Abiding by the rules left this customer with burns on her hands that lasted two weeks.

Even before the coronavirus pandemic, stores around Japan often had hand sanitisers set up at their entrances, in large bottles with push-down pumps so customers could sanitise their hands with liquid or a fine spray.

Now, of course, those hand sanitisers are even more prevalent than before, and customers hardly have to think twice about using them. However, for one young woman visiting a Starbucks in Tokyo, what she thought was sanitiser turned out to be something else entirely, and it left her so emotionally scarred she now says she’s too scared to sanitise her hands with store-supplied sanitiser ever again. 

The incident occurred in early November, at the Starbucks at Tobu Ikebukuro in the city’s Toshima Ward. The woman in her twenties, who had her one-year-old child with her at the time, entered the Starbucks and sanitised her hands with the hand sanitiser provided at the entrance. However, after rubbing the liquid onto her skin, her hands immediately began to sting and become hot, and she felt a burn-like pain.

Her hands felt slimy and there was a white powder-like substance on them so she quickly washed her hands. After washing the substance away, she photographed her hands, which were red all over and visibly swollen and inflamed.

▼ The woman’s skin after using the sanitiser.

In intense pain, she asked the staff what they had filled the hand sanitiser bottle with, and after checking, they realised they’d made a mistake when refilling the bottle, filling it with undiluted commercial washing detergent instead of the antiseptic solution.

Staff apologised for the error, but the woman’s hands were blistered and required medical attention. She immediately visited the doctor, who diagnosed her with chemical burns that would require around two weeks to heal. 

The woman says she usually disinfects her child’s hands, but thankfully she didn’t use the sanitiser on her child that day as she noticed something was wrong with the substance. She said she hates to think what might have happened if she’d applied the liquid to her child’s hands first, given that children have such delicate skin.

Fuji News Network, who broke the story, contacted Starbucks Japan after interviewing the victim, and the company said they are alerting all stores to the incident and are currently in talks with the victim.

The woman says she’s been traumatised by the incident and is now afraid to use hand sterilisers supplied by stores, opting to use her own hand sanitiser in a small portable bottle instead. She also says she feels like she can’t forgive Starbucks for what happened, and would like them to properly inform her of measures being taken to ensure an incident like this never happens again.

Source: FNN via Yahoo! Japan via Otakomu
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