I’m not the most fashion forward guy in the world. Don’t get me wrong, I like to dress presentably and as cool-looking as my budget will allow, but I don’t spend all my money on clothes . . . anymore anyway. Like most of the hobbies I have, I tend to grow out of them, just ask the cello, snowboarding pants, paint set, and golf clubs in my closet. And don’t even get me started on that puppy.
Just kidding about that last one; I never got a dog and people shouldn’t ever get a pet unless they know they can raise it. Anyway, fashion was one of the quickest interest casualties, and for good reason. One, it’s absurd and obscene to spend that much money on how you look when for the most part no one can tell the difference as long as you look presentable and not, you know, not insane. And secondly and most importantly, the fashion world is full prissy annoying divas that make you hate how into clothes you’ve become. Don’t believe me? Well that’s why stories like this exist to help drive that latter point home to you.
GASP, an Australian clothing retailer and an apparently very “fashion forward” one at that (according to one of its managers anyway), made headlines earlier in the month for belittling a customer for her weight and taste in clothing. Keara O’Neil, the victim/customer, entered the store and was helped by “Chris,” an employee who showed her some of the company’s threads. He started out nice, but when O’Neil decided she didn’t want to make a purchase, Chris turned high school drama queen on her and insulted her out the store, calling her fat, knocking her fashion sense, and directing her toward another local chain retailer.
It’s terrible behavior, not just for a store, but also for a person in general. However, it’s apparently also in GASP’s customer service manual because when O’Neil emailed the store’s manager to complain, the manager continued the abuse instead of apologizing. The manager praised Chris as a “retail superstar” and essentially gave O’Neil the finger, telling her she wasn’t welcome at GASP stores in the future. And even after the story broke and the maelstrom of bad press, the higher-ups at GASP have yet to step forward to apologize or even say as much as a peep. Apparently, GASP really wants to be known as the company to represent everything that is wrong in the world.
It’s when I read stories like this that I really wished there could be some kind of lawsuit here. I’m not quite familiar with Australia’s legal system, but I know that at least in America, despite the disgust generated by O’Neil’s tale, there’s just no lawsuit, even in the vast open world of tort law and emotional distress.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m no fan of frivolous lawsuits, but GASP’s behavior is just . . . rude and wrong. They remind me of that guy or gal everyone knows who hasn’t quite grown out of that juvenile “my-stuff-is-better-than-your-stuff” phase. You just want to shake them and say, “Plan for your retirement!”
Though America’s tort law is pretty loose, even if O’Neil somehow had standing to bring this lawsuit to our shores, she’d be out of luck. It’s a long established rule in American law that intentional infliction of emotional distress requires more than a mere insult, no matter how bad it may be. The standard is extreme and outrageous behavior and O’Neil would’ve been nowhere near able to meet it. Examples of this is usually when some purposefully and falsely claims you or your loved one is dying or does something else equally ludicrous like place a fake bomb next to you and say it’s going to explode.
The only exception to this rule is for common carriers, such as hotel innkeepers and those in the transport service, such as bus drivers. They are liable for emotional distress caused by their gross insults, which are insults said with the intention of being really offensive to the targeted individual. However, because the GASP employees aren’t common carriers, but rather clothing salespeople, O’Neil wouldn’t have a leg to stand on since she suffered no harm other than her verbal beating.
Let’s just hope that GASP and any other company that pulls this stuff goes the way of United Airlines and loses $180 million off its share prices for being such jerks. Because in the world of jerks, only money seems to make them ever want to change.