Problems include: loud piped music in some shops, the noise of passing traffic in some shops, dimmed lighting, assistants who mumble or turn away and unhelpful assistants (including those who are also unhelpful to hearing people). Street markets are particularly hard to handle because of all the background noise. Some people have found that the contactless payments encouraged due to Covid 19 have been helpful.
1. If loud music is played in shops I ask for it to be turned down and explain that I cannot hear them speak. If they do not turn it down I do not go back.
2. I try to decide exactly what I want so that I am not distracted and can give my whole attention to understanding.
3. I check my receipt and change before leaving the shop.
4. I pay with a credit card or account card and the cost is printed on the bill.
5. I like to shop in self-service stores for whatever I am buying because the prices are usually all marked clearly on the goods whereas if I go to an ordinary shop and I ask the price I cannot hear the answer.
6. Many modern tills not only print the price they also print the change which you should receive. They also often have a large visual display, on the till, of the price of each item and of the running totals as well as the final total.
7. I write the prices down as I put things into my basket. Then I add them up roughly as I go so I know what to expect at the till.
8. I shop in the same food stores so that they get to know me.
9. I hand over a note when I’m not sure. The problem is I have a lot of change in my purse. (I use this change for regular orders like milk deliveries.)
10. I go to a little corner shop and as they know me they speak clearly when I ask for the price.
11. If the shop does not have a till with a visual display and if I am unsure what the assistant said I give them the least amount I thought they said. They will be fast enough to tell me if it is not enough!
12. If the price is on a display on the till I still try to listen and lipread because I the display isn’t always correct.
13. Where there’s no display on the till I roughly add up the amount and give slightly more than my total. For example, if I think that the cost is one pound seventy eight, I give two pounds, and then I count the change.
Other people say if there is no visual display for the amounts on the till, they walk out and find another shop.
14. I choose the quieter shops with minimal background noise.
15. If shopping for a TV or radio, I ask for it to be played with all the other TVs and radios turned off so I can listen to the quality.
16. If I am shopping for a TV or radio I take my TV listening device.
17. If I am in a boutique with musak (piped music), I tactfully and politely ask for it to be switched off. If my request is not granted I shop elsewhere.
18. Deliveries: If I am arranging to have something delivered I get them to state a specific time and write it down. This saves me worrying that I’ve heard the wrong time.
19. If someone comes up and starts talking a lot I either try and lipread or I excuse myself and walk away or tell the person I cannot hear and would they talk to my husband who will tell me what they said now or later. Sometimes I ask my husband to relay their remarks to me.
20. If someone comes up and makes a remark I don’t hear, I think about their expression. I decide whether I should answer with a smile and a nod or whether I should say “I’m sorry I don’t know”.
21. If I go into shops and I can’t hear the price of the goods I am buying I repeat the question. If I can’t hear the second time, I say “Sorry, I’m hard of hearing”. Sometimes I have placed the money on the counter – always more than the cost of the goods – for them to take it.
22. If I’m not sure what was said I ask a question that needs a yes or no answer. This stops them from repeating the word or phrase I didn’t understand.
An example of asking a question that needs a yes or no answer might be: (You are not sure if the speaker said they were going on holiday to Greece or Crete.) “Did you say you are going to Greece?” Hopefully they will say yes or no.
23. I find my Communication Card very helpful when shopping. I can just show the assistants the card and don’t have to explain about my deafness and how they can help me every time.
24. I keep a pen and pad handy when I’m shopping just in case I need it. People are usually happy to jot things down that I haven’t understood.
25. One person said that when he gets to the checkout he automatically says something like “I haven’t got a club/store card and I don’t want any cashback.” This lessens the likelyhood of the till operator asking any questions.
26. I try and anticipate what the person at the till might say – e.g. “Do you need help with the packing?”, “Can you put your PIN number in, please”, etc.
27. I use contactless payments where possible.
28. I sometimes use my phone’s speech-to-text app, though it works better if it’s not too noisy.