Disabled Bognor shopper left in tears over scooter refusal

Kelly Lenharth and her partner Tony Harvey. Picture by Kate Shemilt
Kelly Lenharth and her partner Tony Harvey. Picture by Kate Shemilt

A disabled woman has described her humiliation after being told she could not use a mobility scooter from her car into a supermarket to do her shopping.

Kelly Lenharth, 41, and her partner Tony Harvey, 50, drove from their home in Lyon Street, Bognor Regis, to Littlehampton’s Tesco Superstore for their grocery shop last Saturday morning (April 13).

When they arrived Kelly – who suffers from a prolapsed disk in her back and fibromyalgia, which causes her pain, fatigue and muscle stiffness – stayed in the car while Tony went in and asked the security guard for the key to take the mobility scooter out to her.

Tony said the request was refused. He added: “We asked to speak to the store manager but the security man still refused to give us the key to the buggy.”

Instead, Tony had to help Kelly from the car into her wheelchair, then into the store and onto a mobility scooter, which Kelly likes to use to give her the freedom to travel around the store on her own.

Kelly said having to get out of the car, into the wheelchair and onto the mobility scooter was ‘humiliating’.

She added: “It’s the pain factor for me as well.

“When he was being abrupt it drew the attention of everyone which makes it more humiliating. I’m a 41-year-old woman, who wants to be in that situation?

“Some people were just standing and staring but no-one even came across and asked if I was alright.”

Kelly said the situation ‘traumatised’ her and she has started seeing a counsellor and is no longer taking shopping trips because of the experience. She said: “It brought me to tears – I haven’t been shopping since. It has completely and utterly ruined the way I feel about going outside. I shouldn’t have to be treated like that, I have never ever been questioned before.”

When the couple had finished their shopping they were allowed to take the mobility scooter to the car park. Kelly normally shops at Tesco in Bognor where she said she is always asked if she would like any help.

A spokesman for Tesco said: “Everyone is welcome at Tesco and we always want to deliver the very highest standards of customer service, so we were very sorry to hear about Ms Lenharth’s experience at our Littlehampton superstore.

“We would be very happy to speak with Ms Lenharth to discuss her concerns further.”