Saturday, January 15, 2011

Letter to the Danbury Fair Mall and their management company

Per my blog entry yesterday, I wanted to share the letter that I've sent off the Danbury Fair Mall and their management company.  After tweeting about the incident, I received a call from the marketing manager and the property manager.  They wanted to have a "friendly meeting".  I went in to see what they had to say.  They said they were sorry.  However, they can't change the policy.  The security guard that gave me such a hard time?  He will be "reeducated".  However, he was at the mall while I was there for my meeting.  It's not likely that I am going to go back to the mall for any reason with the potential to see him there.  While I didn't expect them to move mountains for me, I did expect them to make some sort of compromise.  Otherwise I'm not sure why I had to take time out of my day to go to the mall.

The long and the short of it is this.  1.  They are still discriminating against runners.  This is despite the fact that they admit the policy was designed to be able to stop kids from running and there is "grey area".
2.  They were sorry, but are unwilling to change anything.
3.  The whole process was very upsetting and stressful to me.  They don't seem to care about that.  They only seem to care about legally protecting themselves.

Here is the letter:

Dear Danbury Fair Mall and Macerich Company,

I am writing to you in regards to an incident that occurred on December
30th, 2010.  This all stemmed from my understanding that there were a large number of people that walked the warm corridors of the mall for their daily exercise.  A few days prior to the incident, I checked with the Guest Services desk to see if jogging was permitted.  A young man informed me that it was, indeed, permissible to run in the morning along with the walkers. He handed me a "course map" and showed me where I could log my distance after each training session.

I arrived at the mall at about 8:30 am and proceeded to jog around the top floor of the mall.  I switched to the bottom floor for a final lap, and to reward myself with a Starbucks at the center court.  At a little after nine am I was approached by a security guard who told me I could not run at the mall.  As I was previously under the understanding that jogging was permitted, I asked him why I could not run.  He said I was causing a "public hazard".

Not satisfied with this answer, I asked for his supervisor's contact information.  He asked me if I had a piece of paper and a pen.  I clearly did not as I was in running clothes.  He also asked, with a smirk, if I wanted his phone number.  This question ratcheted up the situation.

I then went to the security desk to talk to the security guard there.  He immediately starting giving me a hard time saying I was breaking the "Code of Conduct," and that I had to leave the mall.  There was no reasoning with him, that maybe the rules may have been made for the countless hooligans that frequent the mall on Friday and Saturday nights.  Maybe there could be some leeway for a local runner who just wanted a place to exercise without running in 14 inches of snow.  Again, all of this taking place before the normal business hours of the mall.  Again, no customers that might get trampled by a runner.  In fact, the children’s train that zigzagged through the throngs of holiday shoppers is statistically more likely to run over a customer than my running before hours.

My experience with your security team left me feeling that they were
Incredibly rude, and in my opinion, I was treated very poorly.  My feeling is that your security team felt I was some teenager who they could give their spiel to about the code of conduct, and stop me from jogging.  I am about 120 pounds, so being told I'm threatening and a public hazard is beyond ridiculous.  They were clearly on a power trip.

If you are opening the mall before normal business hours to allow people to be inside from the elements to complete their exercise routine, it is discriminatory to exclude groups of potential customers because they might go at a slightly faster pace than a walk.

What defines running versus jogging, jogging versus power walking.  Many fast walkers probably go at a speed faster than I do.  Will you throw fast walkers out too?  Your code of conduct signs states no running, but that has no definition attached to it. Your security guards are simply using their best judgment as to what they define running.

During my time at the mall, there was a group of women with strollers.
They were all jogging behind their strollers.  I asked the security guard why they were allowed to jog, and I was not.  He refused to answer.  Again, this is discrimination.  If I had a stroller and a baby in it, I would be permitted to run?  After hearing my story, a number of friends offered to give me their old strollers and a kid’s baby doll so that I could join the group.

In addition, the moms congregated at one of the decorative circles on the lower level and did stretching and other exercises.  I also believe the code of conduct states that groups are not allowed to congregate at the mall.

During my interaction with the security guards I felt threatened.  Luckily, I was able to locate my husband so that I had a witness to any further interaction.  However, had I been alone I would have called the police myself, in order to deal with the situation I was being put in.  Guests of the mall should never be made to feel that they need to call the police to protect their rights. Again, it is not as though I was shoplifting or vandalizing.  My understanding is that there is plenty of that that goes on at the Danbury Mall.  There was no need for your team to take the attitude and aggressive posture towards someone merely jogging with the walkers at the mall. 

When I tell you this, I am not looking to brag, just merely demonstrate that my opinion goes much further than my group of friends in town.  I am a local business owner, and public figure.  I have a heavily visited blog, and a radio show that is popular nationally.  My website has more monthly visitors than the Danbury Fair Mall's website, and the Macerich corporate website. I have already begun retelling my tale to any and all who will listen.  In fact, it is the reason that you have already reached out to me with regards to this situation before I have even sent this letter.

Personally I won't be returning to the mall.  With Internet shopping so
easy, there is no reason to visit your establishment.  My clients look to me as an expert on where to purchase items that will make them happy and improve their lives.  I am happy to tell them about my experience at the Danbury Fair Mall as well.  A happy customer will tell, on average, one person about a positive customer experience.  A disgruntled customer will tell, on average, 10 people about a bad customer experience.

At the very least you need to educate your security guards to treat every guest with respect.  While I may look like a 17-year-old girl, I am a grown woman with a voice that carries across the globe through social media. Please also remind them that although they are male, and in a position of power, they cannot be rude to those they are speaking to.

Additionally, your mall needs to clearly define its terms. A fast walker can be faster than a slow runner.  Not having terms defined leaves yourself open to lawsuits.  I had a GPS watch on during my time at the mall and I can prove that I was going very slowly.  I will also make this information available to anyone and everyone who will listen.

Thank you for your time.  Feel free to contact me in regards to this matter.

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