Safeway Store — buying visa card
On 12/29/2007 at approximately 2:38pm, I went to Safeway located on Argonaut Drive in Fremont, CA, to purchase a Visa gift card for my daughter for Christmas. After diligently searching for the correct card as stock was pretty much depleted, I located the card and proceeded to the check stand for purchase. A checker by the name of "Terrie" was there. We greeted each other as we normally did, I handed her the Visa gift card and informed her the amount I wished to put on the card, $125.00. As I removed my ATM card from my wallet, she asked how would I purchase the card, ATM or Credit. I stated, "Oh, it doesn't matter. ATM is fine". She asked to see my card and my ID of which I handed to her. I thought nothing of it at first. She returned the items to me and she called for "Nick or Celeste to check stand 8". Mind you, I had already punched in my ATM pin number. After waiting for 2 minutes, I asked her what was the problem. She asked to see my ID and ATM card again. I stated, "I am sure this has something to do with the color of my skin, doesn't it?". She looked at me and stated no, they ask this of everyone. I thought this was very peculiar as I have purchased my groceries at this location for years and have rarely ever been asked for my ID for credit card nor ATM purchases before. She then called for the same two people again. A guy in white shirt and tie walked toward the check stand and "Terrie" left to meet him prior to him reaching the check stand. She had her back towards me and proceeded to tell him something. The entire time, he looked at me. He walked over and asked to see my ID. I asked for the reason of needing to see my ID again. He stated an ID is required for all credit card transactions. I indicated I purchased the Visa gift card by ATM and the system had already processed the transaction. The ATM/CC module stated "Thank You" after processing my pin number. He stated, extremely loud and very rudely, "I just cancelled it and you need to leave right now!". I said, "Excuse me. I have been patronizing this store for over 10 years and have never been treated this way. I am purchasing this by ATM and you are kicking me out?" The guy stated, "You need to leave". I left, humiliated, embarrassed and in tears to my car where my children were. They asked what was the matter as I tried to hold back the tears and told them what happened in so many words without going into detail. Not willing to allow the ignorance of two damper our afternoon, I went to the Safeway located on Washington and Fremont Blvds to try it again as I was not willing to give completely up on Safeway. I parked, walked in the store, found the card, walked to the check stand, purchased the card (AGAIN with ATM), never once was asked for my ID, thanked the checker, and left the store. This entire transaction took no more than 5 minutes.
The same day, I called the Customer Service line and asked to speak with a Supervisor as I had just experienced the worst treatment at Safeway ever. A supervisor by the name of Reggie Hodges left a message for me as I was in the mall with my children and missed the call. I returned her call at approximately 8:00pm and informed her of the incident. She indicated how shocked she was and apologized profusely. She then "gave" me a 10% discount on my purchases until the end of the month and stated she would follow up by calling the store to find out "what was their problem". She confirmed my reasoning by asking me why would they ask for an ID if I was paying by ATM. I stated this was my question as well. She then stated that she wonders what the "Terrie" said to "Nick" as she instigated the entire event. I stated that I agreed but wondered what she could have stated other than her asking for my ID a thousand times. I stated my name on my ID and my ATM card are the same, there is nothing different. I then suggested that maybe something happened in the store recently with another Black woman and I was profiled. I have no idea. She stated she would be out of the office for the holiday and would return on Wednesday and she should be able to provide me with some information as to why the incident occurred. I thanked her for her assistance and her spiritual words and thanked for her assisting me; or so I thought.
I called Reggie again after not hearing from her on Wednesday nor Thursday. I received a voicemail message from her on Friday evening stating she called the store. Nick could not give her a good explanation for the incident other than "she made a scene". Of which, I find the fabrication of the century and begged her to look at the store tapes to see for herself my demeanor. She continued to state that she was going to write up the store and the General MGR, Division MGR and someone else would receive the report. This last statement took the cake. She told me to "Get over it and move on". If this is not a slap in the face, I don't know what is.
As I stated earlier, I along with my family have shopped at Safeway for over a decade and have formed some really great relationships with some of the checkers. I have been invited to their homes and them to mine. We have followed each other through pregancies, childbirth and some checkers we knew have past on. During the Christmas holiday, one of my closest friends (of whom is a checker and I met at Safeway) had a gift for me and my family waiting at the check stand because she knew that I would be shopping and wanted to give it to me before the holiday. She did not call me to tell me to come in, but knew that I would be in because of how often I am in the store. She gave me the gift, hugged me and I left. A customer who was behind me asked me how did I know all of the checkers as he saw me speaking with a large number of them. He thought that I worked there until I explained that I met them by coming to the store. He seemed shocked, but then pleased to know that there are people who work in the store that are friendly and worth knowing.
I am deeply saddened, embarrassed and humiliated by the treatment I received from a store that I and my family spends thousands upon thousands of dollars in. This treatment and "band-aid" theory just lets me know that Safeway treats other individuals of color in the same manner, give them a 10% discount (or not) and send them on their way without any repercussions. And then to be told to get over it was unacceptable.
Apprehension is an understatement to describe how I feel about returning to the store. I went to try and get over my apprehension, but will not go alone anymore for fear of what may happen the next time. Who knows, "Terrie" or "Nick" may call in SWAT or some other agency if I attempt to purchase a stick of gum with cash! That is just how ridiculous this entire ordeal has been.
There should be no where that an Asst MGR and a checker could be able to profile, lie, and get away with it. What kind of message is this sending? I work for one of the largest companies in the country and manage cases in the Alameda County area. I have to resolve issues between employees, labor unions and management all day, every day. In my profession, it is essential to find out all of the factors before making hasty and irrational decisions. These types of decisions can and most likely do, come back to bite. It is not only for this reason that I am concerned about the behavior of, both, Nick and Terrie, more so Nick. As being a manager, he should have taken a couple of minutes to find out the nature of the matter, saw whatever Terrie stated to him was an embellishment, completed the processing of the transaction and that would have been it. Unfortunately, it did not happen this way.
I am sending this to you for some assistance with resolving this issue in a matter that is both satisfactory and fair. Being told to get over it is not my idea of satisfactory nor is it fair.
Feel free to contact me via cell number as I will be eager to hear from you soon.
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