- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 27, 2017

A sporting goods retail chain has apologized after a video of a disabled Iowa man crawling out of a store on his knees because he was denied an electric cart in the parking lot exploded on social media.

Shane Zahn, who is missing his right foot, told local CBS affiliate KIMT that his son dropped him off in front of the Mills Fleet Farm in Mason City on Monday and an employee brought him an electric wheelchair to use while in the store.

Mr. Zahn, a Garner resident, said he normally has a manual wheelchair with him unless he knows he’s going to a store that provides an electric one.

But upon leaving the store, he said an employee demanded he return the wheelchair before proceeding to the parking lot.

“After I got out of the store, right in front of the door I was told I was not allowed to take the wheelchair out to the parking lot, and I said ‘huh?’ ” Mr. Zahn told KIMT. “I said, ‘I’ve done this before.’ She said, ‘the wheel chair is to not be out, it needs to come back in.’ I said, ‘what am I supposed to do, crawl out of the store?’ “

But that’s exactly what Mr. Zahn did, according to a video he posted on Facebook that’s been viewed more than 9.5 million times.

“I was like ‘whoa’ and it was like, ‘do I make a scene or do I just leave?’ And it’s just best to leave, and I had my son video record it so that way I had proof of what happened,” he said.

In his Facebook post, shared more than 115,000 times, Mr. Zahn wrote that he returned all his paid-for items once he realized he was going to have to crawl out of the store.

“Just trying to make people aware of how Fleet Farm treats handicapped customers,” he wrote.

Mills Fleet Farm has apologized for the incident, saying the employee who took away the cart made “the wrong decision.”

CEO Wayne Sales told KIMT that while the company does have policies regarding the electric carts being used in parking lots, there is no policy that outright denies people access to the carts “as it appears in this situation.”

A statement from Mr. Sales was also posted on the company’s Facebook page Tuesday.

“While use of carts in the parking lot with the uneven terrain can pose a hazard, we feel that in this instance our team member made the wrong decision,” he said. “We apologize to the customer and to everyone who may be affected.

“Mills Fleet Farm has been a part of lives of Midwesterners for more than 61 years. Here, we did not live up to the values or the service our customers have come to expect from us,” he continued. “We should have gone the extra mile and helped the customer use the cart to return to his vehicle after shopping. Our goal is to speak with the customer and make things right for him. What occurred is in no way reflective of our values, and we will use the incident to learn and to improve our services.”

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