We believe our rights have been completely violated by Menards. For over 15 years we have rehabbed properties, built spec homes, and bought everything from building and landscaping materials, cleaning products to snacks at this store. At times spending more time there then at home.
My husband has a construction/ remodeling business and has/had an account at Menards for several years. In Nov. 2012 we stopped to get a few things at our local Menards where my husband purchases a mislabeled roll of electrical conduit, held together with plastic ties with no other label or info on it.
As we proceeded to leave the store, after paying for the merchandise, my husband was ordered back into the store and ordered to follow a Menards employee into a room, who then accuses him of switching a tag. I followed my husband into the room. I knew that my husband would never have done or be *** enough to do anything like that. After listening to the employee’s insults and lies against my husband, I question his level of education. At which point he informed us he had a 4 year degree in criminal justice and was more intelligent than the two of us combined.
We were hoping that the police would show up quickly, so we could explain the situation. We knew that the surveillance video would prove the truth. Before we got the chance to explain, my husband was handcuffed, his pockets were searched and then I was told to put my hands behind my back and I was also handcuffed, so tightly in fact, that afterwards, I had bruises around my wrists,.
While my husband was repeatedly interrogated for close to 2 hours, I was being questioned, as well, and then finally un-handcuffed. I waited outside of the room, surrounded by police and in view of Menards customers that were checking out at the registers. I’ve never been so totally embarrassed, humiliated and in disbelief that this was happening, as we were being treated like complete criminals. We are both 50 years old, have no prior criminal history, not even outstanding parking tickets. We were picking up some supplies for our son’s project, which my husband was helping him with and household items for ourselves.
We were eventually released after inconclusive evidence. From the video they told us it seemed that my husband could have possibly done it. As a result of someone’s opinion or suspicion (that my husband looked as if he could have switched the tag), we were forced to sign a blank form agreeing not to set foot into a Menards. After the treatment we received from Menards, a company we completely trusted, recommended and gave so much business to, over the years, no such form will be needed to keep us out of their stores forever. We were told by the police if we refused to sign this form, they would need to take us to the police station. Reluctantly we both signed an unfilled form as we were directed to do, to not waste any more time and to end the nightmare. We did not know why we would be forced to sign a form or go to the police station, if we were not proven guilty, or charged with any crime.
After we drove home and some of the shock wore off, we reviewed what had just happened. Both of us thought the security person was acting overly excited and unprofessional when he stopped and proceeded to accuse my husband. He also repeatedly stated that he was more than a 100% sure that my husband did it. Since we knew my husband did not put the tag on the conduit, we knew they could not have seen him actually doing so on the surveillance video.
It had also occurred to us: how and why would this security guy know that the price or ID code on the tag was incorrect? He knew this even before he physically looked at the item and the tag? How did he know it did not match the product since the item had no other tag or label on it, other than a code? He knew the exact price difference of two misc. items in the store, instantly. Are Menards surveillance cameras that powerful that they can read numbers on a product and identify the product completely from a distance, an item that had no other description other than a code? He also knew that those types of tags were never used in their store: a plastic covered, handwritten, bright orange tag with a large paperclip that was attached to the plastic tie.
We were sure that this whole mess could be resolved if we contacted Menards. We thought we would explain what had happened to us their store. We wanted them to go over their previous surveillance videos which may have proven that someone else placed the item there with the tag already on it or who had changed it.
After trying to locate a phone number or specific contact information for Menards on the internet, we found out the only way to contact them would be through their website or by fax, which we did. We learned that employees are not allowed to give out any other contact info either. We waited days for a response, yet did not receive one to either contact. We were a bit surprised, to say the least, that such a huge chain, that we gave thousands of dollars of business to over the years did not even acknowledge our complaint. We then sent the same complaint letter by registered mail and addressed it directly to Mr. Menards himself. We received no response; instead almost one month later we received a restitution settlement demand for $150 for theft in their store. This letter warned us if we did not pay this fine we could be prosecuted. At this point we felt violated all over again.
We questioned how something like this can happen in a civilized, free country to innocent people. There was neither proof nor evidence of a crime, yet we were treated like total criminals, based on a Menard’s security guy’s suspicion that my husband could have done it. Perhaps in the video, as he was comparing the different conduit, it could have looked as if he could have changed the tag (only a guess) since we did not get to see the surveillance tape.
In addition I was not even in the vicinity where the item was located in the store, nor did I touch the item or threaten anyone, yet I was handcuffed, interrogated, accused and humiliated in public and in addition we were charged a fine for stolen goods that were never stolen. We had paid for all merchandise as it was labeled and have the receipt to prove it.
My husband finally spoke to a human being at the Menards main security department, who was only listed as a Civil Restitution Coordinator in the payment demand letter. She did not want to disclose her name even though her department was accusing my husband of theft. He requested information from her about the item that was supposedly concealed and stolen. She could not give him any information of what the report said he had stolen from their store or any proof they had, of a crime being committed. She told him if he wanted more information he would need to go through an attorney who would then be able to get more information. We asked ourselves how they could legally have the right to demand any money? What if my husband represented himself? Doesn’t everyone have the right to know what they are being accused and charged for?
My husband tried explaining the situation over the phone, because for some odd reason Menards never received our complaint through their website email, by fax, or by any registered letter (that she knew of). Surprisingly when my husband asked if she would be interested in finally reading it. She agreed to have him fax it to her, directly. For some reason, the fax, again, did not go through on the first try? On the second try she finally confirmed she had received the original email and promised to call my husband back, after going over it. Since she did not follow through on her promise, my husband called again. This time her response was for him to go through an attorney. Instead we received another copy of the demand letter for the $150. We are so disgusted with how we’ve been treated and how unethical Menards and its people are.
Doing some research: we found out that Menards has an F rating with the BBB. They also have many disgruntled customers on many consumer complaint sites. However, we also know that justice does not always prevail, as is often proven on the news. We are debating whether to take legal action which would mean cost for us and this nightmare to continue. We do, however, believe we have plenty of evidence against Menards and their employees and this type of unethical behavior and injustice should not happen to innocent people and go unpunished.
If anyone has opinions on what they would do or any ideas on how to approach this matter further, please let us know? It has been months since this incident happened and it still wakes me up at night and we cannot stop thinking about it. We are both in total disbelief of how easy it is to be accused and almost jailed based on no real evidence or proof of a crime. It’s very difficult to just let this matter go, since it is so wrong on so many levels.
One small detail: my husband at age 50 has let his hair grow out, which may have been a contributing factor of perhaps being profiled as a potential criminal by security. He is unfortunately still hanging on to this look, for now.
Product or Service Mentioned: Menards Remodeling.