January 1, 2007
Noise Free America
For immediate release
Madison: The nation’s grocery stores have won this month’s Noisy Dozen award from Noise Free America for making shopping a noisy, unpleasant experience. America’s grocery stores are hubs of noise.
The first source is Muzak–the constant, blaring “background music” grocers pump into their stores. Each day, Muzak is heard by 100 million people–one-third of the American population.
Some grocery stores begin playing Christmas music as early as November 1, “to get people into the holiday spending mode,” said a Muzak programmer. Georgeanne Bender, a retailing consultant in Chicago, noted that many people are annoyed by Muzak: “How many times can he hear ‘Frosty the Snowman?'”
Nigel Rodgers, founder of Pipe Down International, a British group that wants to ban piped-in music in public places, calls Muzak “a form of acoustical torture.” He states that having to listen to piped-in music at any time of year leaves a sense of powerlessness. “It’s rather like having your neighbor’s dog barking,” he said.
Ted Rueter, Noise Free America’s director, noted that grocery stores have other sources of noise: “Grocery store personnel are constantly making announcements over the intercom, such as ‘clean-up on aisle seven’ or ‘meat department, line one. Meat department, line one.’ Haven’t these stores ever heard of walkie-talkies or cell phones?”
Rueter also notes that grocery stores “have electronic scanners that are often cranked up to full blast. And then there are all the delivery trucks that operate on a 24-hour basis, often with annoying back-up beepers.”
“Why can’t people shop in peace and quiet?” asked Rueter. “It’s almost as if grocery stores are trying to drive people away. In modern America, grocery shopping has become a miserable experience.”
Noise Free America is a national citizens organization opposed to noise pollution. Past “winners” of the award include Governor Gray Davis and Governor Jesse Ventura. Noise Free America’s web site is at http://www.noisefree.org.