Food Shopping

A while back I had to stop using home delivery for my food shopping and, after much consideration, decided to shop in my local Co-op.

There were some plus points: I receive 5% cashback on Co-op branded items; I could walk (or cycle) to the store; I could visit the store easily timewise; it should not be too busy.

I did not think there would be any negatives (apart from the bright lights). I was wrong.

The store insists on playing music on a Co-op owned radio station. I thought people were there to shop, not listen to "music". But I was wrong. All to often the music is the thump-thump-thump-thump variety and is too loud. And the sound equipment is not particularly good quality.

Asking staff members for the radio to be turned down (or off) got me nowhere. The Co-op runs a 'Your Store Your Say' website for feedback. That website got me nowhere despite my mentioning the fact people with autism etc. were being discriminated against. Calls to the Co-op's customer care team got me nowhere (although one person added £5 to my cashback).

Yesterday, after months of complaining via the Your Store Your Say website and a call to a helpful person in the customer care team, I received an e-mail from the store manager to meet him to discuss the issue.

Following the meeting, I am shattered but thought it worthwhile sharing some of the discussion. First of all, the store manager had to obtain special permission to contact me via e-mail as a result of my repeated feedback on the 'Your Store Your Say' website. The store manager turned off the music for a short time but, apparently, people complained as it made the store more dreary! I am also expected to believe that when the volume was turned down people complained the music was too low.

The manager wanted to know why I found the music irritating. I had already told I have autism and sensory issues and he still used the word "irritating". I tried to explain about sensory issues. I also asked about an Autism Hour but that, apparently, will only happen if there are sufficient complaints (similar to mine) across a significant number of stores.

I nearly forgot. When the music was turned off and people asked why, the manager/staff explained about my complaint of discrimination; to which the people said they were being discriminated against by the music being turned off. There are times when neurotypical REALLY annoy and sadden me and this is one of those times. Too many are not satisfied that the whole world is geared around them and if there is some small thing which helps, for example, people with autism then that is not fair!

The manager made two suggestions: shop between 6 a.m. and 7 a.m. when there is no music, the lights are low, etc. or ask the person on the checkout to turn off the music whilst I am shopping. The first suggestion sounds okay but part of my medication includes a sedative and so, practically, I will not be able to get up on time. The second suggestion is fine, providing the staff (who, he said, he will inform of our agreement) actually do it. We shall see.