Today, I wrote to the CEO of Lidl UK, detailing my likes and dislikes of my local Lidl store. My ‘dislikes’ are not only related to real, practical issues effecting people with physical disabilities, but, also apply to the able-bodied shopper. For instance, everyone needs to be able to make their way without physical obstacles down the shopping aisle, in two-way fashion, and come home with intact tomatoes! Note: Out of respect I have not named any staff or the particular name of the store in this public post.
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Re: Complaint & Feedback Lidl store +++++++, Norfolk, England
Dear Christian Härtnagel
I am a Lidl customer of some 25 years ever since I entered a German branch/store on my first day as an au pair in Wiesloch near Heidelberg. When I returned to the UK I was delighted to find a local Lidl at +++++++ in Norfolk, England, was now available. I excitedly told my family and friends about it.
What I like about my +++++++ Lidl:
1. The succulent plant and other plant offers.
2. The everyday good quality/low-priced food offers.
3. Always fresh fruit/veg.
But as a person who is now physically disabled (from an accident) and who can no longer walk far or without pain and not able to bend forwards or lift heavy items, physically grocery shopping is different – and difficult. I have to make considerations; unfortunately, what I find hinders rather than helps, considering in my capacity as a physically disabled person, are the following:
1. There are no disabled-friendly trolleys at Lidl; they are too deep, I cannot use them myself. I need someone to reach down to place or collect items. If I am alone shopping, I have to go to another store.
2. Although I have spoken to the manager about the problem of the succulent plant offers being placed just inside the door – inside the tiny lobby before the door opens again to the main store – this has not changed. No one, let alone a disabled person, can have the opportunity to look at the plants while there is a backlog of other customers wanting to get inside the store! It is embarrassing and frustrating as you can imagine. However, I do sympathise with the manager as this particular store is not really large enough to include all the various offers, which brings me to the next one…
3. Shopping yesterday was very awkward; there were promotions/offers in their large bulky boxes sticking out in the aisles, resulting in no two-way traffic. Customers I spoke to while we politely squeezed past these obstacles were not happy either.
No one in a wheelchair/on a mobility-scooter (which I sometimes have to use), would be able to shop there!
4. While I can understand there has to be a ‘Formula One’ policy regarding the checking-out system –this does not work with a big spend with you of £100 + (I spent £150 yesterday), I do not need the stress of a stressed-out check-out staff. Or damaged goods. Which brings me to the next one…
5. If I’m lucky I get the really nice Polish lady at the check-out. She knows me and of my disability from years of shopping at the +++++++ Lidl store. She’s friendly and professional. With a smile she bags all my groceries. I wish I had had her yesterday.
…instead I was served by a rude staff member (a lady with red hair). She dropped, throughout the checking-out, about six items on the floor, which landed at her feet. She was not aware of that until I mentioned them and did not apologise. Instead she asked me and my fiance to quickly drop everything in the trolley to then pack it in the bags, at the other side of the store. I refused to. I could not stand much longer due to my physical disability. I needed the groceries bagged there and then at the check-out. I explained that to her. I also mentioned to her that I was unable to lift some items and she did not answer me. She was stressed and wanted me gone asap. When she told me how much I had to pay, £148+something, I pointed out – without raising my voice or swearing even though I was angry – that it was wrong to hurry us as we had almost £150 worth of goods. Now, I do not want to get this person the sack because, although she was rude, and I ended up with squashed vine tomatoes and more crackers than ought to be in the box, and I have the feeling of not ever doing my food shopping at Lidl again, I believe some of the blame lies with those who make these polices.
I grew up with small family businesses (including a factory with 80 employees) I know how important valid feedback is, just how important the small but crucial things are. This is why I am writing to you, Herr Härtnagel. May I also point out to you the spending power of the disabled ‘purple pound’ (“In the UK, it is thought that some seven million people of working age have a disability…” https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/business-39040760/the-power-of-the-purple-pound-explained). And, the very real laws pertaining to disability rights in the UK ( The Equality Act 2010). This is a useful link explaining The Equality Act 2010 https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/law-and-courts/discrimination/what-are-the-different-types-of-discrimination/duty-to-make-reasonable-adjustments-for-disabled-people/
I really hope that this email reaches you, personally, because the issues raised are important and need to be considered. What do you think Herr Härtnagel?
Copyright Faith McCord 2018
Story and artwork belongs to Faith McCord who is the author and artist holding the copyright. This is not a public domain work. Worldwide rights.