Sainsbury's customer berated for using phone near checkout

It is irritating as hell when someone in the queue is bellowing into a mobile phone, and a member of Sainsbury's staff has had enough of it, refusing to serve a customer until they hung up. Apparently Nick Clegg is on the assistant's side...

by Michael Northcott
Last Updated: 19 Aug 2013

It’s the sort of moment that everyone wants to witness first-hand – the rude customer on the mobile phone getting a dressing down in front of everyone, and forced to hang up the call. Well that’s exactly what happened to Jo Clarke, 26 year old customer in the Sainsbury's branch in Crayford, south east London. 

She was doing her mid-week shop, arrived at the checkout to pay for her shopping (whilst on a call), and was promptly told ‘I will not check your shopping out until you get off your mobile phone.’

Clarke, who has since managed to wangle herself plenty of airtime with media outlets, says: ‘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 OK?’’

After taking the verbal slap from the staff member (who has not been named), Clarke said: ‘Apologies, I didn’t realise that it was Sainsbury’s policy that you are unable to use your phone at the checkout. Well you learn something new every day.’

Unable to be short-changed on her 15 minutes of fame, Clarke had yet more for the papers: ‘I couldn't believe how rude she was. When did she have the right to give me a lecture on checkout etiquette? I won't be shopping there again, I'll go to Waitrose in Dartford instead.’ That’s if Waitrose will have you, dear.

We have to say we’re on the checkout assistant’s side. The rudeness of people jabbering into their phones in supermarket queues, holding up the rest of the line, is enough to make anyone incandescent with rage. And it seems Nick Clegg is with us: he told the London radio station LBC that he has a 'sneaking sympathy' for the checkout assistant. 

Annoyingly – but nonetheless predictably – Sainsbury’s has issued an apology to Clarke, as well as giving her some money-off vouchers. A spokesman said: ‘It isn’t our policy not to serve customers who are using a mobile phone.’

Because good manners can’t be allowed in the way of a smooth PR day, right guys?  

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