Let Us Whine at Marks and Spencer

You have probably read the news on Marks and Spencer (M&S) regarding staff policy:

At M&S, Muslim staff who do not wish to handle alcohol or pork have been told they can politely request that customers choose another till at which to pay.

Hence this sonnet as I got my head round the issue.

Excuse me but am I in the right line
For buying this here bottle of wine?
Oh you will sell to me, that is my bad
Assuming you wouldn’t wearing a hijab

Please, I need the morning after pill
Don’t make out of it a big deal.
You won’t? Because It’s your profession.
Sorry I even made the suggestion

Being free to believe as you may
Will for most not ever get in the way.
For a personal private belief of one
May not be imposed on everyone.

To serve Him is to understand
We are all free in this fair land.


M&S policy [seemed] changed after the following customer reaction:

Customers at Marks and Spencer will not be refused alcohol or pork by Muslim staff after the store reacted to a massive backlash by customers.

Thousands of shoppers threatened to boycott the retailer after Marks and Spencer said it would allow Muslim staff to refuse to sell pork and alcohol because it was against their religious beliefs.

But now Marks and Spencer has apologised and said that Muslim staff who did not want to handle these products would not man tills and would work in other roles such as in clothing or in the bakery.

The issue was revealed after customers at a London branch of Marks and Spencer were told they would have to use another till because the assistant would not be able to serve them pork or alcohol.

[Did not make clear, though I do mention later in original post, that it appears this was never M&S policy but just one London store doing this]

Religious bashing in the media or simply an observation that if you tolerate this, what is next? Contraceptives, morning after pill? Gay lifestyle magazines? I have seen on twitter the suggestion that someone serving at a pharmacy should be able to ask someone to go elsewhere rather than serve them.

This is about customer service and treating the person in front of you with dignity. It is for most Muslims I have met professionally and socially not been an issue, as respect for others to make their own choices and not to ever judge them for that or make them feel uncomfortable. One store in London has made us all speculate out loud as if this was a universal issue across the land ready to happen overnight we may be refused service to our face.

M&S were being unfair to their employees putting them in the firing line if they were genuinely uncomfortable to serve one and all on the till. This was bad working practise let alone customer service. Other supermarkets seemed to know how to handle this if you read the links above.

The backlash was against M&S customer service, or rather the lack of it. Naturally that will be the focus in the media …

And I need to clear the roof to prepare for flying reindeer.

Article written by John Sargeant on Homo economicus’ Weblog

Follow @JPSargeant78

My Huffington Post Blog



Filed under British Society, Culture, Poetry and Music, Religion, secular

2 responses to “Let Us Whine at Marks and Spencer

  1. Dani

    Where I live in Guernsey (Channel Islands) pharmacists can turn you away if emergency contraception is against their beliefs. I oppose this more strongly as it’s health care, something as a woman I should have access too from relevant places. It’s also not something all women feel comfortable asking for in the first place and can make their experience of seeking help even more unpleasant than it may already be. It should not be a lottery of finding out it the pharmacist passes judgement on your predicament or enforces their private beliefs on you. I am quite strong willed but I know especially growing up, I can imagine some of the young girls would have felt so ashamed and upset by the experience it may have stopped them going elsewhere for help (especially if they had grown up with cultural issues making this medical option seem taboo). Guess I just wanted to share in a sympathetic place. Good poem. 🙂

    • Agree 100% – treat the person in front of you is an important ethical principle that overrides practitioners belief. It is insulting and degrading to person seeking professional assistance.

      Thanks – figured if I cannot get away with poetry at Christmas when can you? Some cool videos of poetry on the blog by others, searchable by “book lovers” and “embarrassed”

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