I am very happy to be sitting here typing this page up to announce what The Bay at Yonge & Bloor Sts in Toronto has done! They've done it again. They are going above and beyond and asked me to let everyone know. Here is the story, from it's horrid beginnings to the terrific ending... (You'll love the end!) By-the-way, I must apologize for the delay in putting this on the website considering this happened a couple of weeks ago.
On Sunday December 11th, 2005 I was in The Bay to do a bit of shopping. I needed to go to the 4th floor, linens dept. Getting the elevator was fine, getting off the elevator was fine, getting around the corner was even fine, however getting into the linen dept. was an entire other matter.
I was looking for mattress protectors. I and the person I was with scootered around the best we could to find these. I got so far and we had to stop and I had to get out of my scooter and look around because the space was so jammed with displays that you couldn't get into it.
No matter where I looked I couldn't find what I needed. It's hard for me to walk around like that so I decided to give up and go to the cashier counter to ask. There are 3 sales people there, only one of which was busy with a customer. I asked the young girl behind the counter where they kept their mattress protectors. She said they don't sell them! Standing there, which is getting more difficult as time goes by, I ask her "Are you sure?" She said "No, let me ask the other sales clerk". Fine, she walks over to the other sales lady who is also doing nothing and asks her about the mattress protectors. The sales lady didn't even look at the girl and announced "They're over there!", pointing in the direction of the large area I had just been walking around for some time looking for them.
I follow her point and off I amble over to the same area. Around in circles I go, trying to find these mattress protectors I was told were there. I couldn't walk around any more and said to hell with it and decided to leave empty handed. Obviously no one was going to help other than to point a finger in the direction of the supposed mattress protectors.
Now comes the fun part, we decide to leave and we can't get out!!! We cannot back up due to displays and when we go forwards and think we finally found an isle wide enough to get through, when we round the corner we are blocked in again by a display smack in the middle of the isle. We are both getting very frustrated and patrons in the store are watching all this. I was about to get off my scooter and try to move the displays myself so we could get out when a lady and a gentleman shopper came to our rescue and literally moved the isle displays over to the sides of the isles so we could pass by and actually exit the area.
Do you belive this? We couldn't. By this time I'm livid. I'm hot because I'm all bundled up for winter, I'm in pain from walking all around looking for what I wanted to purchase and I'm frustrated because the only way I was getting off that floor was thanks to an act of kindness by other customers.
Before I leave this store though I still need to go to the 5th floor. I'm seriously not in the mood at this point but I needed to check for something there and we wanted to use the washroom as well. For some reason the washrooms are only on every second floor in that place.
I get off the elevator at 5 and I notice that the administration office is open! On a Sunday! This surprises me. I'm waiting for the other person I'm with to get off another elevator when I see a lady and a gentleman coming from those offices towards me. I decide to ask if the administration office is actually open that day or if it is just the gift wrapping service that they have over the holidays.
The gentleman told me that indeed, the administration office was open and he asked me if they could help me. At that point I told him my experience in their linen dept. That if it wasn't for their customers we would still be going around in circles there trying to get out. That their customers were forced to move their displays to allowed disabled the space needed to maneuver and leave the floor. And it wasn't just because we were in scooters. This would have applied for anyone even with a walker or a wheelchair the space was so cramped.
I told him and the lady accompaning him how fed up we were with this kind of situation. That I needed to go to the kitchen dept. but it's the place I fear most in that store because it is so cramped that if you are disabled you don't dare try to get into it from a main isle for fear you will take out an entire display. Even with a walker you are libel to knock things over or off a display shelf. It's dangerous considering all the glass in there.
By this time, the person I was shopping with came out of an elevator and was confirming what I was saying. This gentleman told us that in the New Year they are re-doing the 4th floor where the linens are kept to give more space in the isles. They realize the problem and are going to try to rectify it. I told him 6 inches isn't going to do it. There needs to be at least a foot more or even 2 feet more in the isles if they are going to continue the practice of putting display tables and such smack in the middle of the isles.
We spoke for quite a bit of time there, and we did appreciate the fact we weren't just rushed and brushed aside. They actually listened, especially the gentleman who turned out to be the Sales Director of the store. His name was Keith Lobo. Before we finished talking another gentleman was called over and Keith relayed the conversation to him as well and he also apologized for the experience and would speak to the staff. He didn't seem too pleased that the sales lady simply pointed in a direction and said 'over there'.
Anyway, after about 15 minutes of talking over this situation and them apologizing yet again and promising that we would be seeing a difference on the linens floor in the New Year, Keith gave me his card and told me that any time I wish to come into the store and I know I'm going to the 4th or 5th floors (linens and kitchens - the two worst floors for space), to simply give him a call and he would gladly see that I got a personal shopper to go along with me so I don't have to concern myself with knocking anything over, or getting stuck in an isle.
I was very pleased with this suggestion. I had told him that last Christmas I had wanted the new Jamie Oliver pots and pans that were $600.00 but I couldn't get near the damned display to get them. I went home without my purchase and thoroughly annoyed. This year I didn't want anything that big but I do use The Bay's small appliances for my kitchen and do purchase all my linens from their linens dept. I do like their products. I don't like the frustration that ensues when shopping in those dept's though. So, a personal shopper to go into all those tiny spaces for me would indeed be very helpful.
We thanked Keith and said our goodbye's to the lady and other gentleman and then went off from the elevator area towards the kitchen department. We didn't get 30 feet when smack in the middle of the isle was a sofa!! (there is a sofa display nearby). At that point I turned my scooter around and started back towards the administration office. Just as I started towards it Keith and the other gentleman were coming towards us. I said to him "look, do you see what I mean?" A sofa, right in the middle of the isle you are suppose to walk in! They both jumped to it and moved the sofa off to the left edge of the isle permitting a lot of space to go through. And apologized again but recognized the situation and said that would be corrected as well.
We were then told that they were coming after us to tell us that they would like to extend the personal shopper to ALL THEIR DISABLED CUSTOMERS AND TO PLEASE MAKE MENTION OF IT ON THIS WEBSITE!!
So folks, if you are disabled. Use a walker, or a mobility device such as a wheelchair or scooter, or are blind, here is what to do:
On a footnote... After our shopping on the 5th floor we decided to use the washroom only to discover not only is there only a washroom every second floor but the one on the 5th floor has no disabled washroom in it and there's a note telling you that for a disabled washroom you must go down to the 3rd floor! So, you have to go all the way back to the other end of the store literally, down the elevator 2 floors then all the way down to the other end of the store again for a disabled washroom. hmmmmmm Could this be next on the list of modifications for the Bay? Either that or at least a sign in the lobby with explanations that help the disabled with things like the personal shopper information and where the disabled washrooms are, and anything else that helps the disabled shop in their stores.
Last but not least, I know I pick on The Bay a lot but I would like to say a huge thank you to them for stopping and thinking and listening and more importantly, for doing something and not just giving us lip service and nothing more. They really do go above and beyond and I could only wish more stores would look at their attitude towards this issue and take a lesson or two from them.