'I have been spat at by a parent': Staff abused over delayed school book orders

'I Have Been Spat At By A Parent': Staff Abused Over Delayed School Book Orders
Irene Gahan has been forced to issue a warning to parents after staff at her Academy Books store in Drogheda were abused
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Louise Walsh

The owner of an independent bookshop has revealed that she has been spat at, screamed at and had her life threatened by abusive parents over delays in getting school books ahead of the new term.

Irene Gahan has been forced to issue a warning to parents after staff at her Academy Books store in Drogheda, Co Louth, were abused in recent weeks.


The well-known business-owner, who has had to get security to walk her to her car due to threats, believes the annual abuse over any delays in school book deliveries is getting worse.

"Every year it is the same for many bookstore owners. Parents get angry if there is any delay in school books from the publishers and we are abused over it," she said.

"We put in the orders at the same time each year but for all sorts of different reasons, one or two books might be delayed. Parents will always still get the books by the start of term but often this isn't good enough.

"Over the years I have been spat at over the counter by a parent in front of her young son, I have been cursed at and screamed at. I even had my life threatened by one customer who told me that they knew where I parked my car and would come after me.


"I had to get security to walk me to my car that day and a few days after until I felt safe again.

"This year my staff, some only teenagers doing a few hours for me, have been verbally abused and I've had to step in and say: 'Hold on! It's not a life-threatening situation, they are only school books and this is basically a child that you are screaming at.

Publishing houses

"Many of the publishing houses don't know in advance how many schools are putting their books on the list so they can print the amount in demand.

"Also, the school book list might contain books from ten different publishers which all have their own schedules of print or delays. We will always have the book ahead of the start of term but shouting and screaming at a 16-year-old staff member won't make it materialise any faster.


"It doesn't matter if we have nine out of ten books ready, the parents will hold out for that tenth book and then abuse us because we haven't got them all together for them to collect.

"Others arrive with schoolbook lists in August and when we tell them we can't guarantee to have the books before September, they lose it and start shouting and swearing.

"It's the same every year but I think it is getting worse because people expect everything there and then. I have to stress that the majority of my customers are amazing but then there are a few who are just vile. Those few make us dread the summer each year.

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"I've been in the business a long time and I know some bookshops that have installed buzzers and other security measures to allow trusted customers in and out. I also know of a publishing warehouse who had to ring gardaí because parents arrived demanding the books.


"The abuse has driven a number of businesses to go completely online so they no longer have to deal face-to-face with these customers.

"The amount of work that goes into ordering and then compiling all the school book lists is huge and it provides part-time work and summer jobs for local teenagers. The irony is that most shops don't even make much money selling school books once the additional staff costs are factored in.

"After the abuse by a small number of people in recent weeks, I've had to put up a post on social media that this behaviour will not be tolerated. Any rudeness, verbal abuse or threats will be met with immediate cancellation of their order and a refund because the safety and wellbeing of my staff is top priority."

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