Someone stole my iPod, and I hate Securitas


After only a month, my new 40GB iPod is gone. I was performing at the upscale Charles Hotel and took it off my belt when I went to the bathroom. I realized 20 minutes later that I never picked it back up, rushed to the bathroom, and it was gone.

There was a massive bat mitzvah going on at the time, and the helpful employees at the Charles sent word to the DJ to make an announcement, but no one's turned anything in. So sad. Now some dishonest, snot-nosed, pre-marital sex-having, ecstasy dropping, well-to-do teenager probably had the best night of his life.

I really do need to thank the Charles Hotel for trying very hard to help me out. Unfortunately, I can't say the same for the private security guard hired by the bat mitzvah folks. Here's a letter I sent to Rick Avery, New England regional president for Securitas:


Dear Mr. Avery,

Last night (Saturday Sept 4), I had the misfortune of dealing with one of your employees. I do not know his name because he wouldn't tell me. He was working for a bat mitzvah at The Charles Hotel in Harvard Square, and his behavior offended me and several other guests.

Here is how the interaction happened:

7:50pm
I was a performer at the Regattabar at The Charles, on the third floor and needed to use the bathroom. The actual restroom IN the Regattabar was closed, so I went to the other bathroom on the third floor near the ballroom holding the bat mitzvah.

I left my iPod (a very expensive electronic music player and recorder) in the bathroom by accident and didn't realize until 20 minutes or so later. At that point, I headed back to the bathroom but was stopped by a Securitas employee.

8:20pm (approx)
"Stop, you can't go in here," he said
"I'm just going to the bathroom," I said.
"You can't use this bathroom."
"But I was just there."
"When? When were you here? This is a private party," he said, clearly not believing me, and adding to my frustration.
"20 or 30 minutes ago! Look, I left my iPod in there and just need to check."
"I can't let you in."
"Dude, it's a $400 device. Please. It will just take a few seconds."

He very reluctantly let me pass.

I really was not in the mood to explain why or how to this guard. I didn't even realize the bathroom was off-limits, since there was NO guard posted when I used the bathroom the first time.

After checking with the hotel's front desk, concierge and housekeeping, a friend suggested I ask if the DJ at the party could make an announcement saying someone left their iPod in the men's room and to please turn it in.

(Approx 10pm)
I headed back over to the bat mitzvah area and dealt with your employee again. At a minimum, I wanted to know when the party was over so I could know when to check the front desk.

"Sir, what time is this party ending?" I asked.
"Why do you need to know about the party?" he said, in a very nasty way.

Yes, this was his response. I could have been asking because I had my own event there later or any number of reasons. This was not a state secret. The front desk was able to tell me, but your employee was stone-walling, refusing to give me a small piece of information.

"Because I want to find my iPod! I was hoping to get a note to the DJ so he could make a quick announcement."
"I'm not letting you talk to the DJ, and now you're harassing the guests. Please leave."

Note, there was no one outside of the ballroom but me and your employee. I guess he confused himself with "the guests" and harassing with "asking a question."

I then decided to get professional. He was clearly shutting me down and for no good reason. For all he knows, I could have been a high-class guest of the hotel, but I doubt that possibility even crossed his mind. I went into customer-service mode:

"Do you work for the Charles Hotel?" I asked, noticing the "Securitas" logo on his blazer.
"I'm not telling you anything."
"Really? Sir, what's your name?"
"Why do you need my name? I want you to get out of here. You're harassing the guests," he said, approaching me in order to "escort" me I suppose.

"I want your name so I can file a formal complaint against you for your behavior."

No response. At this time, a small crowd of people leaving the Regattabar performance was near enough to hear the exchange and was appalled at the guard's attitude. One of them asked me, "Why is he being like that?" I explained, and even they were incredulous.

In the end, I think the DJ did make an announcement, but it was not because of your guy, who clearly had the power to help. I ended up talking to the waitstaff at the Regattabar to see if they could contact the waitstaff at the bat mitzvah to get a DJ announcement, but I'm not really sure if that happened.

What I do know is that I called the hotel a few minutes ago, and no one has turned in my iPod. Obviously, it's my fault for leaving it in the bathroom, and the fact that there were hordes of teenagers around was just bad luck on my part, but that your employee just made a bad evening worse. At a time when I was terribly stressed but still behaving in a cordial, professional manner -- when I needed someone to help me and definitely not frustrate my efforts, Securitas only added to my problems.

1. I think if I had been a few years older and white, he wouldn't have treated me with such disrespect. He could have still done his job without being so absolutely rude.

2. The fact that I was even able to use that bathroom in the first place (there was no sign posted restricting access, nor was there a guard) means he wasn't doing his job.

3. The fact that he would not tell me who he worked for or his name and accused me of "harassing the guests" when there was no one around means he probably needs some more training on dealing with people, or it means Securitas needs to improve its screening process.

I recognize that you all are in a tough business, but I don't think anything excuses the way your employee treated me last night, especially considering that I was quite respectful toward him though he did not deserve it.

I hope you will take this complaint seriously, even though I was not your customer. Thanks to the behavior of your employee, I never will be.

Sincerely,

Baratunde R. Thurston
President, Kingly Companion Media LLC

P.S. Just so you know, I have posted a version of this on my website at www.goodcrimethink.com



If any of you ever needs to hire private security, please don't do business with Securitas, and if you ever throw a bat mitzvah, don't invite teenagers.