to complain or not to complain?

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to complain or not to complain?

Postby dazzleship » Sun Oct 19, 2014 10:11 am

hi all :hugs:

just looking for a bit of a consensus here. hubby and I had our day out in the city (Edinburgh) yesterday with me in my wheelchair. it was a good day out, and we enjoyed ourselves and I wasn't in pain and tired so we both felt we got more out of it than we would have done had I been on my crutches :-)

but there were a few disappointing / dififcult moments and I'm just wondering - should we make complaints to the relevant people or just let it go and forget about it? I don't want to look like I'm a "moaning minnie" but at the same time how will things change if nobody complains.

so.. given the following list of things which happened to us yesterday - what would you do? thoughts please.

1. we got off the tram in Edinburgh (trams were lovely for wheelchairs by the way :-) ) and had a heck of a difficult time getting from the York Place stop towards the Shopping centre, as the pavement was on a steep hill, rutted with potholes and loose bricks / paving slabs and when we wanted to cross the little side roads the pavement wasn't lowered properly (kerb was about 2 inches above the road in places!) so it was bumpy and frankly scary to be sitting in a wheelchair on.

2. we went into BHS on Princes Street and after I picked up something I wanted to try on we were directed to the changing rooms. got there only to be told that those changing rooms don't have a disabled area (why didn't the member of staff who directed us there tell us that?) so we'd have to go to the upstairs ones. so we found a lift, which was small and horrid, terribly claustrophobic. got up to the next floor, found that the disabled changing room was in the mens :shock: changing area. hubby pushed me in, luckily there were no men getting changed at the time. found that the disabled cubicle was at the end of the corridor with a door that you had to pull outwards. cue a complicated dance of hubby pushing me far enough forward so I could pull the door then hubby pulling me back while I pulled the door open. :roll:

3. later we went into Debenhams (again Princes Street) and had a meal in the restaurant. afterwards I needed to use the toilet so we headed for the toilets just outside the restaurant, near the lift. I got into the disabled toilet and was mortified when I lifted the toilet lid to find the toilet was in a really disgusting state. I was desperate to go and didn't have any choice but to use it but it was awful. I noticed that it was also a baby changing room as well as a disabled toilet - which I think is the worst idea in the world and no wonder the toilet was such a mess. as I exited the toilet I said in a loud voice to hubby that “that toilet was disgusting”. ironically there was a cleaning lady just about to go in there so hopefully she heard me and didn't think I'd made that horrible mess.


so anyway. this is the first time I've been in a wheelchair on a day out (as opposed to just one supermarket) and it was certainly an eye-opener for both me and hubby and we've learned a lot. and we're both surprised that in this day and age it is so difficult for wheelchair users to get around!

so... what are your thoughts on the above?
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Re: to complain or not to complain?

Postby mezzoishere » Sun Oct 19, 2014 10:40 am

I truly believe that a mention should be made. I also think that those who engineer toilets, elevators, ramps etc should have to live with a wheelchair for just a week to see what all of the challenges are. I used a wheel chair once after foot surgery and was amazed at how hard it was to navigate in the public toilets. I almost always report toilets that need to be attended to. So many people just are dirty... and then little children sometimes use the toilets unattended.

I'm glad you had a good day out other than these mishaps. Maybe the store needs to have better signage to indicate where the disabled changing rooms are.

Just my thoughts.
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Re: to complain or not to complain?

Postby *Lisa* » Sun Oct 19, 2014 7:11 pm

I would write a letter to the department stores about your struggles as well as the toilet mess.

Unless you voice your problems nothing will ever change for the next person.

As the above poster mentioned, its ok these people having disabled facilities but they also need people to test them out! and also the struggles of getting to the disabled facilities. It would be a great idea if they had people to test these out instead of getting complaints.

My friend has one of those walkie chairs and many times we came accross problems, many minor but added up at the end of the day alot still has to change for the disabled and people needing aids. Most of the buttons to press to open the doors never worked! no space for an aid like that in resturants so everyone was tripping up over it! :shock:

We also found many disabled toilets in a disgusting mess.
As a Public Moderator & Admin of this forum my opinions/views expressed are personal and are no more valid than those of other members and not necessarily those of UKFibromyalgia...Lisa
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Re: to complain or not to complain?

Postby Paisleyjane » Sun Oct 19, 2014 8:28 pm

I agree, do complain, if you don't things will not improve. Dirty toilets have nothing to do with disability. :nono:
Plus somewhere as large as BHS should be better than that. Also the council need to improve pavements, If it is that bad may need to rethink plans to go to Edinburgh.
Glad you had good time overall, & the chair is working out.
Hope the next outing better still. xx
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Re: to complain or not to complain?

Postby galio » Sun Oct 19, 2014 9:37 pm

I spent 6 weeks in Edinburgh pushing my daughter round the area we were staying and once we ventured down to princes street (when i had my niece and her husband with us as it was down hill all the way there and of course back up to our apartment,) I found the city atrocious for wheelchair users, dropped pavements that were not dropped, people in cars blocking crossings at lights so having to wait for 2 or three light changes as unlike a mobile pedestrian you cannot maneuver a wheelchair through a 6 inch gap between bumpers! the disabled facilities at ocean terminal were filthy and hard to access we did cheat second time and went walk about in debenhams and used there lovely clean reasonably sized disabled loos, our wee village was better set up for crossing roads. the department stores are terrible there are some that you can not get between the racks to look at things, and of course some of the shops the ladies department are downstairs and no access. they should be made to get their layouts tested by a a wheelchair user before they claim to be accessible (as there supposed to be by law now)
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Re: to complain or not to complain?

Postby whoami » Mon Oct 20, 2014 6:55 am

We have had a lot of experience with wheel chairs as my father in law and sister in law have used them forever having both Multiple Sclerosis and Spina Bifida.

It would help others who use a chair if you wrote letters to the places involved with your issues as well as the city. Write your letter in such a way it will be received as a learning tool rather than a complaint. Point out the exact problems with details in your letter kept to only the problem you have. We found and have been told many times that letters of complaints were read and taken seriously when they were short and directly to the point.

Here in Canada disability access is taken very seriously with laws in place to make sure that access is available to places such as what you have mentioned. All new builds have to comply. It is however impossible for some establishments to comply because of the building codes at the time.

Certain places though "must comply. It is quite involved to renovate to support disabled people. Doors, handles, sinks, dryers, mirrors, light switches, table heights are only a few items that need attention. My sister in law is on a committee in the township to advise on making adjustments for the disabled.

It is quite the experience to view life from the disabled and able. One cannot understand until they are placed in the position. We took one of our grandchildren to Niagra Falls not far from us. He had broken his legs and was in a chair. We were shocked by the amount of places that were still not accessible because of the age of the buildings or the activity inside. He was disappointed many attractions he could not go in.
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Re: to complain or not to complain?

Postby Polaris » Mon Oct 20, 2014 7:42 am

My wife and I were in Edinburgh last week and visited the castle and the National Museum. The castle has a car service that takes disabled visitors to the top. The problem with access is that in old traditional places these problems were never considered and therefore there is no provision unless major structural alterations are made. The obligation is not to provide access but to make reasonable adjustments and it's ambiguous as to what is reasonable. As far as complaining is concerned I would say to always complain. If people don't complain then nothing changes. One thing I didn't know until we left Scotland was that disabled people can park on single yellow lines without time limit.
As I went to the trouble of contacting the city council in advance of my visit regarding the parking, this came as a surprise because they never mentioned it.
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Re: to complain or not to complain?

Postby dazzleship » Mon Oct 20, 2014 12:25 pm

thanks for all your advice much appreciated :-)

I totally understand the "if you don't complain nothing changes" idea - i guess I was just a bit nervous of making a deal out of things because I'd set out to have such a good day without complaining about pain and tiredness from my crutches, and instead there ended up being something else to complain about :roll: :-| :-)

I'm definitely going to contact the companies concerned. it's not going to be a "I hate your shop and I'm never going back there" thing, more of a "this is what I found difficult and this is potentially what you could do about it" sort of thing.

it's also good (in a way you know what I mean) that I wasn't the only one struggling on a day out in Edinburgh!

I appreciate that Edinburgh is full of old buildings that aren't easily accessible (if at all) but that to me is no excuse for a dropped kerb that isn't dropped right to the road height and has loose/missing bricks in it which is frankly dangerous. and it's no excuse for racks of clothes being so close together you can barely get through without picking up a few items on the way :lol:

I hope that by contacting the council / shops concerned I'll help future disabled / mobility restricted people to have a better day out. Edinburgh is a lovely city and it certainly isn't going to stop us going back there.

it's all a learning process though. once me and hubby get more used to my "wheels".
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Re: to complain or not to complain?

Postby Charmed » Wed Oct 22, 2014 9:27 pm

Hi Dazzelship,

You sound just like me. Although I have a daily rant traveling on my scooter through the streets of Edinburgh.

Why is it people either stand right in front of you, expecting you to move around them? Or walk straight in front of you, blocking your path? It drives me mad! But I won't get on my soap box lol I've just had the City Council lower the kerbs on my road, it's only taken them six months but at least it's done.

As much as the general public annoy me with their lack of consideration for others, it is sooo good to get out of the house shopping and not have the pain walking :-D

With regards to the disabled toilets: You can buy a Radar Key at around £3 from a few different places.
I've written several Access Guides (for Grapevine, you will find them in LCIL) one of them is on Disabled Toilets in Edinburgh.

As far as complaining goes, most definitely, it's the only way we can get things to change. :nono:

Gentle hugs xx
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Re: to complain or not to complain?

Postby dazzleship » Thu Oct 23, 2014 6:53 am

hi Charmed :)

another one battling the streets of Edinburgh huh? :-D

I know exactly what you mean about people not moving out of the way. I'm used to that from walking with my crutches, I used to tell hubby that "we shouldn't have bought the invisible model of crutches" lol and I did the same with my wheelchair on Saturday, saying we should have paid more for the non-invisible wheelchair :lol:

hubby says I should just stop in my tracks and make them move :twisted:

well done getting your kerb lowered though I bet that will make things easier for you

and yes you're right, the freedom of going out is worth the problems. on Sunday I wasn't completely fatigued like I would have been had I used my crutches in Edinburgh. so it was definitely worth it and I look forward to going out now, knowing I can get around.

oh I have a radar key (bought it a few weeks ago) - took it with me on Saturday just in case any of the toilets had a radar lock, but it's just the one I needed to use at the time, at the restaurant, didn't use it. if it had, it probably would have been in a better condition. oh well.

could you tell me what Grapevine / LCIL is? So I can look ar your Access Guides :-)
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Re: to complain or not to complain?

Postby Charmed » Fri Oct 24, 2014 9:24 am

LCIL is Lothian Centre for Inclusive Living, it's in Norton Park, Albion Road, Edinburgh. They help disabled people and people with long term health conditions to live independent lives, through a wide range of services. Grapevine is within LCIL they are an information service. (they can also help with filling in PIP forms etc)

LCIL also hold free training courses such as Living and Work Choices, PA training, Employer training etc the list is endless. They have Independent Living Officers who will take you through every aspect of Self Directed Support, Direct Payments, Contacting Social Care Direct right down to the interview process and contracts for your PAs. Even a Payroll service so you don't have to worry about Tax, wage slips and such like.

Yep I'm exactly they same when I use my stick, shattered and fit for nothing the following day or longer. And what is it with people on buses, they sit in the front seats when they don't need to and just sit and watch you struggle :evil: :evil: :evil:

I'll need to try the "invisible" comment, I like that lol!!!

I hope the info helps xx
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Re: to complain or not to complain?

Postby dazzleship » Fri Oct 24, 2014 11:10 am

hi

thanks for the info, I'll keep it in mind. :-) I didn't know there was things like that.

just a quick update - I emailed my complains to BHS, Debenhams and Edinburgh City Council. I worded them along the lines of "this is what I experienced difficulty with" then "what I would like to see done about this" - constructive criticism, if you will.

I sent all the emails on the 20th Oct.

so far I have only had a response from BHS, who mentioned some spiel about being aware of the Equalities Act and that all their staff are trained to help disabled shoppers and will offer a personal shopping service (I wasn't offered that). they also said they have passed my concerns onto the exact store in question.

debenhams 'automated reply' said they will respond in 24 hours *looks at calendar and frowns*

Edinburgh city council 'automated reply' said they will respond in 5 working days.

so there you have it. :-|
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