Update April 29, 2015:
I spoke to the district manager just now, and the summary is that they will put up a sign saying no unaccompanied children under 12. The safety scenario he suggested was that if the mall was evacuated and my child couldn’t contact me it would be dangerous. I explained the difference between inconvenient and dangerous. Also the store manager denies saying anything outside of “for child safety reasons, this is our policy” – I can’t say that I blame him, to admit to having said that to me would show integrity, but be career limiting for him.
Comment moderation was becoming overwhelming, I have closed the comments. Thank you for all the kind words and for the alternate perspectives.
End of Update.
The following is a letter to Lego regarding an incident which happened at the Chinook Centre Lego store on Sunday. My son, who rides his bike to school alone, goes regularly to stores to buy groceries, earns money for babysitting and yard work, and is passionate about Lego, is apparently not old enough to be at the Lego Store alone. This policy is not posted, and they had to sneakily ask him his age to even know how old he was. He has been going to the Lego store alone to spend his money since he was 9.
April 26, 2015
Today, our son went to the Lego store in Chinook Mall, Calgary, Alberta. He had over $200 and was intending to purchase some lego with it. He is a frequent customer at the Lego Store and likes to browse the merchandise and evaluate his next purchase. He is a skilled lego builder and has built many of his own models as well as assembling kits which he has purchased from the Lego Store. He uses his own money which he has earned from such things as babysitting and shoveling walks.
Imagine my surprise when I entered the Lego Store and found that the manager of the Lego Store had called a security guard to detain my son and confront me to try to coerce me into staying with my son while he was in the Lego store.
It is important to note that my son has been to the Lego Store on his own several dozen times and has made thousands of dollars worth of purchases. He is dedicated to Lego and has a very extensive collection. He has never been hassled, and no Lego Store employee has ever questioned his behavior in the store. He does not disrupt business and he is a paying customer.
I spoke to the security guard who told me that the Lego store required a parent to be with any child 12 or under who was in the store. I then asked what my son had done wrong. The security guard stated that it was Lego Store policy and that he was just enforcing it.
I then followed the guard to the manager, Sydney Lowe, and asked the manager why he would call security on my son. He stated that for safety reasons, no child under 12 could be left unattended in the store. I explained that I had not left him unattended, but that he had arrived at the store on his own, as a customer. I happened to be meeting him there afterward, but only because we wanted to meet for lunch. The store manager then said, “For child safety reasons, we don’t allow children under 12 to be unattended in the store.” I asked what safety scenario made the Lego Store so unsafe that an 11.5 year old needed a chaperone. He then replied “If I have to explain THAT to you, then you shouldn’t be a parent.” I explained that my son had been a Lego Store customer for years and that he had spent thousands of dollars of his own on Lego. I explained that it was bad for business to require my son to have a parent with him in the store. I explained that my son regularly went to stores, including the Lego store and that there was no reason why the Lego store should be an exception to general society. The security guard then piped in and started making a claim that child abductions from the mall were a frequent event – which is a lie. I cut him off and asked “how many child abductions have taken place here in the mall?” The security guard then said to me, “if you don’t see how leaving your child alone in a store is dangerous, then you are a bad parent.” I questioned why this alleged policy was not posted on the front of the store and the manger responded once again with, “it should be obvious to any good parent that children under 12 shouldn’t be in a store unattended. We have the policy for child safety reasons. Your son is welcome in the store, but we ask that you accompany him whenever he is here.”
We left the store and have no plans to return.
When I recounted the story to my wife, she went to the Lego Store to get the manager’s card. He treated her with contempt and made it clear that he did not care if we shopped in the Lego Store ever again.
We asked our son how they had even found out his age, and he replied that he had been discussing Lego with one of the store employees (he was not sure which one, but not the manager) when the employee asked, “Just out of curiosity, how old are you?” Our son naturally assumed that he simply wanted to know the age of the Lego Prodigy that he was talking to and provided his age.
Lego is a big part of our son’s life, and by extension a big part of our life. It would be very sad for us to have to end our customer relationship with Lego on a permanent basis. As such, I am asking for the following restitution:
1. Sydney Lowe will deliver to me a personal, believable and full apology for questioning my right to be a parent. I am raising my children to be strong, independent and good citizens. He has no right to disparage me as a parent in light of the fact that my son was by his own admission doing nothing wrong.
2. Sydney Lowe will also deliver an apology to my son. My son is a dedicated Lego customer and does not deserve to be treated as anything but a responsible young Lego enthusiast, and certainly not a criminal, which, by calling a security guard and detaining him, certainly implies.
3. The Security Guard at Chinook Centre will be found and will also deliver an apology to me for questioning my parenting, lying and detaining my child for no reason.
4. If this policy is actual policy, then it will be posted on the door of the Lego store in Chinook Centre so that responsible children can see the contempt in which the Lego Store holds them. (especially the manager)
Please understand that I am not asking that the Lego Store run a babysitting service for anyone who comes to the mall. I am merely asking that paying customers of any age be treated with the respect that they deserve.
cc; Sydney Lowe