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Jennifer Convertibles-Leather (Fremont, CA Showroom)

By AbdurRahman - Posted on 26 February 2008

I went to this furniture store Saturday afternoon (23 Feb 2008) with my wife and two children. A middle-aged black woman, Nathalia (sales associate # 4953) was initially cordial and helpful. This experience, however, was about to take an abrupt turn. In the end, my wife and I felt so violated and disrepected, that we'll probably never shop there again.

As a 46 year old white professional who has been Muslim since 1999, I have learned the importance of showing patience and respect to others, even if they don't share my beliefs or values. When Nathalia was writing up the order for a piece of furniture we selected, I told her we didn't want the "UpholsteryShield Fabric / Leather Protection Plan." After all, it was around 33% of the price of the furniture.

Had Nathalia simply honored my request and said something like, "Are you sure? OK, I understand. I'll remove it from your order," everything would have been fine. When I explained to her that anything like extended warranties or insurance policies are impermissible in our religion, unless of course it is something like liability insurance which is required by law, then we cannot accept such an addition to a contract, as it is seen as gambling in our religion. This answer was not sufficient for her. She kept pressing the issue. I told her it was not an option for us under any conditions. Finally, she complied but was clearly unhappy in her facial expressions and speech.

Then she asked me to tell her about my religion. I kept it very brief:

We believe that we follow the same religion as Abraham: the religion of all the Prophets, including Jesus, all the way back to Adam. We believe that Muhammad is the last and final Prophet and we believe in Jesus, who was born of the Virigin Mary. We are awaiting the second return of Jesus. That's our religion in a nutshell.

Had Nathalia not pressed this issue and not asked me about my religion I never would have brought it up. Then, during my explanation she turns away from me and starts talking to her co-worker, as if what I'm saying isn't worth her time.

When I asked her about a phone number on the order and why she didn't ask me for it, she finally wrote it down. "Do you have another number? Are you allowed to have a another phone in your religion? Like a cell phone?" she asked.

"Yes, I my cell number is ..." I replied.

"Oh! They can have cell phones in their religion!" she exclaimed to her colleague.

After we finished the order and were walking towards the door, she said, "Let me know where your church is, so that the next I'm near it I can just keep on driving."

As we left the store, she did not say, "Good bye," "Have a nice day," or any other normal greeting. She said, "Have a nice life. And don't call me when your furniture gets dirty and needs cleaning."

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