The big four supermarket chains have all promised to do more to ensure disabled shoppers do not face discrimination over strict parking time limits.
Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda and Morrisons all pledged to act after a survey for BBC Breakfast suggested that about two-thirds of the large stores that imposed strict time limits could be breaching the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA).
Under the DDA, the stores should make reasonable adjustments for disabled shoppers, which would probably include giving them more time to do their shopping.
But BBC Breakfast contacted 200 large supermarkets from the four chains and found 124 had time restrictions – often two hours. Of those 124, 81 supermarkets told them disabled people were not allowed extra time to do their shopping.
Sainsbury’s said there should be no time limits for blue badge holders in any of its carparks, but a spokesman said they would look into any “signage issues”, and added: “It’s disappointing that a small number of the stores contacted were unaware of the adjustments we make for disabled customers and we’ll make sure they have the correct information for the future.”
Morrisons said the research had “highlighted the need to communicate our provisions more clearly” and they were taking steps to improve information provided to shoppers and to staff, but a spokesman added: “Where parking time limits are in place, if customers with a disability require extra time to shop, our in-store team is on hand to help – concessions are available.”
Tesco said some staff had not been aware that disabled shoppers should be given more time to shop, and that it was “looking into the issue of signage and the DDA and will take appropriate action if necessary”, but a spokesman added: “We would like to make very clear that customers with disabilities are not fined if they exceed parking limits in our stores.”
Asda also said it was “rebriefing” staff across all its stores that disabled customers were allowed more time, and was also looking into providing more information to shoppers on what to do if they needed longer to do their shopping.
Helen Smith, director of policy and campaigns for the disabled motorists’ charity Mobilise, said: “Supermarkets should do what is reasonable and if a disabled customer needs longer than the time limit, they should do their best to acknowledge their needs.”
But she said that in her three years at Mobilise she had not heard of a single case of a disabled person being fined for breaching the time limit in a supermarket carpark.
2 February 2010