Earlier this year, two cousins, David and Damon Harvey, wanted to make a splash at a baby shower for another family member. They went to the Buy Buy Baby store in Long Island, N.Y., and picked out a car seat, a stroller and a crib. Their total was $1,173 for the three big-ticket items. They gave the clerk the cash for their purchase and then were told by a supervisor that their cash was no good, NBC News 4 reports.
"It was so humiliating," Damon Harvey, 35, told the news channel.
The cousins, who don't own credit cards, say a Buy Buy Baby supervisor told them that their money was "not real" and "didn't meet certain requirements," according to the news station. She then informed the men that they needed to use a different form of payment or leave "before the cops get here."
They cousins said that they wanted the cops to arrive because they believed that they were being discriminated against because of their race. So they waited. Once the cops showed up, they inspected the cash said it looked fine. The supervisor still refused to accept the money.
In a statement released to the news station, a Buy Buy Baby spokesperson said the store has a "zero tolerance for any form of discrimination," and added that the case is "still very much under review."
Despite their anger at the large baby retailer, the Harveys, who were expected at the shower for their cousin’s baby later that day, deposited the cash into a bank and sent another cousin back to the store to make the purchase with a debit card. They said that they had spent time carefully selecting the items they wanted and didn’t want to start over at a different store, NBC News 4 reports.
Jessica Joyce, a spokesperson for Buy Buy Baby, told the news channel that what happened was not about race; the store was being cautious because there had been counterfeit currency showing up in several area stores. She said an internal memo had been distributed to area stores warning of a counterfeit ring.
"Our associates were following specific company policies which were implemented to detect and deter sophisticated counterfeit currency techniques that pass highlighter tests," said Joyce.
She added, "We are fully confident that our record will remain unblemished once all the facts come to light and the state’s inquiry is complete," the news channel reports.
The cousins have been in contact with the state authority's offices and have yet to decide to if they want to hire a private lawyer. The cousins say they are weighing their options, which could include a civil suit.
"I just don't want anyone to experience what we did that day—it's a terrible, terrible feeling," said Damon Harvey.
Read more at NBC News 4.