wide parking lot..).
She: “No..I don’t give my pens. There is no other pen here..”, she pretended to search but in reality she was in a mood to see me go.
Me: “I see a pen there..”, as I spot one at the far end of a table.
She: “That’s mine..I can’t give it to you as you won’t give it back..”, implying that I am going to steal the pen and run away.
Me: “Oh, sorry. Can I borrow it for a minute? You can stand here while I write and watch..”…
She: “That’s what they all say…”.
By now, I am pretty sure she is being discriminatory and even racist.
Me: “Seriously? So you are implying that I am going to steal the pen and run away..?”.
She: “That’s what they all say..”, nodding quietly and agreeing with me that she implies that I won’t give the pen back intentionally.
Me: “Really? I can’t believe this..I just want to borrow your pen..and you could have said no in a different way..”.
I was quite annoyed by then. So much so that I decided to walk away – Without quite taking note of that particular clerk’s name.
I ended up going to the post office in Novi, after I picked up my kids and in the process had to wait for almost 90 minutes before I could send the books out. That there was an unusual thunderstorm that evening passing through Novi, during this wait and how the roads were a mess due to a power outage & how much it affected my evening plans and all are a different story all together.
In the meantime, I tweeted about this incident through a series of tweets..and pleasantly, I saw a response from @meijer saying they were sorry.
Then I followed it up with more details on the incident and also letting them know, that I failed to take note of the clerk’s name.
They say they would follow up with the store.
Nothing happened for almost 24 hours (or at least no one got in touch with me) and I tweeted again the next day.
@meijer started following me and they asked me to send my contact details.
I started following @meijer immediately and I DMed them my personal email id.
14 days later – till today. There has not been a single response from Meijer.
All I wanted was Meijer to act on my complaint and take a disciplinary action against that clerk.
If you can’t care for your customers, then you are in the wrong business. The clerk needs to be fired from that job. Period.
In addition, she needs some coaching for her racist/discrimnatory behavior, which I feel is the root cause of the poor attitude.
It’s probably too late now for Meijer to easily pacify me or convince me that they acted on this quickly.
Thus proving that Meijer is yet another stereotypical Midwestern company that believes in treating its customers who look different in a discriminatroy way and that they have no problems condoning the behavior of their staff who exhibit racist behavior while on job at the stores and especially while serving their customers.
Shame on you Meijer. In this day and age, in a region where you operate, where I am sure a good chunk of your profits come from customers (who look different) like me, you have no problems in accepting this kind of disgusting behavior.
I am not done yet. I just want to collect my thoughts and post it here before I forget them.
I may continue my rant in this blog again or not, depending on how Meijer responds.