Woman with Down syndrome sold $1,700 worth of cosmetics

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http://www.ottawasun.com/2013/09/24/woman-with-down-syndrome-sold-1700-worth-of-cosmetics ] MARLENE BERGSMA, QMI AGENCY [/url]

ST. CATHARINES, Ont. -- A city woman with Down syndrome who was sold $1,700 worth of face cream by a Pen Centre merchant is glad her experience is raising awareness.

Jovita deJong said at first she "felt bad" when she realized products she thought cost $5.65 and $11.35 actually went for $565 and $1,135.

"I was upset when I found out," she said.
But the social media storm created after her purchase is helping to call attention to the importance of independent living, she said.

DeJong, 27, was at The Pen Centre last week with her community support worker to practice independent living skills.

While support worker Suzi Gordon stopped to talk to an acquaintance, deJong went to the Forever Flawless kiosk and looked at face creams. DeJong receives a monthly pension and has a part-time job at Tim Hortons, so shopping for personal items and paying with her debit card is an important part of achieving independence, Gordon said.

But when deJong made two separate purchases at the kiosk, Gordon checked the receipts and was shocked and angered.

"I thought she was being taken advantage of, that they didn't clearly explain the cost in a way she could understand," Gordon said.

DeJong said she was told the price of her first purchase was "five-sixty-five" and her second purchase was "eleven-thirty-five."

Gordon said she demanded a refund and it wasn't until she raised her voice and a small crowd of shoppers gathered that she succeeded in getting deJong's money back.

Still annoyed about the transaction, Gordon went home and posted an account on Facebook. It went viral.
Hundreds of people shared the post and The Pen Centre quickly issued an apology.

The clerk who sold the OroGold products to deJong has lost her job, said Shani Ben, who was working at the kiosk this week.

Both Asias and Ben said the clerk who made the sale feels bad about what happened and wants to apologize.
They said refusing to make a sale to a person who is developmentally delayed can also elicit accusations of discrimination, and Ben said deJong assured them she had her own money and wanted to buy the lotions.

The Pen Centre has offered a gift card to Jovita to encourage her to continue shopping, and Forever Flawless has offered to make a $2,000 donation to the charity of Jovita's choice.

Jovita chose Momentum, a Niagara choir for developmentally delayed adults of which she is a member, "because they are like family to me."

I used to get groceries and do some banking at this mall when I lived in St. Catharines. You'll find the odd person there willing to rip off anyone there. They're easy to detect if you don't have downs.

The worst are the Shinerama people. I've never felt so pressured and threatened in my life than by the people who "volunteer "for this and literally accost you for money. You could give them $1,000 and they'll still be banging on your car windows and grabbing you for your attention/wallet. I'd be willing to donate to the cause for helping those with cystic fibrosis if they agree to put down these guilt-tripping money zombies they've created.