Carpet Court Review from a wheelchair user
In the past six months, I have selected items for my new home including tiles, wall colour, kitchen appliances, sanitary items, joinery, blinds and other items. My interior designer, Lindi Venter, arranged to meet me at a carpet retailer to choose carpet tiles and hybrid flooring. I didn’t expect to be writing a carpet court review about accessibility.
No accessible car parking
As I drove into the parking area of Floors Plus Carpet Court at Marleston, I had difficulty locating the accessible car parking. Typically they are located near the main entrance. It limits the distance customers may need to walk or roll in a wheelchair. I prefer the accessible car parks that have the bollard next to the park. They allow enough room for my lifter to operate, and it prevents a vehicle parking next to my lifter. There were no marked accessible car parks, and I tried to park in a location to avoid another car blocking me. I changed my location about seven times, as it would be embarrassing to ask a customer to move their vehicle.
No accessible restroom
I transferred to my wheelchair and exited my vehicle, and checked my leg bag. An indwelling catheter connects my bladder to the leg bag, and I empty the bag around five times each day. As the salesperson rushed over to greet me, I located the sign that provided directions to the toilets. Unfortunately, I couldn’t fit in the bathroom, and I asked to use the accessible toilet. The salesperson had a confused look on their face. They spoke to another Carpet Court employee, and suggested I could use the employee toilet. This toilet also wasn’t accessible. I asked to be pointed to the closest pot plant so I could relieve myself. This added more confusion to his already confused face, and I told him I would relieve myself in the car park.
By this time, the leg bag was full, and my bladder was starting to fill. I may experience a medical condition known as “Autonomic Dysreflexia”. It would commence with sensations in my abdomen, followed by hot flushes, then the worst headache ever. My blood pressure would increase to around 200/80. If the blood pressure stays high, it may cause a stroke. I carry nitroglycerin transdermal patches to help prevent this. Urinating in public is illegal, and is unhealthy for those that may come across it. There are times when I have no choice.
Is it 2018?
After re-entering the store, I look at various flooring options as well as suggesting that it was 2018 and people in wheelchairs go to carpet stores to select carpet, and like other customers, they may need to urinate. Maybe they needed a sign inside that reads “You are welcome to use our toilet unless you are in a wheelchair”. I had the feeling that I was the first customer in a wheelchair that asked for their accessible toilet. And the first customer that may need to write a carpet court review about accessibility.
Contacting Carpet Court about accessibility
Later that day, I sent an email to their head office. The best course of action is to make a complaint to the company and give them a chance to improve accessibility. After hearing nothing for a week and a half, I took the next step and used social media. I provided a Carpet Court review on Twitter, their Facebook page, and review sites such as Productreview.com.au.
The network services manager for Western and South Australia made contact shortly after I took to social media. He was a compassionate manager, who mentioned: “Customer service and satisfaction are of the utmost importance to our brand and our franchisees”. He also was personally interested in ensuring their stores were accessible. The response from Carpet Court was good. I look forward to visiting a few of their stores in the future. There was no need to report the organisation to the Australian Human Rights Commission.
My goal is to ensure customers with mobility restrictions are able to access the stores including car parking and bathrooms. I hope that the solution at the store I visited doesn’t involve blocking all customer access to it. Instead, the toilet is modified to allow wheelchairs to fit in.