June 1, 2016

Noise Free America: A Coalition to Promote Quiet

For immediate release
Ted Rueter
[email protected]

Chapel Hill: Target, the discount retailer, has won this month’s Noisy Dozen award from Noise Free America: A Coalition to Promote Quiet for providing its employees with piercingly loud walkie-talkies. The clamorous, intense noise from the walkie-talkies causes headaches and ruins the shopping experience.

Ted Rueter, director of Noise Free America: A Coalition to Promote Quiet was previously a big fan of Target. “I used to shop at Target all the time. I loved the fact that Target does not play background music. I encouraged other people who love peace and quiet to shop at Target. No more. In the last several years, powerfully loud walkie-talkies in the hands of virtually every employee has created a cacophony of noise.”

“It is completely hypocritical for Target,” Rueter continued, “to brag about its supposed quiet shopping environment because of the lack of background music—yet, on the other hand, equip its employees with devices which create intense, very harmful noise. What good is no background music if every employee is carrying around a noisemaking device? I am not aware of any other chain department store which provides loud walkie-talkies to its employees. Why not use headsets—so that shoppers are not bombarded with deafeningly loud noise?”

Elizabeth Walker Joshi of Newburgh, Indiana has the same complaint about noise at Target. She states that she loves shopping at Target, “but there is something that has become increasingly bothersome to me. I have noticed that workers across the entire store have their walkie-talkies turned up to an extremely loud level. It is impossible to shop at Target anymore in peace. I am constantly near workers and have to listen to echoing messages sent by other workers in the store. It registers like nails on a chalkboard. It doesn’t matter if I am aisles away from a worker or even across the store. I can hear the noise coming from the walkie-talkies throughout the store. It is just plain annoying and creates a very unpleasant shopping environment; I literally just want to just grab what I absolutely need and get out of the store.”

Ms. Joshi has a particular problem with the extreme noise at Target: “My son is eight and has a rare genetic disorder affecting the cerebellum of the brain called Joubert Syndrome. He is highly sensitive to noise, especially amplified sounds through loudspeakers, microphones, and yes, walkie-talkies. He used to love going to Target before the walkie-talkies literally became noise pollution. I would simply stay an aisle away from a worker who was wearing one. Yet, in the past year or so, as I’ve noticed the noise become more and more blaring from these devices, my son has had several meltdowns in the store where we have had to put our items back and leave the store. He is non-verbal and visually impaired, and cannot express how the noise is affecting him other than to scream and cry. It is terrible to see him so upset and I now can’t bring myself to take him back to Target knowing how loud the walkie-talkies are.”

“I don’t think this problem is relegated to one particular store,” Ms. Joshi states. “Rather, it is prevalent across the country. I don’t understand why workers can’t wear a headset to hear communications from others in the store and let people shop in peace. I know my son is not alone with his sensory issues and I would think that Target would want others with disabilities and sensory issues to be able to shop in a more pleasant environment.”

Donna Haddock of Poquoson, Virginia feels “exactly the same way. Every Target I’ve been to, the staff have their radios turned all the way up. I just want to walk up to them and turn them down. I don’t have hearing sensitivity issues but I do like a little peace.”

Ted Rueter concluded that “Target should create a much more pleasant shopping environment by getting rid of their intensely-loud walkie-talkies. Until they do, I won’t be back. Every store in the United States should take steps to reduce unnecessary noise and protect the well-being of their customers.”

Noise Free America: A Coalition to Promote Quiet is a national citizens’ group which supports peace and quiet. Past “winners” of the Noisy Dozen award include Home DepotUnited Parcel Service, and the Costco store in Pharr, Texas.