Richmond woman denied service at McDonald's for "poor" English, demands apology

Dec 19 2017, 8:15 am

A Richmond woman is demanding apologies from McDonald’s after she was allegedly refused service because of her “poor” English.

The incident occurred last month at a Richmond restaurant located at No. 3 Road and Granville. When 51-year old Hazel Sun received a mocha coffee instead of a hot chocolate, she approached staff for her correct order but they refused to serve her because of her accented language.

The refusal first came from an employee and then the manager who allegedly said, “please don’t stay here… you don’t know English, don’t stay here.” Frustrated and insulted, Sun and the manager proceeded into an argument despite the long line-up of customers behind them. No other customers intervened.

Sun’s family is not asking for compensation nor the resignation of any employees involved, but they are demanding two apologies from the manager and owner of the store: an apology to Sun and another apology to all Canadians who do not speak English as their first language.

Apologies from the manager and owner of the Richmond store has yet to been received. However, McDonald’s Canada released this official statement shortly after the incident:

“Last week, in one of our locally-owned franchised restaurants located in Richmond…there was an isolated incident involving a simple miscommunication over a customer’s beverage order. What is alleged to have taken place is not consistent with the franchisee’s commitment to quality customer service and to reflecting the cultural mosaic of the restaurant’s local community.

We take complaints very seriously and we regret that this customer was offended during her recent restaurant visit.”

Within this multicultural and multiethnic society, just because an individual does not speak English well does not mean they do not have a right to be served – even when miscommunication occurs.

Richmond is home to many new Chinese arrivals, largely from Hong Kong, Taiwan and Mainland China. Its immigrant population is the highest in Canada at 60 per cent, and more than 50 per cent of its citizens identify as Chinese – it has the highest proportion of Asians in any North American city.

UPDATE: Joe Guzzo, the owner of the Richmond McDonald’s franchise, met with Sun and has issued the following apology:

I met with the customer and her friend today. We had extended the invitation for the meeting to her son so we could engage in a face-to-face discussion and learn from the recent experience. It was a constructive meeting where I provided Ms. Sun and her friend with an apology for the misunderstanding which they have both accepted. We are extremely pleased to have reached a resolution.”

Image: Clayton Perry Photography