"It's demeaning": Aldi doesn't let women go to the toilet
Created: 04/01/2023 16:13
By: Boris Naumann
Christa Schmidt is denied access to the toilet in the supermarket.
The consumer center Hessen clarifies regulations in retail.
Niestetal – Christa Schmidt is pissed off: "It's not the first time that I've not been allowed to go to the toilet in a supermarket," says the 80-year-old.
Most recently, this happened to her in Niestetal in the Aldi market on Hannoversche Strasse.
"After shopping, I was simply in need, but they just left me," says the elderly woman.
"First an employee turned me away, then even the branch manager."
Out of necessity, she then ran to Edeka on the other side of the street.
"I knew they had a toilet for customers again recently," says Schmidt to hna.de.
But Aldi is not an isolated case.
Elsewhere in Niestetal or in Kassel - no matter in which shops - she has already been denied access to the toilet.
"As an 80-year-old, it's not always that easy to suppress the need for defecation." Basically, she doesn't enjoy asking for the toilet key.
"It's demeaning when it's urgent and I have to beg for it."
View of a company logo from Aldi Nord.
© Rolf Vennenbernd/dpa/archive image
After the incident in the supermarket: More customer proximity required
Schmidt simply rejects "this ignorant behavior" and demands significantly more customer proximity.
But can the Niestetalerin actually insist on it?
The Hesse Trade Association points out that there is no obligation to provide a public toilet in retail – apart from building code requirements.
"It is up to the individual company to decide whether a customer toilet is offered and how to react to a customer request," says Katrin Raddatz, consultant at the trade association.
This is also confirmed by the Hesse Consumer Advice Center: "So far, there has not been a blanket law requiring toilets in retail," says Peter Lassek, a lawyer at the Hesse Consumer Advice Center.
In this respect, retailers are allowed to refuse customers to go to the toilet - even if they have been asked to do so in a friendly manner.
This applies to supermarkets, specialty stores and petrol stations.
Regulations in retail: consumer center Hessen clarifies
"There are regulations and building law specifications as of which sales area the retail trade must provide customer toilets," adds Lassek.
However, this is not regulated nationwide.
In Hesse, for example, the trade association is of the opinion that the existing customer toilets in the large department stores and supermarkets are already sufficient.
"People fear problems if the construction measures, which are subject to bureaucratic requirements, are also imposed on smaller shops," says Lassek.
Instead, the trade association points out that it is the task of the municipalities to offer more public toilets.
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In Bavaria, on the other hand, there are already discussions about changing the state building regulations so that citizens have such a legal right.
This refers to sanitary facilities in supermarkets.
"In the Saarland, too, there is a trend towards making customer toilets compulsory in retail," says Lassek.
In Berlin, there has been a toilet requirement for retailers since 2016.
Even if the consumer advice center Hessen does not want to comment further on the current legal framework, the insight prevails: “With a customer toilet, companies make their customers more satisfied customers.
And satisfied customers come back,” says Lassek.
Supermarket regrets incident with senior citizen
This was also confirmed by sales experts.
Service is the key to success in retail.
The market competition is now huge.
“And it is no longer just about offers and prices, but also about service quality.
This also includes customer toilets,” says Lassek.
Aldi-Nord shows understanding in the case of Christa Schmidt.
"We very much regret that the customer had this experience in our branch," said spokeswoman Emily Rosberger.
“We will work up the incident internally and sensitize our employees again.
Of course, our employees are required to offer customers the staff toilet in such exceptional situations." (Boris Naumann)
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