Service No Service

I’m sure by now everyone is aware of the incident that happened with Brandon Washburn, a man who’s deaf, and what he experienced at a Taco Bell.

Brandon drove up to the drive-thru window to show a Taco Bell employee his order.  His order was written on his cell phone, but then the employee denied service at the window.  At this point, Brandon’s girlfriend begins to record the incident and you can clearly see the employee being disrespectful, showing very poor customer service, and you can hear the employee saying, “It’s against company policy, I can’t do it”. Then, the employee slammed the window shut in Brandon’s face.

Check out the link to story here

Bet you’re thinking, “this is a shame, no one should be treated this way”. You’re right, but as much as I hate to admit it, this isn’t uncommon.

Do you know how many incidents I’ve encountered with someone serving up bad customer service? It’s been so many, I’ve lost count.

So, when I go to a fast-food restaurant and order, I typically order by number to make it easier to understand due to my speech impairment.   After I order, an employee will always ask, “what did you say “?  Then they laugh or mock  me with other employees.  I was taught by my big brothers not to let anyone push me around so I’m able to stand strong and ask for a manager.  I will always get the respect a person should deserve with or without a disability. What part of number two don’t they understand?

When paying for something with your hard earned money, respect should definitely be a part of customer service.  If not, that’s a reason to make noise and let the world know what’s going on in order to make situations better.

The employee eventually called the police on Brandon.  Once the officer got there, it was explained to the employee how he was violating the Americans with Disabilities Act. Since then, Taco Bell’s corporate office got wind of the story and fired the disrespectful employee. I even heard there’s a now a sign on that Taco Bell’s window saying something to fact that they service all people with disabilities.

I’m happy Brandon’s story went viral. Do I think it will help? It will probably help for a hot minute; but until people are properly trained and educated on how to serve people with disabilities, they will never really understand. Education is the key. I may never be able to change people’s perception of a person with disabilities but I and others will be able to have a say in the way we are treated!

17 comments on “Service No Service

  1. Debbie on

    I saw this on the news and yes I was very angry. Dealing with Mac’s disability I have seen and heard much. But I have also worked fast food long before cell phones. My grandmother taught me how to speak slower for when I do encounter hearing impaired folks. That helped me in fast food. We had a couple who were regulars and hearing impaired. They always asked for me because I talked to them not at them and I also looked them in the eye. And I also had fun notepaper. I remember a customer fussing because they were taking too long. I kept my cool but deep down wanted to show them the door. Respect everyone because you never know the situation you may find yourself in.

  2. Peggy on

    It just showed how employees/people are not being trained or companies are not training their employees to be aware of persons with any type of disability who may enter their store or restaurant.
    IMHO I feel person should not have been fired because of his ignorance of persons with disabilities but rather taken off the window and given a few days off for his rude behavior. By firing him, he is still w/o proper training. Training (along with all of the Taco Bell employees worldwide) needed to take place and TB did jump on that right away.

    On a personal note, before working here at GW, I was clueless as what to do for someone with vision issues, how to be comfortable around them or the rules of a working animal. It just was not something ever taught in any workplace (even the school district I worked in).

    • Shari Cooper on

      Well Said Peggy! Thanks for adding that personal note for some don’t have a clue about working or hanging with people with disabilities until the opportunity presents itself.

  3. Melissa Fowler on

    I honestly have to ask what kind of “training” would leave the employee thinking he can refuse service to someone simply because they can’t order the “traditional” way through a drive-thru. Unfortunately, fast food + low-skilled, younger workers often leads to this kind of inconsideration.

    • Shari Cooper on

      That’s just the way of the world. I’m still holding out out hope it will get better with more disability awareness training. Until then, I’ll keep doing my part at speaking up and out. Great comment!

  4. Dave Burrows on

    400,000 plus people have viewed this. Hopefully this means 4 million will hear it from those people. It’s terrible that education has to come through it such a terrible way. I am glad Brandon went on TV with his mom to tell the story. I am also glad that the police officer stood up to the Taco Bell employee and told him that he was wrong.
    Thank you for sharing Shari!

  5. Jerome Haney on

    I believe there is more to this than what we have heard and/r know. No it was not right to be refused services, yet what exactly is the company’s policy in this regards, as well as with the ADA. Just think about those who have been refused services because of ethnicity, clothing, etc. Which is the lesser evil. Neither1

  6. Linda Pelfrey on

    Shari, thank you for using this platform to speak about this incident

    What was just as disturbing to me, were the comments on the video in which some chose to shift responsibility/blame on to Brandon. Comments such as: “why is a deaf person driving?” Or, “why didn’t the other passenger order?”

    I question what this company regards as “training.” Whenever a marginalized person is disrespected or harmed by the employees of a company: we receive assurance that “training” will be provided. So, what will it look like? From whose view is the training? Are persons from the community (i.e.) in this case disabled persons… a part of “training?”

  7. Annette Lively on

    I think that incident is horrible. Everyone should be respected whether they are disabled or not. I have friends that are disable both physical, mental, hearing impaired, speech impaired and veterans. Employees need to remember that without the customer there would be no job. Everyone deserves kindness, respect, honesty and employees who help the customer, not make fun or not serve thrm. I am ashamed of those who don’t follow the rules and who don’t take the time to learn the customers needs.

  8. Beajai on

    I agree that everyone should be able to get served at a fast food drive thru. I saw the worker interviewed on a news show and he said he had NOT been fired, and he hopes that Taco Bell would change their policy now that it was getting attention. That was about 2 days later. I was sitting in a Taco Bell last week and the most manager was having a meeting with 7 employees and telling them about the policy changes and talking about how some of them were not following the new policy. I don’t know if it was about that or not.

  9. Sara on

    I worked at that same Taco Bell. There was no policy stating anything like that. The only time we were to refuse an order in the drive through was when a person walked up without a vehicle. I took orders over the headset and any time someone was unable to give their order the typical way (accent, speech problems, etc) we had them pull to the window to give their order. That employee’s behavior was terrible and he is simply using a made up policy to excuse his actions. Although he came up with a laundry list of excuses why he refused to serve them, he never once attempted to write anything down on paper to communicate with the customer or his girlfriend.


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