Tesco’s retrograde decision

Tesco, still the largest supermarket chain in Britain, was for long free of muzac in most of its branches, except at Christmas when its stores were filled with a cacophony that upset staff and customers alike. Unfortunately its newly installed CEO Ken Murphy has recently made an ill-advised and retrograde decision to instal piped music in its renovated ‘Extra and Superstore’ branches. They have a new system to play music over the tannoy when this is not being used for announcements. They claim that ‘the feedback we have received on this has been positive’ although they ‘understand this may not be the case for all of our customers.’ This is a huge understatement.

Write to its CEO Mr Ken Murphy at ken.murphy@uk.tesco.com urging him to rethink this policy. It departs sharply from the more enlightened approach of his predecessor, who was starting to introduce ‘quiet hours’.

Point out that more people in general dislike piped music than like it, according to all impartial opinion polls. Add that people with any sort of disability – ME, Aspergers, autism, tinnitus, hyperacusis and those with general hearing problems, who make up 16% of the population – find piped music acutely distressing. Tesco could be accused of discriminating against the disabled by forcing music on its customers and on its staff. (Many people who work in shops hate piped music too but are powerless to protest.)

Add that having to wear masks makes communication far more difficult anyway.

And finally that you are likely to spend far more time and money in a quieter environment, such as that at Lidl, Aldi and Waitrose, all without piped music.