Leyland teen Scott Wilson was stunned when staff at McDonald’s refused to serve him – because he was wearing a tracksuit.
The 16-year-old returned 15 minutes later in a shirt and tie, and was immediately served with two cheeseburgers, some fries and a Sprite.
Bosses at the fast food restaurant have apologised to Scott, but say they’ve been forced to introduce tough new security measures – including weekend ‘bouncers’ and a ban on night-time hoodies – to protect staff and customers.
Recalling his own experience, Scott, of Victoria Park Avenue, went to McDonald’s, in Churchill Way, Leyland, with two pals last Monday at 9pm.
He said: “I was just wearing a normal jacket, with some joggers, because I had come straight from work.
“Another friend was wearing tracksuit bottoms, and the other was wearing jeans with pumps.
“We walked up to the counter, because there was no one else in there, and started trying to order. I asked for two cheeseburgers, fries and a drink, but the woman behind the counter just said: ‘I’m not serving you’, and we were asked to leave. We were confused. We just looked at each other. When we asked why, she said we looked like we had been causing trouble.”
Bosses at the restaurant say they have been forced to implement a zero tolerance policy, which includes banning under-18s wearing tracksuits after 7pm, because of customers and staff being threatened by yobs.
Scott insists that he and his two friends had never caused trouble at the restaurant, and this was their first visit in a long time.
He said: “We do not normally go out in Leyland, because there isn’t much to do, and it has been really cold and dark lately.
“But we were driving round in my friend’s car, and just thought we would go and get some tea before I went home after work.”
Scott felt so strongly about being refused service, he went home and returned to the restaurant 15 minutes later in a shirt and tie. He says he was then served without question.
He said: “I feel really upset about it. We couldn’t just let it lie. They are stereotyping all young people, and it is not fair. They didn’t make us feel welcome at all, and we weren’t even going to eat in, we were taking out.
“What really made me mad, was when a lad in his 20s came in behind us, wearing the exact same clothing, and he got served straight away.
“We feel like we are being discriminated against, and believe that, even after a hard day’s work, we cannot call in unless we have been home and changed into business clothes.”
Nigel Dunnington, owner of the McDonald’s, said he was sorry for what had happened, but stood by his tough approach to protect his staff.
He said: “We are absolutely sorry to Scott, and I understand 100 per cent what he is saying. Unfortunately, this lad has been caught in the middle of things when I have tried to do the right thing.
“He may well be an innocent victim, and there may well be others. Unfortunately, the smaller minorities will, in the very short term, be tarred with the same brush.”
Chief Inspector Geoff Hurst, of Leyland Police, said: “In recent weeks, youths have highlighted McDonald’s as a gathering point. A small handful are causing trouble.
“It’s been highlighted as a hotspot by police. We will enforce the law with regard to the troublemakers. We are working with McDonald’s. The ban on the under 18s is a decision for the restaurant.”