Lord & Taylor — racial profiling
On Saturday, November 29, 2008 at approximately 10:00 A.M. I entered Lord & Taylor with my six-year old son, cousin and best friend to shop. At about 11:15 A.M. my son and I were both escorted to the cashier counter in the shoe department which is located on the second floor of said location by the nice floor sales person who had helped me. He asked an African American cashier to handle my transaction while he made a phone call to another store because I was making a purchase of two items. One a pair of black patent leather loafers and a pair of black patent leather boots which were not in stock. I then handed her a Lord & Taylor gift card valued at $500.00 dollars. She swiped the card and then stated that she needed to get approval first. I thought that was rather odd because I have used gift cards in the past at that store and other stores and never had to get approval. At which time the male floor person placed a call to another Lord & Taylor that had the boots. After giving the sales person over the telephone my credit card information I waited for the cashier in front of me to finish my transaction with the shoes that I was purchasing. Well, about ten minutes later I was accosted by a gentleman. the stores Executive Investigator, who demanded to know were I had gotten the gift card from. He stated, " that the gift card was obtained in an fraudulent manner." At which time I informed him that I had received the gift card from my boyfriend as a Birthday gift back in October and that I was in possession of a second card. He then accused my boyfriend of purchasing the cards off the street, on-line or with an fraudulent credit card. I told him the my boy friend would not do anything like that. He then asked me to come with him to settle the situation. I then told my son to go over to my cousin and best friend who were waiting for me on the sofa. I immediately attempted to place a call to my boyfriend but was unsuccessful due to bad reception. While waiting for the elevator to arrive I placed a second call to my boyfriend which went through and I told him what had occurred. I then noticed a young Hispanic female who was dressed in civilian attire following us and I questioned who she was and was told by Mr. Doug Owen, Lord & Taylor investigator that she was with him. I then realized that she was a Lord & Taylor undercover security officer. At this time Mr. Owen decides to take me downstairs through a rear stairwell, which led to a security office. He then states, "that the bank had stopped the transaction from going through." Once inside the office I was immediately asked for some identification. As I produced my NY State Drivers License and second card which was still in the Lord & Taylor gift box, a third security officer walked into the room from the back office. I was asked again about the gift cards. I then called my boyfriend again for the third time via cell phone. He informed me that he purchased one card in cash and the other on his Citibank Master Card. I asked him if he remembered which card and if he had charged it on a Citibank card that I had in my wallet. He replied he wasn't sure and asked me to provide him with the credit card information because he would call Citibank himself. During the entire time that I was detained in the security office the female security officer who sat on my far right and the African American male security officer who was on my far left both glared at me in an menacing manner. At one point the male security officer got up from his chair, turned his back to me which revealed a pair of handcuffs. I then stated out loud, "oh, are you going to arrest me." without responding they both just sat and continued to glare at me. I immediately felt intimidated, threaten, humiliated and embarrassed. The security officer then stated that he could find out in minutes if the card was purchased on the Citibank card that I had in my possession. I then handed him the card and he went into a backroom with it. While waiting for him to return my boyfriend called me and stated that he had gotten in contact with Citibank and that the transaction had gone through back in October when he brought the card. At this time Mr. Owen and the security officer returned from the back room and stated that the purchase was not made on that particular card. While I had my boyfriend on the telephone I asked Mr. Owen if he wanted to speak to boyfriend directly. They spoke briefly and I heard Mr. Own, ask him which location did he purchase the card from. Then Mr. Own replied to my boyfriend that he would issue me two new cards at the same value that the other cards were issued for. Mr. Own, then handed me the phone and then claimed that he had called Citibank himself and that the person that he needed to speak with wouldn't be in until Monday morning. Mr. Owen, then proceeded to make copies of the old cards and my drivers license. I then asked, " why did he need to retain a copy of my identification." He replied, " to show who was in possession of the so called fraudulent gift cards." He then stated that he would issue me two new cards and that I needed to accompany him to the seventh floor. As we were about to exist the room the female security officer asked him if she needed to accompany him as well and he replied, no! and then handed her the gift box that had contained the second gift card. After being issued the two new cards I returned to the second floor to get my family. As I entered the shoe department embarrassed and humiliated I could feel all eyes were on me. All the sale people and cashiers were whispering and talking among themselves about me. My six-year old immediately asked me if I was okay and where had I been. I felt like I was being racially profiled because of the color of my skin and the amount of the card. I believe if I had been of a different skin tone things would have been handled differently. I would have never been accused openly in front of the entire shoe department of being in possession of fraudulent cards. My boyfriend is a well respected business man who would never jeopardize me, his business or his good name with some fraudulent scam. In fact, earlier this year he was listed by the Better Business Bureau as one of the business to patronize if you wanted honesty and good work. I will never patronize Lord & Taylor again and I would like to have returned to me all the copies of my identification what was fraudulently obtained from me!
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