Dollar General is conducting an investigation after a cashier called the police on a black customer using store coupons, accusing her of “trying to take advantage of the system.”
On Wednesday, teacher Madonna Wilburn of Buffalo, New York was trying to purchase $30 worth of groceries with digital coupons when the clerk, whom she identified as manager Ken Dudek, got frustrated. Wilburn captured the tense exchange in a Facebook video with 1.7K shares and more than 1,600 comments.
“PLEASE SHARE….So here is, unfortunately, another incident where the manager at Dollar General on Genesee Street in Buffalo New York felt he needed to call the police on a ‘black women’ ME who was taking advantage of the coupon system,” Wilburn wrote on Facebook. “I had no coupons in my hand and they are all digital coupons on their app. Spend $30 on gain scents and receive $ 5 off then other digital coupons ranging from .50 to $2 off of each of these items all on their app. He could not figure it out. Told me he hate people like me, told me to shut up, and more. I eventually pulled out my phone….and started recording to protect myself against his nasty attitude in case anything happened.. now him and his wife inboxing me.”
The footage includes the man saying, “Just trying to take advantage of the system, is what you’re doing, and I don’t have to do it if I don’t want to.”
Wilburn replies, “But you just said you don’t like people like me?”
The man denies her statement and says, “I’m trying to do the best I can, you already got $15 off of these products and you’re trying to play games. We’re done — I’m giving you my boss’s number. She can fix it from here, OK? I’m really done with you. I’m tired of the attitude and tired of the nonsense.”
“OK, Ken,” Wilburn says at one point. “I will deal with her but you said you don’t like people like me, meaning…a couponer?”
“That’s not what I said,” the man responds.
“You’re telling an adult to be quiet?” asks Wilburn.
When the man realizes he’s being filmed, he says, “Well you don’t have my permission to record me. You can’t record me,” he then calls someone named Felicia. “I have a customer who is being difficult and taping us without permission,” he says into the phone. “And I’d like you to dispatch the police if possible. Black female, green shirt, blue shirt.”
The man then hands Wilburn a piece of paper where he had written, “Ken Dudek.”
Wilburn waited outside for a police officer, who suggested she call the company’s corporate offices. He also gave her permission to leave, declaring the incident a non-issue. A representative from the Buffalo Police Department did not return Yahoo Lifestyle’s request for comment.
New York has a “one-party consent” law, which means that only one person in the conversation must consent to record an in-person or phone conversation.
The history and special education educator and mother-of-four who was recently voted “Teacher of the Month,” tells Yahoo Lifestyle that she was baffled by the experience. “What the video didn’t capture was this man telling me to ‘shut up,’ and ‘I hate people like you.’ Did he mean women? Black women? People who coupon?'”
Wilburn loves the practice of couponing for its problem-solving and math skills, calling it a “way of life” and enjoys teaching her students and grandchildren to spot deals. Paying with coupons is more time-consuming than the average transaction and Wilburn suspects that processing her $5 digital coupons for Gain-scented products triggered the clerk.
Dudek did not respond to Yahoo Lifestyle’s requests for comment. But Wilburn shared a screenshot of a message, allegedly from Dudek, asking her to remove her viral Facebook post.
Wilburn also shared screenshots containing comments from a woman named Jennifer Dudek, who called herself Ken’s sister, and apologized for his behavior, saying her brother is “not racist, he’s just frustrated with the job in general.”
Other screenshots show a Facebook user named Josiah Dudek who wrote, “We don’t dislike any race. Everyone’s equal. You’re all just mad she couldn’t use her precious coupons.” He also called Wilburn a “b****” and used the hashtag #Trump2020.”
Dollar General sent Yahoo Lifestyle the following statement: “Dollar General is committed to helping American families stretch their budgets. As part of that commitment, we encourage customers to utilize both digital and manufacturer coupons to help them save money off our everyday low prices. We always strive to deliver the best possible customer service and we are disappointed when this does not occur. We take matters like this very seriously and are fully investigating the incident.”