A mother-of-two who suffers from incontinence wet herself in River Island after staff refused to let her use their toilet – and then placed a ‘Wet Floor’ sign next to her.
Bianca Artwell, 30, suffers from Functional Neurological Disorder (FND) – a condition that affects her nervous system and how her brain and body send and receive signals.
Her symptoms include weakness or paralysis, tremors or tics, difficulty walking, loss of balance, and incontinence.
Last week Ms Artwell was in River Island in Elliott’s Field Retail Park in Rugby, Warks., where she was returning a pair of shoes for her three-year-old daughter.
But as she approached the till she realised she needed the toilet – something she struggles to control due to her FND.
She asked staff to use the store’s toilet, explaining her condition and that she was unable to wait but they refused, saying it was against company policy.
Despite pleading with staff and the store manager, Ms Artwell says she was told to go to a cafe across the road, but as she tried to leave the store she was unable to hold on and wet herself.
Rather than offering to help, she says staff ignored her pleas and instead put a ‘wet floor’ sign next to her.
Ms Artwell, from Rugby, said: “On this particular day I felt quite independent with my aids so I asked my friend to watch my daughter while I went into River Island using my crutches so I could swap some shoes I had bought.
“As I approached the till I knew instantly that my bladder retention was about to reverse and I needed to go urgently.
“I asked the ladies at the till if I could please discreetly use their toilet and explained I wouldn’t make it if I didn’t go immediately.
“They said no and said I needed to go to a coffee shop across the road. I pleaded again explaining I definitely wouldn’t make it there but they refused.
“I tried to at least make it outside but only got maybe a metre and a half away from the tills before my worst fears happened. My bladder let go.
“Stood in a pool of my own urine I turned to the three staff members on the till and explained I was really sorry but I had had an accident.
“They just stared at me and the manager who was getting ready to leave instructed them to put a wet floor sign down. I stood there frozen in complete horror.
“A staff member came up to me but instead of offering to help she just dropped the wet floor sign next to me and walked away.
“No offer of going to a changing room, no offer of tissues, no offer of other clothing or even a ‘are you okay?’.”
After phoning for help, two of Ms Artwell’s friends came to her aid, helping her out of the store and taking her to another shop to buy clean clothes and personal cleaning products.
Ms Artwell, who works as a beauty therapist, lodged a formal complaint and demanded River Island staff are given better training.
Ms Artwell says she was offered a new outfit from the shop which she refused to accept.
River Island, which has around 300 stores in the UK, has now apologised.
A spokesman said: “Every one of our customers matters to us and we were sorry to hear of this customer’s experience in one of our stores.
“Our Head of Customer Care is already in direct communication with this customer and we are reviewing our policies and procedures to ensure that everyone feels welcome and cared for whenever they visit our stores.”