• Report: #770931
Complaint Review:


  • Submitted: Tue, August 30, 2011
  • Updated: Tue, August 30, 2011

  • Reported By: Rochelle — Tampa United States of America
15110 N Dale Mabry Hwy Tampa, Florida United States of America

Staples Blatant Racial Profiling Tampa, Florida

*Consumer Comment: Racisim?

*Consumer Comment: You never mentioned the rip off

*Consumer Comment: Do I detect a bit of hyper-sensitivity here?

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On Friday, June 17, 2011 at about 4:00PM, my friend and I visited Staples Inc. at 15110 N Dale Mabry Hwy, Tampa, FL 33618. We visited the store with the intent to purchase an office chair for the desk we had bought at the American Signature store down the street. I entered the store first while my friend was outside on the phone. Upon entering, I made my way to the office furniture section to look at the available office chairs. While looking at the chairs, I noticed that my friend had  not yet entered the store, and I walked around to locate her. A few minutes later she came in, went  to the laptop accessories isle where I met up with her. We perused around the nearby isles  together as well as separately looking at office accessories and art accessories things that we  were interested in and needed.

We then made our way to the office chairs and sat in the select chairs that we were interested in.  We were approached by the Store Manager, Lewis Clark and were asked if we needed any  assistance. We declined and stated we were just looking at the office chairs and thanked him for  asking. We stayed in that isle for a few more minutes then proceeded to head towards the exit.   However, my friend decided to look at what cameras were available with the intention of upgrading  her camera. Initially, I did not accompany her but instead perused the software isle while she  looked. I was then approached by a female associate who asked if I needed assistance. I again  declined stating I was with a friend who was looking, and thanked her for asking. 

As I made my way to my friend in the camera isle, I again noticed Lewis Clark at a distance of about two to three feet away from me. I paid no mind to it, because I assumed he was counting inventory.  My friend and I then moved toward the tablet displays one of which we owned. Lewis  Clark continued to follow us with a distance of three feet between us. I turned back at Lewis Clark,  realizing that he indeed had been following us. It was then he spoke across the room to the  Assistant Manager, Troy Tate apparently making it seem like he was not following us. I had no idea what it was about us that made him feel the need to follow us. We were not dressed  inappropriately, nor were we being rowdy.

Feeling uncomfortable by the way I was being treated, I stated to my friend it was time to leave.Making our way to the exit, Lewis Clark quickly walked passed us, stopped us at the door and  said Did you guys find anything you would like to buy? I then replied No. We were just  looking at the chairs. He then had a sly smirk on his face and replied in the most condescending  tone: Just looking at the chairs, huh? Ok. I then walked around him, because he refused to let me  exit. At this point, he proceeded to follow us outside of the store. My friend then confronted him  about what he was doing and he denied it.

We walked to our vehicle after the verbal confrontation, and decided that what had happened to us  was disrespectful and unacceptable. We re-entered the store to obtain information for the Area  Manager, Lyn Rice. The Assistant Manager, Troy Tate gave us the information while we explained  what had happened. While explaining our concerns, he attempted to cover for the Store Manager,  stating that we were not being followed and that Lewis Clark was with him the entire time. He then questioned our intelligence, by asking Are you sure he was not trying to help you?

After that conversation, we left the store to proceed home. We called Lyn Rice and left a message.  To date, Lyn Rice has yet to respond to our call. My friend then called the store twice, to speak with Lewis Clark. She was never able to speak with him the first time because they were unavailable.  The second time she called, she spoke to one of the associates, Monica. My friend was, at that point, too upset to speak directly to Lewis Clark, so we relayed the message to her. While speaking  with Monica, she was aware of the incident that had happened, saying that she saw the whole thing and felt that Lewis Clark had treated us very well and that it is store policy to observe suspicious behavior. When she was asked what suspicious behavior was portrayed, she could not answer. My friend proceeded to state that while its understandable that they were  protecting store assets, the first targets for suspicion of shoplifting are Blacks and Hispanics to  which she responded that is true.

On Saturday, June 18, 2011, my friends parents visited the Staples store to confront Lewis Clark about his behavior. He continuously denied ever following us. He was then caught in his lie when  our parents told him about the phone conversation we previously had with Monica who confirmed  his behavior. He then had no comment from that moment forward.

As two Black female professionals who are actively pursuing Masters degrees, I am appalled at the way we were treated at Staples. Never in our lives while in the United States or abroad have  we experienced the racial profiling and discrimination that we did that day. Having lived in different  countries, being able to speak multiple languages, and travelled to twenty eight countries, only until  now have we been treated differently because of the way we looked. In no way or manner  were we suspicious and they are still incapable of supporting their suspicions. The behavior we  experienced in Staples made us feel utterly uncomfortable and discriminated against. In fact, our  whole experience feels very surreal even until now. The first and most important rule in loss  prevention is to be discreet and professional and Lewis Clarks behavior towards us was not compliant to that rule. 

The three associates mentioned above are in no way examples of the advertised values of Staples.  Based on my experience, Staples associates do not conduct themselves in a manner that shows  they are responsible for the company's success. Instead, it seems that they are less concerned  with providing exceptional customer service to buying customers and more concerned about their  practices of racial profiling.

This report was posted on Ripoff Report on 08/30/2011 10:31 AM and is a permanent record located here: http://www.ripoffreport.com/reports/staples/tampa-florida-33618/staples-blatant-racial-profiling-tampa-florida-770931. The posting time indicated is Arizona local time. Arizona does not observe daylight savings so the post time may be Mountain or Pacific depending on the time of year.

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#1 Consumer Comment


AUTHOR: Robert - (U.S.A.)

Other than your mind where is the Racism in this report?

All I see is two people going around to several areas, some with expensive items, looking around.  While you are doing this you are most likely picking up and putting down items but don't appear to be buying anything.  I also see two people who apparently are looking over their shoulder to see if they are being followed.  Then when asked at the end you said you were just looking at chairs...when it is very obvious that you were not looking at just chairs.

Now is what he did appropriate...who knows because we only have the story from YOUR side.  But if it was inappropriate nothing shows that it had anything to do with race.

We were not dressed  inappropriately,
- So tell us how does a shoplifter dress?  Do they try to look just like everyone else or do they have a specific uniform they wear to make it easy for employees to pick them out?
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#2 Consumer Comment

You never mentioned the rip off

AUTHOR: coast - (USA)

"Feeling uncomfortable by the way I was being treated"

Being offered assistance by two employees is not something to feel uncomfortable about. Sales associates frequently stay a short distance from perspective buyers.

"We walked to our vehicle after the verbal confrontation"

That was not a confrontation. You chose to feel that way.

"Never in our lives while in the United States or abroad have  we experienced the racial profiling and discrimination that we did that day."

Considering how minor this was, it appears as though you are having a good life if this is as bad as it gets.

How much were you ripped off?
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#3 Consumer Comment

Do I detect a bit of hyper-sensitivity here?


Not sure what really happened, but sometimes customer actions trigger an alert mechanism and it bears looking into for a time. 

I doubt he just thought "Oh, they're black and I know they'll steal us blind."

You aren't giving yourselves any credit for being just regular customers and immediately play the race card.

Get over yourselves, or life will continue to disappoint you.
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