/ Shopping

Which shops play the most annoying background music?

Fingers in ears

We’ve had lots of requests to cover annoying music in shops, from radio stations in supermarkets to pop hits in tech stores. So we want to know which shops and music irritates you the most.

A bunch of Which? members have been in in touch to tell us how annoying they find it when they’re forced to listen to music in shops.

I must admit, I only ever notice if it’s a song I particularly don’t like – or if it’s too early in November for me to be able to stomach festive pop.

I’ve got particularly fond memories of Gorillaz’s ‘Dare’ coming on in a clothes shop, and all the customers and staff spontaneously dancing along. But, for me, shop music is generally something that usually washes over me. Or does it?

How music in shops affects you

There have been numerous studies that have discovered that the volume, speed and type of music played does have an effect on a shopper’s behaviour.

Unsurprisingly, loud music makes people spend less time in a shop. If you’re in a supermarket, music doesn’t affect how much you buy, but it does mean you make your way through the store more quickly. This means that the supermarket can get customers in and out more quickly, freeing up space in the car park and at tills, without seeing a drop in profits.

Slower music is likely to result in shoppers spending more time in a store, and thus buying more. And classical music is more likely to make people spend more compared to pop.

But if a shop gets the type of music wrong (the latest pop hits for over-25s, or easy listening for under-25s) then customers reportedly think that they’ve spent more time in store than they actually have.

So, with all this research to hand, which shops are getting their music wrong and what is it that’s irritating their customers so much? Are there any particular shops that stand out for you for their poorly-chosen, too-loud music? Or are you a shop worker who’s being driven mad by the same songs being played on a loop?

And do you feel the same about music in restaurants and pubs?

Christine says:
10 December 2014

Well so much for our little protest on the Co-op Facebook page, most of it has been removed! Were they finding it too hot to handle I wonder?

But well done for trying. Even when they disagree with something, it’s a rare person that doesn’t turn it around in their head and wonder whether they are doing the right thing. And as they say: constant dripping wears away stone . .

Don’t think the comments have disappeared, Chris. I can still access them. In fact you have a new comment!

Christine says:
11 December 2014

Yes you are right Dave we are still there, just a bit further down in the pecking order. No comment yet from the Co-op team though, unless I can’t see that either!

Enjoyed reading all the comments on your Co-op Facebook thread last night, Christine, especially the final one from the employee who was retiring after so many years and couldn’t wait to escape the music. However, when I went back in this morning to add a comment, the thread had disappeared. Just a solitary one from you, Christine. Couldn’t work out if this was a new thread or your last comment on the old one. Seems a shame if you have lost the remainder of the conversation. Can anyone else access it? (I have added to your latest comment).

Ah, I can access the Co-op conversation again, Christine! Don’t know what happened yesterday. And don’t know why this particular conversation on the Co-op has been split into two sections. Let’s keep up the pressure!

Adrian Rudge says:
10 December 2014

I wonder if I, and perhaps others, have the nerve to go into ,say, Marks and Spencer with large headphones on with stickers on each side saying ” I hate piped music”!

lizbie says:
10 December 2014

They would treat you with contempt.

Good article in today’s “Times” by Carol Midgley. She has written about piped music in shops before. She thinks the situation is getting worse and highlights an actual DJ in the entrance of Kurt Geiger.

rose howell says:
10 December 2014

I emailed Sainsburys to complain about Xmas music now being played. Sainsbury is usually music free. I got an email back saying that their research said customers liked it at this stressful time of year. I wrote back and said I would love to see their research, especially since I didn’t think it actually existed or that it was provided by the piped music industry and was therefore biased. I got another reply which said that they were sorry that I wasn’t happy with their reply ( no mention of any research was made).

lizbie says:
10 December 2014

Christmas music increases stress, of course!

Rose, could you not write back and say that the reason you were not happy with their reply was because they hadn’t answered your question about their research. Just repeat the question, very politely, and ask if they would answer it for you. Say that, if they are unable to answer it themselves, please could they tell you who in the company is responsible for choosing the music so that you can write to them.

My local Tesco superstore, which used to be music free, has now turned on the festive noise. It really is the most dreary rendition of well-known Christmas tunes they could have picked. Perhaps their commercial woes have affected their musical judgment and they’re in a deep depression.

Another place with even more abysmal and retchworthy sounds is the Clas Ohlson store in Norwich; I might be able to forgive them – they’re Scandinavians, and one of the staff shared my pain.

Ruben says:
12 December 2014

Homebase are offenders of this. They are driving me round the bend all the time with their awful covers and Christmas songs, and the usual repeated looped songs are just as annoying. At least play originals not repeated. Why should people working after customers leave be subjected to this irritation, we are trying to concentrate and get on with our job.

[This comment has been edited to align with our community guidelines. Thanks, mods]


Please remember the rules here on the Which? conversation website, they ask you not to type in all caps 🙂

Thanks for spotting, Lee, and don’t worry Ruben, I’m sure the caps were a mistake so we’ve adjusted it for you 🙂

Just so you all have it, you can find the commenting guidelines here: https://conversation.which.co.uk/commenting-guidelines/

My local store in our village has now become a CO-OP. They started well but now inflict very loud local radio station music at us DJ’d by local people, one with a particular ‘Faux’ American accent. I wrote and pointed out how very loud it was, particularly as they had put a loud speaker directly over the till, and you have to shout at the till operator who now shouts back. I asked them not to tell me that research shows that it enhances the shopping experience.

They E mailed me back and said their music was Special CO-OP in House and research told them it “Enhanced the shopping experience”.

I am going mad here. I no longer shop there.

That made me laugh, Stephen! Dare I say it? E-mail them back and ask what research told them it “enhanced the shopping experience”. Sound genuinely perplexed, as you have never come across such research.

lizbie says:
12 December 2014

‘Enhanced the shopping experience’ !!!! The ‘research’ referred to is probably the one where people were asked if ‘music was something which they would not like to be without’ and if ‘music playing would make their shopping trip into more of a leisure experience.’ Obviously the first question is one to which most of us would answer ‘yes.’

I’ve just finished watching the DVD An Audience with Victoria Wood from 1988 (the year I was born in), in which she made a joke about music in a department store & her singing along to it.

Long live music in shops – hope it never goes away!

(PS: I know I’ve just upset 99.9% of you, sorry but it’s how i feel)

Well said Lee.
If you don’t like a particular shop, no-one is forcing you to use it. There are plenty of alternatives to do your shopping these days.

At least you acknowledge our existence, Lee! Most businesses give the impression that all their customers like it.

Chris says:
12 December 2014

But the Co-op is the only one I can walk to, being near the shops is one of the reasons I chose my current house. There are people in my town who do not have my option of driving to other stores.

I wonder if there is anyone reading these who feels so stressed when in a store without music that they leave without shopping?

lizbie says:
12 December 2014

It’s nothing more than an insult to say ‘if you don’t like it, then go elsewhere.’ What if you can’t? And what if you’d like to shop in, say, M&S but are unable to do so because you can’t stand the loud muzak? What if you are lying on a hospital trolley waiting an hour for a scan, and you are forced to ‘listen’ to caterwauling from the radio?

To answer your question, Chris, you have pinpointed exactly one of my arguments. I have asked M&S and others – has anyone, anywhere, ever got to a store entrance, heard no music, & said “Hey! There’s no music – I’m outta here!’ No reply comes, of course – but as we know, many people do the opposite & just walk away if there is music playing!

What these stores seem to ignore is the fact that it is the customers with money to spend – mostly the over 40s – who dislike piped music, and it is they (we) who have deserted them.

Well said lisbie. And I emphasise your point that it is not always possible to go elsewhere. I needed to buy clothing last week and went to every shop in my town and walked out of all of them owing to the awful muzak. I resorted to the internet, where I was unable to see or try on the items, and all have now had to be returned. All that hassle just because shops won’t listen to their customers and instead insist that they know better than we about what ‘enhances the shopping experience’. (Yuk).

And for the one person who seems not to be able to exist without noise in his ears, it is possible to do the most mundane and routine of jobs with background noise, but isn’t it possible to accept that there are jobs that require concentration. Do you think the CEO of these companies have muzak in their private offices? (If they do, then I wouldn’t trust their judgements.) And in any case, are we concerned about staff or customers?

I, for one, go to churches or libraries for relief from all the commercial chaos, and I am not religious. However, it is just a pleasure to close the doors and enjoy peace. Unfortunately, even libraries are no longer exempt in many areas, and large bookshops seem to be equally unpleasant.

“And for the one person who seems not to be able to exist without noise in his ears”

If that was directed at me then I have explained why i like to have music when I’m out of home. And I am not alone, a great number of people need or want music in there life pretty much all the time.

Chris says:
12 December 2014

Lee, it’s possible that the person who replied had not yet seen the explanation you gave. It must be very tough to deal with SAD and can imagine how music helps. During a very bad time I found listening to speech radio, R4 in the day, World Service in the night, helped me cope by blocking out unwelcome and repetitive thoughts. R4 is on now. I find I can listen to speech without it being distracting. Even a short jingle sets my teeth on edge however. I sometimes listen to music when driving, but never, never when reversing! It is all to do with the way different sounds are processed by the brain I expect. And having your own choice of course. Hope you avoid risking your hearing by too high volume.


I agree, when I have a headache or need to get some paperwork done I put a audio book on, my fave being the Harry Potter series. While I am a massive fan of music from the 60’s right till this very day I am also a massive fan of audio books too 🙂

The person who made the comment had indeed read the explanation but didn’t go further, not wanting to get into personal matters. However, I’m afraid there is a lot wrong with the point.

1. I too suffer from SAD so understand and sympathise. At the same time, my condition is exacerbated, rather than helped, by noise. I’m not certain why your ‘remedy’ should take precedence over mine. By the way, since the reference is to a ‘seasonal’ concern, would it then be acceptable to stop playing music in the better, sunnier seasons?

2. I also suffer from deafness, and a condition that makes noise extremely painful in a physical sense. Other people have mentioned the same problem, so once again one person’s salvation is another’s hell.

3. It is disturbing to read so often that because one person likes or wants something it should be provided at the expense of the comfort of others. (And to anticipate a response, the argument doesn’t work logically in the opposite direction; i.e., the lack of muzak harms no one, even those who think their lives depend upon it.) In ordinary circumstances one has a choice of what music to listen to and when, but in the case of the ‘shopping experience’, the noise is inflicted on us, like it or not.

“The person who made the comment had indeed read the explanation but didn’t go further”

Anything wrong with using my name? We are all human beings here, it’s polite to use names. I am not a item, but a person.

” I’m not certain why your ‘remedy’ should take precedence over mine.”

When have I ever said mine should take precedence over yours? I have said again and again on this website that I speak for myself. I share my feelings and comment what i feel.

“since the reference is to a ‘seasonal’ concern, would it then be acceptable to stop playing music in the better, sunnier seasons?”

I like music all year round. It helps my SAD (Social anxiety disorder for people who don’t know)

“It is disturbing to read so often that because one person likes or wants ”

Are you trying to ask me to shut up? I’m worried that my comments are “disturbing ” to you.

Hi everyone – let’s keep clear from personal matters and stick to the broader topic. We’re all here for the same purpose and that’s not to annoy each other 😉

lizbie says:
12 December 2014

Very, very well said Mr Johnston! I wish I could put “…the lack of muzak harms no one, even those who think their lives depend upon it” in giant capitals. Says it all.

Thank you lisbie. I am about to withdraw from the lists. I sincerely apologise if I offended. It was not my intention to be personal, but simply to use others’ comments to makes a couple of points. I might add that a proper reading would have helped; I said ‘the person who made the comment’, and that obviously referred to me, not to anyone else.

Christine says:
12 December 2014

I don’t think you should withdraw from the lists L Johnson, your comments were fair, and we need all the support we can get!

Please don’t withdraw from the lists, L Johnston. The comments you have made throughout the conversation have been very useful. Don’t let one response drive you away. As Christine says, we need your support!

Hi L. Johnston, it would be a shame to see you leave this debate – I’m sure you have more useful comments to add. My friendly warning was a reminder for everyone on the thread, not just you so I’m sorry if you felt singled out. To all of you lovely people, if you haven’t read them yet, here are our commenting guidelines: https://conversation.which.co.uk/commenting-guidelines/

lizbie says:
12 December 2014

i agree. His comments are pertinent and well expressed. Don’t leave!

SAD stands for ‘Seasonal Affective Disorder’, a form of depression- not Social Anxiety Disorder & can be treated with special lights or by walking out in daylight in the brightest part of the day. I too suffer from shyness- spuriously medicalised as social anxiety disorder but unlike you I like my own inner self & do not seek to drown it out with noise. Perhaps you might learn something if you listened to yourself instead of trying do suppress it, its a bit like taking drugs to drown your sorrows.

wikipedia says……

Social anxiety disorder (SAD), also known as social phobia, is the most common anxiety disorder.[1] It is one of the most common psychiatric disorders, with 12% of American adults having experienced it in their lifetime.[2] It is characterized by intense fear in one or more social situations,[3] causing considerable distress and impaired ability to function in at least some parts of daily life.

Adrian Rudge says:
12 December 2014

But why is it always the direst pop music copies? Where is the Classical stuff – although I prefer this I still don’t think we should be subjected to piped music under any circumstances?

Many a times I have walked into a shop and make a comment like “Wow it’s dead in here” when no music is on. Music helps customers not have that feeling too.

Thinking about it when I was 13 and did a paper round Mr Patel had foreign language music playing in his shop, Nothing beats having music to listen to while working!

Sally says:
12 December 2014

But you have the choice to provide that music yourself, Lee, through your own headphones.


I refuse to have my headphones on in a store incase there is a fire, robbery, anything like that. I need to hear when shopping for safety reasons.

lizbie says:
12 December 2014

Not everyone would agree with you. Assistants in M&S, for example, say that they have to learn to ‘tune it out’ so that they can hear customer queries. If you want music, you can have your own sound system, which is fine. Why should others have to put up with your choice of music? Mine would be Bach, but nothing would induce me to force others to listen to it!

Chris says:
12 December 2014

Oh dear, if you listen at a volume which cuts out such things as announcements you are damaging your hearing, although the effect is delayed. Can you hear traffic if you wear earphones as a pedestrian/cyclist etc?

lizbie says:
12 December 2014

And you can hear above the din of piped music?

Maybe I’m getting too private here, but I suffer from SAD. So when I’m out shopping, or even just walking the dog on a morning I have my earphones on loud as it helps me cope. When I come to go in store, or cross over the road, getting on / off a bus, or even using the ATM then yes, I do take my earphones off as i need to hear around me for my own safety.

Chris says:
12 December 2014

Hi Lee. Me again, just read a more recent post but can’t see it on here. Read SAD, understood it to be Seasonally Affected Disorder. Just thought I would clarify. (And if anyone knows a good way to find most recent posts on here I will be grateful.)

Hi everyone, thanks for all your input – you’re definitely making a lot of noise about this one 😉 (sorry, I couldn’t resist).

You’ll be pleased to hear we’ve been reading all your comments and have sent the thread to the relevant teams here at Which?. We’ve taken your feedback on board, and will see if we can share your comments with relevant retailers. The editorial team are also looking into your comments to see what more we can find out. We’ll keep up you updated.

Thanks for letting us know, Alex. I have been wondering if this was just a topic for discussion.

Most of us who dislike the music can avoid the shops that play it, but we should spare a thought for customers with hearing problems and those who have to work there.

Don’t worry, Wavechange. Everything up on Convo could lead to something. We read all the comments 🙂

I’m convinced, Alex, but sometimes it’s not too obvious. It would be good if we could have a seasonal Conversation focusing on how our input has helped in the past year.

Well keep your eye out at the start of the new year – who knows what will be posted…

That’s very good to know, Alex; thank you for posting that.

I go into a shop to browse and buy stuff, not to be bombarded with unecessary noise. I might feel a bit better about it if it was decent classical music instead of inane pop, but don’t need either. What might satisfy everyone is if no noise was played over the loud speakers but if those addicted to constant background music could borrow / hire personal players with headphones at the entrance, and leave the rest of us (the silent majority) in peace.
Oh Silent Night.

Those customers who are keen on music will probably have a phone and headphones in their pocket.

Most of us who complain about the music in shops wouldn’t be so vexed if it was actually listenable music. I don’t mind the latest popular music or most chart hits from any generation in original form, but not when they are mangled and screeched and blasted out ceaselessy in an acoustic maelstrom. Overall, I prefer silence in shops, however.

To the extent that store chiefs are free to do what they like in their own premises irrespective whether most of us like it or not, the only response must be to abstain from the worst offenders and transfer our custom elsewhere, including on-line if possible. I think the annoyance factor of canned music should be taken into account when Which? draws up its annual shopper satisfaction tables.

I do not agree that we should be tolerant of the infliction of unwanted noise just because there are some people who might like it or because it keeps the staff happy. For the short period of time that most customers are actually in a shop it should not be too much hardship to endure a music-free episode; as for the staff, as I have said before – what is so special about shop staff and makes them different to factory or office workers who cannot have music while they work?

lizbie says:
12 December 2014

Absolutely. However, there is pressure on workplaces to force it upon their employees, too. There was a – laughable – recent survey which used 28 (!!!) people as its basis & purported to show that having ‘music while you work’ was an aid to productivity. No prizes for guessing the nature of the company which sponsored it!
The bottom line is that the majority does not like enforced ‘music’ in shops, and just because some do like it is no justification to have it.

Most of the occupations in which it might be claimed that music aids productivity have either been automated, robotified, or exported to the orient. Most remaining work requires some degree of concentration and the essence of retail is customer satisfaction. I just cannot understand how this extra cost burden on stores has survived the deepest recession for decades. Their financial prognoses depress so they turn up the volume!

My particular sympathies lie with those who suffer from the noise of piped music because of its interference with their hearing. They also have a right to be heard; indeed, I suspect that the Court might support a claim against a retailer on the grounds of discrimination if prolongued or continuous music caused any degree of suffering [It would strengthn the case if the retailer had been specifically requested to desist]. If I could pick a defendant for such a claim it would be the Co-Op whose customer base is likely to be more sensitive to the nuisance and whose credentials would, in the eyes of most people, be more compromised [pound shops don’t care what their customers feel whereas the Co-Op implies that it does].

Hate to be pernickity, lizbie, but there were even less participants – just 26! PPL claims this is “independent research” which is slightly odd, given that PPL’s Operations Director, Christine Geissmar, actually appears in the promotional video.

Peter says:
12 December 2014

I’ve written to the Co op , the more the merrier!

lizbie says:
12 December 2014

For some reason the excellent comment by a Mr Johnson is not showing up here – I hope no censorship is in force, since his post was eminently polite and sensible? His comment that no one suffers from an absence of piped ‘music’ deserves to be written in glittering capitals.

Hi Lizbie, I think the comment you’re looking for is a little further up the thread. I’ve copied the link here for you: https://conversation.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/annoying-background-music-shops-supermarkets/comment-page-7/#comment-1396625

It is surprising what topics attract most comments – and emotive responses! This one – which you wouldn’t think in the grand scheme of things is currently the most important issue in an era of austerity – has generated 663 comments from 171 people so far. Eclipsing topics such as consumer rights, campylobacter, and energy issues. Funny old world.

There seems to be stronger feeling about nuisance calls. One of the Conversations has, at the time of writing, seen 1557 comments and 100% of the people who voted in the poll were fed-up with the calls. Many radical suggestions have been made about how to deal with the problem. Right seems to be winning over might and for the first time in years I have only had a single nuisance call this week.

Would anyone like to do the unenviable task of listing the worst offenders mentioned in this thread in a new comment? I think that’d be super helpful. You could also mention whether they’ve made any changes.

Oh and a list of the goodies would be great too. Maybe a little weekend task for you 🙂

As an incentive, I’ll make whoever does the complete list first our Comment of the Week. That’ll feature your comment, and a link to this page, on our homepage bringing even more people to this topic. Good luck!

Worst offenders: Co-op, B&Q, M&S

“Goodies”: Waitrose, Primark, Aldi.

I would have added John Lewis and Lidl to the “Goodies” list but John Lewis has blotted its copybook by allowing franchises such as Hotel Chocolat and Joe & the Juice to play muzac within John Lewis premises, and Lidl did experiment with piped music in certain stores during the course of this conversation. Hopefully, this has now stopped.

lizbie says:
12 December 2014

Good – Waitrose, Wetherspoons, Daunt Books, Blackwells Books (Oxford branch).

Bad – M&S, Homebase, BOOTS – the Epsom branch has loud, thumping disco music playing in the optician section! Dreadful.

In Nottingham….
Good: John Lewis, Wetherspoons, Wickes (no music at all the other day, but may be a fluke!) Oxfam book shop and that’s it!
Terrible: M&S, Boots, Homebase, B&Q, Bodyshop, Next
Bad: all the rest!

A reminder, also GOOD:
W H Smith – a haven of peace there always.
Waterstones – many, not all.

It would be a good idea if, when in all the GOOD places we thanked them. It would show that some people care and might help if they were thinking of changing their policy at some point, as an experiment etc.

Chris says:
13 December 2014

Pipedown offers small cards for praise as well as criticism. Tomorrow I will be having lunch at a musak free pub/restaurant. When I mentioned on my first visit I had enjoyed not having music I found it is the landlord’s policy. I recommended them to Pipedown’s Quiet Places.

Chris says:
14 December 2014

I assumed Primark would have music, not a store I have used, but will do so in future. Found what I needed in BHS, the store next door, but it was an uncomfortable experience because of the loud music.

I love a bit of music when shopping, especially if they are offering cheese and wine to sample. I found myself Rocking Around the Christmas Tree the other day in the supermarket and to my embarrassment I was singing along. The lady next to me thought it was very funny. I can’t wait for Fairytale of New York, I do a great Kirsty McGowan.

Seriously though, most of the time I do not notice the music in shops. I think I must tune it out as I only remember the stuff that I like, which is every type of music except Rap. If the music really troubles you then you must make the store manager aware, but you are not likely to have silence at this time of year. My pet hate is the din of noise in indoor shopping centres all year round. I try and avoid them as much as possible and when I shop there I make my stay as short as possible.

Sadly I have to report that for the first time I can remember, my local Tesco is playing music before 11pm. ‘We cannot please everyone’ was the response of the lady at the Customer Services desk. 🙁

Is that the English “SADly” or the American “SADly”?

I feel a bit sad about complaining about Christmas music at Christmas time. 🙂

Sally says:
12 December 2014

I agree, wavechange. I would happily put up with Christmas music for one month of the year if muzac wasn’t played virtually everywhere for the other eleven months. Having said that, I find that the people who complain most about Christmas music are the staff who have to work with it. They seem to find Christmas music particularly difficult to cope with.

Chris says:
13 December 2014

So, Tesco is happy to please one person who wants the music, when some stores (Co-op are you listening?) ignore “more than one”.

Hi Sally – I will send Tesco an email complaining about the Christmas music. It is repetitive music that I find worst. I had a holiday job for six weeks as a student and still remember some of the songs that were played over and over again on the radio.

If anyone else is having a problem with music in Tesco stores, you can use the email address: customer.service@tesco.co.uk

lizbie says:
13 December 2014

Extraordinary, eh? They will do all they can to please the very, very rare one who wants the music, but won’t listen to the wishes of the majority.

As always, I received a prompt response to my email from Tesco. I was informed that all Tesco stores have to play Christmas music, under instruction of Head Office. My comments have been recorded, but their feedback surveys are keen on Christmas music.

I did suggest that customers who wanted music could use their phones and earphones but apparently that’s not usually allowed for health and safety reasons. I don’t recall seeing any notices about this.

Tesco is the only supermarket nearby but I will be doing Christmas shopping elsewhere, assuming that I can find a quiet rival supermarket.

Chris says:
14 December 2014

Having read elsewhere on here that staff are not allowed to wear head sets I suspect Tesco is confusing rules for staff with choices for customers. Are you up to sending another email to them, wavechange? The Tesco store nearest here is well out of my way, can’t recall the last time I was there.

I will be emailing Tesco again, Chris. I just need to establish which of the rival supermarkets is quiet at this time of year, so I can tell Tesco where I am going to be doing my shopping before Christmas. 🙂

I’m sure you are right about staff rather than customers not being allowed to wear headsets.

Sally says:
14 December 2014

Sainsbury’s definitely play Christmas music, wavechange. I suspect that Waitrose and Booth’s are the only two that are muzac-free at Christmas. Would love to know if there are any others.

Thanks Sally. There’s a Waitrose about 5 or 6 miles away, so I will probably give that a go. I will of course tell them that I’m here because Tesco have decided that we need Christmas music to create a ‘festive happy mood’. 🙁

lizbie says:
13 December 2014

I once made what I thought was quite a good suggestion, to the manager at my local M&S and in writing to their Head Office. It was for ‘Quiet Sundays’ – the reasoning being, if they must please the 0.2% who love the ‘music,’ then how about pleasing everyone else just on Sundays? That’s the day when we shop there – and we know 2 other families who do the same – both large & affluent ones. I’d imagine that the total spend for all 3 is about £1,200 a week – at the moment being spent at Waitrose. So why not just one muzak free day?
The local manager said no – one person had missed the music so much, that they would always play it every day, no matter what. When I said that others hated it, he said no one else had complained. This I knew to be absolutely untrue, as I have actually heard others doing it – very loudly.
Head Office, for Marc Bolland, said that it was up to store managers, but they could not change policy on a day basis – it had to be either all muzak, all the time, or no muzak. Obviously they opt for the latter.

Chris says:
14 December 2014

Or a quiet few hours each day perhaps. Could be done as a trial, bet the sky wouldn’t fall!

He probably meant that nobody else complained formally, i.e.by letter, or other contact with the manager or head office. They wouldn’t take any notice of comments made verbally – often in passing – in the store.
Keep plugging away everyone!

lizbie says:
13 December 2014

Actually, M&S say that they do take notice of in store complaints but written ones are not collated – that is, they are all seen as one-offs. Everyone I know of who has complained in store, has also written & commented on Facebook, but the response is always the same – “We find that those who shop with us prefer music in store” or “Up and down the land, people have been demanding music in store.” No evidence is given, no figures supplied.

Of course those who (still) shop with them prefer music – they’ve driven all the ones who hate it away already! I find this argument (which is constantly being rolled out by everybody, not just shops) the worst and laziest one of all. I have personally rejected jobs I was offered and in some cases not even bothered to apply for jobs because I knew I would be subjected to musak torture. Naturally, those who still work there might be more inclined to accept music.

lizbie says:
13 December 2014

Indeed, it also begs the question – why do they not seem to care about all the custom they are losing? Why does it never dawn on them that, say, in the case of M&S food, they have lost market share to Waitrose? It’s not because the food is better – in my view, M&S food is the best – but I still won’t shop there if I am to be subjected to loud drivel and told that ‘It creates a nice atmosphere.’

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Lizbie, I think M&S is so big that no-one actually knows what the official line is. I have definitely been told that M&S doesn’t listen to instore comments unless you specifically ask for your complaint to be passed to M&S HQ. Even then I suspect comments aren’t always passed on. Don’t know how we get through to M&S. Let’s hope that Which? might succeed where the rest of us have failed.

When I recently commiserated with the poor guy at the Sainsbury checkout about the extremely loud and horrible Christmas music he said – yeah, last year at least they didn’t start til 12 midday – this year they have it from 10 every day… Well no more Sainsbury’s for me! And Lidl’s seem to have taken all our negative comments to heart. Not heard any music since they tried it out at certain Edinburgh branches.

One of the worst offenders – Bank of Scotland. (Or sorry – are we talking about supermarkets etc only?) Coop is definitely top of the list otherwise, especially because they are often the only choice (only shop in small town) for people who don’t have their own transport, i.e. the less well off and elderly.