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Legal Ease
Legal Ease, Lawyer
Category: Canada Business Law
Satisfied Customers: 95880
Experience:  I am a practicing lawyer and have also been an online professional for 5 years.
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We had a very disturbing experience on a BC Ferry and I feel

Customer Question

We had a very disturbing experience on a BC Ferry and I feel let down by their response to our complaint.I'm not sure what I was expecting and I don't know if there is anything I can do to make them take the situation more seriously. I have considered utilizing social media as it seems to be a good way to open up discussions, move the issues forward and be heard by the offending company etc. However, it feels like a revenge move and I don't want that.I will forward you the correspondence, thus far, and I would love any direction that you may offer.I live in Victoria but I am seldom there during the week. If you require a payment to review my situation I will gladly pre-pay over the phone or internet.May 23, 2016BC Ferries- Customer RelationsSuite 500-*****
Victoria, BCV8W 0B7To Whom It May Concern,On Sunday May 22 my partner (an Afro-Canadian male) and I (Caucasian woman with BC First Nations ancestry) boarded the 7:00 pm ferry from Tsawwassen to Schwartz Bay by car and hurried to the buffet so we could get in at the front of the line. I turned to my partner and asked if he had his money ready because the line was moving fast. He showed me he had his wallet out just as we stepped forward to pay. The cashier told us that the total was $44.50 and we both stated that only one of us was eating. The cashier looked at me and then my partner and said to us, “sorry, you pay by the seat not the meal so its $44.50.” We were surprised and confused. We were essentially refused service so we left, wallet still in hand, passed all of the people in the lineup behind us. We felt humiliated.While waiting in the cafeteria line up, I looked online for a disclaimer about this rule and I tried to recall if there was a sign that said anything about paying by the seat in the buffet. I went back and spoke to the cashier who refused us service, stating I felt this was discrimination. The cashier general body language and his comments verified this, including: “…it’s about ‘the relationship…” I said that he was describing racial profiling- suspecting or targeting a person of a certain race based on a stereotype about their race. He laughed and said, “I’m Chinese I can’t be racist.” At the same time, a woman employee was moving closer to me telling me in a very stern tone and with aggressive body language (puffed up, in my personal space) “that’s not what he said!” I was aware of two or three staff members in front of me a few feet away having a mocking reaction towards the word racism. I also reported it to the Chief Steward and as soon as I got to the part about the cashier telling us that it’s “charged by the seat” she cut me off and said “that doesn’t sound like him”.It is obvious that this situation was not handled professionally by BC Ferry employees. No customer should be judge based on appearance or any other factors. Many people wrongly think that discrimination does not exist if the impact was not intended, or if there were other factors that could explain a particular situation. In fact, discrimination often takes place without any intent to do harm. Discrimination, whether intentional or unintentional, is unfair, differential treatment of individuals and groups based on prejudice, ignorance, fear or stereotypes. Discrimination imposes burdens on, or denies opportunities to, individuals or groups. The manner in which we were dealt with was discriminatory.I’m asking that this complaint be addressed with the level of seriousness to match the severity of situation. I also respectfully ***** ***** attend to the following areas to improve upon your customer service delivery and to provide a culturally safe environment for everyone:Staff wide training to ensure that customer concerns are taken seriously from the beginning and that problems are resolved expedientlyStaff wide Intercultural competency trainingHigh level conflict resolution personnel available on each sailing to de-escalate more challenging situationsI appreciate the opportunity to express this experience through your complaints process and I look forward to hearing from someone from your department soon.Sincerely,Janis Jonasen, MA#502-*****
Victoria, BCV9B 2V4
(###) ###-####
Submitted: 4 months ago.
Category: Canada Business Law
Expert:  Legal Ease replied 4 months ago.

Are you asking about whether you are opening yourself up to a lawsuit?

Customer: replied 4 months ago.
im not sure. I thought there might be another option. like a strongly worded letter or ?
Customer: replied 4 months ago.
or info on how the human rights tribunal people keep mentioning might help
or if we should just let it go and move on
Customer: replied 4 months ago.
i guess what im wondering is if it's really ok to be refused service, based on race in 2016 and all of the humiliation
and harm that goes with that?
Expert:  Legal Ease replied 4 months ago.

Of course it is not OK and it is appalling. It is also unlawful. It is contrary to the Human Rights Code.

But to succeed in a complaint to the tribunal you would have to prove that this was about race and that others who were not eating were not turned away. Personally I would not be surprised if they said no one can just sit and not pay because with the idea of a buffet I can see their worry about some actually eating for free. But if this only happened to you and others were allowed to sit and not pay then you have a strong case.

You can post on social media so long as you are very clear to be perfectly honest or if you make it clear you are providing an opinion. You have to be careful so that you are not sued for defamation.

Does that help as a starting point?

Customer: replied 4 months ago.
the man who turned us away later said to me that he based his decision on how we looked.which made me feel like we were the only ones he didn;t say it in so many words but his gestures and reffering to relationship have no other explanation. he made up the rule on the spot, not a bc ferry policy and then later admitted it had to do with how he felt about us or wtherer or not the their was a "relationship:" with us
Customer: replied 4 months ago.
i don't like the bc ferry people offered us menu options in their reply and explained the buffett (contradicting what their employee said but not acknowledging the contracdiction) but never acknowledged the seriousness of the situaton
Expert:  Legal Ease replied 4 months ago.

That is sickening frankly.

I suggest you contact the Human Rights Tribunal.

He is saying that based on what you looked like he feels it is fine to assume you are a thief.

Customer: replied 4 months ago.
media might be the quickest easiest way to get their attention? can i send a letter asking for a more serious apology and telling them that my next step is to use social media to be heard by them?
Expert:  Legal Ease replied 4 months ago.

You cannot threaten that though. It would be extortion.

You can only threaten a civil lawsuit as that is the one exception to the extortion law.

You can say that you want a formal apology and if it is not forthcoming you will take all legal steps available to redress the issue.

Customer: replied 4 months ago.
ok we will! Thanks
Expert:  Legal Ease replied 4 months ago.

I hope you get some satisfaction out of this. It has made me furious.

Customer: replied 4 months ago.
well your compassion means a lot this has been tough for us
Customer: replied 4 months ago.
thank you for your help.
Expert:  Legal Ease replied 4 months ago.

I am saddened to hear how this made you feel. But that person was just a fool and not worthy of your upset really.

You are very welcome.

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