When a native spends a great amount of hard-earned money in a non-Native business, he should expect to be treated with the respect and the customer service entitled to anyone who brings livelihood to a business. That is what Kevin Gunner of Waswanipi thought when he walked in Gagnon & Frères in Chibougamau to buy a $2,500 computer.

After having troubles with the monitor at home, however, he was told to bring it back the following day. But once there, he was told to bring the tower in to get checked too. He asked if a technician could come to his house instead to fix the problem, since it’s a long drive back and forth.

He phoned the owner, André Sasseville, who was, according to Gunner, quite upset to be disturbed during his supper. Gunner says Sasseville told him that they don’t go to Waswanipi for service. Gunner explained that he thought he was getting service as well when he bought the computer. But Gunner says Sasseville replied to bring back the computer and that he would give him his money back and – in a very rude way – not to set foot in his store again.

So the system was brought back the next day. They fixed the problem and gave Gunner choice to still keep the machine or take the refund. He took the cash and while leaving, warned Sasseville that this story would be told to other natives. Gunner says Sasseville told him not to come back.

When the Nation asked him about the incident, Sasseville said that he was always polite with Gunner.

“I even offered to pay for his gas to bring back the tower,” said Sasseville. “It is not in my interest to be rude to clients, they are my livelihood. And I don’t care if they’re white, Native or Chinese, I’m here to offer the best service. When he chose the reimbursement and left, I told him to come back, that his business was important to me and I would give him a deal. He left happy.”

To this day Sasseville says he does not understand quite what happened.

“I feel sorry for the guy,” Gunner says of Sasseville. “He denies everything. If I see him around, I’ll be polite; I’ll talk to him. But he has to know not to treat native people this way.”

A good piece of advice to all consumers out there is to read the fine print when purchasing equipment and to ask all the questions before signing on the dotted line. Get all promises in writing and added to the sales contract. Surprises and aggravations are often avoided that way.