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Monday, January 19, 2015

McDonald Pune outlet - pushed out a child ?

Trichinopoly [modern day Trichy] has many colonial names ~ many a times I have checked in a famous hotel situate in ‘Mcdonalds’ Road’.  It houses the famous Kalaiarangam theatre and Malaimalar offices too.   A decade or so back, a  Senior journalist (of Economic Times) (who lives in Triplicane) was denied entry into a Star hotel – citing that his attire will not be allowed ! ….   Sometime back a  sitting judge of the Madras High Court, a senior advocate practising in the same court and a lawyer from Madurai were denied entry into the Tamil Nadu Cricket Association (TNCA) Club, venue of a book release function, in Chennai for having come in ‘dhoti.’ 

Often, when you enter a hotel or a restaurant, you notice a sign stating that the right to admission and service to every guest rests with the hotel. However, the foundation of the hospitality industry remains the service that is provided to every guest who walks into the hotel or the restaurant.  Though it is a service industry, it involves transaction between two parties and one of them has the right to decide on the presence of whom they want [rather whom they do not want] says sources. Every hotel has its own set of codes of conduct that the guests need to adhere to. These might range from the appropriate attire of the guests to their behaviour.  Some do  deny admission to guests not wearing shoes. 

The McDonald's Corporation is the world's largest chain of hamburger fast food restaurants, serving around 68 million customers daily in 119 countries. Headquartered in the United States, the company began in 1940 as a barbecue restaurant operated by Richard and Maurice McDonald.  A McDonald's restaurant is operated by either a franchisee, an affiliate, or the actual corporation itself.  Mcdonald’s is in news due to a reported outrageous incident of pushing out a child in its Pune outlet.  Facebook and other media are ripe with reports that a child was literally pushed out by the employees as it stood in a line along with a woman when the child came to buy a drink. The woman incidentally seeing the child on the street offered to buy him a softdrink; the boy was pushed out, though the woman contended that she had brought him in.  The FB news circulating states the employee as stating “such people are not allowed in the restaurant”  and adds that  the woman purchased a drink and gave it to the child outside. She uploaded a picture of the child and the bill item on her Facebook account.

As the news spread, McDonald’s India is quoted as stating that it would probe whether any of their employees “had breached basic courtesy” and would take appropriate action in the case. After being roundly criticised for its actions and blatant discrimination, McDonalds India said that appropriate action would be taken in case of any act of breach.  To them destitute street children are strictly ‘no’ even if somebody else is prepared to spend on them !

The incident reportedly occurred outside Kumar Pacific Mall.   A security person is quoted as saying that such kids linger around malls, cause unnecessary chaos, which is a disturbance to other customers.  NDTV reports that a  day after reports emerged that McDonald's threw out a destitute child from its Pune outlet, an NGO took 15 underprivileged children to the fast food chain's outlet in Kolkata on Sunday and treated them to burgers and fries.

It quotes a member of the NGO Committee for the Protection of Democratic rights (CPDR) as saying "McDonald's should know that we will not tolerate the kind of discrimination they showed in Pune.  "What was the problem in Pune? No one asked for a free meal. The lady who took the child in was going to pay for the food. So why did McDonald's evict the child ?" said Suraj Chokhani, another CPDR member. This report states that when  the children marched in at 11:30 am, the staff at McDonald's at Mani Square Mall were courteous. One of them even arranged balloons for all the 15 children. The children, all of whom live in a slum or 'basti' nearby, had a great time, little knowing perhaps that they were part of a strong statement against discrimination.

As I prepare to post this now (@ 21.54 on 19th Jan 2015) NDTV reports that the McDonald's  Pune reportedly involved in the incident where a homeless child was rudely asked to leave has been shut down indefinitely.  Another search revealed that at Norwich, Officers were called to McDonald’s in the Haymarket just after the restaurant opened at 5am when a man, armed with what is believed to be a handgun, entered the restaurant demanding money and got away with a quantity of cash. Enquiries led officers to arrest a 42-year-old man in Convent Road, near Unthank Road on suspicion of the robbery.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

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