Luis Diaz and his family traveled from Oklahoma City to Branson, MO a few days ago to attend a national dance competition for his sister. Diaz thought during some downtime he and his family could see a few shows in Branson, known as the city with great entertainment.
On Thursday, Diaz and his mother, sister and brother walked into the Visitor Information by Westgate Resorts store to ask about show tickets. Diaz told me by phone that at the store he met a very helpful salesman who started offering tickets for good prices. Diaz turned to his mother and asked her in Spanish what shows she wanted to see. At that moment, the manager interrupted and suddenly Diaz says the conversation got ugly.
Here’s what Diaz posted on his Facebook page.
While we are finalizing our package (picked out a show we wanted to go watch and tickets to Silver Dollar) and getting ready to pay, the manager (in the baby blue shirt on the video) stepped in in front of the sales person and advised us he would not be granting us the discount because the discount did not apply to us. The manager then begins to yell at me and my family that we are not welcome in the store because my mom does not speak English. He than threatened us to call security if we did not leave his store. My family and I walked out of the store with my little sister crying because she was scared of the manager screaming at us. I than walked back alone to get him on video and this is what he tells me, he stated he could sell me the tickets at regular price but not discounted tickets because my mom doesn’t speak English.I believe he changed his demeanor when he realized I was recording him. Spanish-speakers don’t get access to discounted tickets or even Westgates Time shares because hey don’t speak English.
You can see Diaz’s entire uncut video version on his Facebook page. In the video you see Diaz inquiring about tickets when the manager says “Do I speak English sir?” The manager admits in the video that there is some kind of policy where both a “husband and wife” have to speak English to get tickets. Again Diaz was with his mother. Watch the video.
Diaz told me on the phone that the salesman never got to the point of selling any kind of timeshare if that was his objective. He also told me that his mother speaks some English and understand it, but feels more comfortable communicating in Spanish.
After his angry exchange of words with the manager, the Diaz family walked out of the store feeling embarrassed and humiliated. The salesman found them outside the store and told Diaz “Man! I’m really sorry.”
ARE NON-ENGLISH SPEAKERS NOT WELCOMED?
I have contacted Westgate Resorts via its social media pages to find out if it’s true the company has a policy not to do business with people who don’t speak English, even though they understand it. I also went to the company’s website in an attempt to contact the owner, David Siegel.
I guess Westgate Resort managers must not be communicating with each other, because I found that currently the company has a Facebook page called Westgate Resorts Español. Everything on there is posted in Spanish. Obviously someone at Westgate realized the importance of having Spanish-language marketing material on social media.
I also learned when I called Westgate Resorts 800 Customer Service number that you’re given the option to talk to an operator in Spanish if you punch the #2. I couldn’t get any answers there because customer service is closed on weekends.
It’s very sad that Diaz and his family had to endure such harsh treatment. And by the feedback that he is getting on his Facebook page, the incident has hit a nerve with Latinos.
It’s also sad that this manager had such an ugly attitude towards a family that just wanted to see a few shows for a good price in Branson. I’ve always heard people in Branson are a friendly bunch.
I hope I get answers from Westgate Resorts, because today I don’t think any business can afford to turn away the buying power of Latinos. But you only get our business when we are treated as equals and with respect.
Update Monday: The COO for Westgate Resorts gave me a response. >>Full Story