Disgusted with Dillard's: In March 2001, a friend and I were shopping at the Dillard's in Sugar Land's First Colony Mall ["A Closer Look at Dillard's," by Margaret Downing, January 8]. I found the Ralph Lauren shirt I wanted with an original price of $50 marked down on a pink price tag to $33, and then a handwritten reduced price of $17.
As the clerk began ringing up the shirt she became noticeably agitated, stating that customers routinely changed prices while in the dressing room and Dillard's did not write prices by hand. The clerk was white. I am black.
She was adamant that under no circumstances would she sell this shirt at such a discounted amount, because clearly a customer was responsible for the price reduction. I was actually caught off guard, then the light bulb finally came on. I was this ne'er-do-well customer. I asked to see a department manager (she was black, also), who initially supported the clerk's position. But when I noticed promotional racks of clothing discounted by 66 percent, I had the manager calculate the difference between $50 and $17 -- it was that same 66 percent. The manager apologized and had the sale made for $17.
My friend, a black, gray-haired, 60-plus-year-old retired school librarian, commented that the scene would not have occurred had I been blond and blue-eyed.
The next day, Dillard's white store operations manager told me I was overly sensitive and explained that Dillard's never utilized handwritten tags.
You can imagine my consternation the following week when I tried on an item that had a tag with a handwritten price of $32.25. That clerk explained that Dillard's routinely wrote in sales amounts by hand. She was black like me.
I quit shopping at Dillard's, spoke with the store manager and wrote a letter to the corporate headquarters. To date, I have gotten no response. After reading your article, I understand why.
Everyone's issue: I wanted to compliment you on your article. With the heartless tactics that retail chain has used on African-American shoppers -- of which I was unaware before reading your article -- I would love to open the business pages to the front-page headline "Dillard's Closes Its Doors for Good."
I suppose it's going to be up to fair-minded shoppers of all races to make that happen by shopping elsewhere. I already avoid Dillard's; I regularly go to Target, a much friendlier retailer. Thanks for giving me a bunch of good reasons not to visit Dillard's.
Charles Tatum II
Dillard's defender: You have taken a topic and blown it up, giving only one side of the story. It was a sleazy article. There is no doubt that several people have gone into these stores and caused problems just so they can file a lawsuit.
I worked for Dillard's for more than six years and never once saw an instance of racism. You are promoting people going into these stores and causing more problems.
I had to deal with people who steal every day. I can't stand it when people steal and cry racism when they get into trouble. The company is full of wonderful, very hardworking employees, and you have put a label on all of them. Negative actions of employees should be dealt with on an individual level -- without labeling an entire company as a bunch of racists. Shame on you.
Exit right: I am a regular white guy, average height, pear-shaped, not intimidating at all. About four years ago, I went into Dillard's (I had an active, up-to-date credit account with Dillard's, and Joske's before it) and had a disagreement with a clerk concerning a return.
When I asked to see a manager to express my displeasure, I got a uniformed, armed Pasadena police officer. He did not ask what the problem was; he only invited me to exit at the closest possible location. That was, I assume, the preferred method of dealing with paying customers. I have not purchased a single item from Dillard's since that day. I don't plan on goin' back, either.
The point is that while Dillard's may have a penchant for distrust of minority shoppers, it has the same customer service attitude toward anyone who disagrees with its sales force.
Thanks for the great piece.
Paris, Texas: Yes, we've achieved status previously held by only such venues of civility, energy and creativity as London and Paris ["Training Day," Hair Balls, January 8].
So, is Memorial Park now our Bois de Boulogne, rife with transvestite hookers? What exactly defines world class?
Millionaires' making: The piece about the inaugural run of the light rail system was hilarious. I don't see how this system is helping anybody. It runs from one millionaire's baseball stadium to another millionaire's football stadium. I've seen longer rides at Disneyland.
Aren't mass transit systems supposed to be for people who live in outlying areas, or people who can't afford cars? This rail line serves neither.
Leave politics out: Your reviewer of The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, Gregory Weinkauf ["Bow Down," December 18], had me in his pocket until he tried to inject his form of political commentary. Maybe Weinkauf (and others) can see the humor in his comment, but I find the idea of telling George W. Bush to follow the lead of Denethor (John Noble) and "follow his example to its conclusion" quite appalling.
There are many political leaders, athletes, musicians and other celebrities I am not fond of, but to advocate their suicide is an idea that needs to be rethought.
Mr. Weinkauf owes the readers an apology.
Dawson's demise: I got a kick out of the "Rock Death in 2003" compilation [Racket, by John Nova Lomax, January 1]; it reminded me of the comment from an industry type on hearing of Elvis's death: "A good career move." I especially grinned at Ty Longley's respectable score of 13, with only three total for previous and future contributions.
I suspect, however, that Ronnie Dawson is rolling (rocking?) in his grave at the designation "rockabilly legend." I believe the Press quoted him not too long ago as saying his music was not rockabilly but rock. Nice touch with the six and five points for past and future contributions, though.
I have fond recollections of seeing him at The Levee in Dallas decades ago; great show.
Sound and the Fury
Jacket fan: I have been an avid reader of the Houston Press for many years now, always checking for what I thought were informative insights on the local and national music scenes. However, the so-called review of My Morning Jacket's It Still Moves proved me wrong [Rotation, by Rob Patterson, January 1].
Do you just hate Kentucky? Bears? Things that move? You spent no time looking at it from a musical perspective. I understand if you don't like a particular sound, that's fair enough. You simply bashed the band, in a sense, tearing it into shreds of 'N Sync. I've had it with the Press.
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Ever appreciative: I'd like to thank the writer and all the people who came out to Afro-punk [Minibill, by Lance Walker, December 11]. It was an emotional night for all who saw the film, and we were sure to make room so that everybody could at least try to see it. The film director and I thank all who came. Money raised will go to critical resistants in New York who are fighting the arrests of eight members after the police busted into their benefit show.
It was good to see the diverse crowd, a lot of old faces and people of color who have been involved in the scene for so long but have since moved on to other phases of their lives. It was great to see people talking to each other afterward, discussing race in the alternative music scene, which is not really discussed elsewhere.