$1,100 in cosmetics sold to autistic man

$1,100 in cosmetics sold to autistic man
By Maryanne Firth , St. Catharines Standard
First posted: Tuesday, May 31, 2016 07:40 PM EDT
ST. CATHARINES, ONT. - An apology has been issued and a full refund granted after a Pen Centre store came under fire this weekend for what many people considered mistreatment of an autistic man.
A Facebook post detailing an incident that occurred at Adore Cosmetics last week quickly went viral Saturday with more than 3,200 shares online.
It was on Friday that the parents of 26-year-old Tom, whose last name has not been released, found a package in the room of their autistic son containing more than $1,100 in cosmetics.
The online posting, created by family friend Sandra Frayne, alleges staff at Adore Cosmetics convinced Tom during a May 25 visit that he had bags under his eyes and sensitive skin that required the help of their products.
When Tom’s parents visited the store to discuss the situation, the post claims they were told by management that staff had no choice but to treat the man as they would any other customer and approve the sale.
According to the post, store staff checked that Tom was employed — he works at a local McDonald’s — and had him sign a paper acknowledging the purchase, made using Tom’s credit card, as a final sale.
It was noted by staff, the post reads, that he was not wearing a medical bracelet and was not accompanied by a support worker or caregiver.
When Tom’s parents went to the store seeking a refund, they were denied.
The Adore store owner and staff at the location declined to comment and instead referred media questions to the Miami-based company’s communications department.
A statement was issued by the company through e-mail late Monday that said the initial refusal to offer a refund was “in direct violation of Adore Cosmetics brand policies.”
Because Adore stores are independently owned and operated, there can at times be a “lag in our becoming aware of issues like this,” the statement reads.
When the company learned of the incident Sunday via social media, the store was contacted and a refund was issued to Tom, the statement said.
“We also directly apologized to his family. We made sure that the Adore Cosmetics store at Pen Centre terminated the employee who sold Tom the products and violated the brand policy regarding both sales and returns.”
The company said the incident “in no way reflects the ethics or policies of Adore Cosmetics.”
“It was, in fact, a gross violation by an individual employee of a store that is independently operated as opposed to a store directly owned by the company or a franchise. We’d like to extend our sincere apologies not only to Tom and his family (but also) to the City of St. Catharines.”
Pen Centre administration was also quick to react.
“Immediately upon hearing about it, we got involved right away,” mall manager John Bragagnolo said, adding mall staff reached out to the family in an effort to resolve the issue.
“We organized for an immediate refund to take place.”
The mall, he said, has also given Tom additional gift cards “as a sign of our appreciation for his patronage and to compensate him for any inconvenience this has caused.”
Bragagnolo expressed disappointment in the way the situation was initially handled.
“We’ve been a proud supporter of Autism Ontario for years and years. We’re very aware and sensitive to the challenge people with autism as well as their families face,” he said.
“This really flies in the face of what we’re all about. It was just natural for us to make this situation right.”
While stores each have their own return policies, Bragagnolo said there “has to be room for special circumstances like this.”
“I don’t believe it was done intentionally. But somehow there was a perception he was taken advantage of. That mere perception is just wrong. Unfortunately common sense should have prevailed here as far as the retailer went. Once we pointed out to them what had transpired, they definitely saw the error of their ways.”
Jordan Shaw believes a learning opportunity is at hand.
While the communications and volunteer co-ordinator for the Niagara chapter of Autism Ontario was saddened by the experience Tom had, she felt it has helped to raise awareness of autism spectrum disorder in the community.
“Perhaps if this employee had been better educated about autism, more knowledgeable about how to interact with an individual on the spectrum in that customer-salesperson role, then maybe this whole situation could’ve been avoided,” she said.
Education is key to ensuring this doesn’t happen again, she added.
Shaw encouraged employers to get a conversation started in the workplace. She recommended using educational aids at autismontario.com to help inform employees.
Once informed, they can then “decide on a case-by-case basis what the best action is to take” when dealing with customers on the spectrum, she said.
“You may have a customer coming in who is on the higher end of the spectrum and is able to come in and shop on their own, but it’s still important for employees in retail situations to be able to recognize those signs so they can make the shopping experience positive for that individual.”
Programs run by the local chapter for adults with ASD focus on social skills development.
“When situations like this happen, it can be very disheartening because it negatively impacts the independence that young person has worked so hard to achieve,” Shaw said.
Frayne, who created the online post, was touched by the amount of support Tom and his family has received.
She had hoped to draw attention to the incident but had no idea how quickly, and how far, the news would spread.
Within the first 24 hours, she was receiving messages from as far away as England.
“It was lovely to see so many people wanting to just do the simple thing, to help somebody.”
In 2013, a Forever Flawless kiosk in the Pen Centre was criticized after a woman with Down syndrome purchased $1,700 in face cream and a post about the incident went viral on Facebook.
A refund and an apology was also issued at that time.
Attempts to reach Tom’s family for comment Monday were unsuccessful.
A 26-year-old autistic man was initially denied a refund after purchasing $1,100 in products from Adore Cosmetics in the Pen Centre. (Facebook Photo)

$1,100 in cosmetics sold to autistic man | Ontario | News | Toronto Sun
Yes I heard the owner of the Adore kiosk in the Pen Center discussing this on CKTB the other day with Larry and she was one heartless person. She even acknowledged that "I thought something wasn't right with him" but humped the sale anyways.

This local owner also owned the Forever Flawless kiosk but shut it down after backlash from the 2013 Down syndrome sale.....
Ah, the virtues of private enterprise!
The store employee(s) was/were out of line, this was obviously ridiculous.

On the other hand, though, if he had wanted the stuff, and the store refused him, his parents would be screaming 'discrimination'!!!

Similar Threads

Autistic woman speaks out
by karrie | Feb 9th, 2012
Human Placenta in cosmetics?!?!?
by mabudon | Mar 19th, 2007