Service Dog Denied Entry to Local Brewery & Helpful Resources from FL Dept. of Consumer Services
Since we've put every news anchor's kids through college with how much we've watched their programs thanks to the coronavirus pandemic and our national emergency, The Steve Warneke Show is pleased to offer you a moment of reprieve with these helpful consumer tips and local stories.
🚨 First, an important CONSUMER ALERT! 🚨
Earlier last week we received a call about Lysol / Clorox wipes that were being sold for $15.00 a pop! THAT'S OUTRAGEOUS. So buyer beware: Florida has activated its price gouging hotline! If you find it, report price gouging to the Attorney General's Office online at www.myfloridalegal.com or by calling toll-free at 1-866-9-NO-SCAM.
Moving Company Nightmare
Last week we had Nanci, a nurse who moved from Arizona to West Palm Beach FOUR MONTHS AGO, who still doesn't have her things from the moving company she hired, Executive Moving and Storage Las Vegas! When Captain Kelley investigated, she discovered the reason the moving company didn't deliver the day they arrived was because the driver said the semi-truck could not fit into Nanci's complex to complete delivery. Instead, they would have to use a shuttle to deliver Nanci's belongings and it would come at an additional price.
After a heated exchange, Exec Moving and Storage, left and stored Nanci's things, as per their policy. Nanci tried to follow up to find out where her stuff was being held, but four months later, she still had no idea. Captain Kelley found out that her total owed was $4,200 at almost $1,800 for moving expenses and $2,400 for four months of storage. Tiffany, the manager Kelley spoke with at the company, said the best she could offer Nanci at this point, was to pay $4,000 for them to deliver her things, $3,000 if Nanci wanted to pick up her stuff herself, or Nanci would lose her stuff to auction. Nanci, unwilling to pay for storage fees since she didn't ask for that, has thus far decided to let her stuff go.
Steve's advice to Nanci was to consider the following: Is this battle worth fighting? Is this her "hill to die on" as the old saying goes? How badly does she want/need her things back? Is it worth it to roll the dice that they sell off your things and that's the end of it? Only Nanci can answer those questions for herself. Steve's advice was to pay the $3,000 and go get her things and be done with the whole ordeal. He advises this because even after the auction, if the proceeds don't cover what is due to the company per any signed contract, Nanci could still be subject to litigation. Even if she does prevail in court, Nanci needs to decide if all that time, money, and effort are worth it, keeping in mind her things are still gone in this scenario.
We appreciate Nanci shedding light on her experience and how bad this company was at following up with its customers. We agree there was a lack of responsiveness in dealing with them. We also caution other consumers to really READ YOUR CONTRACT THOROUGHLY when hiring a moving company. There are often many terms and agreements in these types of contracts that prescribe additional costs for things like having the driver waiting for you to arrive, or having to store your belongings. Often times the storage fees are higher than you would find at your local storage facility.
Service Dog Denied Entry to Holy Mackerel
in Wilton Manors
Charles, who says he suffers from PTSD, and his wife Renee arrived at Holy Mackerel, a relatively new BBQ and brewery joint in Wilton Manors, for their wedding anniversary. Upon entering the establishment, it was reported to us that Manager Joe said the couple was not allowed inside with the service dog because as a brewery they didn't have to abide by ADA guidelines. They had to either eat outside or take their business elsewhere, which they did, posting a review on Google and NextDoor of their experience.
Captain Kelley investigated and discovered that there were not one, but two signs in front of the building of Holy Mackerel, stating they allow service dogs.
When Kelley called to speak to a manager about the story, Holy Mackerel said we had to talk to Will—who never called us back. But being familiar with the story and the review posted online, they did say they absolutely do accept service dogs at Holy Mackerel.
What was really interesting about this story is how controversial Charles and Renee's review was on NextDoor— Some neighbors apologized and supported Charles, but most tried to tear the story apart, saying it must not have been a real service dog, or that Charles and Renee must have not had the appropriate paperwork. Many asked intrusive, personal questions, like what exactly Charles' disability was and why he had it.
So, what are the REAL LAWS regarding service animals and businesses?
To get to the bottom of the online debate regarding the rules and laws surrounding service animals here in Florida, Steve sought the expertise of ADA lawyer, Arturo L. Arca, a partner at Trembly Law Firm. Steve and Arturo were able to provide Charles and his wife as well as their online following Nextdoor and our listeners with some much-needed clarity:
1. What's the distinction between service animals and emotional support animals?
Service Animal is a dog that has been trained to do work or perform a task for people with disabilities. They are working animals; not pets. The work or task the dog performs must be directly related to the person’s disability. (Also, includes miniature horses!)
Under the ADA, dogs whose sole function is to provide comfort or emotional support do not qualify as service animals.
2. With regard to service animals, can they be denied entry into any or certain businesses? And if so, what are the rules around that?
Under the ADA, state and local governments, businesses and not profit organizations that serve the public generally must allow service animals to accompany people with disabilities in all areas of the facility where the public is allowed to go.
However, the dog must be under the control of the handler and must be harnessed, leashed or tethered, unless the individual’s disability prevents using these devices or these devices interfere with the service animal’s safe, effective performance of tasks. In that case, the individual must maintain control of the animal through voice, signal, or other effective controls.
The person and service animal cannot be asked to leave unless the dog is out of control and the handler is unable to control it, the dog is not potty trained, is aggressive, or otherwise posing a threat to human health and safety.
If the dog must be removed for a legitimate reason, the establishment must permit the handler to obtain the services or goods they need without the animal's presence.
The only questions that may be asked regarding the service animal are: Is the dog a service animal required because of a disability; and what work or task has the dog been trained to perform.
Nobody is allowed to ask what the handler's disability is, or ask for any type of identification or certification documents for the dog or medical documentation from the handler. Currently, it's an HONOR SYSTEM.
Allergies and fear of dogs are not valid reasons to deny access or refuse service and the disable person cannot be isolated or otherwise treated differently than other patrons.
3. Since this falls under ADA, are there differences between states or is this a national policy?
The FHA, Air Carrier Access Act, state and local laws may have a broader definition of the definition of service animal or assistance animal.
4. What is someone's recourse if they've been denied entry?
File a Complaint with the State Attorney’s Office or the Department of Justice at ada.gov.
File a civil declaratory action.
5. What should someone do at the moment they're being denied entry to an establishment if they have a legitimate service animal?
Document as much of the incident as possible (obtain names and contact information).
Contact the policy to obtain an incident report.
Contact a lawyer to send a demand to preserve all surveillance footage.
Florida Dept. of Agriculture & Consumer Services
When Your Detective of the Air, Steve, discovered the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services website, he knew he hit a TREASURE TROVE of resources available to our listeners. So we brought in Mary Barzee Flores, the Deputy Commissioner of Consumer Services to talk about how citizens can file an official complaint against a business for the department to investigate.
"We're getting Florida consumers close to $3 million dollars of your hard-earned money back every year."
Not only that, but there are many more resource options available to you such as the latest local information of the coronavirus, charities you can donate to, how to buy fresh produce, state animal laws, concealed carry licenses, even a place where you can read an outline of consumer rights and responsibilities here in the state of Florida.
It's all right here at: https://www.fdacs.gov/Consumer-Resources or call 1-800-HELPFLA.
FOR A LIST OF THEIR BEST CONSUMER RESOURCES CLICK HERE!
IF YOU HAVE A QUESTION YOU WANT ANSWERED, A PROBLEM YOU WANT US TO INVESTIGATE, OR A COMPLAINT TO SHARE WITH YOUR NEIGHBORS, TELL US HERE AND WE'RE ON THE CASE!
IF YOU ARE A TRUSTED BUSINESS, APPLY HERE TO BE ON STEVE'S TEAM OF EXPERTS!
Until next time...