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Insulted by Lupicia teas! Racist???

I bought tea for the 2nd time today from Lupicia Teas in Torrance, CA. They are very new and very bright and generally friendly, but today I felt a little disrespected.

I came in with a friend of mines today and as usual they were very courteous to us and they tell her that if she buys $20 worth of tea they will give us a tin free. We decided to put our money together and buy our tea so that we could share the free tin. LIke I said, I have been here twice; last visit I spent $15 and this visit I spent $15 again. Well when we got to the checkout, they bow at my friend and ask her to sign up for their mailing list for free tea, but do not even ask me if I would like to sign, much less pay me any attention after handing my money and tea over to my friend to make the transaction!

The company is japanese and they are located in a japanese marketplace. All the workers there are japanese. My friend is chamorro and white and looks Asian whereas I am black and was dressed very very casually today (boyfriend’s T-shirt and sweatpants). I feel like I am looking into this a little too much and I really hope that I am, but I feel as though I was disregarded, if not for my race than for how I dressed. I will see how they treat me next time and if the same thing happens again, well they’ve lost what would be a very loyal customer.

Do you guys think I am reading into it too much?

12 Replies
CK select said

I can’t really say – if you dont get service you like, there’s definitely other places to go. But in the case of the mailings – it’s free only with purchases over $30. I went with my sister before and she bought me tea but since she paid, she got to sign up and got a free pamphlet.

NOW that makes sense… We put our money together at the cash register and it came up to exactly $30. Thanks for explaining that to me, I was really distressed about it and up all night trying to get a better alternative.

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At the very least, it seems like they were ignoring you. The reason they glommed onto your friend and not you, I have no idea. I like your reasoning of going one more time just to see how they treat you.

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Angrboda said

You say you clubbed together to buy, so at the time of purchase, who was in charge of the money? Who was actually doing the physical act of paying? If that was you, then yes I agree their behaviour was odd. If it was her, then to my eyes they simply perceived her as the customer and you as someone who had just come along but weren’t necessarily interested in purchasing at this time. They have to give the goods and the change to someone; they can’t possibly give it to both of you.

As for being judged by appearance, I would be a little cautious assigning such views to other people. Now, obviously I don’t know what it’s like to live where you live, but I believe that at least 95% of the time we experience someone doing something be perceive as rude, they’re not doing it on purpose. Just a moments lack of thought.

I would shop there again, if I were you. At least one more time. Preferably more, providing of course that they have something you actually want to buy. Gather a larger amount of information before you make your conclusion.

Well, what CK said makes sense. I really spent alot of time trying to figure out why they would have just ignored me like that. I live in a part of LA county that is upper-middle class and predominantly Caucasian and Asian, within that circle, we have a very strong Japanese and Vietnamese presence and oh man, the older ones can be very very not nice.

I’m one of those people that tries to ignore stuff like that, because I figure if you ignore it, it will go away, but yesterday my paranoia got the best of me. The boyfriend is going to go shopping next time and see if he is treated the same as my friend(he’s often mistaken for Asian) but I think I will at the very least stick with the evening shift. The manager seems much nicer.

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Lynxiebrat said

I would do a couple of experiments. Next time go in with a friend and do the same set up, except you pay, see how you get treated. And go in there by yourself to see how you get treated. Of course it could be just that one time, an employee just not thinking, or that particular person is racist

I’m starting to suspect that they just didn’t think to explain why she got to sign up for their mailing list. That’s kind of weird for a mailing list to be a privilege isn’t it? At the very least though, the morning manager was a jerk whereas the evening manager was very nice and friendly. Definitely going to stick to evening shift if I continue to go there.

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Oh man. I never like to outright dismiss the suggestion of racism, because I think that happens too often to people. Having worked in customer service for a while, I’ve seen a LOT of subtle and not-so-subtle race-based behaviour (both from customers and coworkers) that took me by surprise, for example:

-a woman who absolutely refused to be served by my black coworker at the till, and stormed away when we refused to open another till.
-a small, female Asian coworker who got customer after customer who was rude and pushy with the clear expectation that she would give them whatever they wanted – and no, none of the rest of us had customers like that so consistently.
-coworkers who ran to the back to put extra fried food in the frier baskets when they saw First Nations customers coming “because those people never buy anything that isn’t crap for you.”
-people desperately trying to pass Asian customers off to each other before they actually got to the till, based on the immediate assumption that said customers would be rude and cheap.
-etc., etc.

People I know basically denied ALL of those things – even the first one! – might have been racial when I discussed it with them. (That, or they agreed it was racial, but felt the behaviour was reasonable.)

It sure exists, and sometimes takes a while to identify. It might also not be outright “racism,” so much as racial “solidarity” in preferring to talk to your friend without actually having any negative feeling toward you. Which maybe isn’t as bad in the sense that it’s not malicious, but it certainly isn’t going to be comfortable for you.

Of course there could be other reasons why they focused so heavily on her, such as her signaling herself as “the customer” by paying, etc. Personally, I have such a terrible memory for faces that I can even “lose” my customer while they’re still in the store if there’s any kind of shuffle of people(!), so I tend to “glom” to mine as well, and more one person out of a couple than the other so I don’t get confused.

But I would go with your gut. Run “experiments” if you want, but don’t give them more credit than they earn. If you keep getting an icky feeling, you might not know the exact reason why, but who cares? It’s your money.

You’re very right; there are so many different possible explanations. The main reason I try to disregard as much of it as possible is because I think that alot of it is at the very least unintentional. As far as that icky feeling, both myself and my friend noticed it and she tried very hard to cheer me up about it because sometimes that’s just how people are.

The reason it hurt my feelings so much I think has to do with how excited I was to be coming back and able to make a purchase, recently my contract at work expired, so finding that I did have a little bit of money to splurge on something like tea was a big deal. I am definitely going to reserve judgement, if not experiment. If I feel disregarded again, well I’ll just take my little $15-$20 and spend it online somewhere else like Zen Tea where I know they are appreciative of my business.

Its just aggravating living somewhere like LA where there are so many different cultures, religions and various types of people and finding things like racism. It reminds me of my first trip out of California [and first taste of racism] when I was 11; I was standing in the Reagan airport in Washington D.C. (the US capital of all places) waiting for my baggage when this large man said loudly to his friend “what do you think that little girl is?” to which his friend replies “that girl? I think she’s a n—-er.” right in my FACE! I was so shocked that I just froze. It’s 2012 (2001 back then) and people are still like that? It’s just sad.

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VeryPisces said

I used to go out to dinner regularly with a white friend and we noticed that often the waiter would either hand the check to her or slide it in her direction, automatically assuming the white person was paying. I’ve been to Chinese owned & operated beauty supply stores and have been treated horribly rudely, without provocation on my part, as if they expected trouble from me.

It’s a sad state of affairs when people make assumptions based on the shade of our skin, and as a person of color it’s not easy to explain how we intuitively come to recognize some of the most subtly racially-motivated behaviors. My white friend would not have believed that waiters do this had it not happened with us over and over at different restaurants.

I also have been assumed by quite a few white people over the years to be the cleaning service when I’ve lived in mostly-white neighborhoods. I’ve had white people ask me who I work for when I’m getting my mail or leaving the complex. The most bizarre incident happened a couple of weekends ago when I was buying cleaning products at Walmart. A white lady cut in front of me in line because she assumed I was USING the cleaning products rather than buying them!!

I always try give people a second chance and let go of my anger and frustration. You never know what may be going on to influence their behavior toward you and at the very least you can feel bad for their ignorance. Sorry this happened to you.

Wow you’re a saint. I AM a lady, I live in a nice neighborhood, I work with my local IOJD chapter and I’m educated blah blah, but I grew up in the hood. I don’t know how you didn’t beat that woman’s ass up and down walmart.

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Lynxiebrat said

Even when knowing crappy stuff like that happens, still hearing the individual stories……Good Grief. In some ways….the unintentional stuff is worse, though I know I’ve done it myself….daydreaming and having a stupid moment. But when someone does that to me, I can’t help but wonder if they have so little regard for me to not pay enough attention? So I then try to remember to pay better attention.

I’m white, I live in a white/black/arabic/orthodox jewish neighborhood, and I clean the bathrooms, lobby and parking lot at my work, I’ve had a few people that exhibit surprise that I am the one who does the cleaning. One time I just happened to walk into the bathroom when this woman (Not even going to call her a lady.) Berating a coworker of mine for not sweeping out the bathrooms while she was there. Now I had just punched in, and was doing my 1st check, I had the broom and dustpan in my hand. “Um, excuse me, Ma’am….cleaning is MY job and I just got on. So please let my coworker go back to her duties?” the poor girl was in tears when she left the bathroom.
Some people!
Daniel Scott, yeah, worked several years in customer service, (low end retail…kind of a ‘buy out’ store.) so been there, done that with every single one of the ones you mentioned.

And with holidays coming up, alot of people’s worse behaviors will start cropping up, including my own. LOL. I have bit of a temper.

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