Supermarket Customer service not accessible? — Scope | Disability forum
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Supermarket Customer service not accessible?

66Mustang Community Co-Production Group Posts: 5,741 Disability Gamechanger
edited April 9 in Coffee lounge
I have a small problem with a supermarket (I won't name the supermarket) that I was hoping to get resolved via a quick email. Last time I had a problem was about 5 years ago and I emailed them and the problem was resolved quickly and efficiently.

However, now, aside from using social media which I don't have, the only options for contacting their customer service are by phone, or a sign language video chat. I have trouble using the phone and I don't know sign language. :p

They obviously are mindful of accessibility as they have added the sign language option to be accessible to deaf people but they have not considered that there are people who are unable to use the phone for other reasons. I am one of those people.

I am a bit upset and am thinking of writing a letter to them about this however I don't want to be a "snowflake" because I am the first to criticise people who claim to be offended by stupid things like Poppy Day or Fireman Sam so I don't want want to be a hypocrite! However, I genuinely feel that I have been excluded from accessing customer service because of my issues.

I am wondering what people think. Am I getting upset over something stupid or is this a valid concern that I need to raise so that people like me have access to customer service?


  • janer1967
    janer1967 Member Posts: 12,735 Disability Gamechanger
    I would say it's a valid concern customer service depts should be accessible to everyone.  I think there is a lack of understanding out there around the number of people who can't use the phone 

    In the interim till it is sorted if you have an urgent enquiry could one of your family call . They may supply an email address 
    I have professional experience in HR within public,  private, and charity sectors.  If I can help I will 
  • Adrian_Scope
    Adrian_Scope Posts: 8,163

    Scope community team

    edited April 9
    I think a complaint letter is perfectly reasonable @66Mustang, although you may find their email address is still in use just hidden from view, I had to Google email addresses of a company recently as they’d been removed from their website but were still in use.

    My partner can’t use the telephone either and recently wanted to cancel a subscription service.

    She emailed them and they replied that she can only cancel by phone. However they wouldn’t let me speak on her behalf without her speaking first to give permission which she was unable to do. 
    A strongly worded email highlighting discrimination and accessibility soon changed their tune and not only did they cancel the subscription for her, they refunded the last two monthly payments as an apology. 😆

    It’s worth a try!
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  • 66Mustang
    66Mustang Community Co-Production Group Posts: 5,741 Disability Gamechanger
    edited April 9
    Thank you @janer1967 yes I think they should be accessible to all and I definitely agree with you r.e. lack of understanding!

    Luckily it is not urgent, just some missing loyalty points which add up to a few pounds so I don't want to bother a family member but thanks for the suggestion.
  • 66Mustang
    66Mustang Community Co-Production Group Posts: 5,741 Disability Gamechanger
    Thanks @Adrian_Scope that definitely sounds discriminatory! I'm glad they changed their attitude in the end.
  • mikehughescq
    mikehughescq Member Posts: 7,776 Disability Gamechanger
    Definitely not snowflake territory. Lodge the complaint but frame it in terms of EA 10 and the right to reasonable adjustments. You may also want to explore the involvement of people like Stephensons or Leigh Day or others famous in these circles. Fairly confident you'll find at least one very interested in challenging supermarkets at this time. 
  • 66Mustang
    66Mustang Community Co-Production Group Posts: 5,741 Disability Gamechanger
    Thank you @mikehughescq - I appreciate the advice.
  • mikehughescq
    mikehughescq Member Posts: 7,776 Disability Gamechanger
    The issue is that during lockdown supermarkets, like government, have tried to frame the discussions around who gets what around "vulnerability". There are multiple issues with that but let's start with:

    1 - it's the language of the deserving/undeserving poor. So, no thank you. 
    2 - supermarkets did not need to reinvent the wheel when it came to addressing customers with needs during lockdown. There were these two bits of legislation. The Human Rights Act and the Equality Act 2020. Both could have been used by supermarkets to define who, for example, gets priority online booking slots. But no... 
    3 - the use of vulnerability is quite deliberate and absolutely intended to weaken and divert people away from exercising their existing rights under the HRA and EA 10. 

    Certain legal professionals have picked up on this and at least one has made multiple headlines for successfully challenging such policies. A quick internet search should give some big clues on that front. 
  • woodbine
    woodbine Community Co-Production Group Posts: 5,596 Disability Gamechanger
    @66Mustang A snowflake? imho definitely not !
    I am a person with epilepsy not an epileptic, my illness doesn't define me.
  • lisathomas50
    lisathomas50 Member Posts: 4,693 Disability Gamechanger
    I had to email tesco becsuse I couldn't get an answer on the customer service phone it was easier by email 
  • OverlyAnxious
    OverlyAnxious Member Posts: 1,697 Disability Gamechanger
    I also had a positive experience with Tesco via email recently.  

    Had a less positive experience with another company though.  I challenged the lack of email accessibility through a hidden address but it wasn't even acknowledged.  But they did eventually do what I needed done without the use of phones.
  • AlexW_Scope
    AlexW_Scope Scope Posts: 216 Pioneering
    You may be interested in Scope's new report on supermarkets to see what we are doing to campaign on some of the issues.


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