Stand-up row: M&S angers shoppers by removing chairs from Durham store

The Advertiser Series: Marks and Spencer, Silver Street, Durham Marks and Spencer, Silver Street, Durham

A RETAIL giant has incurred the wrath of some of its older customers by refusing to return chairs to a shop floor following a refurbishment.

Four seats at the front of Marks and Spencer, on Silver Street, Durham City, were removed as part of a major modernisation of the flagship city centre store last year.

Some older or less able shoppers are angry they have not been returned, saying they need them to be available on the shop floor.

Disability campaigner Diana Sanderson, of Durham City Access for All, has started a one-woman boycott of the store.

When asked to explain the change, an M&S spokesman said the chairs were removed from the shop floor as part of an ongoing store refurbishment which has also involved moving the express tills and, in the coming months, will see the store redecorated.

He did not explain why the chairs would not be returned, but said: “We are always happy to provide our customers with a chair if they request one whilst shopping in our stores.”

Mrs Sanderson, who lives in Durham City and has spina bifida, said this was not good enough.

“Those of us who are elderly may not have chance to ask for a chair.

“Other stores provide chairs. This isn’t good enough. We’re no further forward.

“They’ve been replaced by flowers. Apparently they think flowers are more important than people.”

Mrs Sanderson said the firm had written to her in November saying “hopefully you will see chairs coming back to the stores soon”, but this has not come to fruition.

One letter writer accused the firm of being “rigidly inflexible”. Another said they had been told the chairs were removed for health and safety reasons.

Age UK County Durham has been notified of the issue.

The store refurbishment took place shortly after Marks and Spencer opened a new out-of-town store at the Arnison Centre, Pity Me, last summer.

Comments (1)

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6:41pm Sun 9 Mar 14

Jenny Ogilvie says...

There are certainly a dozen people I know of who refuse to return to Marks and Spencer, Silver Street, because of the Manager's rigid refusal to re-instate seating vital for the elderly and infirm, but also used by many younger customers. It is deeply humiliating for customers to have to request a chair, and it requires staff to leave their posts. It would be so simple to re-instate a few chairs near the entrance/exit. We shall not return until and unless the Management climb down and restore seating.
There are certainly a dozen people I know of who refuse to return to Marks and Spencer, Silver Street, because of the Manager's rigid refusal to re-instate seating vital for the elderly and infirm, but also used by many younger customers. It is deeply humiliating for customers to have to request a chair, and it requires staff to leave their posts. It would be so simple to re-instate a few chairs near the entrance/exit. We shall not return until and unless the Management climb down and restore seating. Jenny Ogilvie

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