Cancer survivor reduced to tears by shop workers at Aldi, in Woodgate, Leicester
A cancer survivor says she was asked to leave a shop after supermarket staff refused to let her use their bathroom.
After being diagnosed with cancer in 2012, Victoria Sheffield had her bladder removed and uses a urostomy – a pouch on the outside of her body – to go to the toilet.
While shopping in Aldi, in Woodgate, Leicester, on Monday afternoon, the pensioner realised her urostomy was full and asked staff if she could empty it in their bathroom.
She said: "I knocked on the staff doors at the back of the shop and before I had even finished asking, this woman pointed to a sign and said 'You shouldn't even be in here'.
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"I politely tried to explain that I had had cancer and about my urostomy, and that I really needed to use the bathroom, but she told me I would need proof – a medical card or something."
She said she told the woman she would show her the urostomy and then she was asked to leave the shop.
"I was irate. I feel demeaned. It is not something I want to talk about, and I could just feel my face getting red. I didn't want to have cancer, I didn't want to have an operation, but I'm still alive and I'm still a person."
Mrs Sheffield, who is blind in one eye after a post-operative stroke, said she then tipped over her trolley after staff refused to empty the contents so she could retrieve her pound coin.
Embarrassed and distressed, she returned to her home in New Parks, Leicester, which she shares with son Jim O'Reilly, who acts as her carer.
The 45-year-old said: "I asked her what was wrong and she burst into tears, she was sobbing. She could barely speak she was so upset.
"I was so angry when I found out what they had said.
"She has been out before where the bag has burst and overflowed and she did not want that to happen again as I am sure you can understand why that would be embarrassing. She tried to explain that and they just were not interested."
"It is a matter of general respect."
Mr O'Reilly said his extended family spent about £1,000 a week in Aldi stores around the city.
"I've called them all and none of us are going back," he said.
Mrs Sheffield said she has been escorted to staff toilets many times before in other shops, when she had been in an emergency.
She said: "I have never been treated in such a disgusting way. People have always been so kind. They understand."
Mr O'Reilly called Aldi's head office to complain on behalf of his mother.
An Aldi spokesperson said: "Aldi does not provide customer toilets in any of its stores, however in case of emergencies we can allow access to our employee toilet facilities. On this occasion we recognise that an exception should have been made, and we apologise for any distress caused to Ms Sheffield. The manager has been in touch with Ms Sheffield, and we will continue to pursue the matter through customer service channels."