Sale of pencil sharpener to pupil ‘too dangerous’

WHEN schoolgirl Charlotte Howard went to pay for a packet of coloured pencils in a budget store she did not expect to leave empty-handed after being told her 99p purchase was a “dangerous object”.

A shop in Sudbury refused to sell the pack of pencils containing a pencil sharpener to 11-year-old Charlotte because she was a child.

It comes just days after the EADT revealed that warning signs had been placed on conker trees in west Suffolk to ensure pedestrians were not injured by falling horse chestnuts.

Charlotte, a pupil at Uplands Middle School, Sudbury, wanted to buy the pencils in Sudbury’s 99p Store for a school art project but had to go back to her mother Alison, 44, waiting in a car in North Street, without them.

“I was totally bemused and a little shocked,” said Mrs Howard, a school nurse from Bank Buildings, off Station Road. “I went into the shop, up to the till where I could see the pencils and asked why Charlotte was not allowed to buy a pack of children’s pencils. I was gobsmacked when I was told they contained a pencil sharpener and were classified as a dangerous object so could not be sold to under-18s.”

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Keeping her cool, Mrs Howard offered to buy the pencils but then received a further shock.

“The cashier told me I was obviously going to give them to my daughter so I could not have them. It beggars belief that a product made for children can’t actually be bought by either children or parents, so who can actually buy them?” she added.

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An incredulous Mrs Howard, who has lived in Sudbury for eight years, said the cashier was following to-the-letter a warning sign that flashed up on the till when the item was scanned.

Hussein Lalani, 99p’s commercial director, said he was proud of his staff member for following company policy so professionally, but admitted: “We obviously need to look at some of the classifications on our goods and rectify them if needed.”

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