FedEx Kinkos computers block gay sites

Julie Phineas of Lezgetreal recently came face-to-face with homophobia at the FedEx Kinkos (now renamed FedEx Office) on Hawthorne Blvd. in Torrance.

As she tried to access The Gay Ad Network site, a gay and lesbian advertising network, on the store’s self-serve computers, the computer prompted her for a password because it was considered an “adult” site.

Phineas met resistance when she asked an employee for assistance.

The clerk at the counter made degrading statements about what I was trying to view once I told her I was trying to print out a document from The Gay Ad Network.

She told me that I “would not be able to look at that stuff here”… She issued me a refund for the time I was connected to their self service computer, and while she did she felt it necessary to mention that “other customers would be offended” if I were allowed to view “site’s like that”.

I asked her who I could contact to change the filters. There was a sign on the wall with contact information and I asked her if I should contact the store directly or the number on the wall. She told me “Oh, they don’t have time for stuff like that” and waved off my question with her hand.

FedEx gets a middling 55 rating from the Human Rights Campaign, the pro-LGBT equality organization. In contrast, UPS scored a perfect 100, in part by providing domestic partner benefits to same-sex couples.

FedEx offers the benefits only “in certain subsidiaries” but is being credited with making progress on transgender issues with their employees. If Phineas’ experience is any indication, it appears more work needs to be done with retail outlet employees. Comments on her lezgetreal post purporting to be from FedEx employees laud the company’s efforts to make its work environment comfortable for gay employees.

The HRC Buyers Guide is a handy way to check out how major, household-name type businesses treat their LGBT employees. Companies that supply everything from cars, gas and pet food to electronics, household products and news are rated, with a breakdown of how each company scored.

9 Replies to “FedEx Kinkos computers block gay sites”

  1. Is it possible that the site does contain some small amount of “adult”-oriented ads or material, and thus Kinko’s blocks it as part of an overbroad method that also includes many non-gay sites? If that’s the case, then they may be wrong for painting with such a broad brush, but it may not be a case of singling out gays or any other group.

  2. I think if what Matt is saying is true then its not a problem. I wonder if they block craigslist too? That place is full of all sorts of crap once you stray from the yard sale stuff and venture to the personals. If it isn’t blocked then there is a problem for Kinko’s which btw isn’t the name risque enough to get banned on its own. Just askin’.

  3. I think Fed Ex Kinkos is bias against gay oriented sites. Plenty of sites, like LAist which often has some very racy ads, mainly owing to American Apparel, but they are heterosexual oriented racy ads. I remember once I went to LAist and they had heterosexual porn above the fold.

    In general it seems that the American public is very tolerant of sex and exploitation as long as heterosexual. And I know I can go to most blogs on Fed Ex computers AskMen, which gives all kinds of sex advice and half dressed women, I bet you can go to that, I bet you can even go to TMZ, unless the site is all porn based I don’t see what the issue is, well actually I do.

    Browne

  4. Matt, no. On their site, Gay Ad Network says they are “a privately held company that provides advertising and marketing services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender publishers and companies targeting the LGBT market.”

    They don’t run ads themselves. Something tells me it’s the use of the words lesbian, gay, etc. that are being filtered as objectionable. (I realize there are people who feel that way– and they can kiss my sweet gay ass.)

    Also from their site, it looks like we’ll be saving the economy soon too.:

    ”Marketers are discovering that LGBT consumers are resilient and focused online – one of the bright spots in a weak economy,” said Bob Witeck, CEO of Witeck-Combs Communications, a leading LGBT marketing company. “In research we conducted last year, we saw that gay men in particular are less likely than others to cut back on their discretionary spending. And while not more affluent than others, gay households often are healthy indicators of smart shopping and spending.”

  5. fraz, wrong, it’s a problem; part of which is the inexcusably ignorant behavior of the clerk. It’s just as egregious as the site blocking. My post was about both incidents– a case of adding insult to injury.

    On that front, Phineas said in her post update that when she called FedEx to complain, the customer service rep she got on the line apologized profusely for the clerk’s behavior.

  6. Not terribly suprising. For one, Torrance might as well be the O.C. And two, the IQ of FedEx/Kinkos staff has always been pretty low, perhaps balanced by their level of arrogance and resulting attitude.

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