A New Jersey woman was offended at something a CVS Pharmacy employee did on her recent visit to the store, but she’s agreed to quit being offended if CVS will hand over a million dollars.
Hyun Lee placed an order with the pharmacy by phone. When she came to pick it up, the receipt was in the name of “Ching Chong Lee.” (The term “Ching Chong” has long been used as an insult for Asians, although mostly for ethnic Chinese.) Lee complained to CVS management, who told her that the employee responsible would be “counseled and trained.”
But that’s not good enough for Lee, who is of Korean descent. She wants a million dollars to go away.
Let’s be clear. The employee’s action was racist and completely unacceptable. If I were store management, I’d fire whoever did it. Period. No questions asked. It’d make it clear that it’s not the way I want my employees to treat customers. There’s no excuse for what the employee did.
But with that said, why should it be illegal? Why should Lee be entitled to financial damages? Why should lousy customer service be against the law? When did we get the legal right not to be offended?
The market has a built-in mechanism for handling something such as this. If a company won’t do the right thing, we have clear options. We can take our business elsewhere — and make sure higher management knows exactly why. Beyond that, we can use public shame to put pressure of a company to do the right thing and take such customer treatment seriously. (Local media in the area would certainly have been interested in pursuing the story.)
The woman was treated badly by an uncaring and unthinking employee. She was rightly offended. But this should be a matter between her and the company — plus anybody else who would like to take business elsewhere in support of her. But it shouldn’t be a legal issue. She’s suffered no actual damages. She’s just been treated shabbily, something that happens every day in places all over the country.
If poor customer service is illegal, I could be a wealthy man by now because of all the lousy experiences I’ve had. You probably could be rich, too.
If Lee had simply gone public with the story instead of trying to get rich off this, I’d have a lot of sympathy for her. I’d be willing to drop CVS a note to say that I didn’t want to deal with a company that would treat a customer this way and not take the issue more seriously. Instead, her greed turns her into the villain in my eyes.
I don’t sue people when I’m offended. I just don’t give the company my business anymore. Maybe Lee should consider this simple solution herself, but then she wouldn’t have dollar signs dancing in her eyes.
We don’t have a moral right not to be offended. It’s insane that legislation had made it a legal offense to offend certain people.