She walked into The Warehouse to buy some underwear and left two hours later in tears and with a trespass order.
Mother-of-four Irie Te Wehi-Takerei says she feels "humiliated" after being wrongly accused of shoplifting at the John Goulter Drive store near Auckland International Airport.
"I had a broken leg at the time so I was in there for about a good hour looking around," she said.
"I grabbed some underwear and then went up to the counter to pay for it. After I walked out the police were there waiting for me."
Te Wehi-Takerei said police were told she'd put the underwear in her bag.
"I told them I hadn't stolen anything.
"I showed them my receipts and they checked my bag. I proved my innocence."
But the 42-year-old said they wouldn't listen to her and kept her in custody for two hours.
A staff member then served her with an order trespassing her from all Warehouse stores.
"I couldn't believe it. People were walking past and looking at me like I was a thief," she said.
"When I left the store I sat in my car crying. I was humiliated and embarrassed. Nobody wanted to listen to me."
Later that day she emailed The Warehouse head office to complain. After a staff member reviewed security footage and found Te Wehi-Takerei to be innocent, she was offered an apology and a 15 per cent discount as compensation.
When she said no, she was offered $200, which she again refused. Then on Monday she was offered a public apology and a cheque for $1000.
"It was a beautiful apology but there's no monetary value for what I went through.
"The money means nothing - it's about the principle."
Te Wehi-Takerei said she was inspired to speak up after hearing the story of Rikki Cooper who was targeted by staff at Countdown's Dinsdale supermarket in Hamilton last month.
"I felt they were judging me by the way I look and by the colour of my skin too," she said.
"This isn't how you treat people.
"That particular day I had my raggedy clothes on, it was a bad hair day and I'm walking around slowly with a moon boot on."
The Warehouse public relations manager Joanne Fullam said the company is reviewing its processes to ensure incidents of that type do not happen again.
"Swift action was taken to remedy the issue with the customer directly and we understand the customer is happy with the resolution.
"We won't be commenting further around what is a private matter between ourselves and the customer concerned," Fullam said.
But Te Wehi-Takerei said none of it would have happened if The Warehouse staff had followed shoplifting procedures properly.
"I'm not a rich person - I save up my little pennies to go to The Warehouse.
"What was meant to be a luxury day of shopping turned into me walking out served with a trespass order and humiliated."
- Manukau Courier
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