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Lowe's customer accuses clerk of anti-gay tirade

June 22, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
A man who went to Lowe's in Riverside to return an item says the clerk verbally attacked him, and then tried to physically attack him.

Riverside resident Jeremy Smythe said the incident happened on Tuesday when he, his partner and their 14-year-old son went to the Lowe's to return a leaf blower.

Smythe said he approached the customer service counter and said he wanted to return the product, saying it wasn't working well. When he told the clerk he didn't have a receipt, but that it was likely under his Lowe's account information, for some reason the clerk became angry and annoyed.

"He says, 'Just so you know, if you'd read the [expletive] directions, you would see that you have to charge it for 12 hours to make it work correctly,'" Smythe said.

Smythe says he responded with, "Don't talk to me like that, I'm definitely not the one to talk to like that."

But the Lowe's employee only grew more hostile, allegedly making anti-gay slurs. According to Smythe, the clerk then said, "I'll beat your [expletive]. I'll say what [expletive] I want."

Smythe admitted firing back at the cashier at that point, saying, "No wonder you haven't been promoted." And that was when he says the cashier tried to attack him and had to be restrained by the assistant manager while saying, "I got your address, I got your phone number, I'll be at your house."

It was at that point that Smythe's partner, Daniel Soto, who had been in another part of the store with their son, walked over.

"I was embarrassed, humiliated, like I said, for that to happen in front of my son, that just made it 100 times worse," Soto said.

Attorney Linda Roberts-Ross says Smythe and Soto have filed a police report. Riverside police say it will be assigned to a detective. She also said she filed for a restraining order because the cashier knows where they live and threatened them, according to Smythe.

"There's no excuse for this kind of thing in this day and age, there just isn't," Roberts-Ross said.

Lowe's said in a statement, "Customer service is one of our top priorities, and we're looking into this situation."

Smythe also said there was a second employee who joined in with anti-gay slurs. The names of both Lowe's employees are listed on his request for a temporary restraining order. He also said there are surveillance cameras inside the store, but it's unclear if anything was caught on camera.


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