B4 – Bingo: Discrimination treated as poor customer service

Discrimination is not ‘just poor customer service’

Organisations often describe discrimination and access failings as ‘customer service’ issues. This is because the Equality Act and DDA only requires adjustments to be made for disability-related access needs. Poor customer service, while unpleasant, is not necessarily unlawful.

We recommend challenging ‘customer service’ framing, and always being clear exactly how and why something is disability discrimination – our complaints page may be useful.

Needs or preferences

Another common deflection technique is to describe disability access needs as ‘mere preferences’. In practice, for many of us, a preferred adjustment or ‘reasonable step’ reduces the “substantial disadvantage” more than a non-preferred one. It may be reasonable for you to explain why another option that is offered does not meet your needs; for example, it could be inappropriate (A3), or ineffective in meeting your needs (B2).

Codes of Practice – ‘reasonable steps’

The Codes of Practice explain that the legal reason for making ‘reasonable adjustments’ is to consider ‘reasonable steps’ which will reduce substantial disadvantage or unreasonable difficulty experienced by disabled people.

You can send a link and cite the part of the relevant code of practice that applies in any complaints correspondence.

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