Zara’s no-trolley policy discriminates against child with special needs

International fashion brand Zara’s no-trolley policy came under fire this week when employees at their Cresta Shopping Mall branch refused to make an exception to their rule to accommodate a child with pulmonary hypertension who had her oxygen tank in a trolley.

Shaakira Bodhania told The Daily Vox she tried to enter the store on Wednesday June 21 with her seven-year-old daughter Humayra, who was sitting in the trolley.

Bodhania said she shops at Cresta Shopping Mall regularly because it is accommodating to children with special needs. Humayra usually uses a mobility scooter, as she is unable to walk long distances without getting out of breath. But on that particular day they did not have the scooter with them, so Humayra sat in a trolley with her oxygen tank while they shopped.

When they tried to enter Zara, they were stopped by security. “Thuli, the store manager then came to me and said this is not allowed and if you shop with a trolley, you are not allowed to shop in our store. So I said, ‘But clearly you can make an exception’,” she said.

Bodhania says the manager gave her the Zara customer services email address to take the matter further.

Zara has a no-trolley policy, which it says exists for health, safety and security reasons. After Bodhania posted about the incident on Facebook and Instagram, several people responded saying they had also been prevented from entering the store with their children with special needs in trolleys. One commenter said she could not enter the store with her elderly mother, who uses a trolley to assist her with walking in malls.

Bodhania says she has since received several emails from Zara, including from the Zara head office in Spain, in which the retailer apologised for the incident and promised to look into the conduct of their staff. The retailer also posted an apology on her Facebook page, saying that it would be revising its trolley policy to include health-related exceptions.

A screenshot of Zara’s response on Shaakira Bodhania’s Instagram page.


Bodhania said she would accept the brand’s apology, but would like them to make concrete policy changes to accommodate children with special needs and to also show sincere remorse about the issue.

Featured image via Wikimedia Commons

  1. Waheeda says

    I am a regular at the Zara store in cresta. Unfortunately I have also had such experiences at the store. Zara has a kiddies division, you would think that they will be more accommodating. With all the child trafficking that is going on, I feel my child is safer in a trolley and with me. It’s extremely difficult shopping for kiddies clothes with a toddler who is not confined to a particular space ; ( a trolley). At times parents get so involved in looking for sizes etc that in that split second a child can go missing. This is very disappointing and disturbing. Why doesn’t Zara get there own trolleys or push cars that consumers can use?

  2. Innovation Kat says

    Adding to the complaint inventory: My issue is not a human rights one. But certainly it felt like a violation. It is not only the trolley- policy that needs a re-visit by Zara. But customer-centricty broadly speaking. As a working person, I pop in seasonally to do a quick convenience [mass] purchase. The fitting room policy is surprising: 6 items only and no racks for additional items – I was informed to leave them AT THE FRONT DESK. When I protested last visit as I was buying an item for a family funeral that day and just wanted to get the job done, another shopper offered to hold my additional items (I was tempted to rush across the shop floor between fittings in bra and pants). Overload dealt with, the young intern, grabbed a pile of items from my hands, and began to count them officiously. She got to 7 with one pair of pants resting between two items on hangars. She looked at me inquisitorially and asked why I had chosen to hide the pink pants [mind boggling, I didnt begin to question where, why and how I would willingly conceal a shocking pink clothing item, with an electronic tag – in a pile of clothing when entering a fitting room.] Upon emerging to swop out items kindly hanging from my fellow shopper’s hands, it turned out that the young woman had not given me a number. She again accused me of hiding it (by then, I was beginning to envisage a scene out of Greys Anatomy as I was submitted to the penetrating rays of a Lodox scanner to see if I had a plastic tag concealed somewhere in one of my secret anatomical passages) . The fellow shopper assured her that I had no reason to do conceal a number, and advised her not to blame me for a minor oversight. Nonetheless, I was followed into the fitting room where all Zara items were audited by her fellow assistant who confirmed that I had only 6. On emerging the final time, still without a number tag, the young intern now, clearly brimming with the heady feeling of power that only a prison warder could relate to, refused to hand over the stored items which I was intending purchasing. At this time, my composure crumbled: My tantrum could be heard from the parking lot. I am sure that my fumes unleashed a fire siren at the adjacent mall. I raced to the cash desk. Although repeatedly summoned, the manager did not arrive. I accepted apologies from the sales desk team. And hastened to calm myself before the funeral. I left my phone number and await a call. I cannot begin to explain how much courage I had to muster prior to my return visit, to return one item of clothing – the envisaged backroom interrogation thankfully did not materialise, as clearly, the return policy is not left to the discretion of a junior assistant with no social skills.
    I still wonder how much more reputation impairment Zara will have to sustain in South Africa before this global organisation that chooses to brand itselft as innovative and progressive decides to publicly consult with their customers as to logical, fair and basic customer needs and shopper-friendly policies and good business practice.

  3. dr ahmed adam says

    ZARA Head Office
    For Attention: CEO, MD, CFO and Board of Directors
    24th June 2017

    Dear Sirs and Madams
    Problem from South Africa
    Zara Brand is an Internationally recognised and preferred range of clothing that is specifically chosen by an elite group of clientele all over the world. It is important to understand that your product range is Elite and VIP, your Brand is Elite and VIP, the layout of your stores is Elite and VIP and your customers are Elite and VIP: unfortunately, you fail miserably on the most important component that is the cornerstone of any successful business: your Customer care and satisfaction is NOT elite nor VIP; I was prompted to write when one of your Stores in South Africa (ZARA at the CRESTA Shopping Mall in Gauteng, South Africa), refused entry to a mother who had a Medically Disabled child with her who needed to be on an Oxygen Respirator. The child (7 years) often went on her own wheelchair/scooter, but on this occasion it was not available. The mother placed the child and the Oxygen tank on a Shopping Trolley, but was refused entry by both the Security staff and the Manager of the Store. This is in contravention of the Constitution of Discrimination against Disabled Persons as well as contrary to the Principles of the United Nations in respect to Human Rights.
    I am a Medical Doctor with a Spinal Disability and I often need both an Oxygen tank as well as my specially designed motorised wheelchair. Would I also be refused entry into your store even though I can give you a lot of business for the day. My suggestion to you would be as follows: First, please understand that the culture of “friendliness” is different in various countries. Second, When I was in Dubai recently, I met Hotel staff, waiters and porters and the friendliest were from Vietnam, Korea, India, Nepal and South America. Being friendly and helpful comes to them naturally. Third, However, for other cultures, you need to go the extra mile and explain that the Customer is the most important part of your business: without customers, your stock does not get sold, your staff do not get paid salaries, your rental does not get paid, your shareholders get very unhappy and eventually your brand goes from Boom to Bust. Fourth, While it is important to have rules, regulations, safety policies, protocols and other in-house system checks, it is important to understand that when the owner is not physically present in the business, are you sure that your staff are empowering your business or killing your business. Fifth, to have a good business is like making a good movie: from the beginning, you have to select (choose) the right person for the right job) and that is why HR is so important (jobs-for-friends is a total failure). Sixth, Please re-look at your entire Customer Care Division and ensure that you have an entire folder on how to deal with customer problems, how to prevent them, how to have a satisfied customer who keeps coming back and how to ensure that you hire the staff with common sense, intelligence and the right attitude.
    Warmest regards,
    Dr Ahmed Adam, South Africa

  4. Fathima Shafeeq Meer says

    Little Humayra passed away today. May Allah grant her the highest stages in Jannah Ameen. The fight to recognise special needs must be made a priority. Stores like Zara need to understand that they are beholding to the public.

    1. Zaineb says

      So sorry to hear about her passing away… It saddeneds my soul😟 may Allah grant her the highest. Stages in Jannah…Ameen🙏

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