Teavana Needs To Teach Its Employees That Disabilities Exist

Some disabilities telegraph themselves pretty obviously: think of someone using a wheelchair, or a blind person walking around guided by a guide dog. Other disabilities don’t. Rosalie is deaf. When she visited her local Teavana and broke an item on the shelf, she tried desperately to point out to the salesperson that just talking at her wasn’t effective communication. The employee wouldn’t listen. When she tried to follow up with Teavana corporate later, no one would answer her.

She wrote to us about her experience at the store, and then trying to deal with Teavana afterward:

On August 7th, I was at my local mall. I walked into a Teavana store to see if they had a particular cup my husband wanted. I picked up one that looked like it was a possibility, and the lid fell off. It fell about a foot onto the shelf beneath it and exploded, leaving chunks of plastic everywhere. I start to clean it up and a staff member comes over, and I say “I’m sorry, I will pay for this, let me just finish my shopping.”

The woman says something, and I tell her I cannot understand her because I’m deaf. She brings me over to the counter area, where I happened to find the cup my husband wanted so I put it on the counter. She points to the teas, so I figured I’d get the tea my husband drinks to try. Once that is done, she starts talking again. I tell her, once again,”I’m deaf and I cannot understand you, can you please write down what you’re saying.” She does not and continues to talk to me. I say, yet again, the same thing. She ignores that and continues talking about the broken cup, which I know because she’s handling it and offering it to me. She had brought out some other lid that sort of fit, and I told her I didn’t want it, I will pay for it because I broke it but I’m leaving it here because no one will use it. Again she continued talking, and again I told her I cannot understand her, she needs to write down what she’s saying.

I am so frustrated by this time I’m beginning to cry. She goes back and gets a manager, I guess because she thought I’d understand that woman better. The first woman was elderly and Asian, maybe she had an accent, I have no idea. The manager starts talking to me, I tell her the same thing,”I’m deaf and cannot understand you, can you please write down what you’re saying.” She doesn’t, and tries to talk to me again. Once more, I tell her, I cannot understand you, you need to write it down.” She STILL talks, and this is just too much for me, so I actively start crying. All my days are difficult when I have to talk to people, being deaf, and some days are much worse than others. This was one of the worst ones in recent times. I pay for my items, they don’t make me pay for the cup, and I leave.

I then tried to contact Teavana to recommend they do disability awareness training with their staff. I emailed them from the site, got no response. I tried calling them, twice, but couldn’t get through to them using relay. I posted on their Google + site. I twittered them. I didn’t contact them on Facebook because I do not use Facebook. Not a single damn response from them. I guess Teavana really doesn’t care about how disabled customers are treated. I thought my request for accomodation from the staff was both quick and easy to do. Every other store I shopped at the same day, where I had a question that needed an answer, was more than willing to write down what they were saying on a scrap piece of paper. Even more damning is how Teavana has refused to get in touch with me to discuss the situation. Obviously, I’m very unlikely to ever go into another Teavana again.

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