House of Fashions (HoF), a leading clothes retailer in Colombo declined to talk to the Nation last week when contacted for their side of the story about a recent post that went viral on social media about how the staff and management refused to help a customer find her missing child inside the store.
According to Jessica Kwatick Perera, an American living in Sri Lanka, she and her son had been shopping at HoF when she realized that her son was not in her vicinity.
She had then made a frantic search for her son Aidan, 9, and failing to find him had sought the assistance of the info desk at the store.
She had requested them to make an announcement, so her missing son could be located.
To her surprise, the staff member on duty at the info desk refused to make the announcement stating: “No. I can’t do that. It’s our policy” and “No personal requests”. She had then met the manager of the store and made the same request to him. After much persuasion, the manager had agreed to make an announcement on the grounds that she “calms down”.
According to the account, which had been shared over 3500 times on Facebook, the manager had made the announcement after much deliberation. She concluded: “This, my friends, is the state of Humanity and customer service”.
Within minutes after the announcement was made, the customer had reunited with the child and upon leaving the store the same manager had told the mother that she needs to look after her child properly in the future.
Despite the post going viral, House of Fashion has not issued any form of apology but instead has been taking down all negative reviews on their Facebook Page and on Trip Advisor.
When contacted by the Nation regarding the incident, a member of the staff who refused to identify himself said in a rather condescending tone: “Why do we have to talk to a third party? Why do we have to answer you?”
When the Nation told him that newspapers were committed to obtaining both sides of the story that may clear any misconceptions one side may have been subjected to the staff member said that they had no interest in doing so and simply cut the line.
HoF is a mega department store which is located in Borella, Colombo and is owned by Preethi and Neelamani Jayawardena.
Efforts by the Nation to seek the comments of the National Child Protection Authority (NCPA) on its hotline 011 2 778911 were unsuccessful.