But the people who really deserve your sympathy are the employees who work in the din, according to an anonymous excessive-noise complaint filed Dec. 15 with the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration against the upscale clothing retailer.
The complaint isn't unusual. Kevin Weeks, a spokesman for the OSHA office in Oregon, says 14 similar complaints have been filed nationally since 2002 against Abercrombie & Fitch and Hollister outlets (Hollister is a Abercrombie subsidiary that targets a younger market by offering similar clothing at lower prices).
State and federal regulations require an employer to implement a hearing protection program when employees are exposed to sound averaging 85 decibels or higher during an eight-hour shift. Store employees told WW they aren't allowed to talk to reporters, but Abercrombie & Fitch customer-service reps say corporate policy is to operate their sound systems in the 80-to-85-decibel range.
And they must be following the policy , since none of the 14 previous complaints has generated a penalty and no violations were found at the Clackamas Town Center Abercrombie. But a conversation with Paul Van Orden, noise-control officer for the City of Portland, leads to the conclusion that the store's sound policy is plenty Roguish.
Van Orden says examples of sounds in the 85-decibel range include an operating outboard motor or a speeding freight train at a distance of 50 feet. "If it's 85 inside the store, that is ridiculous," Van Orden says.
Neighboring businesses of the Clackamas Town Center Abercrombie complain of vibrating walls and being unable to hear their own phones ring. One of those neighbors is Diep Tran, a former employee of the same Abercrombie in Clackamas Town Center. She now runs a body-jewelry cart right outside its door.
"They play the same loud songs over and over," Tran says. "I still know every word to every song."