I just got off the phone with LEGO’s Operations Manager for North American Stores regarding our experience at their mall location in NJ. Wow.
He was very apologetic and took full responsibility for what had happened on Saturday. (If you didn’t see my last post, one of their staff was very confused and challenged Twinkie being in their store–see below.) He told me that he has already been in touch with the specific store manager/staff regarding our experience. I explained that most situations like this are based on confusion, a lack of knowledge and understanding of ADA guidelines and the roles service dogs play in disabilities outside of seeing-eye and mobility assistance; he said that I was 100-percent spot-on and believes that’s exactly what had happened with us. He continued by telling me that our experience was still completely unacceptable and needed to be addressed further as a corporation. I also mentioned that as a corporation, situations like this present an issue for them because staff can very easily and without knowing violate ADA Guidelines, which could present legal issues for LEGO. He appreciated my honesty. :)
The most IMPRESSIVE and IMPORTANT part of our conversation is that he was genuinely happy that I did take the time to complain (although never happy to get complaints) and attached the 2010 Revised ADA SD guidelines. He reviewed them and found them to be quite helpful. He also told me that he has a conference call scheduled with his entire management team this coming Monday and, as a result of our experience, has included a discussion about service dogs in their stores/the link to ADA Guidelines on their meeting agenda. He also has forwarded this information to their compliance team.
While he continued to apologize for our negative experience, I told him that I certainly appreciated it, but the greatest thing he could do for SD teams like Zachary and Twinkie is to raise awareness within their corporation and help their staff recognize that people with disabilities come in all shapes and sizes and their dogs help them for many things less obvious than mobility assistance and seeing-eye. I applauded his efforts and thanked him for taking my email so seriously. Way to go LEGOs!!!
-Kristy Mitrow DiVito
I have no issue whatsoever if a store employee approaches us and inquires about Twinkie being in their store. In fact I think it shows great responsibility on the part of the store employee, and we always welcome the opportunity to raise awareness. BUT… I have little tolerance and patience for being approached by someone who has absolutely no idea what they are talking about, obviously is not versed in ADA SD guidelines and repeatedly tells me “pets aren’t allowed” (paraphrase). This happened over the weekend at the LEGO store. Arrrghh.
What was most interesting is that there were a lot of people in this store since it was a Saturday night, and other staff members and customers knew Twinkie was an SD, so I’m not sure if this kid was just flexing his muscles or was truly that clueless. I do believe that when Zachary laid on floor next to Twinkie and some difficulty modulating his voice when I told him we were not buying the $100+ LEGO set he “has to have” drove the point home that Twinkie was NOT a pet but indeed a service dog for a child who is very much disabled although he may not seem to be. LOL
I did send a complaint to LEGO’s customer service to give them a heads-up about my experience. I was so surprised that this happened since we visit this LEGO store whenever we’re at the mall and have never had an issue with anyone. In my complaint, I attached the link to the 2010 Revised ADA Service Animal Guidelines; I do hope they review these guidelines with their staff at this store and all off of their stores.