EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Sofia Pontarelli has gotten her nails done at Cranston’s Diva Nail Salon for more than five years.
After getting her routine dip powder manicure on Dec. 5, Pontarelli asked to have her discount card stamped—and was refused. The college student, who lost an arm when she was a baby, was later told she couldn’t have the card stamped because she only pays for one hand.
Michael Corcelli Jr., a spokesperson for the salon, said the stamp card usually entitles patrons to $20 off the $30 manicure cost. Because Pontarelli only pays $15 for one hand, they wouldn’t have been able to discount $20. Corcelli attributes the incident to a language barrier.
“When you speak to someone with a different language, there’s a loss of translation,” Corcelli said.
Pontarelli said she gets her nails done at the salon every two weeks and has had cards stamped before.
“It was kind of upsetting. You’ve known me, you’ve been so nice to me, I always give you business, and then you do that,” Pontarelli said. “But why? Why are you doing that?”
Pontarelli added that the employee didn’t seem to struggle understanding her.
“I just want to show people there is obviously discrimination everywhere you go,” she said. “And especially people like me.”
Corcelli said the language on the coupon would be adjusted accordingly and that a staff meeting was held to discuss the incident.
“It was truly just a misunderstanding and we want to make amends from it,” he said.
“It wasn’t anything about discrimination,” Corcelli continued. “That’s the last thing we would do.”
Corcelli acknowledged the employees should have knocked $10 off from Pontarelli’s manicure.
“There are certain circumstances you just have to bend a little more for the customer and make them happy,” Corcelli added. “Hopefully, we’ll be able to do that.”
While Pontarelli said she doesn’t plan to return to the establishment, she doesn’t harbor any ill will toward them.
“I don’t want to shut anybody down,” Pontarelli said.