The man from Moben Kitchens insisted that Mrs Rowe's husband should be present before he would countenance a complicated exposition on the merits of his firm's cabinets, gas hobs and the like.
Mrs Rowe, 70, told the salesman over the telephone that her husband's presence would not be required because she was making the decision about the kitchen.
'He insisted that my husband should be there because it would mean two and a half hours of his time and involve detailed calculations. I was somewhat taken aback by that, but I said I was a professional person and quite capable of dealing with these matters.
'He then inquired whether I would be asking my husband's advice on the kitchen and I began to get slightly irate. He ended the conversation by saying that if my husband was not present he wouldn't be able to come.'
In fact Mrs Rowe is a widow. 'I didn't have to tell him my husband was dead . . . I didn't have to tell him whether I lived with somebody or what I had for breakfast. It was nothing to do with him.'
Mrs Rowe wrote to Lady Thatcher, her local MP in Finchley, north London, who suggested she take her complaint to the Equal Opportunites Commission. Commission lawyers invoked the Sex Discrimination Act and Moben this week offered her an apology and pounds 750 in an out-of-court settlement, which the commission believes is the first of its kind.
Moben has issued a circular to staff reminding them of their responsibiltiies under the law.Reuse content