We Don’t Need Prejudice In Pilsen

First, let me say three things if you are sympathetic to the store owner. I have called this store at least twenty times, and they never answer. The average wait time is about twenty to twenty-five minutes, and the owner doesn’t like to spend time with ‘certain-looking people of color.’ At my age and as the recipient of this behavior since my days of awakening in the early 1960s to racism, it’s what spurred me into joining C.O.R.E., a leading civil rights organization; I recognize the early signs of discrimination because it has to take a familiar form to be effective at its goal of denying you something because of how you look. Typically, it’s irrational and can only be implemented with a lie. It’s a visceral, gut-wrenching, eerie feeling you don’t like to see coming your way because it disrupts the essence of who you are and what you deserve as a human being: just to be treated fairly, that’s all, nothing more or less.

I have been trying to apply for the ACP benefit I was approved for over a year ago, but Metro By T-Mobile’s system keeps throwing me out after only months of use. I have been trying to reapply for this benefit since September 15, 2023, and have put the application in three times in the last thirty days. Something is wrong with their system, continuously kicking me out earlier than the one year it’s suitable for. Not one of the ten agents I have spent hours talking to has solved this problem of their system kicking me out prematurely.  I go to Metro by T-Mobile at the 18th—St. and Ashland Ave. in Chicago’s finest neighborhood called Pilsen. Job Career Critic is also located in Pilsen.

I was just at the store on Saturday twice the week before, trying to apply this benefit to my internet and phone bill. Two young ladies usually go through this semi-annual Kabuki dance of reapplying it back to my account. I give them the ACP Benefit number; they look it up, and we try to get it done. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t, but they try. I was there today and waited for 30 minutes; the guy behind the counter finished up with his customer and immediately started working on some tasks. The next thing I knew, he was gone out the door, and the only other service rep had customers. However, he returned after 2 minutes, and I thought he had just forgotten something, so I remained seated. Five minutes later, Peter, his name I later found out, asked out of curiosity, “Can I help you?” Mind you, he’s seen me sitting in my chair for the last half-hour. I’m 6’2″ and weigh 220 pounds, so I know this black face is visible, so I gave him a resounding “Yes, you can.”

I began explaining my situation, but as soon as he heard ACP, the look on his face was, “How do I get rid of this person?” He didn’t want to be bothered unless it was easy, like collecting cash. Nevertheless, I tried to explain I had been going through this current rendition of applying for my benefit for over one month. His answer was to stereotype me, and he started to explain the ACP program, not realizing I was aware, as a poli sci major at Roosevelt University, when George W. Bush created it. It was bipartisan legislation related to poor people needing emergency services.

Then he showed his hand by showing me an internal screen irrelevant to my request as a way of appeasing ignorant people. When I explained this information was not germane to my situation. When I explained this fact to him, he lied and said, “We can’t do what you’re asking for.” Mind you, his assistant is next to him, listening to him deny me something she and her co-worker have done multiple times before. The last time was two days ago, and this was a follow-up to that visit. I explained to him the assistant standing next to you had done this many times before he became irate and repeated his falsehoods of ‘only customer service can do this’ She said nothing to her boss to correct his discriminatory behavior. Peter would not extend me the courtesy he did when I bought the phone. He was argumentative and exercised his right of refusal. He told me straight out, “Yes, I don’t want to serve you.” So I left intending to find another carrier, but I have to do some research this time. I have always cautioned against using race as a reason for someone’s actions, but for Peter to claim, “We don’t look into your ACP numbers,” is a FLAT OUT LIE, and he knows it. When he said only customer service looks up your ACP number, that is also a lie. Whatever reason for not servicing a customer who bought their phone from you is unacceptable, and T-Mobile should not allow this kind of discrimination to be done under their name. I need this phone number and don’t want to lose it now. However, I will be looking into a new carrier since I am such an inconvenience to My Metro by T-Mobile and owner Peter.

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