On the 16th of February, 2000 I was in a Tower Records store here in Philadelphia looking for DVDs. I was told to leave the store for being barefoot by a supervisor. I asked politely [why?] and what the regulations of the store were, and added there were no a state regulations on going barefoot in stores or restaurants in Pennsylvania. She said i could drop something on my foot and hurt myself. I tried to relate to her that if i were wearing sandals or flip-flops that this could still happen. She insisted i had to leave. I had checked my backpack at the front counter and was waiting to get it while she yelled again across the store that i had to leave. I felt she was very rude and would not even listen to my point of view. However, she could not show me or even explain to me what the store’s written policy really is.
Two days later, after the emotions had died down, i called the store to talk to the manger. She was away on vacation, so i called the other store in Philly to see what information i could get from the manager there. Nothing! She referred me to the east coast regional offices. They referred my to the Corporate head quarters. I called there and got a nice woman on the phone who said i needed to talk to the Customer relations coordinator who was away on sick leave. She did take down my name address and phone number, and told me the Customer relations coordinator would be back on the next Tuesday.
I finally talked to the Customer relations coordinator on that next Tuesday. She seemed to understand my point of view. She apologized to me for the treatment i had received from the local store supervisor. I explained the healthiness and comfort of going barefoot. I also explained how clean the stores floors were and how i could not see how a record store would pose any risk to me. It’s not like they are selling vials of acid in glass containers that might fall off a shelf and be a ‘real’ danger to my feet. She agreed and told me she would look into the store policies regarding the issue.
Not hearing anything back from her for a few days i called back. She told me she had just called their insurer. However she did not get much from them in regard to the issue. They had said it wasn’t a liability issue, but the policy was to protect the barefooter and the other customers. What??? I asked if she might get something in writing regarding their policy, either the store’s or the insurer’s. She agreed.
It seemed as though it was taking a while, so i called back the next week. She told me the insurance company had not sent anything back to her yet. She had always assured me that she would get in touch with me when she got something concrete. It did not seem to be happening. I never gave up. I always tried to relate to her with politeness and tact, without giving up my desire to get the information. I just wanted to know the ‘reason’ they do not allow barefoot shoppers.
I finally got a call from the Customer Service Coordinator Friday 31 March, 2000. She works closely with the Chairman of the Board’s office at the Tower Records Corporate headquarters. She had been trying in vain to get information in writing from the company’s insurer. Well, on that front i am not sure what info she received from them [if any]. However, somehow she got to talk to the Chairman of the Board and Owner of the whole chain.
She told me she would personally sent out to me a letter explaining that the Chairman of the Board and Owner has absolutely no problem with me shopping in his stores Barefoot. She explained that Tower Records is a privately owned chain of stores and that the Chairman of the Board and Owner has no objection to barefoot shoppers. Hurray!
She wrote quoting the Chairman of the Board "You are welcome to shop barefoot at any of our store locations". She added that "All our stores have been notified of this."
I finally received the letter today [14 April 2000] with a nice gift certificate for my patience and because of how i was treated at the local store in the first place back on 16 Feb. 2000. It arrived exactly 8 weeks to the day, when i first contacted the Corporate offices. The Customer Service Coordinator and i had several talks about it over this two month period and i believed she was serious about finding an answer, and she did. She did what she promised and i could not be more pleased.
We are free to shop at any Tower Records store barefoot if we want to. Remember, the Chairman of the Board and Owner has said we can. I want to thank the Customer Service Coordinator for her efforts and of course the Chairman of the Board and Owner for his openness and making us feel welcome in his store.
This is a store we can support. This all happend because one person spoke up.