Anyone who has read my Twitter page in the last couple of weeks will have seen me berating the fact that our fridge/freezer was broken, so I won’t go over that here! However, said fridge, although only six years old, could not be repaired because the part is obsolete. Outrageous in my opinion, and a reason why John Lewis no longer deal with Samsung.
So off we went to John Lewis this morning to look at a replacement. We were assisted by a very pleasant and patient lady who was more than happy to keep going over capacity, energy rating, anti-bacterial qualities, air flow, dimensions etc etc, until we came to a decision. We were then told that if we opened a John Lewis Partnership Card account, the purchase would be interest free for six months. Great, we thought, an opportunity to pay it off over a few months, so off we went to the office to open the account.
We certainly weren’t prepared for what came next. We wouldn’t be able to open account today as it was necessary for us to read the terms and conditions of the contract and they did not have a Braille copy so we’d have to phone a number, get our Braille copy and come back another day. Yes, we could buy the fridge on our normal credit card today and then transfer the balance to our Partnership Card when we got it to enjoy the six months interest free credit, but balance transfers are carried out at a cost of 2.5% of the amount to be transferred.
I suggested to them that as I have a mortgage, as well as other credit accounts this had never been a problem for me in the past, but they were very sorry, there was nothing they could do.
Eventually I said that they were discriminating against us. Anyone else could walk into the shop, buy an expensive item, and subject to credit, get a Partnership card and enjoy the interest free terms. I, however, could not, because I am blind.
So off they went again to confer. Whilst this was going on we hatched up plans to video the contract and pretend we were scanning it into our phones, just to make out we’d read it! Not necessary in the end. It’s surprising what the D word can do if used correctly and someone was suddenly able to read it to us after all.
It’s a word I don’t like to use too often, but I get so tired of just how many barriers are put up just because we’re blind. I never expected to experience it today. It all worked out fine in the end, but not without that familiar sinking feeling in my stomach when people suddenly decide that we’re going to be a problem. I hate using the word Discrimination because I feel it can be bandied about too freely by some, but we face it so often.
The sales lady who sold us the fridge was amazed when we went back to pay for it that we’d experienced a certain amount of resistance. Not blatant out and out discrimination like when I’m thrown out of a restaurant because I have a guide dog, but something far more subtle which many blind people would have just accepted.