Collapsed electrical giant Comet has been blasted after jobsworth staff refused to serve a disabled girl – because her mother tried to pay with a voucher supplied to her by a charity.
Bernadette Pritchard, 43, was turned away from two stores when she tried to buy a TV/DVD player for her two-year-old daughter Aimee-Leigh with the £150 charity grant.
Charity Family Fund gave Aimee-Leigh, who suffers from cerebral palsy, the voucher as part of a gift scheme for disabled children at Christmas.
But when Bernadette tried to spend the voucher she was stunned when staff refused to accept them, claiming they were no longer valid since the company had gone into administration.
Bernadette, from Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffs., said: “I applied to Family Fund for a grant to buy a TV for Aimee-Leigh and they sent me a £150 card for Comet about three weeks ago.
“I went into Comet at Trent Vale to buy the TV and they told me they weren’t accepting the cards from Family Fund any more.
“I rang the charity who said I could still spend it, and I checked Comet’s website, which said the administrators were still allowing stores to take them.
“I went back to the store and this time was told I could spend it but I had to pay an extra £70 for five-year insurance.
“I rang Family Fund again and they said that wasn’t true.
“I then went to the Festival Park branch where staff were rude and aggressive.
“They told me they weren’t accepting the cards.
“The man I spoke to was abusive and made me feel so small. Everyone was looking at me.
“I told him the company had already had the money from a charity and he said they weren’t bothered because they were losing their jobs anyway.”
Bernadette was turned away first from a Comet branch in Trent Vale, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffs., before going to a store in Festival Park in the town where she was again refused service.
The mum-of-five added: “It’s really upset me. Aimee-Leigh has been so poorly. She had a lumbar puncture two weeks ago and we are waiting on test results to see if she is suffering from a rare condition.
“She spends most of her time sleeping and watching TV is her one pleasure in life. I’m disgusted that Comet has had money from this charity and treated people like this.”
Family Fund provides grants for low-income families with a disabled child to enable them to buy electrical goods, clothing and other items.
The charity awarded £33.4 million to 59,166 families in the UK last year.
A charity spokeswoman said: “This has been a very confusing time for the families affected.
“We are working with Comet and the administrators on a report to detail families that have not been able to spend their gift cards.
“As soon as we get that we are planning to reissue the funding for alternative retailers.”
A statement from Deloitte on Comet’s website said Family Fund gift cards were being accepted at the retailer from November 6.
This was then updated on December 3 to say the cards could no longer be spent in store.