Supermarket giants Marks and Spencer have apologised to customers after Muslim employees had been given permission to decline service to customers purchasing alcohol or pork because of their religious beliefs.
The news resulted in a huge backlash from angry customers who threatened to boycott the store should the policy remain in place, with more than 9,000 people joining a ‘Boycott M&S’ page on Facebook in response to the news.
The news first came to light after customers in a London store were told that they would have to use another til because the cashier was of Islamic faith and they did not want to handle such products as pork and alcohol.
On Sunday 22nd December, Marks and Spencer apologised to customers and said that the rule had gone against the companies own policy, adding that no such matter will arise again.
In a statement, Marks and Spencer said: “Where we have an employee whose religious beliefs restrict food or drink they can handle, we work closely with our member of staff to place them in suitable role, such as in our clothing department or bakery in foods.
“We regret that in the case highlighted today we were not following our own internal policy.”
Despite the apology angry consumers took to social media sites to vent their frustration at the store.
Robin Smith said on Facebook: “M&S has just lost a valuable customer. I used to buy perfumes there, but it is made of alcohol. So I will have to find somewhere else. Never again shopping there!!!
“Let's teach them to respect customers!!! Stop buying anything there. Soon, whatever we will buy, we will be refused to be served, because someone is offended.”
Meanwhile, Ankit Bajpai added: “I am a Hindu…and I don't eat beef. Doesn't mean, if I do a job at store, I will refuse customers due to my belief system. Otherwise I wouldn't have taken the job in the first place.
“But in this case, M&S allowed certain privileges so I would assume it’s their fault.”
With the festive period being the busiest time for retailers nationwide, M&S will be hoping that their controversial decision does not result in a major setback in their Christmas sales.