Friday, 23 May 2014

An open letter to Waitrose customer support…

Yesterday – as I have done on many Thursdays, since the store opened – I went to buy my weekly Stratford-upon-Avon Herald from your Stratford-upon-Avon store.

Usually, I would park my car in one of the many disabled spaces (I walk with a stick, because of various “neurological deficits”); amble the few yards to the front door; collect my paper; hand over my 60p to someone at either the basket tills, or, occasionally, the customer service desk; and then womble back to my car.

However, the store now seems to have given priority to coffee-drinkers (to which group I admit I belong…) over that of your disabled customers: and I had to fight my way through the checkout queues and other shoppers, and walk almost the full length of the store, to get hold of my paper – as they have been moved near to the café. The quick-check till operator would not let me pay there: so I had to make my way back to the basket tills, to hand my money over – again having to struggle past the checkout queues.

This morning, as I am also deaf, I tried completing your online contact form. However, all I received in response was: “There was a problem. Your request could not be completed.” As the only alternative is to telephone you, as you can imagine, I was rather peeved; and, as I said to my partner, your “feeble attempts at accessibility suck big-time”.

However, refusing to be daunted by any of this – as this is not the first time (by a long way) I have encountered issues with contacting businesses over the Internet (which, obviously, in the retailing world, is too newfangled to operate correctly… – even though I somehow managed to institute a successful customer-facing website back in the early 1990s, with only one other colleague to help me…!) – I then went hunting for other means of access. (I am nothing if not stubborn.)

On this webpage you say: “If your enquiry is about something you bought in a Waitrose supermarket, please contact that store. Find the telephone number, address and email of all our Waitrose shops….”

However, on the subsequent page, there is no such email address – making the store even more inaccessible to the deaf and disabled (e.g. me).

So what’s a (deaf and disabled) man to do? Well, in this case, find a general email address, and hope that there is a human-being at the end of it.

Sooner or later, though, I will lose the will to keep writing such long emails, and will, instead, make use of the Equality Act 2010 – and let someone else deal with such issues. In the meantime, I suggest you get one of your colleagues to read the Act: so that, in future, you pay more than lip service to customer service.

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