A SHOP has been accused of “preying on the vulnerable” after it attempted to sell an autistic man a lightbulb for up to £35 - despite not selling lightbulbs.

The mum of the man, who suffers from autism and epilepsy, contacted the Echo after her son was charged a £10 deposit, and told he would have to pay another £25 on collection of the lightbulb, by Phone Experts, in the Knightswick Centre, Canvey.

The vulnerable adult, in his 30s, had ventured to the centre in the hunt of a new lightbulb, without his carer, and said a shopworker from Phone Experts approached him offering help.

The shop has said that the employee who made the agreement was already working his notice, and the Tuesday this happened had been his last day.

The shop refunded the £10 deposit, but the man’s mum has slammed them as targeting him because of his condition.

She said: “It is disgusting. My son is visibly autistic, and they have seen that and taken advantage of him. It was only when my son was visibly anxious and getting worked up that we knew something had happened.

“We found he had a receipt for the £10 deposit - a lightbulb costs a couple of pound, but the receipt was just a piece of paper from a duplicate book.

“We went to the shopping centre and he identified which shop it was. We approached them and after some back and forth they did decide to refund the money and rip up the receipt.

“It is awful. This is not the type of shop we want on Canvey. My son is visibly vulnerable and he has been preyed upon.”

Manager Hussain Razi stated the employee was trying to help, but admitted what he did was wrong.

He said: “It was a misunderstanding, and they are now making it into a large issue. It has been resolved now and we have refunded the money.

“The employee who dealt with him has been sacked. He was already serving his notice and that was his last day.

“He was just trying to help the man. He has said he looked like he was disabled in some way, and was just trying to help.

“He quoted him between £10 to £35 for the lightbulb. I am not sure why, as we do not sell lightbulbs.

“He tried to help but he was mistaken. This was not the shop, it was the individual.”