March 11th, 2010

Bruce, Caroline

Third-Class Treatment for Non-Americans

The American Printing House for the blind is an amazing organization.
Over the past hundred and fifty years, their excellence has been
unparallelled in many respects. They have put out voluminous amounts of
books for the blind, and they have designed and made many devices and
other pieces of equipment used by the blind.

However one area where they, along with many other American companies,
fall very short is in their treatment of international customers.
Currently, APH offers an online store. It is only available to
Americans. Their stated reason is the variance in shipping costs around
the world, this despite the fact that many nonprofit organizations and
companies deal with this just fine on a daily basis.
Being Canadian, my working hours are pretty similar to their own. This
gives me a few options. I can either phone my order in, this making my
credit card number available to anyone in my office within earshot, I
can fax it in, requiring both sighted assistance and permission to send
a long-distance fax, or I can mail my order in, adding days or weeks to
the order time and putting my credit card at risk of mail-tamperers. The
message I get from all this is that, because APH and
organizations/companies like it can't be bothered with international
shipping rates online, my security as a non-American is somehow less
important than the security of an American, who can easily, securely,
quickly and without sighted assistance, place an online order.

It's not only APH. There are many others, and I am very tired of the
third-class treatment non-Americans get from American businesses and

This does not apply, by and large, to the American people. Once the
average rank-and-file American is made aware of the inequality, he or
she generally agrees. My American friends are wonderful people, and I do
not want to transfer my anger toward these companies who will not offer
equality onto the American people. But this message needs to get out
there: If America believes that all are created equal, then it should
treat all equally.