A single mum says she was “humiliated" by a security guard at her local Tesco after staff told her to leave her two young children outside the store while she was shopping.
Caroline Abbott, 30, was about to do her regular weekly shop in Fulbourn, Cambridgeshire, last Friday (January 29) when a security guard stopped her for trying to enter the store with her two children, aged three and eight.
As she arrived at the front of the queue the security guard stopped and asked where the children’s dad was. She said: “The security guard said the children weren’t allowed in the store and I should leave them outside.
"I explained I was a single mum but he said they should still be at home with their father. At this point, I was holding up a long queue.”
Caroline told Cambridgeshire Live the experience was "humiliating" and said she does not know if she can return to the store again.
Caroline, a mum of three and a key worker at Addenbrooke’s hospital, said that until now, she has never had any issues with her weekly shop throughout the pandemic.
She said: “No one chooses to be a single parent and I wouldn’t risk my children’s health going into these shops if I had another choice.”
As children of a key worker, they still attend school Monday to Thursdays but the school asked Caroline to home school them on Fridays on her day off.
Supermarkets across the UK have been increasing measures to try and stop the spread of the coronavirus, including some enforcing mask-wearing for all except those who are exempt.
Retailers including Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons have recently clamped down on family groups shopping together to reduce overcrowding.
But Tesco’s website encourages people to shop in-store if they’re able to, due to the high demand for their online ordering service. Caroline said she avoided using online delivery to allow the slots to be taken by someone who really needs it.
A Tesco manager allegedly explained to Caroline that they couldn't intervene as the security guards are employed by a third party company.
She said: “The security guard was interrupting me as I was explaining the situation. I feel Tesco managers should be involved with who they employ because this person still represents the brand.”
She added that her youngest daughter has hearing loss and is too vulnerable to be left outside the store without supervision.
After Caroline emailed a complaint to Tesco's CEO, a customer service specialist replied with an apology and stated that it should not have happened and that the incident would be "addressed with the guard in question".
A Tesco spokesperson said: “Since the start of the pandemic, we have focused on ensuring everyone can get the food they need in a safe environment.
"While we’re encouraging our customers to shop alone where possible, we understand that sometimes customers will need to shop with children and they are, of course, welcome to do so.
"In this case, a mistake was made and we’re sorry that the customer wasn’t happy with their experience.”
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