When a dissatisfied would-be customer emailed a Toronto dance studio to complain about a sexist item on its FAQ, she got one of the most insane (and poorly spelled) responses we've ever seen. Read on for the full email, and the company's eventual restitution.
The customer wrote the following email to the Ontario, Canada-based Shakers Studio, which teaches dance classes geared toward weight loss:
Just writing briefly to explain that although I saw an amazing offer for a deal with your company, I am choosing to boycott your company and services, due to some of the inappropriate statements you have chosen to make in your FAQ section.
"22 ... Q: Is there a dress code to follow?
A: Yes dear there is. Male Shakers can wear whatever they like, however female Shakers are encouraged to wear very little, especially if they want to make sure that our male Shake Instructor® never miss a class - even if they are ill."
As a female, I find this highly offensive, insulting, and demeaning. How do you expect clients to feel comfortable with your instructors and the safety of the environment you provide, when your company makes such ludicrous statements. [...] A shame I am not able to support you, I will be bringing my business (and that of my friends), to another service provider, one who is happy to treat all of it's clients with respect and dignity.
Here's how a representative of Shakers Studio responded:
PLEASE SEE A PSYCHIATRIST IMMEDIATELY OR LEAVE PLANT EARTH NOW.
We are thankful to God to have become aware of who you are NOW before you enter our premises or come into contact with of our instructors and students. We doubt if you have a boyfriend/husband or children. If you do they need to run away from you immediately.
Only FAT and UGLY women with BEARD believe and write like you which all belong to the Women's Lib. Are you the president or vice president there?
And I'm a female writing this.
A few hours later, a rep (possibly the same one, although the spelling is slightly better), wrote her again to inform her that the company did not give a shit if she forwarded the email to the media or reported it to the Better Business Bureau. The second email concluded thus: "By you contacting BBB all you do is get one of their salespeople to call us for membership. We hope that you can pay for the annual fee on our behalf as we will give your email address to the salesperson for payment."
I contacted Shakers Studio to see what its excuse was for basically the worst customer service ever. Founder Fareid Farhad confirmed that one of his employees had sent the emails in question, and that she'd been fired. In an apology email to the customer, he wrote that in order to offer free classes to women in need, "I have to reduce Shaker Studios' operational costs. One way is to hire telecommuters in other countries to attend to administrative tasks –- mainly the Philippines and India where there are more people who can read, write and communicate in English. Unfortunately in your case cost saving did not pay off." He also said,
I have asked the website development company to remove all references to women from our web site and to remove — as much as possible and to the extent that it does not make the site lose its theme –- all images of women.
Please review the site and if you still see anything that is offensive to you, I'll be happy to have them removed as well. We really didn't mean to bring any harm or disrespect to you or anyone else when we had the website designed and developed.
A quick look at the website reveals that the company has indeed removed the offending FAQ, which also included a number of unfunny jokes ("Can I bring an apple for my Shake Instructor®? A: No dear you can't. Most Shake Instructors® don't like apples. Depending on the season you can bring them other types of fruits, like; a brand new car, Versace jeans, a shoe box full of cash, etc. –- that's the type of fruit they like.") The new FAQ is much more staid, though it's difficult to read (you have to scroll way down), probably because of Farhad's scramble to clean up the website. In any event, Farhad does seem to have made a good-faith effort to undo the damage caused by his (former) employee's batshit email. Hopefully in the future he'll instruct his employees not to be sexist weirdos, whether they're working remotely or not.
Shakers Studio [Official Site]