In January this year we changed our shopping from on-line to store based which is possible because our local Tesco has a five point harness on their disabled child trolley. The first trip went really well but the second week we turned up and someone else was using the trolley. After much discussion with customer service and then the duty manager, we finally got an offer of free delivery. This was not a pleasant experience but I have to fully acknowledge that when we returned the following week, there were two additional disabled trollies available.
During the conversation one statement, “that’s fine, someone else is using it”, really highlighted to me how complicated doing something as simple as shopping could be. No stores offer a specific discount on on-line shopping to anyone with a disability, I wanted to find out how accessible in store shopping was. A quick survey showed that almost 60% were not able to access an appropriate trolley in store.
I contacted all the major supermarkets (Tesco, Asda, Sainsburys and Morrisons). They all confirmed that their store managers were empowered to order a disabled child trolley should a customer request one, or highlight the need for one. They all also seemed willing to supply a member of staff to accompany you on your shop should a trolley not be available, or appropriate. Where your store does have a trolley, the recommendation was in the first instance to contact the store and have the trolley put aside before you go. The strong message here is ASK . I do believe that the stores are unaware of the extent of the demand for these trolleys.
So far it seems there is willingness to meet the customer need albeit somewhat lacking in pro-activity. However survey and anecdotal evidence indicates that the trolleys available do not fully meet the needs of the disabled child and their family:
- Wheelchair specific trollies are too wide for a child wheelchair.
- The disabled child trolley often does not have appropriate harness or support
At the same time, when asked would the availability of a suitable trolley influence their choice of store, the majority said it would.
So what is out there that may meet the needs of the family better? In the UK for a smaller child is the GOTOseat which works well in a toddler trolley. Currently you would have to supply your own but hopefully the supermarkets will see the benefits of having some in store.
For the older in child, the best option I have found is Caroline’s cart in the US. This was released in 2013 and perhaps we will see it come to the UK.