When Does a Business Have the Right to Hang Up the Phone or Ask Someone to Leave Their Store?
The old adage that “the customer is always right” has been a cornerstone of good customer service for decades. But is this really the case?
Are businesses always required to put the customer’s needs above their own, no matter what the circumstances may be? And when does a business have the right to refuse service and ask someone to leave their store?
In Canada, businesses are allowed to refuse service to a customer as long as the decision is not based on discrimination or harassment. Discrimination refers to treating someone unfairly based on their personal characteristics, such as their race, gender, or sexual orientation.
Harassment refers to any unwanted behavior that creates a hostile environment for the customer.
According to the Canadian Human Rights Act, businesses cannot discriminate against customers based on the following grounds:
- National or ethnic origin
- Sexual orientation
- Gender identity or expression
- Marital status
- Family status
If a business refuses service based on any of these grounds, they could be in violation of the law, and subject to legal action.
However, there are situations where businesses may have the right to refuse service, even if the decision is not based on discrimination or harassment.
For example, businesses have the right to refuse service if the customer is being disruptive or threatening to other customers or employees. If a customer is engaging in illegal activity, such as shoplifting or using drugs, the business can refuse service and call the police.
To expand on this.a business is within its rights to end a transaction with a customer if there is:
- Disruptive or threatening behavior: A customer who is being disruptive or threatening to other customers or employees may be asked to leave the store. For example, if a customer is causing a disturbance by yelling or behaving aggressively, the business may ask them to leave in order to maintain a safe environment for other customers and employees.
- Illegal activity: If a customer is engaging in illegal activity, such as shoplifting or using drugs, the business has the right to refuse service and call the police. For example, if a customer is caught stealing merchandise from the store, the business may refuse service and report the incident to the authorities.
- Non-compliance with safety measures: During the COVID-19 pandemic, many businesses have implemented safety measures, such as mandatory mask-wearing and social distancing. If a customer refuses to comply with these measures, the business may refuse service. For example, if a customer enters a store without wearing a mask, the business may ask them to leave or provide a mask before being served.
- Non-payment: If a customer has outstanding debts with the business, the business may refuse to provide further services until the debts are paid. For example, if a customer has not paid for services rendered or has outstanding credit card charges, the business may refuse to provide further services until the debts are settled.
- Disrespectful or abusive behavior: A customer who is being disrespectful or abusive to employees may be refused service. For example, if a customer is using profanity or making threats towards an employee, the business may refuse service in order to protect their employees from harassment or abuse.
In some cases, a business may choose to terminate a phone call with a customer if the customer is being abusive or threatening to the employee on the other end of the line. The employee has the right to hang up in order to protect themselves from harassment or abuse.
It’s important for businesses to understand their rights and obligations when it comes to refusing service. While the customer is important, businesses also have the right to protect their employees and maintain a safe environment for everyone.
In summary, the customer is not always right, and businesses have the right to refuse service in certain situations. As long as the decision is not based on discrimination or harassment, businesses can refuse service if the customer is being disruptive or engaging in illegal activity. By understanding these rules, businesses can protect themselves and their employees while still providing great customer service.