Feeling The Pressure: Napa Valley Wine Train Apologizes, Book Club Leader Does Not Accept

August 25, 2015  |  

It always amazes me how companies and organizations fail to realize the strength and power of Black people. We are some of the number one users and “culture pushers” of social media. We tweet, post and share our disappointment, humiliation and outrage in being mistreated. Still, some companies, in an attempt to appease their White consumers or perpetuate their own racist policies, abuse us anyway, only to issue a ridiculous apology after they’ve been blown up all over social media.

Yesterday, the news of the Napa Valley Wine Train throwing 11 Black women off of the train, where they were met with police officers, went viral.

Most people, Black and White, read the story and knew it was discriminatory, racist even. And they, along with others who were on the train that day, said so.

Today, the CEO of the Napa Valley Wine Train, Anthony Giaccio, issued this statement saying his management team handled the matter poorly.

“The Napa Valley Wine Train was 100 percent wrong in its handling of this issue. We accept full responsibility for our failures and for the chain of events that led to this regrettable treatment of our guests.”

Giaccio told Business Wire that he reached out the Lisa Johnson the leader of the Sistahs on the Reading Edge Book Club to apologize for their treatment. He pledged to learn from the incident and offer diversity training for his employees.

In a letter to the entire club, he apologized repeatedly for his staff’s mistreatment of them this past Sunday as well was the way his staff handled the incident afterward.

“I want to apologize for your experience on the Napa Valley Wine Train on Saturday, Aug. 22. We accept full responsibility for our failures and the entire chain of unfortunate events you experienced.

Clearly, we knew in advance when we booked your party that you would be loud, fun-loving and boisterous—because you told us during the booking process that you wanted a place where your Club could enjoy each other’s company. Somehow that vital information never made it to the appropriate channels and we failed to seat your group where you could enjoy yourself properly and alert our train’s staff that they should expect a particularly vibrant group.

“We were insensitive when we asked you to depart our train by marching you down the aisle past all the other passengers. While that was the safest route for disembarking, it showed a lack of sensitivity on our part that I did not fully conceive of until you explained the humiliation of the experience and how it impacted you and your fellow Book Club members.

“We also erred by placing an inaccurate post on our Facebook site that was not reflective of what actually occurred. In the haste to respond to criticism and news inquires, we made a bad situation worse by rushing to answer questions on social media. We quickly removed the inaccurate post, but the harm was done by our erroneous post.

“In summary, we were acutely insensitive to you and the members of the Book Club. Please accept my apologies for our many mistakes and failures. We pride ourselves on our hospitality and our desire to please our guests on the Napa Valley Wine Train. In this instance, we failed in every measure of the meaning of good service, respect and hospitality.

“I appreciate your recommendation that our staff, which I believe to be among the best, could use additional cultural diversity and sensitivity training. I pledge to make sure that occurs and I plan to participate myself.

“As I offered in my conversation with you today, please accept my personal apologies for your experience and the experience of the Book Club members. I would like to invite you and other members to return plus 39 other guests (you can fill an entire car of 50) as my personal guests in a reserved car where you can enjoy yourselves as loudly as you desire.

“I want to conclude again by offering my apologies for your terrible experience.”

Despite this apology, Lisa Johnson told MSNBC‘s Thomas Roberts that she will not patronize the Napa Valley Wine Train again.

“No, we don’t accept the apology… In the course of my conversation with Anthony, he was apologizing. And during the course of that apology he said to me, ‘You know it’s really troubling for us that we’re being painted in the media to be something that we are not. And I had to take that in a moment because I said, ‘That’s exactly what you did to us.’ was paint a picture of us in the media of something that we are not…I will never forget my first and last experience on the Napa Wine Train.”

You can watch Lisa’s full interview in the video below.

Good for her, his comments clearly illustrate the fact that he doesn’t get or understand the bigger issue here.

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