Paying the price for a visit to St Albans BHS toilets

British Home Stores on St Peter's Street

British Home Stores on St Peter's Street - Credit: Archant

When shoppers need to answer the call of nature while browsing BHS in St Albans city centre, they now have to spend a penny before they are allowed to use the store’s toilets.

The change has appalled Joan Reibscheid of Harpenden who recently noticed a new digital lock had been placed on the door to the men’s and women’s lavatories.

A sign there makes it clear that those not purchasing goods at the store are not welcome to use the toilets.

Joan said: “The door had been changed to a heavy one with a digi-lock installed. There was a notice on the door saying you needed a receipt to use the toilets. You had to press ‘C’ followed by the code on the bottom of the receipt.”

She has questioned the change, pointing out that shoppers wishing to eat in the BHS café nearby might want to wash their hands first.

Joan spoke to the store’s manager about health and safety concerns, and was apparently told the coffee shop would give shoppers a receipt to use the facilities before eating.

She told the Herts Advertiser: “You should be able to wash your hands for hygiene reasons. People with mental disabilities would find it difficult to understand about the receipt, and those with physical disabilities would find it hard to use the lock and push the door open.”

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On the day that this paper visited BHS, there was a sign on the door leading to the toilets saying: “Due to the regular misuse of our customer toilets we have had a digi-lock installed. The code for this is printed on the bottom of your receipt.

“If you are not purchasing with us there are public toilets located at the rear of the store by Drovers Way car park.”

However a visit to those public conveniences behind BHS, at midday on Tuesday, revealed that there was no toilet paper in several cubicles while a fourth, which did have paper, was still missing a door lock after several weeks.

A spokeswoman for BHS had not responded to questions about the change at the time of going to press. But a spokeswoman for Marks & Spencer said the firm’s store in St Albans had no plans to follow suit.