Monday, June 23, 2008

Public restrooms? Not at Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory

Apparently a 5 year old girl was suffering from diarrhea and her mother begged the employees of the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory to let her use their bathroom. They refused again and again and the girl ended up losing which point they still denied restroom usage and she had to go to a nearby movie theater (which did admit her) and clean up.

According to the consumerist's research, there's actually a California state law requiring "mercantile business establishments" to provide "toilet facilities."

Interestingly, the store manager stood by her employees and the store policy on the grounds that "it is an insurance decision."

So, I have a few questions.

  1. What insurance benefit exists from not allowing patrons to use your restroom (she didn't deny the existence of a restroom, just that customers were disallowed...which suggests it's not a renter's insurance thing, but rather something else)?

  2. Why do so many business establishments which do have restrooms engage in policy that disallows customers from using said restrooms (yes, I'm asking for an answer beyond "insurance reasons")?

I worked for just over a month at a mall...over the Christmas season. The mall had public restrooms in three locations, none of which were terribly close to our store. Our store had a restroom which was actually right on the main sales floor, just "hidden" by a door we were instructed to ALWAYS keep closed. Despite the convenience factor compared with distant restrooms, the policy was that we were NEVER to allow customers to use our restroom but rather instruct them to the mall restrooms.

This seems to me to be backwards in thinking. Stores should be thoughtful about their customer's comfort and satisfaction level...further, a store should strive to keep customers IN their store, rather than sending them away.

Whaddaya think?


Unknown said...

"Insurance decision" sounds like lawyerese for "If we let some bumbling idiot in there and he falls and sues us, we could be held responsible. So we'll take the easy way out instead of having a brain and making exceptions to rules."

Anonymous said...

"So we'll take the easy way out instead of having a brain and making exceptions to rules."

Not quite, it'd be more: We don't want to be left holding the bag if the one exception we make is the idiot who slips and falls.

But yeah - thank the fact that you can be sued for just about anything for the death of common sense and courtesy

Anonymous said...

In this case, there is a health issue: the owner is on tape explaining that according to health department regulations, customers can't go within a certain distance of food that is being prepared. Apparently, the path to the bathroom would have taken then woman and her child well within this radius.

Anonymous said...

I'll tell you why stores don't let customers use their restrooms: because people are GROSS! I'd bet money that mother wouldn't have bothered to clean up after her daughter shat all over the bathroom. I've worked in several kid-friendly restaurants and more recently in a pediatrician's office and I speak from experience. The mom sounds like a high-maintenance pain in the butt (pun intended); if your child is sick, don't take them out in public and don't blame a store for following protocol. I guarantee she'd be raising an equal amount of hell if the kid HAD been allowed to use the employee restroom and then slipped on the bathroom floor.