If you visit a hotel/restaurant/bar and comment online about it, don’t forget to add whether or not the place concerned has piped music. Do so very prominently. If enough comments – intelligent, polite but pointed comments – are posted about piped music, hoteliers and restaurateurs should start to take note. (Some people object to the potential misuse of these sites. Certain comments may be prejudiced, some may be malicious and even orchestrated, but overall they can still help the prospective traveller – and also the hotelier/restaurateur concerned.)
There are tentative signs that more of the big supermarkets considering following M&S and reducing, even phasing out, their piped music, in part because of protests from people with autism, tinnitus, Asperger’s syndrome and similar health problems. Tesco is trialling ‘quiet hours’ in some of its Tesco Extra branches, where piped music is often played. Two other of the big four supermarkets also seem to have taken note of the petition below. Morrisons has announced that they are working with the National Autistic Society to pilot “quiet hours” in three stores, Woking, Gainsborough and Lincoln, from 09.00 to 10.00 on Saturday mornings. This pilot scheme starts on 27th March and will last for three months. ASDA has gone further and is planning to introduce “quiet hours” in its stores across the nationwide to collect responses about a complete withdrawal of the piped music in their stores.
Like Action on Hearing Loss and other groups representing people with such disabilities,, Pipedown has been pushing supermarkets to wake up to the problems that piped music causes such vulnerable shoppers. Now they finally seem to be listening. We must keep up the pressure.
Sign the petition below to help persuade the supermarkets.
Signs that the Co-op is not totally deaf to reasoned protests continue to emerge. It has promised ‘to undertake a small trial of music-free shops in order to gain some wider customer feedback’. The chain says that this is as a result of customers asking if the music could be turned off. Our emails and letters clearly have made a difference so let’s keep protesting. These ‘small trials’ of music-free bliss may not happen in your store. Meanwhile the group is getting a new CEO, Steve Murrells. Email him at email@example.com and stress the difficulties that piped music causes to people with autism, tinnitis, presbycusis, hyperacusis, misophonia and similar health problems, as well as the annoyance it causes to everyone else. (Parts of the Co-op group, such as the East Anglian and Midlands regions, are independent and are so apparently free of muzac at present. Obviously they can be ignored but most Co-op branches are controlled centrally.)
The Alloa branch of Tesco in Tayside has been trialling a Quiet Hour every Wednesday evening when not just piped music but other obtrusive noises are turned off to help people with autism (about 1% of the population.) The company said feedback from customers during the trial had been ‘overwhelmingly positive,’ meaning that most non-autistic customers also welcomed the novel peace. Tesco should make such experimental quiet hours the norm. Email its CEO Dave Lewis at firstname.lastname@example.org to tell him so.
In a Which? survey of shoppers’ ratings of supermarkets, Waitrose came top, followed by Marks and Spencer, Aldi and Lidl (excluding the on-line shopping service that Iceland offers.) All these chains have their differing virtues of course but all have one thing in common: they are free of piped music. Coincidence? Of course not!
Lidl, the famously discounted supermarket chain, has experimented with piped music in a few branches recently. Finding that it was not proving popular, they have stopped it and promised to keep their branches muzac-free in future. Their sage decision was encouraged by the many letters of protest they received from Pipedowners. And their sales and profits continue to grow – the latter by 9.4%. Proof that giving up piped music can boost profits and that protests can influence shops!
Meanwhile Waterstones, the chain of bookshops, has returned to profit, making £9.8m profit in the year to April 2016 compared to a loss of £4.5m the previous year. Waterstones has been quietly but steadily phasing out piped music from its branches. Yet further proof that giving up piped music helps boost profits!
Moral: protest can and does work!
Johanna Taylor of Action on Hearing Loss (formerly the RNID) writes about its current campaign to make restaurants, cafés and pubs more accessible to people who find background noise and music a problem. ‘Our Speak Easy campaign is asking venues to take noise off the menu. We launched in July 2016 with a research report and a guide advising the industry on how to improve acoustics. Unsurprisingly, we found that eight out of 10 people have left an establishment early because it was too noisy. We’ve now launched a campaign pack to help diners to speak out. The pack includes discreet materials to hand over to staff or leave with the bill. For the adventurous, it includes a thumb prop that customers can use to give venues the thumbs up or thumbs down on social media.’ Find out more about the campaign and order a pack at www.actiononhearingloss.org.uk/SpeakEasy
The Good Pub Guide, long the definitive guide to pubs up and down the UK, is calling for a ban on piped music in pubs in its new 2017 edition. It declares that ‘piped music, canned music, muzak, lift music, airport music – call it what you will, it’s there and our readers loathe it in any shape or form. It enlists bitter complaints from our readers and has done so ever since we started the Guide 35 years ago. It’s such an issue that we have always asked every main entry pub since 1983 whether or not they have it, and then clearly state this in each review.’
This seasonal good news should encourage all pubs to consider removing piped music if they currently have it. And it should encourage pub-goers to buy the latest edition of the guide. This has always been excellent. Now it is more useful than ever.
Silencity New York is, as its name suggests, a New York-based campaigning website concerned about noise in all its aspects.
Its website https://www.silencity.com/ has interesting articles with some very useful links.
Further publicity and inquiries from the francophone world (Switzerland and Québec as well as France) have led to contacts there. Richard Darbéra, Président du Bucodes-SurdiFrance, Bureau de Coordination des associations de Devenus Sourds et malentendants (the French equivalent of Action on Hearing Loss), is writing about the problems of piped music and would like to hear from anyone interested. Email him email@example.com http://www.surdifrance.org/
And Anna Lietti, a journalist for the Swiss magazine L’Hebdo, is writing a piece about piped music. Contact her Anna Lietti firstname.lastname@example.org
Pipedown UK receives many inquiries from France, where the problem of piped music (musique d’ambiance) appears to be as bad as it is in Britain. Most inquirers wonder whether there is a Pipedown français and would like to join. At present there is no Pipedown français but there could be and should be. Pipedown UK can give advice, tips and encouragement, helping possible French members get in touch with each other. But it cannot start a French Pipedown itself.
A vous mesdames et messieurs!