Marge Dooley, a 70-year-old resident of Maplewood, New Jersey, bought about $60 worth of groceries at the Millburn-Union Whole Foods Market on Oct. 4, but she says she forgot she left some cheese in her cart, tucked beneath her purse.
The senior citizen was apprehended by security, questioned in the back of the store and underwent a background check, although she has no criminal record. Dooley was then banned from all Whole Foods stores in the tri-state area under threat of trespassing charges, The Village Green NJ reported. Despite her ordeal, Dooley asked if she could still buy the cheese, but wasn’t allowed to do so.
Dooley’s treatment might have gone unnoticed if her daughter, Margaret Nolan, hadn’t posted about it on social media, NJ.com reported. Outrage over Dooley’s treatment quickly spread and many customers declared they wouldn’t shop at Whole Foods again.
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The backlash provoked Whole Foods Market into removing and replacing the security company that detained Dooley.
“Loss prevention is an unfortunate necessity in retail,” Michael Sinatra, public relations & public affairs director for Whole Foods Market told The Village Green NJ in an email.
“This is an unfortunate incident and we have reached out to the shopper directly to make things right. We are also having discussions with the loss prevention company at this store to ensure they clearly understand our expectations when it comes to our customers.”
Despite the chain’s reaction, Nolan said she won’t shop at Whole Foods Market again.