A GRIEVING Sheffield woman says she was left ‘humiliated’ after being wrongly accused of trying to steal a £4.98 rose bush she wanted to buy in memory of her mother.
Newly-bereaved Tracy Smedley, aged 41, was barely coping after the death from a long illness of her mum Denise Carter, 58, from Swallownest, when the family was handed back her ashes from the cremation.
In keeping with her mother’s wishes, Tracy and her family decided to scatter the ashes on the grave of Denise’s grandmother in City Road Cemetery.
But when Tracy and her husband Terance, 48, went to B&Q on Queens Road to buy a rose bush to plant at the grave, they were accused of stealing the plant in a mix-up at the store’s self-service check-out.
“I decided to buy a rose bush to plant on the grave,” a tearful Tracy said.
“Roses were her favourite flower, and it’s what she would have wanted.
“We went to B&Q on Queens Road in Sheffield, and I chose the perfect rose bush - it was pink, just the way my mum would have wanted it to be.
“We went to pay at one of the self-service machines, and I put a £5 note in, but the machine just swallowed it.”
Tracy found the store’s assistant manager to ask him for help - but to her horror he quickly accused her of dishonesty.
“He said there was no proof I had put the money in,” she said. “He then accused me of trying to steal the rose, and said he would escort me off the premises.”
Tracy, of Whites Lane, Wybourn, said she was ‘mortified’ to be accused of stealing while dozens of other customers looked on.
“The store was completely packed - it was so humiliating,” she said.
“I explained why I was buying the rose but he just wouldn’t listen, he was so insensitive.
“He said I had to ‘pay up’ or leave.”
Tracy and Terance felt forced into paying the money again.
A B&Q employee later phoned the couple and admitted the store’s records did show Tracy had paid for the rose after all, and informed her the £5 was in the shop ready for collection.
“But it’s not about the money,” she said. “It’s ruined the whole thing.
“I wanted to do something nice for my mum, and this has completely tainted it. Whenever I look at that rose I will just remember the humiliation.”
Tracy, who works as a sewing machinist, said: “I said to the poor employee who rang up, ‘Haven’t you got anything else to say?’, but there was no apology.
“We went in again later to speak to the manager, and he stood by the man we spoke to and said he had done nothing wrong.
“They’ve since offered me a £20 gift voucher but all I want is a proper apology from the man who spoke to me so badly.”
A B&Q spokesman said: “We apologise for the misunderstanding that took place in our Sheffield store.
“Once we realised what had happened the store manager immediately contacted Ms Smedley to apologise and make amends.”