Friday, July 30, 2010

Gennaro Castaldo Watch: Everyone's welcome, except if you like music, live in Portsmouth and use a wheelchair

Disability Discrimination Act grief for HMV in Portsmouth, where a move to hide all the CDs and DVDs upstairs is causing would-be customers problems:

Mr Long, 44, who is a retired health and safety inspector and is now chairman of the Portsmouth and District Branch of the Multiple Sclerosis Association, said: 'I'm an avid music collector and there is no reason why HMV need to discriminate in this way.'

'By putting the majority of their stock upstairs they are preventing anyone who is in a wheelchair, is less able, or has a pushchair from browsing their shop.'
That's both unfair and, more importantly, potentially illegal. Gennaro Castaldo - who, you'll recall, was yesterday telling Marketing Week about how you can protect your brand with a spot of good PR - can you make things better?
Spokesman Gennaro Castaldo said: 'We do our best to look after all our customers' needs, and our store-team is always happy to help provide a service by alternative means, such as bringing a selection of products downstairs for a customer.
Right, Gennaro. If Mr Long wants to browse through the three for £20 offer, your staff will carry everything downstairs, will they? It's a nice idea if Martin knew what he wanted to buy - 'bring me a copy of Meat Is Murder' - but isn't HMV keen for customers to spend time browsing, discovering stuff they didn't know they wanted. That's the point of a record shop having a shop, isn't it? If Martin knew what he wanted to buy, and could just get someone to bring it to him, he could use Amazon, right?

Can't you find some way to let Martin get to the records?
In the case of our store in Commercial Road we carried out a feasibility study in line with DDA compliance requirements and were advised that installing a passenger lift would not be viable given the nature and construction of the building.
Ah - so there's no way to put a lift in the building, Gennaro?

Hang on, though - there is a lift, isn't there? Martin?
Mr Long, of Shakespeare Road, Fratton, said: 'I asked a shop assistant if there was a lift but he said it was only for staff use. I don't think they're trying to make it easy for people in my position at all.'
It might be they're talking at cross-purposes. Perhaps the lift is a paternoster or just more of a dumb waiter. After all, Gennaro wouldn't be in the papers telling everyone putting in a passenger lift was impossible if there was a passenger lift out the back and it was just staff didn't want to share, right?

Sure, there might be a security problem with having a customer go round the back of the counter to get upstairs - but the staff who Gennaro was going to have scamper up and down carrying discs could surely accompany a person who needed to use a lift instead?

Still, Gennaro, you have something to add?
We also responded to customer feedback by moving the children's section downstairs to the ground floor to give improved access for parents with pushchairs and buggies.
Oh, yes, that helps: "what are you complaining about? We've put the Fimbles downstairs." If Gennaro ever moves to whatever it is Osborne puts in place of the NHS, I look forward to dementia care patients being told their complaints are invalid because they've done something in the orthodontic department.

Still, it's not like Gennaro just shrugged and said "go to another store", is it?
He added that the company owns another shop in Portsmouth's Gunwharf Quays which does have wheelchair access.
That's something like a 25 minute walk away from the other store. You're not prepared to find a way to let customers use a lift, but think they should start a half-hour haul across the town instead. Classy.


Anonymous said...

Their solution doesn't sound disability-friendly at all, the aim of most disability laws is to make it as easy as possible for people to do things without having to ask for help.

Anonymous said...

Been to the Gunwharf shop. It's shit. Even for an HMV.

James said...

"I asked a shop assistant if there was a lift but he said it was only for staff use."

I think they might've been talking at cross-purposes, yes; The 'Lift for staff use' is actually a laminated sign in the break-room which says 'It's OK, Our business model isn't buggered, you aren't working in a glorified youth-club, we did research and most people hate music. They'd much rather shop for overpriced headphones and badges that say 'Fuck Off'. Now get out there and SELL!'

Just above Gennaro Castaldo's head in a star.

Simon Hayes Budgen said...

- Please, can I just use the lift?
- No, the lift really is for staff use
- Go on, please?
- Oh, alright. (Disappears out the back for five minutes, returns with a cup of Lemon Tea.)

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