Some questions about equality act 2010

edited 23 September 2014 at 3:43PM in Disability Money Matters
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rtcwrtcw Forumite
32 Posts
edited 23 September 2014 at 3:43PM in Disability Money Matters
I'm asking this for my friend.

He is hearing impaired. He is having awful lot trouble with many companies due to inability to contact them through alternative methods other than telephone. He has given up trying to contact them himself, as he is told that as long as companies reply, be it few days, few weeks, few months, or even few years later, it's all legal. He has to prove that companies will never reply to him so it becomes illegal.

He now uses interpreters instead but he has faced another problem regarding to Data Protection Act which disallows any communications using private information to anyone. Companies won't allow it if he consented to it through interpreter. The only alternative is through mail but companies usually ignore it as they don't know what they need to do with the letter because it never happened to them before.

What can he do about this?
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Replies

  • DomRavioliDomRavioli
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    He can use Type Talk - most deaf people use that service, where your friend would type, and the operator would talk to someone on his behalf. He would need to get a Type Talk phone to do that, and most places accept Type Talk.

    That is the alternative, and its been working very well for a fair few years.
  • kingfisherbluekingfisherblue Forumite
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    In addition, he could elect one person to speak on his behalf. If he puts it in writing to the relevant company, then they can speak to the elected person without breaching data protection. I have written permission to discuss my mum and her medical records at her doctor's surgery.
  • amibovveredamibovvered Forumite
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    DomRavioli wrote: »
    He can use Type Talk - most deaf people use that service, where your friend would type, and the operator would talk to someone on his behalf. He would need to get a Type Talk phone to do that, and most places accept Type Talk.

    That is the alternative, and its been working very well for a fair few years.

    Sorry, but I wish people would stop trotting this glibly out. Yes, it does work but it is not quite that simple!

    The type talk phones cost in excess of £300 and I don't know of any help given to buy one. They do not work well when you phone a company with those multiple options - the poor operator has to type all the options out for you and very often you are 'timed out' and have to go through the whole thing again. It takes time to type your responses, especially if you are the 'hunt and peck' sort of typist, and usually you only see the last few words you've typed so it is easy to lose track and get confused. It can also feel awkward sharing bank details and security issues with a third party - I am sure they would not pass any of the info on but that doesn't make it feel any less awkward. I have used one successfully, but frankly I dread using it almost as much as using the phone! And as for saying 'most deaf people' use it - I haven't met many who use it!

    I have started getting stroppy with firms about poor response to emails or the insistence of giving them a land-line number which I cannot answer even if they do ring. I won't buy insurance from a company which won't let me use email or breakdown cover from a company which won't let me text for help. And if they waffle on about 'our policy' I politely suggest they rethink their policies.

    Sorry, not much help to you OP but if I hear one more person mention Type Talk (which incidentally has been Text Relay for some years now) I will $$%&I^I$I$£!!!

    PS - Dom Ravioli, yes, I do realise you have to mention it, it does work for some people, but I have heard it from so many hearing people who have vaguely heard of it but know nothing about it and think it is the answer to everything! Apologies if you are not one of these.
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  • rtcwrtcw Forumite
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    I asked him about TT. He dislikes it and his experiences are pretty much same as amibovvered. Although a quick search on google seems to mention that TT is has changed and has free mobile phone app along with it. Perhaps this will be useful to him.
    In addition, he could elect one person to speak on his behalf. If he puts it in writing to the relevant company, then they can speak to the elected person without breaching data protection. I have written permission to discuss my mum and her medical records at her doctor's surgery.

    Again, I mentioned this in the post. It doesn't really work for him because most companies are new to this thing. Companies usually either don't know that you could bypass DPA by consenting in a writing or they receive the letter but they don't know what to do with the letter (hint: Throw it in a bin) and deny any knowledge that you ever had sent them a letter even if it's recorded delivery or they got the letter but they don't know where they kept the letter.

    Back to original question, can he threaten to take them to court for breaking Equity Act 2010?
  • edited 23 September 2014 at 5:44PM
    rogerblackrogerblack Forumite
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    edited 23 September 2014 at 5:44PM
    rtcw wrote: »
    He has given up trying to contact them himself, as he is told that as long as companies reply, be it few days, few weeks, few months, or even few years later, it's all legal. He has to prove that companies will never reply to him so it becomes illegal.

    He now uses interpreters instead but he has faced another problem regarding to Data Protection Act which disallows any communications using private information to anyone. Companies won't allow it if he consented to it through interpreter. The only alternative is through mail but companies usually ignore it as they don't know what they need to do with the letter because it never happened to them before.?

    In short- the relevant bit is:
    http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2010/15/section/20
    The duty to make adjustments.
    (3)The first requirement is a requirement, where a provision, criterion or practice of A's puts a disabled person at a substantial disadvantage in relation to a relevant matter in comparison with persons who are not disabled, to take such steps as it is reasonable to have to take to avoid the disadvantage.
    'you can only contact us by phone' is such a practice.

    Claiming that it only becomes illegal when you're certain that the company will never fix it is laughable.
    Epecially given there is a six month limit on bringing action to court.


    http://www.stammeringlaw.org.uk/cases/allen.htm

    The above case is an example of an action brought in court of a disabled person for who there was inadequate provision made.
    6.5K damages paid.

    See if you can find a local solicitor experienced in this sort of thing.

    In short - a first letter outlining the problem to the company - giving a concrete time-period and referencing their duty to make reasonable adjustments.
    If this is not responded to within the couple of weeks to your satisfaction - a followup (recorded) to their legal department, stating that unless they perform reasonable adjustments, you will be contacting a solicitor to bring an action in court (link the above case) for damages.

    If no adequate response to that - actually take them to court!
    Large amounts of compensation paid out, and costs of lawyers is a way to actively put this on the map.

    Binning letters doesn't make legal responsibility go away!
  • rtcwrtcw Forumite
    32 Posts
    Thanks, I'm sure he will find your info very useful.
  • If it was an organisation that said 'it's not illegal unless you can prove we will never respond to you' - then you may have a claim, even though the usual time period is up.
    Simply as their actions could be viewed by the court as intentionally frustrating the law, and leading directly to your delay in not claiming.

    Courts tend to be really, really unhappy about companies doing this.
  • I once asked a bank for letters in a different format. I was told no and told to get someone else to read my letters to me. Um, no. Why should I? Am I not entitled to privacy?
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  • Not too sure if this would also come under the equalities act but a national toy store has a 20% discount sale once a year. Problem is you have to go into the store and not order online as the 20% discount is only available instore. I wanted to buy some presents for my little niece's 2nd birthday (Nov) and Christmas but it was impossible for me to do this in the shop.


    Surely this should be covered by the EA as disabled people who can't go to the store aren't able to take advantage of this discount whereas able bodied people obviously can. Any ideas folks?
  • kittykat17 wrote: »
    Not too sure if this would also come under the equalities act but a national toy store has a 20% discount sale once a year. Problem is you have to go into the store and not order online as the 20% discount is only available instore.

    This sort of thing is arguably a violation of the EA, according to my reading of it.

    First and most simple option would be to ring them, or contact in some other manner, and raise their duties under the equalities act, and ask for the discount to apply to online orders you make.
    They need to have some 'reasonable adjustment' for this.
    This could be anything from a refund afterwards for the online store of 20%, a member of staff fetching you the toys out from the store, or ...

    If the stores physical features prevent you getting into it, that's on much, much firmer and more familiar ground legally. I note the RBS case I mentioned in an above post.
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