(WINNPEG, MB) – Below is the account of Shanti Singh, who says she experienced racism at a Dollartree in Winnipeg.
“I was running errands today and experienced racism by the female manager and a sales associate named Amanda at The Dollartree while trying to complete a refund…
Earlier this morning I popped in to pick up a few last minute items and inquired to a very nice sales associate named Krishna what the refund policy was as I was unsure if I was going to need all the items and was planning on returning within the hour to return or exchange what’s unneeded. I was explained that they do not return food items and I had about 30 days as long as it was unused and I had the original receipt. I thank her as I’m being cashed out and went on with my day. Keep in mind I spent 39.00$ at their location.
I come back within an hour with the items I did not need, with my receipt and stand in line. While I’m waiting in line, I let a woman behind me who’s buying two drinks to go ahead of me because my transaction is going to take a minute as I’m here for a refund/exchange. Then I meet sales associate Amanda who’s running aisle 3, she then tells me: I’m lying about my experience, that I wasn’t in earlier and they don’t do refunds. I then inform her I was here earlier and do not see the staff upfront that helped me earlier and provided a brief description that she was young, shorter and south asian. Amanda then cuts me off and in a pretty hostile tone: “we don’t have asians working here”, I’m somewhat frustrated with how she’s speaking to me and refusing to actually listen to what I’m sharing… I tell her: “I didn’t say asian, I said South asian, she’s brown like me” Amanda then tells me I’m lying, nobody who works there looks like that etc and then informs me they don’t do refunds and yells over to the next til asking “do we do refunds here?!” To which she responded with a snarky “no!”. I then tried to explain if a staff of their company misinformed a customer then responsibility falls on the company as well as management for perhaps not training staff properly. Then I rightfully ask to speak to the manager, luck would have it that it’s the other rude staff member on the next til… she does not leave her post or talks to me with any respect or courtesy. I’m told I can only do an exchange and there’s no store credit when I inquire on that being an option by Amanda. Now I’m baffled by the entire situation and why these two white women are talking to me and treating a customer like this.
I walk away and say out loud: “man this is some shitty customer service”. The manager then starts screaming my way “I HOPE WE ARENT GONNA HAVE A PROBLEM HERE! DID YOU JUST CALL ME A NAME? YOU BETTER NOT HAVE ILL KICK YOU OUT” and I respond “No I never called you a name, all I said this is shitty customer service because it is.” she then keeps yelling at me: “no! You verbally abused me, you called me a bitch! I’ll get you kicked out of here so fast”
At this point I’m feeling very uncomfortable and somewhat unsafe on proceeding on exchanging my items as Amanda kept my original receipt and the manager is now falsely accusing me of being verbally abusive towards her and name calling.
As a person of colour who’s been falsely accused of being abusive, theft and have been racially profiled one too many times by airline security and the police in America, I’m wondering what to do to protect myself from this extremely hostile manager and her co-worker Amanda cause it’s a two against one situation here and I cannot see the two south asian staff members who were at the til when I came the first time and spent 39$. I get connected to the non emergency line for Winnipeg Police Service, I inform the dispatcher of everything you’ve read above and share with her my concerns that they’re being racist and if this is a simple misunderstanding of being explained the refund/exchange policy that this level of unprofessional conduct and hostility is beyond me. I also share that I’m now concerned that they might call the cops on me on false accusations or worried the situation might escalate and I’m just a customer who spent 39$ trying to pick up items to exchange in peace. Dispatcher shares she understands and lets me know that there’s nothing wrong with saying a statement of “this is shitty customer service” & asks me if I’m ok with waiting in the store until a car is dispatched. I’m in complete agreement that I’m not trying to force a refund or have any expectations for the cops to do that with the dispatcher and she asks to share where I am in the store so they can find me and speak with me first. I share what aisle I’m in and get off the call…
… then I see the original cashier who helped me and inform her I was told exchange only and was being approached with a lot of hostility and I’m 99% sure it’s on some racism tip. Krishna then apologized on behalf of those two and re-explains the exchange policy, I thank her and shared that this could have been a very simple and calm discussion by Amanda and the female manager and I’m very disappointed with how I’m being treated by them and continue looking for items while waiting for the cops to come talk to me.
The cops show up and the female manager is already with them and she has this giant fake smile and that typical over the top fake positive salesperson voice going on, I inform the police I’m the one that called and they ask me my version after already speaking to her, the manager interrupts me and claims I called her a bitch which I deny and reject cause I never did. I said “this is shitty customer service” the one officer is essentially telling me this isn’t why you call the non emergency cops and not accepting that I’m experiencing racism by the manager and the sales associate while the manager is rolling her eyes and denies everything and is then advised to let us talk one on one… the police officer then gets really triggered and condescending towards me stating “IM NOT RACIST, I DONT APPRECIATE BEING CALLED RACIST” when I share I’ve been racially profiled in the past and I’m concerned by this type of behaviour coming from staff, demand for his badge number and tell him directly: “ I never stated you’re racist, I said I have been racially profiled by police, not you and if you’re not racist why are you so offended to hear that I have experienced racism? Also why would a dispatcher send you here if it wasn’t appropriate or necessary?” I don’t even get a proper response and I also add “do you hear how I’m talking to you now? I’m speaking to you in a respectful tone about a pretty hard experience and issue and you and I aren’t in full agreement with one another but we are using respectful tones, this is why I’m so confused as to why I’m being falsely accused of being verbally abusive and that the white employees feel comfortable with raising their voice or being hostile towards me, this entire exchange could have been completed without attacking me”
I’m then advised by the police to contact Dollartree headquarters, the human rights tribunal and they go to talk to Krishna regarding the situation but I’m not allowed to be present yet the manager was allowed to be present for the majority of our convo and interject while I shared my experience with them.
So I then go back to the same til my items and receipt are sitting at and Amanda tells me “MOVE IM NOT HELPING YOU” and I ask her: “Where am I supposed to move to? Why can’t we finish my exchange?” She then proceeds to act like I don’t exist and doesn’t respond to me then dispatches Krishna to come to the front to complete the exchange at a different til. I figure, maybe I should record this for my own protection because I’ve got this funny feeling nobody who isn’t a poc is going to believe my experience.
Krishna completes the exchange as you’ll see in the video and as I’m leaving Amanda starts barking at me: “don’t come back”, I ask why? Amanda responds with: “cause.” Then the manager starts insulting me, saying to never come back, calls me crazy, gets super aggressive towards me so I started questioning why I’m being treated like this and if it’s because I’m not white.. to which she gets a security guard to PUSH me out the door.
I’m extremely saddened to share this and the fact it went down in my hometown. Winnipeg, you’ve changed since I left for the west coast and unfortunately not for the better.
I’m going to ask that all poc and true allies to ban Dollartree.”