Published On: Tue, Apr 21st, 2020

The disease is unsanctioned behaviour: getting asked to leave Aldi (and never going back)

This article features an account of how, at the start of this week, two people known to the author were asked to leave their local Aldi supermarket because they questioned the good sense of a social distancing policy being enforced at the store. The account was thought a valuable object lesson for demonstrating the signature motive of the UK Government’s handling of a so-called disease caused by the SARS-COV/SARS-COV-2 coronavirus. The lockdown is not about health, it is about control. As such, something called “Covid-19” is not the disease that is being managed; instead it is human behaviour that is being controlled. The slogan we could adopt for an adequate summarisation of the situation would be this: the disease is unsanctioned behaviour. Over the course of the next few weeks there will be a fuller account of the concept, with proofs offered. At the core of this material will be reference to the film, Equals, which provides opportunity to make comparisons (much as is always done with Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty Four) so that the totalitarianism in real life can be espied.

The two shoppers who fell afoul of Aldi’s totalitarian tendency will be called Lucy and Ricky, and the name of the store manager, although it is known (and will be supplied directly to that department of Aldi UK that deals with such matters), is not mentioned. Because it is felt that Lucy and Ricky were discriminated against because of a politically motivated prejudice, it is felt that there is scope for legal action to be taken, and this is being explored. In making Aldi UK aware of this incident, the company will also be informed of the publication of this account, and will be asked to comment.

Lucy and Ricky had had time to visit two aisles in their local Aldi supermarket before someone announcing himself as the store manager approached them. In their basket already was a bag of braeburn apples, a carton of grapes, various lettuces, a cucumber, a packet of bacon, two yoghurts, a packet of nuts, a packet of ravioli, a carton of milk and a carton of orange juice. The list is included here to serve as an indication that the Aldi management took a good deal of time (perhaps even ten minutes) before it took any action.

When the manager arrived at Lucy and Ricky’s position he told them bluntly that he needed them to leave the store. He claimed that Lucy and Ricky had been aggressive to a member of staff. Ricky responded by calling the allegation “rubbish”. The manager told a lie: “she’s crying now”.

When Lucy and Ricky had been in the first aisle of the store, where it afforded the latter a good view through the to the area of the location of porch that contained the exit and entrance doors, he had been able to see the female member of staff assumedly in question. She was standing in the vicinity of the exit and entrance, talking to a male member of staff (but not the manager). She did not appear to be being consoled, or comforted, and she wasn’t wiping her eyes. She wasn’t crying. She did, however, appear to be identifying Lucy and Ricky to the said male member of staff. This was ascertained by the way both appeared to be looking at Lucy and Ricky.

In any case, it is clear that the story about the female crying because of aggressive behaviour at the hands of Lucy and Ricky was a falsehood to create grounds for the action that the manager intended to take, and ultimately did. As Ricky had so confidently asserted to the manager, the accusation was rubbish.

Lucy and Ricky had been in a queue waiting to enter the store; the female member of staff in question had been policing this line, standing in the store’s glass porch in front of the entrance doorway, and regulating the flow of customers into the store – much as is familiar at all supermarkets these days.

When Lucy and Ricky gained the head of the queue, the female addressed them: “for future reference it’s one trolley, one shopper”. This was an allusion to a policy that most supermarkets have implemented which ultimately means two adults are not permitted on the premises accompanying each other.

There were two reasons why, in surprise, Ricky exclaimed “ridiculous!” at this development:

i) The necessity of the policy was undermined by a lack of consistency. If Aldi, as represented by said female, was not prepared to enforce the policy this time, how could it insist it would have been necessary to enforce it the next time Lucy and Ricky visited the store?

ii) If a couple who live together in a home, such as Lucy and Ricky do, how then could they be a danger to each other by being together in a store? And if both were practising social distancing, neither could be any danger to other shoppers.

The female responded to Ricky: “but it isn’t [ridiculous], is it?” Ricky then started to explain the case against the policy given in point ii, above. Before getting to the part about being no danger to others, the female pre-empted Ricky by stating that she didn’t want he and Lucy to infect her other shoppers (her use of the word to indicate possession of Aldi’s customers is an important detail). At this point, Lucy felt compelled to intervene to point out that neither she nor Ricky were infected, and as such neither could be contagious.

Lucy and Ricky then began to talk with each other on various matters. As they were in a state of astonishment, they cannot recall the precise details, but it generally involved their unhappiness at the situation, how it would be very hard to be contagious with a disease that had barely been shown to exist, and how Aldi’s policy was not at all what it seemed. The female made a remark, apparently directed at Ricky (discernable by the use of the word “sir”), evidently to let it be known that she would like to be looked in the eye when she was being spoken to. If she thought that at any time in this period she had been being spoken to by either Lucy or Ricky, she also clearly indicated by what she said that she hadn’t actually been given cause to think it.

At last she addressed Lucy and Ricky to ask if they would like to enter the store. Lucy directed a question to her: “are we allowed?” The female replied that this was indeed the case: Lucy and Ricky had been invited into the store.  As he drew level with the female, Ricky decided to tell her something that she should consider important as it involved his and Lucy’s power of the purse, and where it would be expended elsewhere if Aldi continued to make customers jump through hoops. Because the female had brought the issue up before, Ricky wanted her to be clear that he was speaking to her, and asked her to notice that he was looking into her eyes to indicate this. Calmly, and without any aggression, he explained that “when this [the lockdown and social distancing] was all over, you [i.e. Aldi] are going to need paying customers, and we might not be those people”. This is all that Ricky said to the female after he had been invited into the store. The female acknowledged what she had been told, politely and without any sign of agitation: “yes, sir”.  At this point, Lucy and Ricky stepped beyond the exit/entrance porch area, and into the store properly.

Please let it be noted that the female did not burst into tears, and had not done so at any time during her contact with Lucy and Ricky. She didn’t even appear to become tearful. It should also be noted that the female had invited Lucy and Ricky into the store after the initial exchange (so no offence had evidently been caused to her at that point), and Lucy had obtained a clear conformation that the invite had indeed been extended. It is suggested that at any point during the female’s contact with Lucy and Ricky, she could have asked them to wait to speak to a manager before they entered the store. In other words, if it was felt that an offence had been committed, then Lucy and Ricky could have been denied entrance.

For the record, it should also be noted that the store manager, as he dealt with Lucy and Ricky, and then escorted them to the exit, was very agitated, which would be a departure from proper provision of customer service that he would surely have been instructed in. One would expect to see such a person, whether the customer he was confronting was an angry one or not, remain calm and unperturbed so as not to press a customer into an escalated reaction. Indeed, while Lucy and Ricky restricted their comments to him, and when they did speak, did it calmly, the manager was visibly roused to anger, and spoke rudely, for instance telling them “I need you to leave now”, and telling them “off you go”. While Lucy did not speak directly to the manager, Ricky spoke to him to warn of a law suit, and to ask him his full name, which the manager would not provide, saying “you are not entitled to know that” – to which Ricky responded by saying “I need to know who to send legal papers to”.

At no time did Lucy or Ricky raise a voice or speak with profanity to any member of the Aldi staff.


Follow up: Action Against Lockdown: Boycotting Supermarkets – (link)

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Displaying 5 Comments
Have Your Say
  1. Mara D says:

    Unfortunately there is no law against a store asking you to leave, for whatever reason. They may not like the cut of your gib, for instance. You may not have done anything wrong. It’s private land and they can throw you off it. They can refuse to serve you. They can refuse to sell you goods that you have already put in your basket. Until money has changed hands there is no contract.

    However, if they’ve thrown you out of the store because of your disability, ethnicity, religious belief, sexuality etc then they are up against the Equality Act 2010. Does the Coronavirus Act 2020 over-ride the EA 2010 completely now? The answer to that is clearly yes, certainly in all major stores. If that is so then why is the EA still on the statute books?

    When all the stores enacted their “one person only” rule they stated, quite clearly, to all their disabled customers that they no longer have any rights at all under that inconvenient legislation known as the Equality Act 2010. Not only that, but thousands of their disabled customers can no longer get home deliveries nor can they go into a store with a companion helper. This lets us all know exactly what businesses thinks of disabled customers – they will take your money but only if someone else gives it to them (your helper for instance).

    My local Sainsburys store (where I have been shopping since 2003 and getting shopping delivered for the last 12 months) prevented my husband from helping me in the store even though I had already declared my disability. A second female employee became agitated simply because my husband was accompanying me to the front of the queue. I will never shop there again. That is the only power we have – boycott them.

    • P W Laurie says:

      Thanks for your comments. The power of our purse is indeed the greatest one that we have, and the whole British service industry has never had a hard lesson in the value of their customers. Is the Coronavirus Act all powerful? This is what must be tested. Generally, law shouldn’t be beholden to madness, so we’ll see. Good to see the news of the mass legal action. The treatment you describe of disabled customers is frankly appalling, and actually some people need to go to jail. Let’s see if we can make that happen.

  2. Mara D says:

    “Supermarkets are facing mass legal action from disabled people left anxious and distressed because they are unable to buy food and other groceries during the coronavirus crisis.”

  3. Mara D says:

    Some supermarkets are now introducing a “no touch” rule. If you pick something up you have to buy it. What next – full bio-suits if you leave the house?

  4. I don’t shop at the big supermarkets as they’re loving the control they think they have. I stick to my local independent stores who are doing a magnificent job of providing free delivery to people in the town and surrounding area during this plandemic. Any business that doesn’t take cash also doesn’t get a look in. Starve the beast.