Stevan Hezseltine, one of our most eloquent and energetic members, is starting a local group around Carshalton Beeches and north Surrey. He welcomes supporters. If interested, ring him on 020 8642 6388. (He prefers lively conversation on the phone to the deadness of email.) Whatever happens at his meetings, they are most unlikely to be dull!
Morrisons, the supermarket chain, is introducing a Quiet Hour every Saturday morning. Its 439 UK stores will turn off their piped music, dim lights, avoid using the tannoy and turn down check-out beeps from 09:00 to 10:00. Morrisons is the first major supermarket chain to roll out the scheme to all stores nationwide.
The National Autistic Society called it a ‘step in the right direction’. It is indeed only a step because, although Morrison’s initiative is welcome, one hour per week of quiet shopping is not nearly enough! Nor are the estimated nearly 700,000 people (1% of the nation) with autism the only ones who find piped music deeply upsetting. The 15% of the population with hearing problems – which can include everything from tinnitus, presbycusis and misphonia to moderate deafness – also detest piped music. So of course do many people with perfect hearing.
Other chains are considering following suit. Asda said a number of its supermarkets across the country already worked with local groups to run quiet hours on a regular basis. It added it was working with specialist charity groups to ensure its stores were inclusive for all.
Tesco said it was not planning on rolling out the initiative nationwide, but store managers were welcome to introduce it if they felt it appropriate – as one store in Alloa, Clackmannanshire, did last year. And Sainsbury’s said more than 600 of its stores took part in the National Autistic Society’s Autism Hour in October last year and will be doing so again this year. In three of its Liverpool-based stores, where staff have received training, parents can request a number of store modifications when they begin their shopping trip, it added.
All such moves should be applauded and the chains concerned urged to extend their Quiet Hours greatly. Write to David Potts, CEO of Morrisons, congratulating him and urging him to extend the scheme to other days/times of the week. email@example.com
A recurrent complaint about otherwise excellent television documentaries is their intrusive, often inappropriate music. (For some reason this is particularly bad on wildlife programmes but it mars many other documentaries too). For years the relevant authorities, especially at the BBC, have shrugged off complaints with bland or irrelevant comments (such as suggesting you use subtitles), leaving frustrated viewers having either to mute the programme or to turn it off .
NB All music, along with other sounds including ‘natural’ noises, is dubbed in later.
Now, news arrives that the Red Button on the remote control can be used to mute the commentary. If it can be used to mute commentaries, it can surely be used to mute music too, something Pipedown has long urged. While this may require further adjustments, it cannot be technically impossible.
Yet the BBC does not want to know! Its management prefers to ignore the fact that many of its viewers are likely to be over 50, and thus annoyed by piped music of any sort.
Complain via the BBC website firstname.lastname@example.org”
Quiet Corners, which lists muzak-free pubs, hotels, restaurants, shops etc has been rejigged by our indefatigable hon webmaster Chris Chinnery. It is now possible to type in your location and see what tranquil places have been suggested (by members) within 10, 25 or 50 miles. At present this revamp is not quite complete but it soon will be. Ultimately it should be possible also to download an app to your mobile. Seehttps://quietcorners.org.uk
The Coop supermarket chain has won the wooden spoon of being voted the worst offender for piped music. Although the chain is not everyone’s choice of shop, it is often the only place that the most vulnerable in society – those who cannot drive for whatever reason, for example – find they have to do their shopping. It is also a chain that loudly proclaims its ethical ideals. So whether or not you shop there regularly, write in protest to its CEO Steve Murrells email@example.com
(NB: Not every branch of the Co-op is controlled by the London HQ. The East Anglia and Midlands branches have some autonomy, so it is wise to check the status of a branch before making a protest.)
The Nationwide Building Society, which until recently prided itself on not having piped music, is now introducing it, doubtless misled by the mendacious propaganda of the piped music industry. Email www.nationwide.co.uk/support/contact-us/make-a-complaint or by post to The Complaints Team, Nationwide Building Society NW 2020, Swindon SN38 1NW As the Nationwide is still converting once pleasant branches to muzac-filled places of torment, it is well worth writing NOW.
Recent reports indicate that several train companies are considering dropping Quiet Carriages on trains, on the grounds that such carriages are difficult and expensive to police and not really very popular. Write in to the heads of the relevant rail companies around the UK and tell them just how wrong they are.
Originally Quiet Carriages were established because of the noise caused by passengers talking non-stop on their mobiles, and by their ring tones. Now, as more and more people use text or email rather than talking to communicate, this particular problem has shrunk but the need for carriages that are quiet overall (with no very loud conversations, for example) grows as the world itself grows ever noisier.
Write also to the newspapers and even to your MP.
Andy Mellors is the top personage at South West Railways, and his email address is firstname.lastname@example.org
For Virgin, which has already stopped having Quiet Carriages in First Class, David Horne is the CE, email@example.com
Other rail CEOs’ e-addresses can be found at https://www.ceoemail.com/index-search.php
‘The omnipresent curse of annoying muzak’ is the fourth most commonly hated aspect of hotels today, reports The Good Hotel Guide in its just published 2018 edition. (Poor Wifi reception, dim lighting in bedrooms and ‘captive’ coat hangers were the first three most hated things in modern hotels.) The Good Hotel Guide, one of the few such guides to remain wholly independent and impartial, gives full details about the piped music – or lack of – in each hotel reviewed.
All ASDA supermarkets turned off their muzac and reduced other acoustic and visual disturbances to a minimum for an hour last Tuesday to allow people with autism to shop in peace. This is a real advance: a major chain at last recognising the impact excessive noise can have on its customers. ASDA needs to expand the scheme to having well-advertised quiet hours every day of the year, however. Autism sufferers are of course especially vulnerable but they are not the only shoppers harmed by piped music. The 15% of the population with hearing problems are also badly affected, as are people with many other problems, from hyperacusis and tinnitus to ME. It is high time supermarkets woke up to this problem.
Email ASDA’s CEO Roger Burnley firstname.lastname@example.org,to press him to extend the scheme and make it a permanent feature of the chain, not a one-off. email@example.com
Meanwhile, keep protesting to the Co-op which is finally showing signs of listening to its customers. Email the Co-op’s CEO Steve Murrells, perhaps also pointing out how well Aldi and Lidl are doing without any music. firstname.lastname@example.org
The Good Food Guide 2018 once more includes information about whether or not the place reviewed has music (though it does not specify what sort of music).
The GFG now reports that more and more establishments are alienating their customers by deafening them with ‘Glastonbury-force’ piped music.
This year’s guide, just published , warns of an ‘unprecedented trend for noisy restaurants, which is leading to a spike in complaints from sensitive eared customers….Restaurants are getting noisier – that’s what our readers, this year in unprecedented numbers, are telling us. Noise levels, already amplified by bare-bones design, are being raised by music played at Glastonbury force. Everyone loves a restaurant that has a buzzing, vibrant atmosphere, but it becomes exhausting and self-defeating when, as one old hand told us: ‘I have never heard such loudly amplified music in an eating place. It was so loud that I couldn’t hear a word the waitress was saying, and vice versa. We had to gesture and point.”
The recent very common trend for minimalist bare walls and floors, ‘not just in hipster places’, is also changing the acoustics in restaurants and making it difficult for people to hear each other.