Hearing-impaired woman claims she was denied service

January 24, 2008 7:40:20 PM PST
A suburban woman who is hearing impaired claims she was denied service at a Steak 'n' Shake drive-up window because of her hearing problem.Karen Putz wrote about the incident on her blog, deafmomworld.com and said she has gotten several emails from other bloggers. But what she said she wants is an apology from the Steak 'n' Shake employee who, she says, was rude to her and more sensitivity training implemented throughout the Steak 'n' Shake corporation.

"That's not customer service. I have never encountered such horrible customer service as I received yesterday," said Putz.

Putz is still reeling over the way she says she and her 10-year-old son Steven were treated at the Bolingbrook Steak 'n' Shake Wednesday afternoon. Putz, who is deaf, drove past the drive thru speaker and went straight to the window to order two milkshakes as she has done several times before. She says the general manager who waited on her did not accommodate her disability.

"His response was, 'Could you please drive around again? Place your order'? And I was like, 'I can't do that. And I can't hear. I can't use the speaker back there,'" Putz said.

She said she and the general manager had a lengthy exchange at the window. She said the manager threatened to call the police on her if she didn't leave, and then he denied her service.

"He's like, 'That's it. I'm done with you.' And then he shut the window," Putz said.

Putz filed a complaint with Steak 'n' Shake, and they responded saying "Steak 'n' Shake regrets the misunderstanding between Ms. Putz and one of our associates. Ms. Putz has been a long-time loyal customer that we greatly value. This incident has made us aware that we must continue to keep our associates focused on customer needs and satisfaction."

As for Puts, she said she may not go back.

"I will tell you that it was hard to give up those shakes. But I will do it to prove a point here," she said.

A Steak 'n' Shake spokesperson would not discuss whether any disciplinary action will be taken against that employee. But they do want to sit down with Putz and discuss Wednesday's incident and any of her concerns.