Replying to huge numbers of complaints, Ryanair is moving tentatively towards treating passengers as sentient human beings rather than battery chickens in several ways. One significant way is getting rid of the fanfare of trumpets played over the PA system on landing. Hardly an outbreak of peace but a small step forward for long-suffering travellers.
Melanie Eskenazi recently discovered that the Covent Garden branch of Marks and Spencer is free of piped music. Its manager expressed horrified surprise at the mere idea. M&S headquarters are now maintaining that it is up to each local branch to decide whether or not to have piped music, so in theory each branch can be persuaded. Melanie Eskenazi also found that at her local branch at Tolworth the staff had the muzac turned off. A member of staff explained: 'Ooh, it's because the manager isn't in today, and we have a duty manager - we told him we'd rather have it off! We find that we are constantly having to tune it out so often, we can't tune in to what a customer might be asking us!'
Pipedown is inviting suggestions for a design for a Christmas Card. Something that sums up the spirit of a calm convivial Christmas wrecked by intrusive piped music? (The winner will get five years' free membership.)
Anyone interested in buying any should let us know soon.
A new survey by the store fittings supplier Shopfitdirect says that British High Streets are struggling to survive because customers hate the experience of town centre shopping. Difficulties with parking and boarded-up shops were cited as the chief off-putting factors along with loud in-store music.
'As you can see, just as much of the problem lies with the shops' attitude as it does with the state of the economy," said Ian Ashworth of Shopfitdirect. 'Often they don't realise how big a turn-off loud music or bewildering returns polices can be.'
This is a particularly revealing finding as Shopfitdirect is as impartial as any group can hope to be. It is time for retailers to wake up to the reality of their customers' feelings, rather than rely on the concocted figures fed to them in their headquarters by muzac companies.
Holland and Barrett, the 'health food' chain, has recently been installing loud and obtrusive piped music in its branches. This is particularly stupid as they make a point of selling goods aimed at improving people's health. Piped music, like other unwanted noise, harms people's health. They might as well sell cyanide.
Tell them so by sending a complaint via their website
Tim Strevens is forming a new local group in the Cumbrian area to campaign on local issues. He has already had successes, appearing in the local press and on local radio. He now wants to hold the first meeting. If you live in or near the area, do contact him at
M&S is installing piped music in more and more of its stores as part of its modernisation programme.
If allowed to continue unchecked, soon every branch will be filled with piped music, tormenting not only customers but also staff, who often also hate it but dare not say.
Now is the time to write in protest to M&S HQ below - only such direct protests are logged by M&S, who ignore all local protests.
The person to email is Marc Bolland, CEO.
Richard Hill-Brown is starting a new subgroup (open to all) to campaign against the curse of intrusive, irrelevant and often deafening piped music on television documentaries. He may set up an on-line petition. Do contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org if you hate this pollution of often excellent programmes.
As muzac in shops reached its normal pre-Christmas cacophony, Carol Midgley exploded in The Times for 20 December 2012. She called 'the musical torment of customers a method of mind control', a 'conspiracy' to 'make shopping hellish' which is in fact driving more and more shoppers onto the Internet. She likened the muzac at Tesco to 'being waterboarded by festive sewage.' 'I've said it before and I'll say it again', she wrote, 'when it comes to torture by [piped] music, Abu Ghraib could take some tips from Debenhams.' Quoting the recent (2011) survey which found half shoppers left a store because of the muzac, she called for retailers 'to chuck those festive CDs on the fire.' (In Tesco muzac is common at Christmas but not usually at other times, which may perhaps allow their poor staff to regain their imperilled sanity.)
In The Daily Telegraph on 4 February 2013 Jake Wallis Simons laid into an 'abomination which was both pernicious and deeply offensive and no less so for its ubiquity in our society' - piped music. He found the muzac in the Chesil Rectory, Winchester, an 'insult to diners' that 'cheapened the dignity of the restaurant'. He concluded: 'Piped music is a menace which must be confronted and destroyed once and for all. Never mind stepping in dog poo; piped music is siphoning poo into our brains all the time. It is high time we united in protest and stood firm against the tyranny of muzac.'
"I have left shops unable to browse at leisure - and indeed buy anything at all - simply because of the piped music."
Joanna Lumley, Pipedown supporter
Amid the many claims and counter-claims made about piped music (also called muzak, canned music or elevator music), objectively researched facts about piped music’s effects and its real popularity can be very hard to find. Here are some examples:
Pipedown campaigns tirelessly against piped music.
We invite you to join us!
Please sign the petition against forced music and television in hospitals, where people are often literally powerless to escape it (no anonymous signatories, please)