Thur 5 Nov went shopping at Tesco. carrying heavy Tesco basket with my wife’s shopping. Approaching exit my wife said she was picking up a Shropshire Star. Waited by exit but turned round to see her, newspaper in hand, disappearing toward mobile phone shelves where she was being helped by one of the staff a few minutes earlier. Decided to see what charity stall was for in entrance foyer, all wearing Santa hats. still carrying basket. surprised to be challenged by security woman, who said “you haven’t paid for those goods”. replied “Sorry I’m not leaving the store, I was distracted” and if she thought I was a shoplifter why didn’t she wait until it was clear I was leaving the store with them. she replied “I would then have had to arrest you”. I said I would go to the checkout to pay and she walked away.
I took no notice of where she had gone but common sense told me she would still be keeping an eye on me. I waited around the area for some minutes for my wife as she had to pay at the checkout. When she arrived I said nothing as I thought my embarrassment was over and took the goods to the check-out which then were put in Tesco bags and my wife paid for. I carried the shopping for her. My wife then decided to go to the cigarette counter so I waited near the same spot where the woman had earlier challenged me.
Waiting whilst my wife was buying cigarettes the same woman approached with a man and said “Can I have a word sir?”. Knowing the goods were now paid for and in Tesco bags I was surprised and a little irritated to be approached again. She then said “You have been acting suspiciously and I am banning you from this store”. I felt very offended and said “I couldn’t care less, I am not that fond of Tescos”. They then started walking off. A few seconds later my wife arrived and I said “I’ve just been banned from this bl–dy store” She showed obvious surprise and dismay at my outburst as I am not in the habit of saying “Bl–dy” unless I am extremely angry which by now I certainly was. By now I was impatient to get out of the place as I didn’t want a further scene. My wife insisted on asking the security man for the reason I had been banned and he replied that I had not been banned but did we wish to speak to the manager. I said no we did not, so we hastily left.
I gave my wife a detailed rundown of what had happened at home later and I said I could not understand why the woman had pounced so early if she suspected I was a shoplifter. Had she waited to see if I left the exit with the goods that would have been sensible. I am 67 years old and Tesco security staff would have had little problem stopping me as the goods were heavy and I cannot run fast anyway, still recovering from a surgical operation, having left hospital Friday six days before.
Were I a shoplifter, rather than someone loitering about the entrance because my wife had unexpectedly vanished back into the store, I would not have done so with goods in the Tesco plastic shopping basket I was carrying when first challenged, it is not supposed to leave the store and was bound to attract attention had I any such intent. Any intelligent security person from this fact alone would have deduced that the probability of deliberate theft was extremely unlikely. Discussing this at home later my wife pointed out that also there had been half bottle of Tesco whisky in her shopping bearing a security tag not removed until the checkout which would have set off the electronic alarm had I gone through the exit.
The woman security person was over zealous not in her first challenge which was reasonable although rather pre-emptive. Rather in her second approach saying I was acting suspiciously without specifying how. Perhaps because I was again loitering in that area, in which case she should have restrained her “You are banned from this store” and politely asked me why I was again waiting there before assuming I had evil intent. Indeed had I departed without waiting for my wife I would not have been present for this security-zealot-judge-jury of a woman to approach me again.
I have never been stopped in this undignified way in my life in any shop or supermarket and yet I frequently find myself hanging around them waiting for my wife, probably being observed by the unseen eye of suspicious security staff as a blight on their landscape. It has never crossed my mind before, how many thousands of them I must have disappointed in my lifetime.
The following day my wife phoned one of the male managers asking for a written apology. He refused to do this but he again insisted I had not been banned.
02 December 2009 Having visited the store several times since 5 November without any further incident, I was surprised to be approached by the man who invariably is on duty at the exit security plinth, who said he had just been informed that I was a banned person. I said I would like to speak to the manager about this. We found my wife, then the lady manager appeared. My wife was annoyed and said so but discussion was beginning to get heated and my wife suggested we discuss the matter in an office. I too asked the manager to do this. We were led to a side office and told to sit down. We had four members of staff the manager, the customer service manager, the security man, the blond lady with glasses who had said I was banned on 5 November. The manageress asked for the person who had first challenged me on 5 Nov to be present. I was surprised when another young girl staff member was brought into the office as I did not recollect having seen her before. On 5 November by far the most overwhelming person present was the blonde person with glasses. She was present when I was first challenged until I left the entrance area saying I was going to make my way to the checkout. It was her who again confronted me 5 minutes later after my wife had paid for the goods saying I was acting suspiciously and was banned. Yet all I was doing was waiting for my wife. I was holding the goods by then in a carrier bag with the receipt.
The regular security man remembered seeing both myself and my wife in the store since 5 November so it seems he was unaware until today I was banned by the blonde haired woman with glasses. It seems the blonde/glasses person was the only one who was aware of this ban and she must have been absent during my visits the previous four weeks.
The discussion in the office was not conducted sensibly because there were too many staff there and they all wanted to have their say first. It was very intimidating because they stood over us. I was unable to have my say and was told to be quite. The Customer Services manager in particular dominated proceedings rather than the manager, who we had requested we talk to but mostly remained quiet. I twice said I wished to leave as it was clear this interview was being dominated by staff. I was told to remain seated as the Police had been called. A policeman arrived, probably wondered why he had been called, asked staff if they wished to charge me with any offence. They said no but that the matter was under Tesco investigation and we left.
I feel I have been harassed by one particular security staff member for no good reason, other than for a moment quite innocently straying into this area.
Today we were kept in an office for an hour, half an hour against my will, having twice requested to leave. The Manager seemed unable to control proceedings and no sensible discussion of the incident took place because other staff were too domineering.
I had done nothing wrong. I have never before been accused of theft and never been convicted of any criminal offence. Tesco are making a defamatory Judgement against my good character by continuing this ban on the say so of one staff member who has unilaterally imposed it without due regard to the facts. Any person with sound reasoning would conclude there is no evidence whatsoever of intent to steal goods from Tesco. Both the tagged item and the Tesco shopping basket indicate this. I have kept the receipt as proof of the tagged item.
I would like a written apology from Tesco and will be consulting my solicitor if one is not made.