RieRieB said that she “left extremely upset. Making things less accessible for your disabled customers, as you have with your new self-service checkout design, is unacceptable and legally questionable.”
She continued: “On a Friday after uni I like to treat myself to a roll up and down the aisles, picking up any little treats I fancy. A congrats for getting to the end of the week.”
“Because I am neurodivergent, I do this with my headphones on, because the store is a very overwhelming environment for me. I also use the self-service checkout, so I can keep my headphones on. Also, your staffed checkouts are really awkward to use (read: quite painful and pretty impossible) as a wheelchair user.”
When she saw the new self-service tills, she became upset at the new design not being accessible for her.
She said: “The screen is too high for me to reach, and the basket section is too low for me to reach. You have left some lower self-service tills, but these are a narrow version of the old design, and squished together like sardines.”
“I tried to use one, but the other customers using the tills either side of me were practically on top of me as that tried to access their till. They were leaning over me and chair, knocking into me, making me feel trapped and panicked.”
“I got very upset and made a bit of a scene. I’m sorry about that. The member of staff who helped me was extremely lovely, and I appreciated his kindness. He told me that as soon as the new tills were put in he raised the issue of customers in wheelchairs accessing the tills, but was told he’d just have to help us.”
RieRieB went on to accuse M&S of being in breach of the Equality Act and point out that there are approximately 14.6 million disabled people in the UK, and of those around one million are wheelchair users.
“You cannot be ignorant of our existence. Making things less accessible for us is unacceptable.”
She concluded: “I am willing to work with you on this to make the necessary changes to restore access to checkouts at this store.”
M&S did not respond to our request for comment, but they did tell RieRieB that they had reported her comments to their in-store trading teams, and her feedback would be used when reviewing the layouts of stores.
To which RieRieB responded: “Oh @marksandspencer – this is not how you respond to this. “I hope you can continue to shop with M&S with confidence in the future.” HOW CAN I SHOP WITH YOU WHEN I CANT ACCESS A CHECKOUT?! That does seem a fairly integral part of the shopping process.”
new culprits on the block
Last week, Leigh Sparks, Professor of Retail Studies, Deputy Principal, University of Stirling, and Chair Scotland’s Towns Partnership, discussed the wider move to non-food self service in M&S and self-service checkouts generally.
In an online post, he noted that his Twitter timeline had been populated recently by photos of retailers doing, for her, some strange things with self-service tills.
“These tills have popped up everywhere over the last decade and not always to universal acclaim. B&Q and WHSmith have often been prime offenders, but there are new culprits on the block,” he wrote.