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M&S staff tell cancer patient to push her own trolley

PUBLISHED: 10:32 16 April 2010 | UPDATED: 16:55 07 September 2010

Catherine Lennard and Ann Robson

Catherine Lennard and Ann Robson

A CANCER patient who is undergoing chemotherapy at the Royal Free Hospital was shocked when staff at the nearby Marks and Spencer refused to help her with her shopping trolley because they were not insured to cross the road.

Charlotte Newton

A CANCER patient who is undergoing chemotherapy at the Royal Free Hospital was shocked when staff at the nearby Marks and Spencer refused to help her with her shopping trolley because they were "not insured" to cross the road.

Catherine Lennard, 53, visited the Pond Street hospital on Monday for a blood test. Afterwards, she popped into Marks and Spencer in South End Green with her mother and spent more than £100 on food. But the women were unable to push the shopping trolley between them.

When Mrs Lennard explained why she was weak and asked for assistance, the store manager said that no one could push the trolley to the car - parked just across the road - because staff were not insured.

An incensed Mrs Lennard told the Ham&High: "I couldn't believe it.

"I said even if you're not insured you can use your humanity because I'm afraid I'm having chemotherapy and my mother has had a back operation, so she can't push the trolley either. But the manager refused.

"It was momentous for me to do a big shop for my family because I haven't done one for two months. I was really upset afterwards and I felt awful. Life is tough enough as it is without this sort of thing."

Mrs Lennard, who is married with two children, returned to her Chalk Farm home and tried to complain directly to Stuart Rose, the executive chairman of Marks and Spencer.

A secretary spoke to her on the telephone and was sympathetic, but Mrs Lennard claims that moments later she phoned back and confirmed that staff at the South End Green store were not insured to help customers push their trolleys.

Mrs Lennard said: "She was very nice and understanding when I spoke to her. But then she phoned me back and gave me the same old claptrap.

"She said I could always go to one of the other Marks and Spencer stores such as Brent Cross. How insensitive was that?

"The Marks and Spencer in South End Green is planted right next to the Royal Free so a lot of the customers must be patients who need help with their shopping. I was shocked to be told that I should go to Brent Cross because isn't the South End Green store meant to be for local people?"

When the Ham&High contacted Marks and Spencer in Pond Street to ask whether they helped customers push shopping trolleys, a shop assistant said: "We've been told we're not allowed to by our store manager because we're not insured."

A Marks and Spencer spokeswoman said: "This is not M&S policy and is an error at store level, which has been addressed. We are sorry Mrs Lennard felt let down by the service she received.

"We do endeavour to go the extra mile for our customers but we clearly failed to deliver on this occasion. Mrs Lennard is a valued customer and we will be contacting her to apologise and do all we can to restore her faith in M&S.


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