Supermarket chain Lidl came under fire in Greece after a 70-year-old woman tried to steal some food worth 30 to 40 euros on Saturday — because she was hungry. The German chain that has been operating in Greece for decades has achieved hefty profits in the country, but could not achieve to grasp the meaning of the Greek value of philotimo – in this instance they showed none!
Although charges were originally filed against the elderly woman, the company later agreed to drop the charges on Thursday.
After she was caught, other customers in the supermarket pleaded with staff not to call the police, and even offered to pay for her food. According to witnesses, the managers of the supermarket called the police on the woman anyway.
After the authorities arrived, even they suggested that the supermarket not press charges, as the woman was struggling financially and couldn’t even afford to feed herself.
The woman claimed she had barely any money as she has a very high mortgage payment that she repays with her nearly all of her monthly retirement check so that she can keep her home. She also takes expensive medication for various health problems.
Despite this, management at the LIDL store, which is a discount supermarket chain from Germany, claimed that their hands were tied and they had to press charges.
“Cancel Lidl” went viral in Greece after treatment of elderly woman
Members of the local community urged the supermarket to withdraw the charges, but they received a response claiming it was company policy not to withdraw such charges.
The incident, which went viral across Greece and outraged the public, was apparently so embarrassing for the woman that she had attempted suicide, a neighbor stated to the Open television network.
Social media users were disturbed by what they believed was a lack of compassion on the part of the Lidl store, and the hashtag #cancel_lidl went viral.
Even the Greek government stepped in, as Adonis Georgiadis, its development minister, intervened and urged the company not to pursue criminal charges against the elderly woman.
After word spread online that the store was located in Ilion, a suburb west of Athens, and a statement from Lidl itself confirmed it, the activist anarchist group Rouvikonas smashed the windows of the store in protest early Friday morning.
In the company’s official statement about the incident, which was released on Thursday, it claimed to support those in need by donating food to NGOs and other local charities.
It also pledged to withdraw the charges:
“The recent incident at our store in Ilion deeply saddens us. The store manager just as every one of our store managers is obliged to follow set procedures regarding illegal behavior, in accordance with the law.
“The company management is aware of the incident and will take care that it goes no further. The company will contact the customer in order to put an end to the issue that arose. Lidl Hellas, aware of its responsibility and role in Greek society, will continue to stand by all those who need us.”
Even after Lidl assured the public that it would not pursue the charges, many social media users were still not impressed, with one writing “Too Lidl, too late.”
Too Lidl, too late
— George Anavaloglou (@ganavalo) February 17, 2022