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Store chain apologises after disabled woman is wrongly accused of shoplifting
A DISABLED Wirral mother believes she was “discriminated” against for being in a wheelchair after she was accused of shoplifting.
Jean Price, from Eastham, said she was left humiliated after staff at “Outfit” in Bromborough ordered her to leave the premises, saying they had caught her trying to steal items.
The store chain has now sent her a letter of apology saying an investigation has been carried out to ensure such incidents will never be repeated.
The 55-year-old, who has to use a wheelchair due to severe arthritis, had been shopping with her husband, George, last Thursday when the incident happened.
Jean said she was looking at a jewellery stand when a member of staff approached her and asked them to leave the store.
Staff are alleged to have told them they had CCTV pictures of her stealing items.
However, the couple say they were told they would not be allowed view the footage and were forced to give their details to police officers.
Mother-of-one Jean said she could not understand why she was singled out for such an accusation.
She said: “I have been going in that shop for ages to buy things or just look around so the staff are familiar with our faces and know I am a regular customer.
“I was looking at some costume jewellery, with George pushing my chair, when one of the staff tapped me on the shoulder and said we had to leave.
“When we asked why, they said they had seen us shoplifting and that it had happened on several occasions.
“I couldn’t believe what I was hearing and was half-expecting someone to come out and shout ‘gotcha!’ “It just didn’t make sense why they were accusing me of doing this when they had no proof – they said they had CCTV but when we asked to see it, they said no.”
Following her ordeal, Jean wrote to the company to explain what had happened and try to get some answers.
Outfit’s customer service team replied days later with a full apology, stating the store manager had spoken to the staff involved and an investigation had been carried out.
The letter, which has been seen by the Globe, said: “She [the manager] would like me to extend her apologies, as the actions carried out by those members of staff was unprofessional to the situation.
“We are most determined that this type of incident should not reoccur and that all of our customers feel that they will be treated with respect whilst visiting our stores.”
However Jean said she is reluctant to shop at Outfit again as she feels embarrassed and has still not been given a reason why she was told to leave.
Now she wants to make sure others are aware about such situations and feels she could have been victimised for being in a wheelchair.
She said: “I am still no clearer how they got the idea that I was shoplifting so I feel like I can’t go back there because everyone will be watching me.
“If something had got caught on one of the wheels of my chair by accident then they could have said but we have don’t have a clue why we were told to leave.”
A Merseyside Police spokeswoman confirmed that two officers attended the incident on October 11 but no charges were brought against the couple.
The Globe has contacted Outfit on several occasions and is still waiting for a response.