Sainsbury’s customer shocked after checkout assistant refuses to serve her because she was on her mobile

July 4, 2013 5:59 pm 1 comment Views: 1795

Using a mobile phone at the dinner table or in any other social situation is often frowned on as bad manners.

But when a Sainsbury’s employee decided the embargo  extended to the checkout one of her customers quickly took offence.

Jo Clarke complained to store bosses that the unidentified worker had refused to serve her unless she put down her phone.


Jo Clarke (above), 26, was in the queue at her local Sainsbury’s, in Crayford, south-east London, when the checkout assistant refused to help her because she was on her phone

Sainsbury’s has apologised to the 26-year-old property manager but the confrontation has sparked lively debate online.

On the News Shopper website, one user said: ‘Using a mobile phone when you are engaged in an activity involving face-to-face contact with another person is incredibly rude and offensive.

Unless it’s an emergency, put the phone away and try being polite and attentive to the person in front of you. Manners cost nothing.’ Another poster, Cherith Porter, said: ‘It is a legitimate request that if you use your phone at a checkout, they won’t serve you until you are finished.’

The mobile phone incident involving Miss Clarke took place at a Sainsbury’s in Crayford, south-east London, last Monday.

She said: ‘I was standing at the foot of the till waiting to bag my shopping up, yet the lady on the checkout was just staring at me.

‘When I stopped my conversation and said “Is everything okay?” she said: “I will not check your shopping out until you get off your mobile phone”.

‘I ended my call swiftly, and said to the lady on the checkout, “Apologies, I didn’t realise that it was Sainsbury’s policy that you are unable to use your phone at the checkout”.

‘She said “You learn something new every day”.’ Miss Clarke checked with the customer services desk on leaving the store and was told there was no such policy.

Sainsbury’s has since offered her £10 of vouchers by way of compensation but she has sworn to switch to Waitrose in future.

Sainsbury's has since apologised and insists it does not have a policy of refusing to serve customers who are using a mobile (file picture)Sainsbury’s has since apologised and insists it does not have a policy of refusing to serve customers who are using a mobile (file picture)

Miss Clarke added: ‘There was no one behind me in the queue, it was quite quiet and I just phoned my brother to quickly tell him I was about to leave. He was waiting, so I just gave him a quick call. I couldn’t believe how rude she was.’

Miss Clarke, who works in corporate real estate and is studying for a surveying qualification, said she has been shopping at the Sainsbury’s for a decade.

On the visit in question she had spent around £25 on some meat, fresh vegetables, milk and bread.

Miss Clarke, who lives in Crayford with her parents Tom and Gerri and her younger brother Nathan, said she was less annoyed about being told to end her call than about the rude manner of the checkout worker.

She said yesterday: ‘I was dumbfounded at the time so just hung up. I don’t know what she was playing at. When did she have the right to give me a lecture on checkout etiquette?

‘She was talking to me as if I should have known that I was breaking the rules, like I was a naughty child and now it turns out those aren’t the rules anyway.’

Miss Clarke has submitted a complaint to Sainsbury’s but has not yet received a response.

A spokesman for the store chain said: ‘We have apologised to Miss Clarke and offered her some vouchers. It isn’t our policy to not serve customers who are using a mobile phone.’

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