Profiling story (on the way to the gym) - AM PM Convenience

Dear Complaints List/Consumer,

I visited the following location at 6:40 p.m. PST on January 23rd and had a very unsettling experience: Ontario AM/PM ARCO 1402 E, Ontario . ave, Corona, CA 92881

I was on my way to L.A. Fitness, well-dressed, and just needing to buy a lottery ticket and energy drinks. I smiled at the attendant, a female behind the counter and noticed a man next to her, also behind the counter. She informed me that the store didn’t sell lottery tickets and then I told her, “That’s alright, I will still buy a couple of energy drinks.” I smiled, but she gave me an unpleasant, surprised look.

I had my gym bag at an angle on my back and in a small pouch, my IPOD, with my headset on my head. That was to my side. Well, as I looked in one cooler in the front, there were no zero-calorie energy drinks, so I went to the one which was directly behind that very aisle. Within 5-15 seconds, the man and the woman were to my right and the lady pulled out a mop and conveniently wanted to mop right next to me. This might seem alright, but then the man came next to on the left and played around with a label. I noticed what was going on (that both were on either side of me) and I grew a little upset. I turned to the man and asked, “Can I help you?” He informed me that he was putting the label. But remember, he was with the woman to the right and they quickly moved from behind the counter to be next to me, seemingly doing “fake tasks”. He was now to my left. I was upset, threw the cans down between a couple of 12-packs, and they were about waist-high, which were behind me, and stormed away.

He told me I need to put them back into the cooler. I did that with one can, but I was upset. I informed him of my salary ($200,000), the fact that I did diversity training and taught about profiling. I was not trying to boast, merely show how absurd it was that this was happening. I raised my voice at him, used a few choice words about the situation (not him and the other attendant), and explained that people who go to LA Fitness, will sometimes come by with their gym bags, as they are walking to it. I was professional, and still composed, however. The gym is located in the same plaza! It’s insulting to be thought of as someone who can steal at any moment. I also worked in loss prevention, but didn’t inform him of this, but was dissatisfied by the response and the way I was treated. The other thing you should know is that they left a woman unintended at the front counter.

Since they both were around me and then the female worker, wandered off, no one helped the woman with her purchase (and gas payment it appeared), right away. In any case, I was baffled and I left. Just before this, I asked for the corporate number to report the experience. The male worker said it was on the window. If you were to review the camera footage somewhere between 6:40-6:50 p.m. PST (1/23/2015), you can see the whole incident and how they crowded me on the right and then the man, came around on the left, and by now the counter was unintended and that female customer, I told you about, was waiting. The whole incident lasted about 2 minutes or so.

In any case, I had to go to the gym without any energy drinks. I returned at around 8:30 p.m. PST to another place called the “K” mart which was across the street. The man smiled as I came in, I smiled as I pointed to my bag, and I wanted to do a test at this point. Same thing. I told him I was going to get energy drinks. No one followed me, no one was on either side of me, and he said to me, “Please come again.” I quickly explained that the experience I had at the AM/PM location across the street was not as pleasant as the one I just had with him. I just don’t want to ever feel profiled, made uncomfortable, and anything like that. Keep in mind that I was better dressed than anyone in the store, but not formal, by any means- business casual, more or less.

While the attendants at the AM/PM did act as you might expect, and indeed, while I worked in retail, you couldn’t even go in with any sort of bag, can you understand how customers can feel? The experience I had was unsettling, unnerving, and I knew that I could not condone it, nor support it. I was a bit surprised, too, because I have always gone to BP for my diesel fuel(when I am driving- I’m currently on my assignment in California without my vehicle). I had no idea AM/PM was associated with BP. It is hard to do business after experiencing this situation that I experienced. And the male worker didn’t feel he did anything wrong, saying, “I simply placed a label.” I did contact their corporate office and left an email, but have not heard back yet… I just want someone to go over the video tape, so you can see exactly what happened, how it happened, and from an objective point-of-view.

The two workers were people of color and also I would not assume this was racial/ethnic profiling, but it was profiling due to the bag. Somehow, that was clear. I can understand. Yet,while I can empathize with how it was handled from their viewpoint, I felt they were covering up the motives for following me and placing themselves on either side of me.How would you feel? That being said, the other BP experiences, I have had, were great. I have never been to an AM/PM store before and I’m honestly frightened to return.

My goal is to see if any thing can be done to restore my faith with BP at all, and to make sure that other customers who come in, by foot, and present themselves in a courteous way, and are walking to the gym to buy energy drinks/something similar, are treated with respect, not followed or harassed (we might assume), or treated in a way that is unpleasant, is done. Why settle for the “basics”? Why not excel on the customer service angle as I know you can do?

Thanks for reading. I’m completing this at 9:34 p.m. PST approximately 2.75 hours after the incident. I found the information online and started typing, and had called in/ submitted the report, but was told to call in during normal business hours.

I hope this helps anyone in a similar situation. And again, if you are someone on the way to the gym, and you have a gym bag, strapped to your back, what are you to do? I feel you should go to a place where you are treated with respect and like a customer, not a criminal. Imagine if I had gone in their with simpler clothes, not clean-cut, and the like. Would it have been the same experience? I want to protect others from going through this. The phone number of the actual store is (951) 273-1142. The corporate number is the 800 number.

Thanks for reading.

Mr. Ending Profiling in the U.S.

For AM PM Convenience Representatives or Owners

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