Deaf customer mocked in 7-Eleven Makati branch; management apologizes, suspends clerk
A deaf customer complained after being mocked while making a purchase at a Makati branch of convenience store 7-Eleven.
Philippine Seven Corporation, which operates 7-Eleven stores in the country, has been in touch with the customer and her family to apologize and take action toward the clerk whom she interacted with. It said in a statement to INQUIRER.net that the staff involved has been suspended.
The experience of Tricia Evangelista, a 25-year-old junior product designer, captured the attention of Facebook users after her sister Jhana Evangelista, a physical therapist in Washington, United States, posted about the incident on Thursday morning, Sept. 5. The post has gained 27,000 likes and 12,000 shares, as of writing.
Deaf, not dumb On September 4, 2019 around 5:30 pm, my sister went to 7-11 Madrigal Building Makati Branch to purchase…
As per the social media post, Tricia went to the convenience store at around 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 4 to purchase P50 worth of load. To get through her daily tasks, she communicates by typing messages on her phone. On the day she visited the store, she wrote on her phone that she needed a Globe prepaid card with P50 worth of load and showed it to the cashier. The cashier handed her a P500 card and was laughing.
Tricia signed that she needed only P50 but was met with laughter. At this point, another clerk joined the cashier and also laughed at the customer. Despite difficulty in speaking, Tricia asked, “Bakit tawa tawa kayo?” (Why are you laughing?) The laughter continued, with Tricia finally getting her message across when she slammed a P50 bill in front of them. She left the store in tears, and as per her sister’s description, she felt “defeated and helpless.”
Their mother Beth Evangelista was able to meet with managers and clerks on Thursday. The management confirmed Tricia’s account through CCTV footage and apologized for the incident.
A customer service representative also reached out to Jhana via Facebook Messenger to apologize and gave her updates about the case. Jhana confirmed to INQUIRER.net that the company’s president and CEO Victor Paterno personally reached out to Tricia to apologize about the situation.
The company sent a statement to INQUIRER.net on Saturday, Sept. 7: “We at Philippine Seven Corporation take this matter very seriously, especially as customer focus is one of our core values.”
“On September 5, we were made aware of an incident involving the inexcusable behavior of our clerk towards one of our customers. We investigated the incident as soon as this was brought to our attention and reached out to the customer and her family to apologize on that same day. Our management, clerks, the store operator, and the franchisee have also apologized.”
“As a matter of policy, we have already suspended the staff involved. Rest assured that we are reviewing the incident thoroughly and will be taking steps to prevent it from happening again within our organization.”
According to Jhana, the clerk who had mocked her sister did not apologize to their mom during her visit to the store. She said however that a letter of apology was sent and that a meeting was offered to be set between Tricia and the staff involved for a personal apology.
Besides the incident of discrimination, another matter that the family found disappointing was when the store manager asked for Jhana’s Facebook post to be taken down, stating that the branch will be closed if it was not removed. In her message to the customer service representative, Jhana had been explicit that they did not want any staff to be fired. Jhana conferred with her sister about it, and the post has not been deleted. Philippine Seven Corporation has not commented on the matter when asked about it.
The family hopes to move forward since the matter has been resolved. “My sister and the rest of my family want to end this on a positive note. We do appreciate that the management took their time to address our concern,” Jhana told INQUIRER.net.
Call for education on serving PWD
Tricia, who graduated from the De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde’s School of Education and Applied Studies, told INQUIRER.net that the mockery she faced is not new.
“Some people mock me and my friends as we sign and talk in public. A lot of people also laughed at us in restaurants, public transportation, malls and street while we converse to each other,” she said.
Since most hearing people are not versed in sign language, Tricia relies on writing to communicate, either typing on her phone or with pen and paper. But even this method is a struggle.
“Most of the time, hearing people ignore me when I try to talk to them. They don’t have the patience to take time understanding me so there are multiple times that I just give up by saying, ‘never mind,’” she said.
On how Deaf people can be further included in society, she said, “I think hearing people should be patient enough to read and if they still don’t understand, there are ways for them to tell us. They can use their phone to reply or write. Some people can also use gestures to communicate with us.”
“It’s about time to educate our employees on how to provide quality service to people with disabilities. Let’s raise awareness on different cultures and train their staff ways on how to accommodate people with special needs,” she appealed.
A good example she cited was establishments near her school in the Taft-Vito Cruz area. She said, “Most of the restaurants and stores around that area know how to communicate and treat Deaf people with respect.” JB
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