Karen Mead and Tarran Hearfield were stunned to receive an envelope containing an invoice from Currimundi business Network Pool and Spa Services, that were addressed to “K + T Dykes”. The couple from Minyama, who have been in a long-term relationship for four years and have entered into a civil union, said that they were initially “highly offended” by the use of the derogatory term.
“When we saw that invoice, we were at first shocked, then highly offended which turned to anger at the fact we were labelled in a highly immoral way.” Hearfield told the Star Observer.
The couple immediately contacted Network and were less than impressed with the lacklustre response they initially received.
“[Karen] said to the lady ‘That’s not our surname but we are a lesbian couple so it seems quite a coincidence that that has been written!’ The woman’s reply was words to the effect ‘Well I was only writing what was on your file’.”
The couple were told that the matter would be looked into. Shortly afterwards they received a visit from the same employee who had serviced their pool previously who, when asked about the issue, blamed an office error.
“He said that he didn’t know how the slur ended up on the invoice because ‘he didn’t have a problem with our sexuality and that he was deeply sorry on behalf of his company’,” said Hearfield.
Unsatisfied with the response, the couple demanded a written apology from the head of the company. Network’s part owner visited the couple a few days later with a letter of apology and expressed how distraught he was for the apparent clerical error.
“He expressed he was ‘ashamed’ and ‘could not apologise to us enough for what had happened’,” said Hearfield. “He said that the other man had originally not known our surnames and instead of writing ‘Tenants’, he wrote on his notes: ‘Dykes’. The girl in the office has copied it down, not knowing this was a description of us not our surname!”
The couple doesn’t believe the tradesman was being intentionally hateful or homophobic; rather he was just foolish and didn’t really understand what he had written. Despite their disappointment at their treatment, the couple say they are willing to look past the issue.
“One person’s mistake isn’t always reflective of the rest of the business,” said Hearfield. “Ultimately these guys are willing to accept the consequences. I think they will all learn from this, and I guess we hope that so will everyone else who reads this.”
Through their lawyers, Network Pool and Spa Services said that it had apologised to the couple and the matter was resolved. They did not want to comment any further.