Barking Kitten

Fiction, musings on literature, food writing, and the occasional Friday cat blog. For lovers of serious literature, cooking, and eating.


Close to forty. Not cool. Politically left. Atheist. Happily married. No kids.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

An open letter to Amoeba Records

Marc Weinstein, Owner
Amoeba Records

Dear Mr. Weinstein,

Yesterday my husband and I took out-of-town visitors to your Berkeley store. One of our party uses a power wheelchair, which often sets off store alarms. I informed the three young men taking checking bags at the front counter that this might happen.

"We're used it." One drawled sacastically. "We're professionals here."

Uh, right. We wended our way through your store's narrow aisles, reaching down and over for the many items out of our friend's reach. We all politely avoided the vinyl selection down several rampless steps.

We bought a few CD's and one more worked our way to the crowded front doorway.

For those of you unfamiliar with Berkeley's Amoeba records location, it is on Telegraph Avenue. The area is populated by homeless, druggies, skateboard punks, students, and tourists. So the managers of Amoeba are right to be concerned about theft. Hence, once again, I said to our cashier, "the wheelchair will set the alarm off."

Which it did.

"We've been over this already," That voice again, sarcastic, loud, mean. This guy was literally above me, on a sort of platform. Talking down to me.

I was stunned. I was trying to be polite. This guy had no call to be such an asshole. In looking at Amoeba's website, I see the following:

Our staff is an all-star team of music retail veterans, with a collective depth of knowledge that is virtually unparalleled in the business. Many of us are musicians, or make music our lives in one way or another, and we take seriously the importance of our customers' relationship to music. We put customer service first and foremost -- our mission is to bring people and music together and to make everyone feel at home.

Well Amoeba, you failed. Our friend did not feel at home in your store. Your employee, "the professional" (evidently he is an expert on wheelchairs?) made it embarassing and painful.

Our friend's life is hard enough without employees like yours.

I have shopped Amoeba for years. I have avoided the box stores and online retailers in an effort to keep independent stores like yours in business. Now I'm not sure why I made the effort. In Amoeba's case, I never will again.

Should you wish to contact me regarding your employee's appalling behavior, I may be reached at

Barking Kitten

UPDATE: Mr. Weinstein Kindly Responds


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