18.1.06

Westfield Shopping centre in Melbourne

Brothers Tony and Ross Costa will be given a personal apology from Westfield after Ross was forced to crawl through the Fountain Gate carpark. THE DAMAGE IS ALREADY DONE WESTFIELD WAKE UP IT'S TOO LATE; My thoughts on this are far too rude to put into print suffice to say that if there was a Westfield's shopping centre on the Sunshine coast I would avoid the place like the plague. I have been to one in Sydney quite a few years ago and was not that thunderstruck over the place, Give me the good old Maroochydore shopping Plazza any old day; I can honestly say I have never seen that sort of behaviour happening here YET. And all these two wheelchair-bound men in Melbourne will be given is a personal apology from Westfield after one of the men was forced to crawl through one of its car parks; what a sorry state of affairs from a multimillion dollar company. Ross and Tony Costa, who suffer from muscular dystrophy, were heading for their car in the Fountain Gate Shopping Centre when they were told the centre's wheelchairs could not go beyond the centre's doors. Tony was carried by his sister, while Ross was forced to crawl to the car. Ross says he was humiliated. "I took two steps, and then I fell over and then I crawled to the car," he said. "There were people everywhere." Equal Opportunity Commissioner Dr Helen Szoke says she is appalled the security of the wheelchair was regarded more highly than the men's dignity. "There's an ongoing need to make sure that there's information out there about what the responsibilities are of people who provide services, whether it's a big shopping centre, whether it's a restaurant, whether it's a local government entity," she said. Westfield will offer a personal apology to the men and their family for the embarrassment. To me Dr Szoke it's not so much information as good old fashioned sense which sadly in this day and age is ignored at times; and how about compensation for these two unfortunate customers sorry ex customers, and a public apology is also needed from this holier than thou company. This would never ever happen in a local small store and I do know from experience with voluntary work at a shopping centre near me that this never ever happened and when I was on shift there was a wheelchair provided as I recall going to the carpark and picking it up from the user. Westfield says it will review its equipment guidelines, which it says have been overzealously interpreted. But Ross says he will never again visit the shopping centre. "The damage is done already - if they apologise or not, it doesn't worry me because what ever happened, it happened, and it's too late," he said. Ross has certainly got that right for sure.

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