Quiet Hours at Tesco and M&S: tokenism or signs of real concern?

Thanks to the energy and tenacity of Hilary Browne, who would not be fobbed off by meaningless replies to her emails, both Tesco and M&S have agreed to have Quiet Hours – both have recently reinstalled piped music. For Tesco at present these moments of tranquil sanity are 9-10am on Wednesday and Saturday. Hilary has also managed, after much persuasion, to get the music turned off at her local branch in Middlesborough whenever she shops there. For Marks and Spencer the planned quiet hours are Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday 8-9 am and between 7-8pm. Marks and Spencer also promised to consider going completely muzak-free in the New Year. Hilary has pointed out that one hour is not enough for a a decent shop and these are all awkward times for most potential customers – early morning hours require driving through rush hour traffic, for example. She is continuing her battle undaunted. Her success shows what can be done by battling on, repeating again and again how piped music especially harms those with hearing disabilities and pleases far fewer people than it annoys. Her message is: don’t be put off by the first lot of replies.

ASDA is also introducing quiet hours and at more convenient times – 2pm-3pm – three days a week, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. It admits that 80% of the estimated 14 million disabled people in the UK are not visibly disabled. This applies of course to everyone with a hearing problem (16% of the population) and also those with chronic problems such as Aspergers, dishphonia or autism. Such small concessions should encourage us to press for more sweeping proposals, if not this year, certainly next year!

Add your voice to Hilary’s by writing to the relevant CEOs concerned:

for Tesco this is ken.murphy@uk.tesco.com

for M&S this is steve.rowe@marks-and-spencer.com