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Checkout your Checkout!!!

(38 Posts)
zozie Sat 18-Jul-09 13:14:20

I wanted to alert parents/carers to a serious situation which I encountered last week when shopping at the Watford Asda Store with my mother, son and daughter (aged 11 months and 2 ½).

After completing our shopping, we went to a checkout. The checkout aisle was very restricted and only trolley width. I unloaded my shopping from the front of the trolley onto the conveyor belt whilst my mother held the trolley handle and supervised the children.

Whilst packing the shopping, I suddenly noticed that my daughter (aged 2 ½) had several uncellophaned boxes of Nurofen tablets in her hand. I alerted my mother and she immediately took them from my daughter and looked to find out where she had obtained them.

We were shocked to see a small shelf (approximately 12ins long x 6ins deep) attached to the back of the next checkout, on the right hand side of our checkout aisle (the opposite side to the conveyor belt) displaying boxes of Nurofen tablets. It was situated at the elbow level of a child, sitting (as my daughter was) in a trolley seat. Not 'out of the reach of children' as most medicines proclaim!

My daughter had not visibly moved in order to obtain the tablets. Furthermore, neither my mother nor I observed the shelf when we entered the checkout area and so we were unaware that there were potentially harmful items within her reach. Due to the situation of this shelf, it is clear that in order to have grasped the tablets, unnoticed, whilst being supervised, she merely had to move her hand discreetly by only a few inches.

The tablets were displayed in an area where one would never have reasonably expected to find them. As a responsible parent, when I visit the non-prescription drugs/medicine aisles, I take extra care to avoid permitting the children accessing products, which would cause them harm.

The Store Manager did not respond to our request to report this matter, however a store 'runner' immediately removed the Nurofen and proceeded to remove further stocks from similar shelves situated at all of the checkouts. The Till Operative commented that they had recently removed Strepsils from these shelves for the same reason.

When we returned to my house, my mother contacted Asda Head Office by telephone, to find out what the Store's policy was in this situation. A Consumer Complaints advisor took the details and sought advice. He informed us that it is Asda's policy that Store Managers are permitted to display products wherever they choose and that "it is the responsibility of parents to keep their children under supervision at all times".

In my view, Asda's policy on this matter is highly irresponsible. Asda failed to display the Nurofen in a safe manner and as a result, failed in its duty of care towards children. If my children were not closely supervised, or if I was shopping alone with the children (as I often am), it is wholly foreseeable that my daughter could have ingested the tablets and/or fed them to her baby brother. I dread to imagine the resulting consequences of that scenario!

We have since written to the CEO of Asda Stores to inform him of this incident and asked him to confirm whether or not Asda will continue to display such merchandise within the reach of children at checkouts. We await his response.

Local Trading Standards Officers confirmed that there is no specific legislation in relation to this matter and that they have no power to enforce caution on a store with regard to displaying this type of merchandise. Therefore, one has to presume that the common law duty of care/reasonable foreseeability of harm would apply in court if one was to litigate when their child becomes injured/harmed.

The moral of the story is please, please PLEASE, take real notice of what is being displayed within the reach of your children, particularly at checkouts. Do not to take it for granted that even a big-name store will take a common sense approach to displaying merchandise which could be harmful to children.

blowbroth Sat 18-Jul-09 13:28:19

That's Watford for you! What a long post for something that really didn't come to any harm. Your children could have been run over in the car park, it's a big bad world!
I'm sorry to sound so harsh , but children have to learn about these things and they will be exposed to greater dangers than this as they grow older.

bigchris Sat 18-Jul-09 13:29:38

they always put tablets on the tills of boots too and dd used to grab them on the way out

zozie Sat 18-Jul-09 17:42:46

I think that you have missed the point of my post and yes it is very long - the point was that a very simple, unexpected situation which most of us face, could have resulted in very grave consequences as the result of ignorance on the part of a store. In similar circumstances, perhaps a child will be less fortunate and then what will their parents say, no doubt? "Someone should have done something about it"

I really don't want to be the one who keeps their mouth shut and reads in the paper that next week a child is harmed as a result of a store's negligence in displaying harmful merchandise within a child's reach. I am fully aware of the dangers of the 'big bad world' and I will make the appropriate judgment re: exposing them to those dangers and teaching them how to avoid dangers, but where I'm not aware that my children could be in danger in seemingly harmless and avoidable circumstances, something should be said.

TheArmadillo Sat 18-Jul-09 17:59:54

they've been doing this for years, in supermarkets (not just asda) pharmacies and other shops - I just keep an eye on my child.

Sorry but your responsibility not theirs.

"The moral of the story is please, please PLEASE, take real notice of what is being displayed within the reach of your children, particularly at checkouts."

and that is what YOU should have been doing.

RealityIsGettingMarried Sat 18-Jul-09 18:04:01

Message withdrawn

LuluMaman Sat 18-Jul-09 18:05:04

am glad your DCs are ok

however, you have to keep an eye on your children

you would surely keep an eye to stop them grabbing chocolate or sweets or other things from by the checkout, so if there are medicines at the checkout, you have the responsibility to be more vigilant and aware

it is a good idea to get people to check what is in reach of their children, but it is not the store's fault

you have to take responsibility for the welfare of your children and make sure they are not grabbing anythign they should not be, whether it be lollies or nurofen

it is not negligent for teh store to do this, even if it is , i think as a parent ther would be an element of contributory negligence on your part in not checking the children had grabbed anything.

it is not correct to shift the blame onto others all the time, as parents and care givers, we have responsibilities too

scrappydappydoo Sat 18-Jul-09 18:11:43

I think you're all being a bit harsh on the op here... I think its a legitimate complaint
Most supermarkets (asda excluded) have stopped putting sweets by the till due to complaints by parents - if they can grab sweets then they can grab medicines...
Yes we do need to keep an eye on our children but sometimes its difficult when you have your back turned loading the conveyer belt. Yes they do face dangers in the world but I think the store does need to have a bit of forethought here - if they insist on medicine - childproof, well wrapped should be the answer...

LuluMaman Sat 18-Jul-09 18:15:29

but there are shelves and shelves and shelves of bleach, cleaning products , medicines, air fresheners.... all sorts of things that could be dangerous if grabbed off the shelf by a child in the trolley

we need to be aware of dangers and not always expect the world to remove all dangers and absolve us of looking out for our children

spicemonster Sat 18-Jul-09 18:16:30

They moved the sweets because parents got fed up of being hassled by their children to buy them, not because anyone was worried about a child's ability to access them.

Frankly if your 2 1/2 YO can open a box of Nurofen, get enough out of their blister packaging to cause them harm and consume them without your noticing, you should be contacting Paul Daniels, not Asda

paisleyleaf Sat 18-Jul-09 18:16:41

I emailed our local ASDA for the same thing last week
the medicines clearly say 'keep put of reach of children' on the box
and you're right, they were right there, where the sweets are usually, low down at the checkout. They're not usually there - or never used to be anyway.

gorionine Sat 18-Jul-09 18:16:52

I am not sure YABU in the sense that it really is a concern for you but I will join the chorus that says it is your responsability to check on your child.

RealityIsGettingMarried Sat 18-Jul-09 18:17:05

Message withdrawn

HeliumBee Sat 18-Jul-09 18:20:40

Thanks to the OP - I think she has posted with all good intentions. Sometimes we dont know about the risks of things until they happen to us or others.
I dont think its an overreaction.

LovelyTinOfSpam Sat 18-Jul-09 18:27:05

Thanks for the heads up OP.

I wouldn't expect medicine that looks like sweets to be in the place where sweets usually are and easily grabable either.

yappybluedog Sat 18-Jul-09 18:27:16

sorry and all that, but spicemonster made me larf

hocuspontas Sat 18-Jul-09 18:32:55

That's mothers for you!! Leave them to supervise dcs at your peril grin

RealityIsGettingMarried Sat 18-Jul-09 18:35:03

Message withdrawn

TrinityRhinoHasASillyStepson Sat 18-Jul-09 18:35:09

hmmm strange thing to get het up about
you need to watch your kids amd not let them grab anything

paisleyleaf Sat 18-Jul-09 18:40:10

It's because her child WAS bring watched that she didn't sit in the back of the car eating Nurofen on the way home

spicemonster Sat 18-Jul-09 18:58:01

I reckon the OP is a copy of a letter sent to Asda. Am I right OP?

yappybluedog wink

zozie Sat 18-Jul-09 19:51:36

You got it in one Paisleyleaf.

I completely agree that as a responsible parent, I must supervise my child when I go shopping. This I do with great care - and I have tutted as I have witnessed parents allowing kids to climb shelves/run riot with abandon. I also take greater care not to park my children next to shelves in areas of the store where I expect to find harmful goods. However, I challenge anyone to go through a checkout without removing their eyes for a split second from their child.

As the consensus seems to be that its my responsibility to supervise my child at the checkout without taking my eyes/hands off of my kids for a nano-second, then please could the store unpack my trolley onto the conveyor belt, repack it into bags and pay the till operator. Slapped wrists - in such a confined area, I forgot to zip-tie my daughter's hands to the trolley when I arrived at the checkout.. but fortunately I was with another person who took the tablets off her as she took hold of them. I had already clocked the breath fresheners and chewing gum on the large shelves that we'd passed at her height and thought, I hope she doesn't go for those so I was already poised to jump on her if she spotted them.

Or maybe the store could just take a common sense approach and just put the drugs in the drugs section where I don't take my eyes off my kids for a nano-second?

On the overreaction front, just imagine if you, whilst 'recklessly' attending to your shopping, missed the split second when your child discreetly took those tablets and ate them or gave them to her baby sibling! Presumably, as you were all expecting an obscure shelf (that you couldn't see when you entered the checkout aisle from behind the sweeties) with boxes of tablets on, this would never happen to you as you NEVER unfix your eyes from your children at the checkout and if it did happen, you would just shrug your shoulders and self flagellate.

Ps. unfortunately I am a solicitor and yes, I have sent a letter to Asda which I modified for this post.

LovelyTinOfSpam Sat 18-Jul-09 21:17:43

Top spot spicey!

LuluMaman Sat 18-Jul-09 21:45:45

it takes a lot more than a split second to grab a box of tablets, open and consume

no-one is saying it is reckless to attend to your shopping, but there are steps you can take,such as leaving the trolley further back,so the end of the trolley is next to the start of the conveyor.... so they are not in grabbing distance of things, and you can still unpack your shopping easily onto the conveyor

hocuspontas Sat 18-Jul-09 21:56:11

You need to shop at Tesco. The only thing they could grab at the checkouts there is a handful of Mobile top-up leaflets.

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