A CUSTOMER who complained about the service at a shop was told he was “wrapped up” in his own ego and needed help “facing his anger”.

Jonathan Perry had emailed a health food shop after the assistant there refused to dispose of his empty container of tablets after he bought a new supply.

Shop staff are standing by the strong reply, insisting they had been offended by the episode.

Mr Perry, of Knyveton Road, Bournemouth, had visited Earth Foods in Southbourne Grove and bought goods worth £45 from the assistant.

He said: “To ensure I bought the right tablets, I took the small empty container with me. After paying, and as I had no pockets free, I politely asked if she would mind disposing of the old container. A curt ‘no’ was the response.”

He said he had spent “literally thousands of pounds” there since the mid-1990s and had been upset by the experience.

“I know I could get the products far cheaper on the internet but choose to support the high street small shops as I also have a business,” he wrote to the shop.

The reply, from Mahadev of Earth Foods, said: “Occasionally, customers in our shop [are] so wrapped up in their own sense of self (ego) that they overreact when their ego gets hurt.”

He said it was “better if we go separate ways” and signed off: “Wishing you good luck facing your own anger.”

The assistant who served Mr Perry has since written to him, saying the shop had trouble getting rid of its litter and preferred customers to recycle for themselves.

“We do serve, but we must be aware of not becoming servile. The word comes from Latin and means slave,” she added.

Mahadev, who did not give his last name, said: “We’re not an ordinary health food shop. We like to talk to people as human beings to human beings.

“Some people don’t like it. They think we should be in a submissive role and I don’t think we should. We don’t have to be nice to people because we are paid. We are not prostitutes.

“That’s why my reaction was strong – but his reaction in the shop was strong.”

Owner Carl Hardman said the shop had been recycling the public’s glass containers since the 1980s but had been told by the council that it should stop because it also handled food.

• The Earth Foods reply...

“DEAR Long Standing Valued Customer [words Mr Perry had used in his complaint].

“Occasionally we do encounter customers in our shop so wrapped up in their own sense of self (ego) that they overreact when their ego gets hurt.

“This shop has provided very needed community service for over 30 years ... educating public in self help and prevention of many illnesses including of cancer.

“If you are so hurt that you can’t see that and put aside your personal issues then yes it is better we go separate ways.

“When I was in Paris I had same thing happen to me.

“Shop assistant (that is not yours or mine paid servant!) had refused to deal with my own rubbish.

“I never had in my mind any anger towards him and reaction like yours.

“In therapy circles it is very well known that customers often come to shops because they are missing something emotional in their own life, then they presume they have right to take it [out] on someone that has been paid to be there for them.

“Yes we are here to help but as I said we are not your therapist, rubbish remover, personal servant...

“So wishing you good luck facing your own anger!