Music in shops is a pet hate for many Which? Convo readers – judging by the vast majority of the 1,500 comments we’ve had on the subject. But what about music in restaurants?
I guess it depends a lot on whether we’re talking about violinists or pounding sound systems. In Starbucks the other day I heard the song ‘When I fall in love’ by The Skatalites for the first time. If you’d asked me then, I’d have said I’m all in favour of music in restaurants. For two reasons; I loved the song and it wasn’t TOO LOUD!
But the previous week, I was eating out with a friend and could hardly hear a word they said because of how loud the music was. What was more bizarre was that the restaurant was nearly empty.
Worse than music in shops?
For some of you, music in restaurants and pubs is even worse than music in shops, as Philip Vaughan explains:
‘In a shop you can quickly get what you need and escape. In a restaurant or pub you are there for pleasure so noise pollution is even more annoying.’
For Jude, it’s the volume that matters:
‘Often it’s too loud and, as someone who is going deaf and suffers from permanent tinnitus, the addition of music makes it more difficult to hear what others are saying. I often politely ask if the music can be turned down. Some places are happy to do so, in others the staff look at me as if I’m asking something totally unreasonable.’
A.J Herridge found music so loud it ruined an otherwise enjoyable evening:
‘My family and I visited Chiquito, a Mexican-style restaurant. The food was good and staff friendly and helpful. However the evening was marred by constant and loud ‘background’ Mexican-style music. We mentioned this to staff but the volume was not reduced. I have no objection to background music in shops and restaurants as long as it stays just that.’
Is music in restaurants just part of the experience?
On the other hand, some readers felt music added to the experience of dining out, as Malcolm R argued:
‘I wonder if people who went to the Savoy for afternoon tea and were serenaded by a “Palm Court” orchestra complained? What about violinists, guitarists and accordionists who wander round restaurants serenading the diners. Sometimes music is all part of the occasion, and perhaps having local music played in a “foreign” restaurant is part of the experience? Perhaps as well as compulsory “scores on the doors” restaurants should also declare “music played here” so you know where to avoid (or frequent).’
Listen to customers, not just the music
Anne pleaded with restaurants to take more notice of their potential customers:
‘Restaurants pack in tables too closely, and the music adds to the volume of conversation. All my friends hate all this, and it’s odd that businesses do not seem to recognise the growing ‘grey’ market. Yes, I’m in my sixties, and find shopping and restaurant visits an ordeal.’
Do you feel that restaurants are getting it right in their choice of music and the volume it’s played at?