Deaf man 'hopeful' for change at Burger King after apology

Barry Kay with his kids, from left, Phoenix, Jayden and Natalia. Photo: Supplied
Barry Kay with his kids, from left, Phoenix, Jayden and Natalia. Photo: Supplied
Christchurch dad Barry Kay says he is happy with Burger King's attempts to make things right after a staffer yelled and swore at him as he tried to order at the drive-thru.

On Friday Kay, who is profoundly deaf and can't use the intercom, wrote his order in large letters to hand over to an operator at the Burger King Shirley outlet.

The operator instead told him to go inside but Kay gestured that he'd forgotten his mask. The staffer told him to move his car and yelled and swore at him when he refused to leave the drive-thru lane without his order being taken.

After sharing his ordeal, Burger King NZ contacted Kay via email.

"If you could convey my sincerest apologies to Barry for what happened and to share with him that long term we want to make this right for our entire restaurant network," it said.

In the email, Kay said, a customer care officer mentioned he would have jumped on a plane to visit him in person if it wasn't for Auckland's current Covid-19 borders.

Burger King Shirley. Photo: File image
Burger King Shirley. Photo: File image
Kay said he is hopeful Burger King NZ would make some positive changes since the incident.

"From what they've said it seems like they're trying to rectify things. They are working with Deaf Aotearoa. That's really good they're taking action."

His wife Elizabeth said it seemed as though they were taking the issue seriously.

When asked if he would be going back to Burger King, Kay said if his kids wanted it, he would be back.

"That'll be the test, when I go back and can see they have changed. If it happens again I don't think I could trust going there ever again."

A spokesperson for Burger King NZ said the team member has not handled the situation as they would have liked them to.

"We have followed up with the team at BK Shirley, and across our wider network, to ensure that should a member of the deaf community come through the drive-thru that we are able to handle their order safely at the drive-thru window rather than via an order being placed at the speaker box.

"We cannot discuss any individual conversations with our team members but we have followed up with all restaurant managers on a weekly conference call we have to reiterate our expected level of service."

The spokesperson said they have also reached out to Deaf Aotearoa to work through opportunities for safe order-taking under current Covid conditions.

- By Devon Bolger

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