A disabled man from South Tyneside says he was treated like a potential thief by a national frozen food store.
Tony Ilott - who was born with cerebral palsy, which has left him with movement and dexterity issues - has hit out at workers at the Iceland store, in Chichester Road, South Shields.
On Tuesday he was banned from using his own shopping trolley despite being unable to carry a basket of steer one of the store’s own trolleys.
Despite alerting the manager to what he intended to do, he was told he could only shop with a member of staff in tow.
Mr Ilott said: “It was diabolical. I’m not a thief. I just have a disability.”
Iceland chiefs say it’s important for them that all customers can navigate their stores and offered Mr Ilott help and the chance to store his bags.
The 56–year–old is unable to push a store trolley and says he always asks shops if he can place items on the top of his own device which he then takes to the till.
He says the borough’s other stores have allowed him to do this but that the manager of the Iceland store told him this wasn’t possible and instead suggested another member of staff would follow him round.
Mr Illot, from Temple Green, South Shields, said: “I couldn’t believe it, I felt like I was being classed as a criminal.
“Out of courtesy I always ask permission. I am unable to manage a store trolleys and my own.
“Before this happened, I’d been at the Aldi store next door where their were no issues.
“I spoke to a member of staff at Iceland and I was told that it wouldn’t be possible and was then informed another worker would escort me.
“But I don’t want to have someone following me round a store. Who would? I like to take my time.
“It felt like I was going to be watched to make sure I was going to pay for the things I needed, which of course I was.
“If I hadn’t intended paying, I wouldn’t have approached the manager in the first place.”
Mr Ilott has now written a letter of complaint to the food chain.
He said: “No other shops in South Shields seem to have a problem so why does Iceland?”
An Iceland spokesman added: “It’s important to us that all of our customers can navigate our stores easily and, while we were unable to allow Mr Ilott to place his shopping directly into his bag prior to purchase, our store manager did offer to store his bags safely behind the till while he shopped or have someone from the team assist him in carrying a basket around the store.
“We’d be happy to discuss with Mr Ilott how we can improve his future visits to our store.”