Tesco apologises to disabled Whittlesey woman who was denied help at Peterborough Serpentine Green store

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Tesco has apologised to a disabled woman who claims she was denied help while shopping at its Serpentine Green store.

Sam Blunt from Whittlesey said she was in tears after visiting the Hampton store on Tuesday alongside canine partner Bugsy.

Sam Blunt with canine partner Bugsy. Photo: Terry Harris

Sam Blunt with canine partner Bugsy. Photo: Terry Harris

The 42-year-old is wheelchair bound and has dystonia, a neurological condition which sees her hands contract into the palms of her hands and her toes curl into the soles of her feet.

She relies on Bugsy to grab items with his teeth to put in her basket, but she requires assistance with larger items or any behind a freezer.

Sam alleged that she was refused help by a store worker who claimed this was due to a change in policy at the store, although Tesco has denied this.

She said: “I always use Tesco. The last three-and-a-half years since I’ve had my canine partner he helps with most of the shopping, but I can’t get the bigger items so I ask for assistance.

“I’ve never had any issues before, but I was told on Tuesday the store manager has said staff can’t assist with anyone because a lady took advantage of assisted shopping.

“It was so humiliating to be told in the middle of the shopping aisle. A lady come up and said she would help me, but I said I will go elsewhere to get the rest of my shopping.

“I got in my vehicle and was in tears.”

Tesco said it was sorry Sam had not received assistance on this “isolated occasion” and that there had been no change in its policy of offering assisted shopping, with customers requested to ring ahead.

A spokesperson added: “Our colleagues are always happy to assist those with additional requirements during their shop and we’re very sorry that Ms Blunt did not receive the high level of service we expect. Our store manager would be keen to meet Ms Blunt and discuss her concerns to ensure we serve her well in the future.”

Steve Coulson, operations manager at Serpentine Green, said the shopping centre’s staff would help Sam if she returned to shop at Tesco.

He added: “We are unable to comment on individual store polices, but Serpentine Green is a Disability Friendly centre and have worked with various disability groups in the local area to make the centre assessable to all, and we would attempt to give any assistance to our shoppers where possible.”

Sam added: “Bugsy my canine partner has opened up the world to me again and given me my independence back.

“I can’t thank Canine Partners enough for him - they are an amazing charity training these amazing dogs.”