Moses, 42, is a department manager in a large store, based in Essex. Moses has been physically attacked by customers at least 20 times in his 20-year career.
“After 20 years in the industry, it would be nice to create change, but I’m sceptical. Throughout my retail career in various supermarkets and stores, it’s always the same story. Through advertising and customer services, companies inadvertently push the narrative that our staff are there to be subservient to customers and they are less than human life. It gives customers permission that they can treat you any way they want, including shoplifters.
“I’ve been in many situations where I’ve reported an incident to a company and been asked ‘what did you do to provoke the customer?’ I’m like wait, what? This person spat in my face and called me the n-word.
“The pandemic really accelerated things, but it’s been getting worse since. I have a different physical altercation every week over absolutely nothing. ‘Sorry sir, that’s out of stock; sorry, but you have to queue; sorry, but we’re closed.’ And the next thing you know, there’s fists flying in my face.
“A lot of retailers have cut their security budgets and shoplifters know when security guards are off duty. There’s strength in numbers, but over the past few years retail has cut back bodies on the shop floor, so smaller stores might only have two people in that shop, one of them being an older lady on the tills.
“I made the decision to move to this department store from a supermarket because I read that it had more security guards. It was a decision I made while sitting in A&E, waiting for stitches in my forehead after a banned shoplifter attacked me. I stopped him at the door to say ‘listen mate you know you’re banned, please turn around.’ He’s shouting over me, pushing past me so I’m pushing him back out of the shop and the next thing I know, he lumps me in the face.
“We get into a fight, he grabs a metal basket, strikes me in the face and cuts my head open. At this point I’m thinking, this guy is going to kill me if I don’t defend myself, all while praying somebody is calling the police. They eventually did and that’s what stopped the fight, by which time I was dripping in my own blood.
“The police said they couldn’t arrest him because I should have walked away, so it became ‘mutual combat’. Sitting there bleeding in A&E, I said to myself, ‘I don’t want to do this anymore, don’t let me go back.’
“I got a call from the head of the company of this huge supermarket chain to say, ‘I’m really sorry this happened, take all the time you need to heal,’ which was fantastic.
But it was too late. I’ve been physically attacked 20 or 30 times in the last two decades and I don’t get paid enough for this.”
Would you put up with this?