Tuesday, June 24, 2008

My Complaint with the Better Business Bureau Against CVS Pharmacy

This is the complaint I just filed with the Better Business Bureau against CVS Pharmacy for what happened to me today (i.e. June 17) :


Filed on : June 17 2008

Filed by :
**** ****

Filed against :
CVS Pharmacy Store #1751
2196 White Bear Ave.
Maplewood MN 55109

Complaint Description:
Date of problem: 6/17/08, approx. 12:30 pm.

I entered the store, leaving my 2 children in the car, as I was planning to be in the store for 5 minutes to quickly get 3 small items (I realize this is not a good idea and will not repeat this action). After being in the store approx. 5 minutes, a female employee approached me and asked rudely, "Do you have a black car?" I replied "yes," and she responded, completely nastily, "You better get out of here or I'm going to call the police." "Why?" I asked, surprised. "You have two children in the car!" she shouted. "Okay," I said.

At this point, a male employee approached, and the female shouted rudely, "It's HER car!" The male glared at me and shouted, "You better get out of here or we're gonna call the police on you!" and the female sneered, "She wants to know WHY!!" and the male screeched, "WHY!? DON'T YOU KNOW THE EFFECTS!? BRAIN DAMAGE! THE HEAT!"

"Okay," I said, and continued calmly, "but you're being extremely rude." The female screeched, "I'M rude?!!" And male yelled, "MAYBE WE SHOULD CALL THE POLICE AND HAVE THEM EXPLAIN IT TO YOU!" I calmly asked, "Why are you treating me like I'm an idiot?" and the woman looked me square in the eye and said, "You ARE an idiot."

I then calmly set down the items that I had gathered onto the counter and said, "I won't be buying these." "GOOD!" screamed the woman. "Get out of here!" and I calmly said, "Wow. You are EXTREMELY insulting." And she sneered, "I'M insulting?" - at which point I simply calmly left the store.

The woman followed me out of the store as I walked to my car. She eyed my license plate and began mumbling the number to herself, then got in her car and drove away.

Throughout this encounter, I was calm, composed, dignified. I realize that it was not a good idea to leave my kids in the car, even for 5 minutes. I won't repeat this behavior. However, there is a correct way to convey this information or request to me from the employees at this store. Their behavior was completely inappropriate. It was beyond mere rudeness; it was insulting and definitely harrassment. I suspect that the extremeness of their offensive behavior may have been due to bigotry, but that is not the main issue here. The main issue is that I refuse to be treated that way. There are many, many ways this situation could have been handled differently on the part of the employees, such as, simply asking me POLITELY to get my children from the car. Their behavior needs to be checked and treatment like this needs to be stopped NOW.

Your Desired Resolution:
I expect a formal apology from the employees, from the manager, and from the company. I expect the appropriate formal disciplinary actions to be taken against the two offensive employees (such as termination), as well as new training offered for the all rest of the employees (including the manager) on customer's rights, company policy, social service skills, and sensitivity and anti-discrimination practices.

This case will be reviewed by a complaint specialist at the Better Business Bureau, and then forwarded to the business for their response. It is our policy to allow the business 10 working days to respond to your complaint. You will be notified when the business has responded.


I drove home and was sooooooooo angry I shaking. I called the police (how ironic!) and a woman told me IN A NICE WAY not to leave my kids in the car, even for a minute (yes, I know - istaghfirallah it was stupid) but that yes, their behavior was inappropriate (DUH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!). She said there was nothing the police could do, but that I should contact the Better Business Bureau, which as you can see, I did.

p.s. I didn't include this in my complaint, but what I really "suspect" is that they were EXTRA AGRESSIVE because I am muslim.

I didn't include that in the complaint, because then the complaint would have to go through a more formal legal system, and I didn't want to do that.

When I got home, my sister was there (b/c she lives there, LOL, since we're (hubby, myself & the kids) staying at my parents' house right now....it's a long story but don't worry it's all good, alhamdulileh and we are enjoying it until we can get a new place inshaAllah) and ANYWAY, my sister said, "Wow, _____'s aunt had trouble at that same place. They sent letters back and forth and the complaint she had was mistreatment because she's white and her husband is black."

So apparently the people in this store are hateful racist bigots who have had customer service "problems" before.




I wrote the above on a forum that I belong to for muslim women. One response I got was offering condolences due to the experience, advice not to repeat my own lack of judgement about the car thing (I won't inshaAllah! Alhamdulileh for the wake-up call to reality on my part), and she also thought that the treatment of those clerks was not due to me being muslim, since they were apparently going to talk to the owner of the car anyway. This was my response:

No, inshaAllah I won't ever do that again. I'm glad for that wake-up call that the reality is, it's a totally unsafe thing to do. Alhamdulileh for getting my attention.

However, I disagree that their behavior had anything to do with me being muslim.

YES, they were looking for the car's owner and probably going to advise that person. However, when they discovered that it was ME ("it's HER car!!!"), it seemed to spark something and trigger some serious hate.

The hate was seeping out from them. In retrospect, I was wondering if these 2 people were actually shayateen. I thought of going back and standing in front of them saying, "Autho billehi min ashaytan irrajeem" and seeing what happened! (I don't think I will, though)

These were not 2 kindly citizens who were so concerned for the welfare of my children. They seemed eager to attack and pounce upon ME, eager to have caught me doing something wrong so that they could verbally at least, punish me. They seemed like they HATED me - and it was more about ME than anything else.

A week later, I am still shaken. My father told the story to a friend of his yesterday, and the first thing out of his friend's mouth was, "It probably happened like that because of her whole muslim thing." (he's a nice man...he wasn't trying to be disrespectful by saying "whole muslim thing," - in his defense, he's actually quite open-minded)

It brought it all back to me - and it was strange to hear someone else confirm, first-off, that it was that extent of agression due to bigotry. I had thought so, and so did my family, but it was just strange to hear that that was obvious to someone else, too.

It has made me paranoid. I've had other rude comments, but never to that extent. It was amazingly terrible the way these people looked and talked at me.

It made me start to wonder how many more people feel that way about me in secret?

It is a TERRIBLE feeling that someone hates you without even knowing you.

I am afraid for my children. I want people to love them and to know them just as "Yehiya and Shams" - not, "those [weird - in their minds] muslim kids down the street."

It all made me start to think - for the first time really - that maybe I really FEEL (not just intellectually KNOW) that living in a muslim land is better for me and my family.

My son is almost 4. It feels like the cusp of leaving babyhood behind. MashaAllah, he seems so grown to me - a young boy. He is SO absorbent and aware of everything around him, mashaAllah.

I keep getting these little thoughts in the back of my head, a bit anxious, wondering, how hard is this going to be to raise my children here - when we are the VAST minority "OTHER."

How hard is it going to be to keep explaining, "We do this, we believe this - they don't" and have him love our way, respect our way - and feel that it is the NATURAL WAY TO BE (which it is).

I feel like it would be so much easier, I would feel so much safer, more secure, if EVERYONE AROUND US WAS MUSLIM. No one questions your actions, your faith. They accept it as the NATURAL WAY OF LIFE - and the more you do, MASHA'ALLAH! For the MOST part, people understand and respect where you're coming from on certain issues of day-to-day LIFE.

My husband and I had a little discussion about it (there's a lot of stuff going on in our lives right now, alhamdulileh, so this subject just got a liiitle bit of table time, mashaAllah!), and he asked me, "Do you think it would be easier to point out that other muslims are doing things we as muslims shouldn't do, or to explain that other people are just doing certain things because they're not muslim?"

I've thought for years now about this question. And I feel, simply, that it would just be easier to be surrounded by muslims - because of that basic understanding of what is right, and sharing a common love, and a common goal - whatever the level of knowledge or practice may be. It is a fundamental UNDERSTANDING.

Also, of course I've thought and thought about this since becoming a parent, but now I'm feeling it more and more - I think it's just going to be hard to be a muslim child surrounded by non-muslim children, non-muslim people almost everywhere you go - or don't go! - because they're also on TV, in movies, in ads, etc.

It's a visual impact that may be difficult to cut through, no matter how much you talk about what is right. If he sees very few people IN SOCIETY, IN THE LARGE WORLD (not talking about just masjid events, here) how is that going to effect him?

Allah knows best.

I am so full of thoughts and feelings about this subject right now.

I pray that Allah protects us, our families, our hearts - filling us with imaan and blessing us always with guidance on the straight path. I pray He will fill us with light and knowledge and protect us from evil, and bless us with all that is good in this world and in the hereafter. AMEEN. __________________

p.s. BBB update: they said they can't do anything.

so, the police can't do anything, the BBB can't do anything.....people can just treat each other any ol' way they want without any consequece........until Judgement Day!!!! muahahahahahahah


UmmAbdurRahman said...

salamu alaikum, why haven't you filed a complaint directly to CVS? contact the store manager. contact the regional manager. the only thing the BBB would have been able to do is put something negative on their record and they don't usually resolve complaints. You need to take it directly the company. Contact UmmAhmed because she had issues with CVS. I don't want to put the outcome on the internet, but they did take action.

Mumina said...

Asalaam alaikum! Wow, what an ordeal. I don't know what to say...alhumduhlillah nothing more serious came out of it.

American Muslima Writer said...

SubhanAllah! How rude! Yes definitly take this directly to the head of CVS and warn them you've published online this complaint... so they know alot of epople are seeing this and they will try inshallah to make amends.
It is easier to live umong muslims but living among muslims isn't ometimes great either beacuse you see people doing wrong and you know they knwo they are doing wrong. *sigh* talk it out mroe with your husband and May Allah make your situation easier!

UmmLayla said...

Wow, well I wish I could say that I have never had anything like that happen to me.... But Ya'll know different;)

I think there are many things that would be easier in Egypt in this regard. Americans are hyper-sensitive about the child abuse/neglect thing (not that protecting kids is wrong but we go to an extreme and assume that all parents are abusers). And in Egypt it just isn't that way. For an American if you saw someone leaving their kids in the car (just a random example, of course) people will immediately jump to the conclusion that the poor children are about to die of heat stroke. For an Egyptian, I think they would just wave at the kids and smile... If it went on for too long they might approach and ask the kids where mommy is thinking she was unexpectedly detained or something.

I guess what I am driving at is that the kids thing is cultural and goes to whether people assume good or bad intentions of parents. We Muslims are suffering here in the US because we have the natural American paranoia about child abuse and we are "Mozlems" which of course means we abuse/oppress women and children as a tenant of our faith **rolling my eyes**.

Anyway, I'm sorry. I have had c%^$ like this happen to me and it makes you feel small. Don't apologise for it. You did what I would've done, I am in a small town and do it all the time... Run in to check my PO box, pick up a drink from a gas station, drop off a rent check... I suppose I could drag all 4 kids in, but a 5 minute errand would take me 15 if I did that.

**big sigh** We are under the microscope here, no doubt... And should act accordingly for our own safety. But remember in your heart that what you do to keep the peace may be just that... A gesture to pacify the paranoid masses. So take the kids in, but know in your heart you are not a bad mother because you left them in the car for 5 minutes.

Just my two piasters, as usual.

American Muslima Writer said...

I used to tell my paretns to leave me to sleep in the car ad the windows were rolled up and the car was off and doors locked and it was 115 outside and I slept sweating through it all and woke up with taht first blast of AC air and knew they'd returned safely. I wasn't in any danger (of course iw as a chubby teen and not as prone to heatstroke as say a small child but still--I knew my parents wer good parents and when I heard of this "new" law about not letting kids stay in the car I laughed remebering my parents....but yeah I would not be keeping my kids in the car alone on a hot day.....I'm overprotective though and that;s ok with me.

Safiyyah said...

As Salaamu Alaikum:

I'm surprised that countries like Egypt don't have a problem with leaving small children in a car unsupervised. Especially because it is so much hotter there than MN.

Anyhow, I don't think that small children should be left ANYWHERE unsupervised.

I live in Pennsylvania and patronize the CVS pharmacies. I have never had any bad experiences with them, in fact, quite the opposite. Maybe it's just the region where you live. I know that things aren't the same everywhere.

Insha Allah your family will be able to make hijrah soon and then you won't have to worry about the silly little laws and policies in the United States :)

Nicole said...

Good for you for trying to keep your cool and going thru the appropriate channels to complain. Talk to CVS directly as well.

I know that in the states it is very difficult to have to go places with small kids and have to haul them out of the car every time you stop. SubhanAllah. That is something that just drives me nuts when I go there. In Jordan, you could leave your kids on the median in the road and no one would say a thing. But of course I don't, but it is nice to run in and buy bread and leave them in the car for a few minutes. Better than chasing them around the store. May Allah protect your children inshAllah.