A mum-of-two with a rare condition that makes her incontinent was forced to wet herself in River Island after store staff refused to let her use the toilet.
Bianca Artwell, 30, suffers from Functional Neurological Disorder (FND), a condition that affects the nervous system and how her brain and body send and receive signals.
It causes her to suffer weakness or paralysis, tremors or tics, difficulty walking, loss of balance and incontinence.
The incident happened when Bianca was returning a pair of shoes for her three year-old daughter in the River Island store at Elliot’s Field Retail Park in Rugby, Warwickshire, last week.
As she approached the till she quickly realised she needed the toilet - due to her condition this is difficult to control.
She asked staff if she could use the store’s toilet while explaining her condition and that it meant she was unable to wait.
However, staff refused to let her use it saying it was against company policy.
Despite pleading with staff and the store manager, Bianca was told to go and use the toilet in the cafe across the road.
As tried to leave the store she was unable to hold on and wet herself. She claims that rather than offering to help, staff ignored her and instead placed a ‘wet floor’ sign next to her.
Bianca, 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.
“Stood in shock I assumed she must be coming back but instead she and her colleagues carried on their conversation.
“The manager even walked past me and shouted bye to her colleagues and just looked at me in my mess and left the premises.
“As other customers arrived, walking past me and my wet floor sign, it finally occurred that this was my problem and the staff weren’t going to help me in any way. No offer of going to a changing room, no offer of tissues, no offer of other clothing or even a ‘are you okay?’.”
‘Staff offered no compassion’
After saying none of the staff came to assist her, Bianca phoned two of her friends for help.
They escorted her out of the store and took her to another shop to buy clean clothes and personal cleaning products.
Bianca, who works as a beauty therapist, said she has lodged a formal complaint and demanded that River Island staff are given better training after she was shown “no compassion”.
She said: “I’ve previously worked in retail for years and there are characteristics that are exempt from this such as, elderly, pregnant women, children and those with disabilities.
“Is it policy to further fail a customer after an accident like this by offering no compassion, no dignity or treating them like a human being?
“I’ve never in my life been treated in such a cold manner. Left in the doorway of a shop with a sign directing people to look at the freak show, with no covering or support.”
Bianca says she was offered a new outfit from the shop which she refused to accept.
River Island has issued an apology to Bianca following the incident.
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.”