Tim Hortons has apologized for blocking a gay and lesbian news website from its free in-store Wi-Fi networks.
The popular Canadian coffee chain was facing an online backlash Friday after it was revealed that it restricted customers from accessing Dailyxtra.com, the online home for the free newspaper Xtra that's distributed in Ottawa, Toronto and Vancouver.
When the publication asked that the site be unblocked, assuming it might have been blacklisted in error, it received an email stating the site was "not appropriate for all ages viewing in a public environment."
"We try to ensure that all of our guests can enjoy a safe and pleasant experience when visiting us. We look at all of these types of requests in detail in order to provide the most latitude we can while keeping our restaurants a friendly environment," reads an email from the address timhortonswifi(at)timhortons.com, which Daily Xtra forwarded to The Canadian Press.
"While there is no way to change this decision, we can assure you that it was not an easy decision to make."
On Friday afternoon a few hours after Twitter users began promising to boycott Tim Hortons, spokeswoman Michelle Robichaud apologized on behalf of the company and blamed a third-party service provider for the error and the resulting miscommunication.
Dailyxtra.com "shouldn't have been blocked. In fact, we're working on unblocking it. It may already be unblocked. It should've never been blocked in the first place," Robichaud said in an interview.
"We certainly appreciate when people bring this kind of stuff to our attention and the statement made by our Wi-Fi vendor was made in error."
Daily Xtra publisher and editor-in-chief Brandon Matheson accepted the apology and said Tim Hortons made the right decision.
"I think they've resolved the situation in a proper way. We had customers at Tim Hortons complaining to us — their customers complaining to us — that they could not access our site," he said.
"I know the issues around third-party filtering are problematic at times, so if that is what was responsible, and after Tim Hortons actually learned of the situation they stepped in and corrected the matter, then certainly they took the appropriate steps."
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