Belfast Telegraph

Trapped in a department store lift for an hour: Eleanor’s trauma on a shopping trip for her 80th birthday

By Chris Kilpatrick

A pensioner has spoken of her trauma after she spent an hour of her 80th birthday celebrations trapped in a lift at a leading Belfast department store.

Great-grandmother Eleanor Moffatt’s marked her landmark day with a rare shopping day with her family on Tuesday.

But it was marred when the family became stuck in a lift at House of Fraser in Victoria Square.

Despite repeatedly sounding an alarm, it took over an hour for staff to free the family, she said.

The widow — who rarely uses lifts due to claustrophobia — said when she was eventually released from the lift shaft there was no-one on hand from the branch to greet her or her two daughters and son-in-law, and was “disgusted” that House of Fraser did not offer an apology for her ordeal.

“It was very frightening,” she said. “We decided to go for a cup of coffee and were told to take the lift to the top so we could see out over Belfast.

“We pressed the button to where we wanted to go but nothing happened. Then all of a sudden the lift gave a horrible lurch and then another.

“So we pressed the alarm but nobody heard it. We were then thumping on the door of the lift, you want to have heard the noise.

“My daughter tried to ring for help and we got someone on the end of the phone who wanted to know which House of Fraser it was. They said they would send engineers out and it would be about 15 minutes. This took about an hour.”

Mrs Moffatt said she was scared while waiting for the engineers. “One of my daughters, like myself, is claustrophobic,” she said. “We knew the alarm was ringing but no one came.”

Mrs Moffatt awoke early yesterday panicking she was still trapped inside the lift.

She said she accepted “accidents do happen” but is angry staff and management at the |Victoria Square-based retailer did not do more after the incident to ensure she was ok.

She said the day was important to her as the family didn’t get the opportunity to be together often.

“We didn’t see a manager — no one came, no one was outside the lift when it was fixed,” she said.

“Really and truly I am disgusted because that lift took 10 (people) and if there had’ve been 10 in it for over an hour we would all have been traumatised.

“There was no apology. All that was needed was some concern, some manners.” Mrs Moffatt said she probably won’t use a lift again.

A House of Fraser spokeswoman said: “All of our elevators are equipped with an emergency call button linked to an engineer.

“The situation was resolved as soon as possible. However, since the engineering company was an external supplier, House of Fraser staff were not been immediately notified of the situation.

“As soon as House of Fraser were made aware of the incident, the floor manager spoke with the customer to apologise, and offered lunch in store for the group.

“It is our goal to ensure a pleasant shopping environment for our customers, and we would like to apologise again to the customer for any inconvenience this may have caused.”

But Mrs Moffatt said she was not aware of any apology to her.

Belfast Telegraph

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