Edgars Hemmingways in East London has received a fair bit of flak after a shopper and her daughter spotted a CCTV camera inside the girls’ fitting rooms while they were trying on underwear.
The discovery was made on Sunday by an East London woman, who had since reported the incident to the store’s head office.
Retalibility group, which took over ownership of 650 Edgars stores in September, confirmed the existence of the camera.
Group CEO Norman Drieselmann said customers should not be alarmed because the camera had stopped working in 2016 and that there was no recorded footage of customers.
Drieselmann did not explain whether the camera had previously filmed customers before it stopped working.
A store employee, who declined to be named, said the camera was at the fitting rooms of the kiddies’ section.
She said security guards of a company previously contracted to do work for the store, reported before that they could see customers from the control room monitors.
The employee said the security guards advised the store manager to remove the camera from the fitting room, but their request apparently fell on deaf ears.
The aggrieved customer posted the matter on a private WhatsApp group – it had since been leaked and was now in the public domain.
Hemingways Mall management also confirmed receiving the complaint.
In the WhatsApp post, the woman said: “We were trying on clothes in the Memingways [sic] Mall Edgars fitting rooms today when my daughter spotted the security camera in the mirror. I have forwarded this to Edgars head office and await their feedback.”
The complainant further said: “I wanted to warn all East London girls. Don’t try on clothes at Edgars. It would appear that their surveillance cameras could be watching.”
“The camera can only be seen in the mirror, but I’m quite sure that if we can see the camera in the mirror, anyone looking at the camera footage would be able to see the reflection of the people in the dressing room. Very disturbing considering we were purchasing underwear at the time,” the post read.
The Retailability group has apologised for the incident and reported that the store had since removed the camera.
“We can confirm that this legacy security camera is inoperable, this has been affirmed by the shopping centre management. The static camera in question in the Hemmingway store has been inoperable since 2016 with no recorded footage available whatsoever,” said Drieselmann in a statement.
“Retailibility (Pty) Ltd is the new owners of Edgars [and] are taking this matter very seriously. We are very clear that our values include respect for the individual and customer privacy. We would never knowingly or intentionally have a camera operable inside any of our Retailability (Pty) Ltd stores fitting rooms,” added Drieselmann.
“The unit has been physically removed to ensure the maximum comfort and sense of privacy for our customers frequenting this store and the same applies across our store base. We apologise for the inconvenience that the customer experienced and are glad the matter was highlighted to us,” he added.
The customer who laid the compliant could not be reached for comment.
Hemingways spokesperson Wendy Vanda said the complaint was forwarded to the mall management and was being attended to.
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