My Undocumented Kohl's Experience

A few weeks ago, i went to the Kohl’s store near my house with my mother. She was going to buy me my birthday present. 

As we approached the cash register, the woman handling our purchase asked me if i wanted to receive a discount. obviously, i said yes. she then asked for my social security number. uncomfortably, i said i did not have one. she then asked if i was sure. there is a line behind me. i am angry and a bit embarrassed. i said yes i am sure and if there is a way to go about this differently.

She then says i do not qualify for said discount… and proceeds to ring up my items.

My mom and i left feeling horrible.

I tweeted about it.

Almost immediately everyone was tweeting at me, including media, asking for more information on this event. folks were ready to boycott and protest Kohl’s for their anti-immigrant agenda.

Spokesperson for Kohl’s said social security numbers are needed for credit charge Kohl’s cards. however, i was never offered a card, i was offered a discount. which is probably to meet a Kohl’s internal card quota. which doesn’t take into consideration the awkwardness and uncomfortable-ness this causes for undocumented folks like me. You cannot sell a charge card as ‘a discount’ when not everyone has a damn social.

So Kohl’s Executive Office emailed me wanting to talk about my experience at one of their stores.

They apologized for my experience and stated that they did not mean to discriminate in any way. The reason a social was asked for was to run a credit check to then process a Kohl’s card. That however, was not explained or mentioned to me. The executive office had a check in with the Kohl’s store where I shopped to make sure this doesn’t happen again and to better educate employees. The communications hand-outs have been updated so that more/accurate information is given out to customers and employees about this “discount”. They genuinely seemed apologetic about the whole thing (it was either that or their fear of immigrant rights folks organizing around a boycott).

I understand quotas need to be met and sold with inviting language, but making undocumented people feel discriminated against is not the proper way to go about it. While these changes may not guarantee that incidents like these won’t happen again, it’s important for us to speak out when they do. No one should ever be made to feel uncomfortable, or unwelcomed, in any space, for not having a social security number.