Discrimination against wheelchair user

Yesterday we were denied entry at Pizza Hut, Mid Valley Megamall by the Shift Manager because dad was on a wheelchair. Imagine that! This is what happened.

There were 7 of us. My sister and I, my two kids, dad on his wheelchair, a maid and dad’s nurse. It was about 2.30 to 3pm. Initially we had gone to Dominos. However we decided to go to Pizza Hut instead because we thought that the Dominos place was a bit small and we would be a bit more comfortable at Pizza Hut. When we got to Pizza Hut, we were happy to find two tables for 4 each which could be joined together. Just nice for our party of 8.

Sister and I and the kids were walking ahead looking for a place to sit. I turned round to gesture to the nurse to show her which table we were at but she was gesturing something to me so I went over to her at the entrance. She said that they were not allowed to go in because of dad’s wheelchair. The lady who had denied my dad, the nurse and the maid entry confirmed it. She said that the wheelchair was too big and it would take up space and make it difficult for people to move about. It was just an ordinary wheelchair, not very bulky.

Now, we have taken dad to many places to eat before. We have been to more crowded places, like a crowded mamak shop during peak hours where the place was very hard to move about and all the staff did was help us move the tables around to make dad more comfortable. It is as simple as that. Usually, all we had to do is remove one chair from the table and push dad right up to it.

Yesterday, we were there AFTER peak hours. The lunch crowd had left. We had found a table. There were several other empty tables. Though the place was small, we would not have been blocking any other diners because it was no longer packed. But that is besides the point. The point is this lady, who is supposed to be the shift “manager” turned dad away, a senior citizen on a wheelchair. She was not in the least apologetic about it either. She pointed to a group of diners and said “Look, we have no space, even that has to be at left at the side”. At first I thought she was talking about a shopping trolley but I turned to see that she had pointed at a pram. How ridiculous is that! It is also ridiculous of her to deny us entry even after peak hours just because of dad’s wheelchair.

We were terribly annoyed. We gave her a piece of our mind and left. Perhaps we could have made more of a fuss and got a place to sit eventually. However, we were late and everyone was hungry and I no longer had any desire to have my meal there, even if it is for free. Worse still, I no longer wish to part with my money for lunch there! So we left. We went back to Dominos and sat ourselves down promptly without any fuss.

I thought that dad who has dementia and is sometimes a bit blur may not have noticed what was happening but he did. He started telling a story about how his friend used to frequent a place for his birthday and how they went to the place and could sit anywhere they want because they had money. Poor dad. No one wants to be wheelchair bound and being turned away from an eatery because of it is worse.

I was upset, I dreamed about it again in my sleep last night. 🙁

Updated: I have spoken to the Restaurant Manager who was most apologetic and kind when she heard that we were refused entry because of dad’s wheelchair. She said that they would normally place wheelchair users at the front of the restaurant for more ease and mobility. She said that we could call her personal number anytime we want to go and she will reserve a place for us. Ok. At least I know that this discrimination is not a policy of the restaurant. I hope that she will have a word with the staff with the wrong attitude. Thats settled then.

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3 thoughts on “Discrimination against wheelchair user

  1. Hello MG,

    I strongly believe that you should write an email OR a letter to Pizza Hut management and highlight what happened (tactfully or not is up to you). It is only right to do so as a customer. If you remember the “so-called” shift manager’s name, write it down in your correspondence. There are many incompetent staff out there and they need to be taught some lessons ;P.

    Likewise, if you come across any incompetent staff at banks, etc … . A letter or email does wonders as I can vouch thru’ my personal experiences. Sometimes the “so-called” head of management does not know what its “members/ staff” are doing. Do not feel bad if that person gets reprimanded as it is always customers first in all service oriented businesses. You letter may even be well received by management as it will allow them to get rid of such staff.

    Have a good day ;P.

    Hello Greg, Email and letters need careful time and thought to draft out. It must be carefully thought about and tactfully written, all of which takes time. Unfortunately, in the past, there have been instances where my emails or letters have just been ignored, wasting my precious time. I have written letters to hotels about food, mind you not just any food but complaints about our banquet food; no reply. We have written to the hospital because we strongly believe that it is due to the politicking within that caused our dad to have a colostomy after his stroke. We had meetings with the hospital and followed up with a letter. It has been 6 months now, no reply…. Sigh. I have resorted to making personal phone calls instead for matters that can be settled by a phone call instead. As you say, it is important for the management to find out what is going on even though I do feel bad that in doing so, someone may be reprimanded. Previously, I have called up another fast food chain to complain about the almost inedible food that came from its delivery. It was as hard as stone! The call was very much appreciated or so I was given the impression. Anyway, for this case, I have found out who the restaurant manager is and I will inform her of our experience.

  2. I was so angry when I read your post. That supposedly ‘shift’ manager has some attitude problem. I don’t see anything wrong with it moreover it’s off peak period. She certainly didn’t have the brains to think and analyse. So how did you complain to the restaurant manager? You made a phone call?

  3. Pizza Hut knows about the matter now. The shift manager should be educated on how to better handle a situation like this. There should be be some sort of compensation e.g. a home delivery pizza as a form of goodwill or something. It is not the value that counts here but recognition of the fact that an error in judgement had occurred. It is shameful corporate policy ( if it is corporate policy ) of Pizza Hut to discriminate against wheelchair users. I feel so angry and repulsed by this action of Pizza Hut.

    I understand the manager did apologize etc etc but it did happen and it spoiled a perfectly good evening for no particular reason at all other than Pizza Hut not providing adequate training to its staff.

    Let us hope Pizza Hut will not let this episode recur for other customers.

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