ALDI has defended itself after a Victorian manager was filmed kicking a high-school student out of the store as part of a blanket ban following shoplifting incidents.
Posting on Facebook on Tuesday night, Anita Duesterhaus said the video was taken at Aldi Mornington on the Nepean Highway last week by her son Jai, who went into the store before school to buy lunch for an excursion.
"He was alone, well presented, polite and had a wallet full of cash," Ms Duesterhaus wrote. "He was treated like a criminal and told that students from Mornington Secondary were not welcome to shop in his store. The store manager ... shooed him from the store like he was vermin."
In the video, the store manager is seen ushering the teen out of the store. "How dare you record me, mate. You can't record me," he says.
Jai describes it as "ridiculous". "You're telling me I can't come in because I'm from Mornington Secondary College?" he asks.
The manager replies, "Yes, correct. Unfortunately like I said, mate ... tweet it, Facebook if you like, but unfortunately schoolkids have stolen from the store. Students plural."
According to the Ms Duesterhaus, she was sent a "written apology" by Aldi after complaining, but in a subsequent phone conversation with the manager she was told "he would rather lose the custom of all 1600 families that attend Mornington Secondary, rather than have them in his store".
"I understand that they have had trouble with shoplifting in the past, however I think it's utter discrimination to outright ban 1600 students just because of the actions of some," she wrote.
"My son is an honest, law-abiding and well respected community member. [Did he] deserve to be treated like a thief just because of the school he goes to? I don't think so. I have always taught my children right from wrong. None of them would ever steal. It's wrong to punish everyone for the actions of a few."
She encouraged other parents at the school, which reportedly agreed to the ban, to share the video. "I'm sure there are many people who will choose to take their business to the other Aldi," she said.
A number of other parents chimed in on Facebook, confirming their children had also been kicked out. One woman said her daughter was "kicked out last week when she ran in to get some crumpets and a $10 note for me when I couldn't walk first thing in the morning".
Another said her daughter's friend was booted out of the store after going in "for a drink so she didn't dehydrate when walking home from school".
"My daughter told me the same, I'm disgusted and more with the kids [that] have stuffed it up for all the other good kids," wrote one mother. "They will be losing lots of money as I will not go to that one any more."
Some people defended the manager's actions, however. "How many issues has there been?" asked one commenter. "The school should be addressing the situation ... it's a very bad look for the school community but Aldi must have some very strong evidence to make a stand like this."
Another described the parents as "whingers". "How many of you own a small business? I'll go out on a limb here and say not one of you," he wrote.
"Running a business to have all your profits stolen by predominantly students from one school. The fact it's Aldi makes little difference. As they are bigger do you feel they should absorb the cost of theft? It is obviously big enough for him to ban all students."
And of course, just for good measure, someone managed to make it about race. "Here comes all the support for the poor targeted caucasian woman's son," he wrote.
"Damn, so much discrimination going on ... look at all the white people rallying together for a great cause. Imagine if this was a darker-skin child, [not] caucasian. How do you think the whole situation would pan out?"
In a statement, an Aldi spokeswoman said, "In store locations where we identify shoplifting, disruptive or disrespectful behaviour that involves school students, our preference is to work with the local school to make the issue known.
"This allows the school to attempt to address the issue before it becomes a matter for the police. Despite the engagement and support of the local school, a handful of students continued to display inappropriate behaviour.
"As a result, the Aldi Mornington store made an independent decision to temporarily ban students unless accompanied by an adult. The Facebook posts from aggrieved parents and students have been reviewed by Aldi.
"We agree that the decision to ban unaccompanied students is not a viable solution to this issue and we have since lifted the ban. Aldi will continue to work with the school and if required, with the local police."
Ms Duesterhaus has been contacted for comment.
Mornington Secondary College declined to comment.