Target Targets Handicapped, We Target Them

Digg this story.

Let’s just cut straight to the point: Fran, store manager of the Target located at 1245 Bald Hill Rd. in Warwick, Rhode Island? She’s a cunt.

If that seems harsh to you, we can only say we wish there was a word in the English language that was even harsher.

Reader Lexi H. wrote us in with an absolutely appalling tale about how her elderly, handicapped mother was treated by Fran at the local Target. Her mother — a plucky old gal who requires oxygen and a wheelchair — was puttering around the Warwick Target in one of the electric handicapped carts when the battery died.

Lexi and her mother understood: these things suck, but they happen. What shouldn’t happen is for the manager of the store to then rush out to verbally abuse and publicly embarrass an elderly, crippled old woman. Yet that’s just what did happen.

We’re fucking spitting mad over this one. In fact, we’re putting out the call. We want you to read Lexi’s story and then call Target to complain. Don’t be rude, don’t be a jerk, but we want you to call Target, mention Fran by name and register your disgust with a company that would treat any patron — let alone someone’s sweet, wheelchair-bound mother — so completely inhumanely.

The Warwick, Rhode Island telephone number is (401) 821-0121. Corporate HQ seems to be 800-591

3869 (don’t press or say anything to get a human). Mention the store name, address and Fran by name.

And while you’re at it, mention that Peter is a great Target employee, and should get a ribbon, if not Fran’s fucking job.

Read Lexi’s email, after the jump:

I am writing about a truly disturbing experience I had today at the Target store located at 1245 Bald Hill Rd. in Warwick, RI.

My mother uses oxygen and a wheelchair, and it is hard for her to get about and go shopping. Today as a special treat, we decided to go to Target. We arrived at the store at about 12:30 pm, and I dropped her off at the door, and went to park the car. When I got inside the store, she was standing inside looking for a MartCart, one of the electric carts that most big box stores have to make shopping possible for handicapped patrons. There wasn’t one available, so we went and ate lunch in the cafe and waited until one became available. A patron who was using it left, and my mother got in it and we entered the store itself. About 20 feet into the store, the battery on the cart died. I went back to the front of the store where the carts are kept, to see if another MartCart had become available. While I stood there, a friendly and helpful employee named Peter came over to ask if I needed assistance. I must add here that Peter seemed to be mentally disabled, which in no way was a problem or an issue at all- he was delightful and very kind during the horrorshow that our visit became.

I told Peter that the battery in the MartCart had failed, and he walked with me to where my mother was sitting in the dead cart. He looked at the cart, and agreed that the battery had died. He was about to say something else, when from about 25 feet away, another Target employee began yelling “Is there a problem?” Peter walked toward the yelling woman, to explain what had happened. Meanwhile, she began walking towards us. I noted that her nametag said Fran.

As she approached, she continued yelling. Peter was telling her that the battery had died, and she approached my mother and I by yelling (quite literally yelling) “I don’t know what you want me to do, I can’t shop for you.” My mother said quietly that that wasn’t what she wanted at all, but Fran cut her off by yelling again “There’s nothing I can do for you, what do you want?” My mother said “I am not deaf, please stop yelling.” Fran lowered her voice fractionally, and said again “I can’t shop for you.”

At this point, Peter, who as I say was differently abled but with a heart of gold, said that the cart needed to be charged. Fran ignored him and very aggresively and loudly said “I don’t have a wheelchair, what do you want me to do, push you around in that?” pointing at the non-operative cart. My mother looked shaken, and said “It is humiliating enough to need help to shop, please stop talking so loudly.” Fran’s yelling was, in fact, attracting interested stares from other shoppers.

Peter again said that the cart needed to be charged, and I asked him how long that took, hoping to somehow salvage the day. He said it takes 7 or 8 hours to fully charge the carts, adding that it was usually done overnight. I said then, “Well, how long does a full charge last? It’s just past noon, how many people can actually use it if it takes 8 hours to charge and only lasts till noon?” Peter replied that he didn’t know how many trips around the store the cart could make on one full charge, but that it had not been plugged in earlier. At this, Fran began haranguing Peter, saying that the cart had been fully charged and had been plugged in that morning. He started to say again that it had not, and she cut him off yelling (again) that it had been charged, and that she didn’t know what we wanted. He looked very distressed, as I think we all were, and I said to my mother who looked on the verge of tears “Let’s go.” She nodded, and I removed from the cart the few items (from the rack immediately inside the store) that we had chosen. I went to put them on the shelf, and Fran snatched them out of my hand. I said to Peter “Thank you,” and then to Fran “You’ve very unpleasant, and I will be writing to the manager.” She said again, aggresively, “There’s nothing I can do.” She did not, at that point, tell me that she was the store manager. I helped my mother to the door, which thankfully was only about 20 feet away, and ran to fetch the car. My mother and I left the store.

In the 8 years that my mother has been disabled, never have I seen anyone treat her in such a way. Fran’s behavior was so shocking that I am still shaking with disbelief. Not only was she aggressive and abusive, she was mocking and seemed to think that if you have one disability, you probably have another, given that even after my mother pointed out that she was not deaf, Fran kept yelling at her. Fran’s treatment of her employee, Peter, was similarly astonishing. At no point in this ugly experience did Fran apologize for the store’s lack of handicapped accomodation, or make any effort in the least to be pleasant, conciliatory, or even simply humane. She seemed in fact to be angry and aggrieved to have to deal with a customer of different needs. I have never met anyone who seems to get their kicks by abusing the handicapped, and I am more disturbed than words can say. That my mother should be a one time target of Fran’s abuse is horrifying to me, but upon further reflection, that her employees are treated in such a disparaging manner is equally disturbing, especially considering that Target receives public recognition for their diversity of staff.

I took my mother to WalMart, where she had her choice of 4 MartCarts, and we did some shopping. The moment I got home, I called the store, and asked to speak with the manager, as I had a complaint. I was transferred to a woman named Coila, and told her what had happened. She seemed horrified, and sounded aghast. I asked her if I could have Fran’s last name, as I wanted to write to the corporate headquarters as well, and wanted to make sure that no other Fran would be involved. Coila told me that she couldn’t tell me Fran’s last name, and then she told me that Fran was the store manager. I think I stopped breathing for a minute. Coila then gave me the guest services phone number, and I spoke with another helpful employee named Evie, and told her of the distrubing experience.

I cannot adequately express the horror I feel at what happened this afternoon. It was truly one of the most upsetting experiences I have ever had, to stand helplessly by as my wheelchair bound mother and a mentally challenged worker were verbally lambasted by a yelling woman, the public face of a major corporation. I have always enjoyed shopping at Target, as has my mother. As I am sure you understand, going out to Warwick and going to Target is always something of an expedition for us, but it has always been an enjoyable experience. What happened today was so deeply disturbing, and I felt compelled to write this letter to let people know about the situation at the Warwick RI Target store.

Comments

Edit Your Comment

  1. homerjay says:

    I started reading this email thinking “There’s got to be more to this story. There’s always two sides.” Now I’m thinking that this woman is simply a total bitch (Fran, I mean).

    Still, I think its a little unfair of you to blame Target as a whole. its not as though they have poliicies in place to discriminate. They just hapeen to have one psycho working there that shouldn’t be.

    Lastly, I REALLY hope for Peter’s sake that he actually IS handicapped, because if he isn’t his friends and coworkers are going to have a FIELD DAY with this email.

  2. Target is, de facto, responsible for the behavior of its employees. Fran is a paid, managerial representative of Target. If they don’t stand by what they did, they can make that clear.

  3. Jesse McBesse says:

    Homer – I thought the exact same things about Peter!! ha.

    Get ready, Fran, cuz I’m SO calling your ass today…

  4. homerjay says:

    oh absolutely, but don’t blame Target YET. Give them a chance to react first.

  5. Brianron says:

    ***DEVIL’S ADVOCATE ALERT***

    Along the line of what Homerjay wrote, there are two sides to every story. Unlike the now-infamous Vinney Ferrari call, we have no information regarding this incident other than Lexi’s version. Let’s assume for the moment that what Lexi wrote is not wholly truthful and is greatly exaggerated.

    Then you have given your readers the telephone numbers to call to further an exaggerated or false complaint about Fran. This will create a lot of problems for Fran, and potentially create some bad publicity about your blog.

    I don’t know if Lexi’s version of events is accurate or not. But, in my experience, workers do not usually just immediately go ballistically mental for no reason. I have a suspicion that Lexi and/or her mother may not have been as polite as she has described. This would not excuse impolite behavior, but it would put it in a different light.

  6. boy says:

    I’ve worked a customer service job or two in the past, and I quickly learend you NEVER treat a customer that way, unless they’re threatening bodily harm or breaking the law in a serious way.

    I highly doubt Lexi or her grandmother did either of those, so there is absolutely no excuse for Fran’s behavior. Fran’s side of the story doesn’t matter in the least.

    No matter what, I’m taking bets that by the end of the week fran = fired. I have faith in Target doing the right thing.

  7. Ran Kailie says:

    What I would suggest that people put in a complain to Target is that they should investigate the allegations, because if this did happen its very serious.

    I’ve shopped at target for several years now, and while I have experienced the occasional disinterested staff member I’ve never had anyone who was rude, even when I had a 8 year old with me who upon trying clothing on in the dressing room broke out in hives. Staff then was very helpful and pleasant, the manager even GAVE me a tube of benadryl cream for her.

    But I think if this story is to be verified then perhaps the other employee involved, Peter should be spoken to for his side.

    But I will definately file a complaint with Target in hopes that will react to this, but I also already feel Target does quite a bit to promote a welcoming feeling to everyone shopping in their stores.

  8. Let’s suppose for a second you’re correct, and that completely reasonable sounding Lexi and her invalid mother are, in fact, gorgons from hell. Does that still justify the treatment she got? Does that make the complaint of Target not helping a crippled woman ring any less true?

    We’re not telling people to boycott Target, or blow up Fran’s car. We’re telling them to call, complain and let them know exactly what they heard.

    On our part, we get hundreds of complaints a week. We’ve got a pretty good bullshit detector. Lexi’s story has none of the delusional self-justification of some of the rants we’ve seen and called out. We have no reason to disbelieve her. Her email sounds calm, rational, articulate and hurt. Emails that trip our bullshit detector are none of those. If Lexi’s experience is wildly different than she claims, I would be amazed.

    What you seem to be claiming is that we shouldn’t be outraged by companies when the evidence is anecdotal, or aim to do something about it.

    Look, you guys aren’t fucking sheep… if you read it, think there’s some other interpretation, then hell, or we’re off base, hell, don’t call. But there’s zero reason to believe Lexi is lying here. And if she isn’t lying, she and her mother deserve, at the very least, some sort of apology for what happened. Call us cynics, but we’ve been doing this long enough to know that apology basically never comes unless it goes public and people get loud enough.

  9. DeeJayQueue says:

    lets take a couple things into account, but with a grain of salt:

    1. I don’t see a date as to when they were shopping, but I’d assume it was within the past week or so. This is Back To School time, which for a retailer like Target is second only to christmas in it’s insanity and level of stress for the employees.

    Imagine (literally) thousands of kids screaming around in the store looking for that one elusive thing that the teachers all say they NEED to have or else they can’t learn right. Imagine the self-entitled soccer moms and dads getting all huffy and puffy with the staff and management “What do you MEAN there are no more erasermates left? How will little bobby WRITE with no ERASERMATES???” It’s a tremendously stressful time all around.

    I’m not saying this excuses Fran’s behavior at all, but it may shed some light on the reason her fuse was so short. You don’t get to be the manager of a store like that without having gone through a few of these battles, but everyone has a breaking point.

    2. As mentioned above, all we have is one side of the events, and of course it’s going to be painted as “we were totally innocent and this chick was a cunt.” She was probably pretty rude, and that’s not excuseable, but it’s still probably not the whole story.

  10. Magister says:

    Devil Advocate again – When was the last time you read a consumer complaint where you heard the complainant admit they might have asked for a little too much?

    She might only be writing what she remembers. She might have asked for another cart, then when rebuffed, said ‘What are we supposed to do now?’ That could have started the manager off by saying there was nothing I could do.

    Now if our letter writer was already upset, she would take that much harsher than someone not involved in the situation. It is entirely possible this is a case where TWO parties got a little heated when they didn’t need to.

    Or imagine if our little slow helper said to the manager ‘They seem really mad’ or something stupid like that. That could also start her.

    Do we assume all the evidence presented is 100% true? Nope, we never should.

    Lots of knee jerking on this site.

  11. castlecraver says:

    Not too harsh. We Americans sorely underutilize that wonderful c-word.

  12. Pelagius says:

    I’m with the “two sides to every story” crowd and think some effort should be made to contact Fran to hear what she has to say before a jihad is launched on her.

  13. Anonymously says:

    This comes hot on the heels of the ADA v target.com suit being allowed to proceed.

    http://sev.prnewswire.com/multimedia-online-internet/20060

  14. Pelagius says:

    I have to side with the “two sides” crowd here. Some effort should be made to contact Fran and hear what she has to say on this before a fatwa is issued. But I s’pose that’s the key difference between blogging and journalism.

  15. mfergel says:

    I find it highly unlikely that a manager simply walked up and started complaining/yelling to customers. Sounds like a he said/she said scenario expect that we haven’t heard the other side of the story.

    Personally, I’d rather hear it from Peter’s point of view.

  16. Ben’s calling her now. Not sure we’ll get anything out of it, but you never know.

  17. Ben Popken says:

    Fran’s on vacation. The operator “doesn’t think Peter can help me” and manager Matt says all reporter requests have to go through corporate. He “put me on hold” to find their number and hung up on me. Meh.

  18. Brianron says:

    John Brownlee:
    Your call
    The point isn’t that this activity, if it happened as Lexi described, should go unpunished — it shouldn’t. And if it is anywhere close to what she described, Fran should be fired. The point is that it should be investigated rather than there being a rush to judgment based on “mob rule” led by one side of the issue.

    It is one thing for your blog to present these anecdotal incidents to show what has happened and how the corporations do or do not respond (i.e., AOL). And it is quite another thing for you to rally the troops to become actively involved. After all, rightly or wrongly, Fran’s job is in the balance.

  19. Ben Popken says:

    Reached Matt, got a number for a corporate relations person, left a message with her.

  20. Triteon says:

    I agree with hearing both sides, right up until one side chooses not to respond.

  21. Ben Popken says:

    Posting audio shortly.

  22. AcilletaM says:

    1. I don’t see a date as to when they were shopping, but I’d assume it was within the past week or so. This is Back To School time, which for a retailer like Target is second only to christmas in it’s insanity and level of stress for the employees.

    OK, devil’s advocates, this being true, don’t you think this isn’t the time for a store manager to be on vacation?

  23. Yep says:

    It’s Rhode Island. Everybody yells here. That and tailgating at high speed are state-wide pastimes.

  24. AcilletaM says:

    Can’t wait, I have my pitchfork and torch at the ready!

  25. PufferMedia says:

    I live in RI, and have actually shopped at this Target (though I try to avoid this strip of road lately – mega-store, strip-mall hell!). To those of you who doubt this: Unfortunately, these kind of shrews (both male & female) are not uncommon in RI; a sort of undeserved discontent that seems to be pretty common around here, where everything is a huge hassle, and everything is a reason to complain. But this is just beyond the pale. Chances are, I’ll let them know I will avoid their store unless this piece-of-work is demoted to the person who chases shopping carts in the parking lot (and it’s a huge lot! on an incline!).

  26. Unless Fran comes back with a version that’s very different from what’s in Lexi’s e-mail, I doubt hearing her side will change people’s opinion very much.

    I will agree that we should be more careful when it comes to acting on information about individuals (as opposed to companies) since it could mean someone getting fired instead of just having to give out a coupon and an apology.

  27. Mary Marsala with Fries says:

    I think the Devils’ Advocates are missing the point: Of course there shouldn’t be a jihad declared against Fran — and there won’t be by us; nobody’s talking about going to Warwick and setting Fran on fire here. It would be her employer who chose to take action or not, and they should absolutely investigate first.

    But, should we, the general public, raise a horrendous stink until said employer agrees to investigate and do the right thing? Hells yes. Let’s not forget that this is corporate America, folks; sitting quietly and leaving it up to the suits is tantamount to surrender. Target should do something about it, and it IS our job to make them.
    -M

  28. Kishi says:

    But, in my experience, workers do not usually just immediately go ballistically mental for no reason.

    I’ve worked for at least one manager who has, and frequently did, go ballistic on customers (and employees and vendors) for very, very minor reasons. Hence why I don’t work for her any more.

  29. cooper says:

    surely “vacation” = admin leave.

  30. ckilgore says:

    Even without hearing the other side of the story, I am hard-pressed to think of a reason for a store manager to say “I can’t shop for you!” no matter the provocation.

    And that phrase in particular seems like an odd thing to make up, if Lexi was indeed fabricating a story.

    My bets are on Fran being a cunt.

  31. Anonymous says:

    “I find it highly unlikely that a manager simply walked up and started complaining/yelling to customers. Sounds like a he said/she said scenario expect that we haven’t heard the other side of the story.”
    WHAT!!! Have you ever worked in retail before, I have seen managers do alot worse than this. Just because someone scanned barcodes long enough to get promoted that doesnt mean that they have the brain power to be a good leader / communicator. And saying that the Back to school crowd of kids was a stresser might be the cause is BS, what does she do a Christmas? Shoot kittens? If you cant handle the stress that comes with a high volume of customer in a short period of time GTF out of Target and lick envelopes.

  32. mfergel says:

    >>>>>

    Yeah, I’ve worked a lot of retail and typically, it’s the employees that receive the brunt of bad managers with the majority of managers telling the employee to do the dirty work,…..in this case, Fran telling Peter to tell the customer that “We can’t do your shopping for you.”

    For me, honestly, if granny is in such bad shape, why wasn’t she traveling with, at the very least, her own wheelchair. What if there had been no motorized carts at Target that day? I’ve got nothing against people in wheel chairs or oxygen tanks (my Grandfather was in the same situation before he passed away last year) but too many people EXPECT these things. If in fact this happened, yeah, Fran does have some issues, but along the same line…..what did this women want Target to do?? Peter had already told them that it would take 7 hours to recharge.

    Oh, and I hate it when people drop people off at the front door…..that’s why the handicap space is up front.

  33. Mike Smeen says:

    I’ll agree that both sides should indeed be investigated. But the fact of the matter remains that in retail, it is your job to put up with customers. Even if the customers were rude, the customer is “always right.”

    As a retail manager, your job is basically damage control for when these things predictably happen with your salespeople and cashiers. You need to be setting an example for how to deal with even the most irate customers.

  34. Ben Thoma says:

    After reading all of the comments, I called the store to log a complaint. It does seem that Fran is a store manager, so I was directed to Target’s Guest Services hotline which was 800-440-0680, where a nice rep. took down all of the information and gave me an incident number.

    Hopefully, the incident will be investigated further. With the limited time I’ve worked in retail, I know that even if the customer is wrong about something, you definitely want to work with them, as opposed to letting your emotions override your customer service. Even if Lexi were throwing a fit, the counter-response should never be yelling.

  35. etinterrapax says:

    This sounds to me like another one of those instances when a manager failed to consider what her actions would sound like when relayed to a third party. I don’t think it’s an unreasonable customer expectation for there to be appropriate and functional devices to accommodate disabled patrons. I would think it unreasonable if a customer, upon finding that there were not such devices, demanded that management (or even an an associate) shop for her. However, it doesn’t sound as though this happened, and moreover, it would not be completely unheard-of for an associated to provide that kind of assistance. I did it more than once when I worked for HellMart. It comes down to providing reasonable alternatives, not standing there like a buttmunch and saying things like, “I don’t know what you want me to do,” and “I can’t do that.” And it doesn’t sound like it even crossed Fran’s mind to do that.

  36. SecureLocation says:

    Maybe the manager got to believing Target’s hype and thinks she works at an exclusive, upscale boutique (the kind where customers like being abused) and not, you know, K-Mart with a bigger ad budget.

  37. Plasmafire says:

    Maybe it was her time of the month….

    But that’s still no excuse for her behaviour.

  38. Anonymous says:

    This story seems almost too one-sided. I think it is extremely unlikely that the store manager would run up to a disabled customer in a wheelchair and start accosting her for all to see. And then she accosts her mentally challenged subordinate worker who was an absolute angel? What did she do next, pull a live puppy out and punt the thing across the store? I think we need to hear a 3rd party’s account of this or at least the other side of the story.

  39. bullfrog says:

    What if this is a lie, and lexi here is shilling for wal-mart? Notice how wal-mart magically has not one, but four martcarts available for use while target’s one martcart is broken down?

    That being said, I’ve been on the other end of this situation. My manager was often left in a position where he had to say “what do you want me to do, your demand is unreasonable” I noticed that fran was often described as saying the first part, but not the second. Perhaps that was left off to leave an unfavorable view of fran.

  40. hhorton says:

    Consumerist,
    I find that your site is very helpful, but I think your writers and the site would come across more professional without the use of profanity and slang words that describe female genital parts.

    Although I totally understand that sometimes the stuipidity of the world can sometimes be hard to describe otherwise.

    Just a suggestion.

  41. Ranix says:

    I used to work with Fran. Unfortunately, I can assure you folks that the accounts of these two shoppers are mildly overstated at best.

    In my short time working with her (as the specialist at the Electronics booth of the store) before finding other employment largely due to her poor management ability, I have witnessed similar events and worse. The least among these were certainly not when an assistant manager was driven to a demotion to a smaller store to cover a mistake made by another, more favored assistant manager, or the unpaid overtime forced upon a department-manager level employee with promises of a “christmas bonus” that I can guarantee you is neither legal nor on the company benefits list.

    Also, I take issue with repeated statements that Peter is mentally handicapped. I’ve known him a long time, and believe a stuttering problem is his largest “mental handicap”.

  42. Serene-1 says:

    Haven’t shopped at Target since a woman behind the customer service counter refused to take a defective carseat back and then came out from behind the counter took the clips out of her hair shook it out and came at me threateningly and I asked someone to get the manager and he didn’t see any problem with her threatening me! I left the store with the defective carseat which my grandson was riding in when it broke and drove a few miles to Sears and bought another. Target suggested that I purchase another carseat from them. I said “why would I want to buy another product from you when you refuse to stand behind the merchandise you sell when it is defective?” I have never shopped at Target since and that was five years ago. I also wrote to corporate headquarters about the incident and they weren’t concerned about and employee trying to assault an older woman who had her three year old grandson with her.

  43. VA Farrier says:

    Well there you have it , the true power of the net and how it brings out further validation of a story and hopefully truth. I am calling this Fran chick and let her know that there is no place for her management and I think she should retain a job in the photo lab and the pay that goes along with it. Its time for her to get back into the trenches with the other grunts and remember that she aint shit. As for our handicapped, we need to be there for them. To those who dont simpathize with them, I will leave with a quote my Pop Pop (Granddaddy) told me and I never understood it until I was older, “Once a man, twice a child…”

  44. emgeesea says:

    While this is all very entertaining, I have to agree with Pelagius: good journalism would refrain from judgment until all sides have been heard. Fran may very well be a mighty cunt indeed, but a cunt with a story to tell as well, I’m sure.