Tricia Evangelista has experienced more than her fair share of discrimination in her 25 years. The Manila-based product designer, who was born deaf, was expecting better though when she walked into a Makati City 7-Eleven on Wednesday hoping to execute a simple transaction.
According to her sister Jhana, who brought the incident to light in a Facebook post the same night, Tricia had walked into the 7-Eleven store in Madrigal Building at about 5:30pm to buy a PHP50 (US$0.96) Globe prepaid cellphone card.
“She (Tricia) is deaf so [she] communicates by typing her order or request on her phone and handing it over to the worker/staff. She presented her phone to the 7-11 staff clearly showing this, ‘Globe card – 50 load.’ [But] this cashier lady was giving her a prepaid card worth 500php and started laughing at her,” wrote Jhana in a post now shared more than 9,000 times.
Her sister gestured that she needed a PHP50 card, but the cashier allegedly laughed at Tricia, before another employee broke into laughter as well.
“This made my sister very furious to the point of uttering this phrase, ‘Why are you laughing?’ despite her difficulty in articulating those words while making a gesture to express herself,” Jhana wrote.
“These employees just continued giggling until my sister slammed the cashier’s desk with a 50php bill, crumpled the receipt and threw it in the trash as she stormed out of the store in a rage.
“If you ask me, this is not just poor customer service, this is discrimination and plain cruelty. The 7-11 cashier person was clearly taking advantage of my sister as she was being tricked into getting a 500php worth of prepaid card and was laughed at her expense,” Jhana wrote.
Coconuts Manila caught up with Tricia directly today via Facebook Messenger to get her personal take on what transpired that day.
“I walked away because I was angry and hurt, so I left. I sent my mom and a workmate a message about what happened,” she told us. “My mom called the store [to report the incident] but the manager already left for the day.”
Her mother then decided to visit the store yesterday to speak with the manager.
“The managers directed their apologies to my mom and, according to my sister, the customer care specialist from 7-11 Philippines sent a message to her hoping that they can set a meeting to personally apologize to me,” Tricia said.
While 7-Eleven has apologized for the incident, they also allegedly requested that Jhana take down her post. Tricia, however, told her sister to stand her ground, believing there is a valuable lesson to be learned from her experience.
“I want this to be a reminder of how selfish our society is turning to be, but it’s not too late to learn more about deaf culture,” Tricia said.
Tricia said she has often felt discriminated against by complete strangers.
“I’ve had multiple incidents of other people mocking me and my friends while we sign, and we also got laughed at when we are having a conversation in public,” she said.
Coconuts Manila called the customer hotline for 7-Eleven Philippines. The supervisor, who declined to be named, confirmed that the company had already apologized to Tricia and that they have invited her for a meeting. The supervisor also said that what the employees did was unacceptable and that they will face disciplinary actions.
Unsurprisingly, netizens were furious at the employees for treating Tricia horribly. “Don’t just buy from 7-11. The people there are rude,” wrote Damian Elpidio.
Mymy Abulencia tagged 7-Eleven’s Facebook account and wrote: “[K]indly teach your employees to treat your customers with respect.”
“Those employees should be fired. They’re shameless. They’re uneducated. So annoying!” wrote a netizen using the name Grey Reese.
“What’s so funny about being deaf? Idiots,” asked an unamused Kim Librea.
So how can other businesses prevent this kind of thing from happening? Tell us by leaving a comment below or tweeting to @CoconutsManila.