Staff at a branch of Tesco reduced a blind woman to tears when they shouted at her and barred from the store – and all because she was trying to shop with her guide dog.
Maya Makri, who is registered blind, gets around with the help of her guide dog Jemma. Despite Jemma wearing the special high-viz guide dog jacket and lead, staff at a branch of Tesco on Belsize Road refused to believe that the black Labrador was not a pet.
Ms Makri, who is a student at London’s Central School of Speech and Drama, was shopping for groceries on Monday when the disturbing incident occurred. When the 39 year-old joined the queue for the checkout with a friend, a cashier shouted at her: “pets are not allowed!”
Two other Tesco cashiers then joined in, telling Ms Makri there could be “no exception” and telling her she could not return to the store in the future.
Maya Makri said: “I pointed out that this was no pet, but a guide dog. This should have been immediately obvious from the dog’s high-viz harness and fluorescent guide dog label on the lead. I repeatedly said that I was registered blind and that this was a trained assistance dog, to no avail.
“Various customers tried to back me up, but we were shouted down. I burst into tears outside the store in sheer frustration. A woman followed me all the way to South Hampstead station, just to say how terribly upset she was about what she had just witnessed and that this had to be challenged.”
A spokesman for the supermarket giant said: “This clearly should never have happened and we will contact Ms Makri directly to apologise. We do allow guide dogs in stores and have reminded colleagues of that. We also offer customers with guide dogs help with their shopping, if they would like assistance.”
The charity Guide Dogs said that they are receiving more and more complaints from blind people who are struggling to access shops and services.