IT’S been the bane of many women’s lives ever since the toilet was invented.
A thoughtless male lets his concentration wander when he visits the loo - then leaves the resulting mess for his frustrated partner to clean up.
Now the answer to the prayers of millions of put-upon women is set to hit the shelves of city supermarkets.
The new solution to the age-old conundrum is a small device, known as a WC Ghost, designed to shame men into sitting down when they spend a penny.
Every time someone raises the toilet seat, the "ghost" speaks and warns the visitor that the seat should be put firmly back down. The voice, which assumes it is addressing a man, gives one of a series of warnings.
On one model, a stern female voice says: "Hello. What are you up to then? Put the seat back down right away. You are definitely not to pee standing up, you’ll make a right mess."
On another, a cowboy drawls: "Don’t you go wetting this floor cowboy, you never know who’s behind you. So sit down, get your water pistol in the bowl where it belongs. Ha, ha, ha."
The brainchild of German inventor Alex Benkhardt, 46, the WC Ghost simply clips on to the underside of the toilet seat and a motion activator sets it off each time the seat is raised. The battery-operated toy has already proved a huge hit in Germany, with two million sold since it was launched earlier this year.
Now, UK supermarket chains Sainsbury’s, Safeway and Asda are in talks with the manufacturers about selling it over here.
It has also attracted interested from countries as far afield as Canada, the United States, South Africa and Colombia.
Michael Martin, 41, sales director with Berlin-based manufacturers Patentwert Gmbh, said his firm was on the verge of signing a deal with Wal-Mart, owner of Asda, which would see WC Ghosts sold in Scotland within months.
He said the company was also in contract talks with Sainsbury’s and Safeway supermarkets. Stores in Britain are expected to sell the "ghosts" for about 5.
Mr Martin, who hails from Brighton in Sussex, said: "We have marketed inventions with Alex for some time but the WC Ghost has really gone off the Richter scale. Its success has been absolutely phenomenal. They have been extremely popular with German kids, but Alex originally invented it with adults in mind.
"It was created for a bit of fun, but it also promotes hygiene by encouraging people not to miss the bowl. So, although it looks funny, there’s a serious angle to it as well."
The "ghost" was inspired by what Mr Martin said was a traditional German intolerance of men missing the loo. Nothing angers a German wife or girlfriend more than finding a loo seat up, or worse, finding their partner has missed, he said.
"The tolerance for men missing the loo in Germany is far, far less than it is in Britain. It’s a heinous crime to commit in one’s own home and one little slip will mean a man is sleeping on the couch," he added.
"German women cannot even abide men standing up to pee. If alcohol is consumed, their tolerance is even less I’d expect."
An expensive "Toilet Light Seat" was sold in Germany recently with little success, before a flash of inspiration prompted Berlin-based Mr Benkhardt to create his smaller, cheaper version.
Mr Martin said he expected it would do a roaring trade in Scotland given the traditional carelessness of British men.
He said: "I’m from Britain but have worked many years in Germany and the difference in the bathroom habits is unreal. I know how lazy our breed can be.
"And with that in mind, I expect there are miffed women across the country who are just crying out for something like this."
An Asda spokesman said: "Female customers will probably think it’s a great idea. By simply spending a few pennies on this device it looks like they can finally put the lid on poor toilet etiquette."