Express & Star

Trolleys 'stolen' from Asda store leaving customers 'waiting 35 minutes' due to shortage

Weekly shopping trips at a Smethwick supermarket are becoming 'impractical' due to a lack of trolleys at the store.

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The empty trolley shelter at Asda Cape Hill. Picture: Ian McCormick

Customers at Asda's Cape Hill branch are being forced to wait up to 35 minutes for a trolley after finding none on arrival, with many believing they are being stolen at night.

Ian McCormick, registered coordinator of Smethwick Neighbourhood Watch, voiced his concern after finding the trolley shelter at the store empty, but said he comes across "several a day" on the roads nearby.

He said: "We see 20-30 trolleys a week that have been dumped on the streets. A member of staff said they had been stolen, but another factor is that some people may not have a car, and cannot afford a taxi and, if they bought a lot of things, taking the trolley is the only way they can get their shopping home.

"Supermarkets do have agents to collect any trolleys found on the street, but they only know if it's reported. A staff member said there is an app to report this through, but this does not solve the root cause."

The 56-year-old said he had to abandon his shopping trip to the store off Windmill Lane due to time pressure, but saw queues of shoppers waiting to be passed a trolley from a leaving customer.

"The last few times I've been there, there have been no baskets or trolleys. You have to almost hunt for one. There were groups of people waiting by the tills until someone has finished with their shopping, and at one point I counted eight people waiting outside for a trolley.

"I asked an employee why there weren't any baskets and she said they're being stolen as well.

"They used to have a device on the trolleys that stopped them being taken past a certain point. My only guess is that they are trying to cut costs and have bought trolleys which don't do that anymore. Trolleys cost anywhere from £80 - £200."

Ian said, in his 20 years as an Asda customer, it is the first time he has seen the shelter empty.

He said: "There needs to be proper security manning this, as it will act as a deterrent. They have security in store, but no one keeping an eye outside the shop. They have said that they will install the devices that stop the trolleys working past a point and make sure the trolleys are chained up, maybe even taken in at night."

The Asda Cape Hill store. Stock photo

Having written to the CEO of Asda a year ago about the dilemma, Ian said there is still nothing being done to tackle the root cause, and is calling on some changes to be made.

"Commercially, it's a mystery why Asda is not seeing this as a crisis," he said. "Several people have said they're no longer shopping there because its impractical.

"How do you manage if you've got kids? A baby in one hand whilst juggling your shopping in the other. It has a knock-on effect, especially to vulnerable people."

Ian has seen abandoned trolleys from Asda for about a year, stressing that it is a major issue in the community, which has a neighbourhood watch group of around 800 members.

One Facebook user said on their way to the store they saw four trolleys on the street, with another saying they have been handed boxes to put their shopping in.

Responding to Dr McCormick's email today, a member of the relations team said they will ensure new trolleys are on order with theft devices built in, and that they aim to collect any abandoned trolleys as soon as possible. The supermarket giant added that relevant departments have been contacted to see how they can fix the situation and minimise the impact on customers.

An Asda spokesperson said the store's trolleys are already equipped with the wheel locking system, and that they have ordered new ones.

"We apologise that there are currently a low number of trolleys available at our Cape Hill store" they said.

"We have ordered more trolleys to replace those that have been taken from the store and we would ask that customers please return trolleys to the designated bays when they are finished using them.''