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Shopping with DS wheelchair…just sounding off as I am fed up today

(168 Posts)
Livingtothefull Thu 29-Dec-16 18:00:36

1. I went to the supermarket in the big town near us last week with DS (16) who is in a wheelchair….went to look for a wheelchair trolley, found just one which was broken.

Waited at customer service desk while they checked if there was another one available. Waited for a long time….DS got agitated with the waiting (he has learning difficulties). Eventually they confirmed there was no other wheelchair trolley in the store, despite it being a large branch of a big, household-name supermarket.

Without a wheelchair trolley I can't do my shopping as I can't push a normal trolley or carry a basket and manoeuvre the wheelchair at the same time. So in the end they had to send a member of staff with me to assist me.

2. Went shopping again with DS today in another branch of the same supermarket. Again just one wheelchair trolley which was broken so same thing again.

I don't think it's too much to ask that I can just come to the supermarket, get a trolley and do my shopping like everyone else, without having to wait around for a solution because the one suitable trolley is missing or out of action.

DS likes travelling on the bus (there are limited things in life for him to enjoy but he does enjoy bus journeys) so I agreed to get the bus home with him. The bus turned up but the driver didn't open the side doors or drop the ramp down for us. So I went to speak to him while the other passengers were getting on:

Me: 'Could you let us on the bus at the side doors please?'
Driver: 'Sorry no there's no space for you'.
Me: 'There's lots of space, we need the wheelchair space.'
Driver: 'There's a buggy on board'.
Me: 'But that's a wheelchair space, wheelchairs have priority'.
Driver: 'No the buggy got on before you and she already paid for her ticket, and that's that.'

and drove off. He didn't even ask the people with the buggy to make space btw.

I had to wait for the next bus to come, this had a much larger buggy on board but the driver let me on and the mother with the buggy happily made space…no need for her to get off the bus.

What upsets me about this is: the odds are that most busy buses will have at least one buggy so if every bus driver took the same attitude as the first one, DS & I could easily be there all night. Also DS may have a meltdown if he is forced to wait to long and believe me his meltdowns aren't pretty (have posted previously about these).

I am having a rant and I know all this sounds really negative but please try to put yourselves in my shoes?

KarlosKKrinkelbeim Thu 29-Dec-16 18:06:44

I do not blame you at all. Which supermarket was it? Totally unreasonable for a large shop to have only one broken wheelchair trolley.
Re buses, it would be so much better if they still had conductors. When I pushed buggies I was always willing to fold them and sit with baby so as to make space but thus depends on someone being prepared to give you a seat and someone to help you fold while you hold baby! Impossible without help

Chottie Thu 29-Dec-16 18:07:23

Living that sounds just awful.

Please contact the supermarket head office and complain about the lack of wheelchair trolleys.

I'm a regular bus user and when buggy or wheelchair users get on the bus, everyone just moves and vacates the space, there is never a problem. I'm shocked about that bus driver's attitude.

You do not sound like you are having a rant, more in despair when you and your son are just trying to get out and about.

Planetarymagic1 Thu 29-Dec-16 18:09:19

That is horrible. I feel for you.

Celaena Thu 29-Dec-16 18:10:31


Sounds like you had a hell of a day - no advice just a hug

KarlosKKrinkelbeim Thu 29-Dec-16 18:11:50

Tell us the supermarket - I will boycott!

MycatsaPirate Thu 29-Dec-16 18:11:57

Rant away, that sounds incredibly frustrating!

Firstly, please DO contact the head of the supermarket and tell them that despite visiting two different stores there were no disabled trolleys available. Make sure you tell them that a) it's inconvenient and b) that it makes you feel like you don't matter. One disabled trolley? How many disabled bays are there? How many trolleys with baby carriers on them?

And secondly, contact the bus company. Ask them to send you a copy of their policy on wheelchair users. Then carry it with you and make sure the next driver who treats you and your son like that, you show them the policy and also take his badge number if he won't let you on.

I am fuming on your behalf.

formerbabe Thu 29-Dec-16 18:12:44

No advice either I'm afraid. It must be really tough...I'd be frustrated too flowers

TaggieRR Thu 29-Dec-16 18:14:25

Could you remember the time of the bus and complain to head office about the driver? Def a good idea to get a copy of their policy!

SantasLittleMonkeyButler Thu 29-Dec-16 18:14:54

YANBU. You were made to feel like a second class citizen on three ocassions.

I would definitely complain about the lack of working wheelchair trollies and the first bus driver.

Megatherium Thu 29-Dec-16 18:19:09

Yanbu, you really don't need this sort of stress.

I agree you should contact the supermarket to tell them what happened - if you don't get a reply start tweeting them. Also contact the bus company and ask them (a) to give you something in writing that you can show to bus drivers to confirm that wheelchairs have priority in wheelchair spaces and (b) to confirm that they will immediately remind all their drivers of that fact.

SofiaAmes Thu 29-Dec-16 18:23:03

I am so sorry. That sounds awful. I know that people love to America bash on Mumsnet, but disabled access and rights are light years ahead here, mostly because it's been pushed forward with legal claims (that the American legal system gives a lot more weight and money to). Discriminating against the disabled is illegal here and has serious penalties. Is that not the case in the UK?
Even if it isn't, companies care about their public image and reputation. Please make sure that you make complaints to both the bus company and the supermarket as things will never change otherwise. Go to the press (the DM is good for something on this front). Make noise and change will happen.

I have a child (16 year old ds) with invisible disabilities and I complain to everyone and everything every time his rights are violated. It does make a difference and I am seeing it just in the last few years of fighting for him (mostly over medical care and education). It will make a difference to life when he is out on his own.

LockedOutOfMN Thu 29-Dec-16 18:23:40

Agree with MycatsaPirate. Please contact the supermarkets as well as their head office and the bus company. I'm appalled but sadly not surprised by the bus driver's behaviour - I have seen it before to both wheelchair users and parents with pushchairs and often the bus drivers are more than happy to overlook the rules in order to not have to bother letting down ramps etc.

I hope your son enjoyed the trip home on the bus, despite the wait.

Soubriquet Thu 29-Dec-16 18:26:09

That's shocking really

Our local sainsburys has about 10 wheelchair shopping trolleys, an electric scooter with a large basket and their own wheelchairs too.

I actually got off the bus a few weeks ago to make room for a wheelchair. I couldn't be bothered to collapse the buggy with a wiggly toddler, so I got off to let them get on and walked the rest of the way.

QuackDuckQuack Thu 29-Dec-16 18:27:38

Supermarkets seem to have enough disabled parking bays to never run out - rightly so. Surely they should base the number of wheelchair trolleys on a similar 'never run out' basis.

You should definitely complain to both the supermarket and bus companies. But it gets tiresome that you have to complain instead of businesses getting it right first time.

SauvignonBlanche Thu 29-Dec-16 18:27:59

That's really crappy OP, I'm sorry to hear that. flowers

harderandharder2breathe Thu 29-Dec-16 18:29:24


Please do complain to the supermarket and bus company, you and DS have been discriminated against because of his disability (unable to do shopping, unable to get on the bus).

PP's idea of getting a written copy of the bus companies wheelchair policy to brandish is a good one! Of course you shouldn't have to though flowers

teaandakitkat Thu 29-Dec-16 18:30:46

Yanbu. You just want to do your shopping. I tried to shop in a big supermarket when my kids were little, they only had one shopping trolley suitable for a baby and toddler and someone was using it. The customer services woman suggested I go into the shop, find the person and ask them how long they were going to be until they had finished with it. hmm Made me feel like a nuisance rather than a customer with money to spend the same as everyone else. It's a horrible feeling. And must be ten times worse for you with an impatient 16 yr old.

And the bus- how frustrating. After the supermarket you just want to get home without any hassle. Some people, like that bus driver, are just in the wrong job and don't want to be helpful. He was probably running late and didn't want the extra time of getting the ramp out.

Sorry you had a shit day.

SofiaAmes Thu 29-Dec-16 18:31:37

By the way, you can get basket attachments that hooks onto a wheelchair. Not ideal, but might be worth having with you when you encounter errant supermarkets. Also, lots of fun YouTube videos on pushing a shopping cart while in a wheelchair.

WitchSharkadder Thu 29-Dec-16 18:33:09

YANBU. Rant away, it's absolutely rubbish that the supermarket are not catering for their disabled customers and the bus drivers refusal to tell the woman to fold the buggy is even worse. I thought everyone knew buggies were only permitted to use the space when not needed by a wheelchair user.

Olympiathequeen Thu 29-Dec-16 18:33:24

Contact both the supermarket HQ and complain and the bus company with the time and description of the driver.

That is appalling and makes a difficult life totally shit angry

Shallishanti Thu 29-Dec-16 18:34:22

YANBU at all, this must be so frustrating for you and sends a really bad message to your DS. I imagine you must have to chose carefully what to put your energies into but it would be a public service to do as PPs have suggested and write letters of complaint. I would imagine the supermarket should be able to fix the trolley issue quite easily as it's just a matter of having more suitable trolleys and ensuring they work (on an unrelated matter I could never shop singlehanded when the DTs were small as twin shopping trolleys hadn't been invented shock)
I think the advice to get a copy of the bus companies policy to have in your bag, and take badge number of drivers is excellent. And if you have any local disability support groups I would be sharing this information with them too.
Good luck.

FrancisCrawford Thu 29-Dec-16 18:37:25

That is terrible.

Definitely complain to the supermarket and the bus company.

Mehfruittea Thu 29-Dec-16 18:44:26

I've had success with complaints to a bus company. Not disability related but for racism from drivers. I took pictures of each driver in the end and then started filming them, it happened that often.

Agree with pp complain and ask for a copy of the policy that is in force for you to carry. This is a contentious issue though that is currently going through court.

Livingtothefull Thu 29-Dec-16 18:46:32

Thank you all SO much. I will of course complain to both supermarket and bus company. I have done this before (I already complained at the supermarket, demanded to speak to the manager etc) & so will continue to fight for things to be done better & for the rights of the disabled to be safeguarded.

But I do have this horrible sinking feeling that it may all be in vain. None of these experiences are new believe me, I have been complaining for years & don't see things getting any better. I will fight as hard as I can though caring for DS is hard in itself…I wish I didn't have to fight these battles as well.

I don't think there are any specific legal or financial consequences that individuals or companies are afraid of in the UK SofiaAmes, my experience is that disability access & provision is seen as optional/a courtesy rather than a legal obligation.

So although there is legislation upholding disabled rights, it is frequently disregarded (again, my experience) so maybe legislation protecting disabled rights is stronger in the US or there is better awareness of those rights. Either way, it sounds way ahead of the situation here.

I definitely felt like a second class citizen SantasLittleMonkeyButler, or what's worse I felt my DS was one. It is hard to describe what it is like to watch everyone file onto the bus while being told by the driver (shouted at actually) why there was no space for us.

Or hanging around the customer service desk (for the umpteenth time) waiting for a non existent wheelchair trolley, while everyone else just walks in & starts shopping. Would anyone else put up with a 15-20 minute wait to find a trolley or a solution, every time you wanted to go shopping? So why is it OK for us, is our time less valuable?

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