A reader writes: “Last night we were out with friends and went to the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory at Bella Terra/Huntington Beach. We were eating outside as my 5 year old daughter got an uncontrollable urge to use the bathroom and began crying and screaming ‘diarrhea, diarrhea.’ I ran into the store with her in my arms, begging to use the bathroom and they refused multiple times.”
I explained she had diarrhea and couldn’t hold it and told them she was about to go on the floor. They refused again and never offered me any alternatives. I begged them to have a heart and that she was 5 but by that time she had lost it all over herself and me. I ran with her in my arms to the movie theater that let me use their bathroom. I cleaned her up, threw out some of her clothes and went back to the Chocolate Factory – asking for names and number of management. I again pleaded with them to use their heart in situations like this.
I called the manager today and she finally called me back. She supports the employees and tells me that it is an insurance decision. She told me to sue if it makes me feel happy. She laughed at me when I told her I would be using my extensive contacts to begin a viral campaign to boycott her store and the entire chain and told me that she was “sure that would make my daughter very proud.” My daughter was humiliated, forced to defecate on herself due to the lack of compassion exhibited by the store – which the owner continued to support on the phone with me. I don’t want anything, I just want them to have a bit of compassion in the future.
Longtime Consumerist readers know this isn’t the first time we’ve written about a company refusing a customer with a bathroom emergency and ending up with disastrous results. Last summer, a similar story involving Jo-Ann fabrics prompted enough complaints to the CEO that he issued an apology and “immediately changed [company] policy to allow any customer to use [store] restrooms upon request.” Our reader pointed us to a situation a few years ago when Old Navy denied bathroom access to a customer with Crohn’s disease that ended up with the customer’s state legislator introducing a bill requiring businesses to open up their bathrooms for emergencies. We don’t think a law is necessary, just basic human decency: if someone has an emergency, let her use your bathroom.
UPDATE: After reading some of the comments, I searched around some more to find out whether a place that serves food has to provide a bathroom to customers. As it turns out, Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory may have violated existing California Code provisions. An organization called the American Restroom Association has a Uniform Plumbing Code that requires a “toilet facility for customers, patrons, and visitors of all mercantile and business establishments.” The Uniform Plumbing Code has been adopted by California, so it seems that there IS a requirement for businesses to provide restroom facilities for customers.