Unrelenting noise, background music, driving customers away

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  • capetonianm

    It’s nowt to do with my age, I have always hated unnecessary noise. The constant onslaught of background ‘music’ just about everywhere is a form of pollution to be abhorred.

    We have to put up with beeps and bleeps and irritating jingles from people’s phones, preceding and often following PA announcements. They are to some degree unavoidable.

    I fail to understand why so many restaurants, cafes, hotels and shops, even upmarket department stores, insist on playing discordant noise through loudspeakers. Apparently it increases ‘dwell’ time and thus spend. Apparently ……… it does the opposite for me and most people I know. I walk out of shops and restaurants if they won’t turn it down, and often find that my polite request to turn it down is met with a pleased reaction from staff and other customers who also don’t like it.

    I avoid shopping centres for many reasons, but one of the true horrors is the cacophony of sounds all competing with each other, blaring from individual shops and from the centre’s own system

    There is an organisation that campaigns against this evil. Since it’s non-commercial I assume it’s OK to post the link : http://www.pipedown.info/


    Presume you haven’t stayed in a W hotel….

    I was not the only person who asked for the thumping music to be turned down in the breakfast room….(Amsterdam)…


    It does seem that Musak has been replaced with techno funk, particularly in Boutique hotels and those hotels whose marketing and management team have decided that they wish to attract the refugees from DucK Dynasty or those in our community who wish to look like Rasputin.

    Hotels can’t grow facial foliage, but they can demonstrate their hipster qualities by the choice and loudness of music they opt to blare at us.


    All for Royal Navy tradition that there is silence at breakfast, no conversation, except to request the salt and pepper or quietly thank the waiter. If only hotels maintained such standards!



    Perhaps we are just getting old………….

    I go to places around the world with my (grownup) children and when I mention the background music ( be it Queen, Vaughn-Williams, Wollenweider…) they look at me with a vague air of sympathy and despair…………….


    or, indeed, on aircraft. I am just about to take my 8th leg with QR in a month and if I hear that unremitting dirge that they play during boarding and on arrival, I will not be answerable for my actions!! I know it is a locally composed piece but it is guaranteed to put you into funeral mood and is one of those ‘tunes’ that sticks in my head….

    Enough to make me switch airlines….


    I cannot believe I contribute to a forum full of old miserable men……. Which I hasten to add I am one of 🙂 …I so agree with you capetonianm what is the world coming too when you cant hear your self think over the noise of muzak!!!!!!!

    Did make me roar with laughter though 🙂


    I am aware of Pipedown – its got a great MO but only operates in the UK. In Asia the situation is much much worse than the UK. Volume is far louder, it’s EVERYWHERE and even supermarkets cannot stop playing really loud music in store. In contrast, I’ve never heard Sainsburys or Waitrose in UK play piped muzak to customers. But here in Asia you can’t avoid it. Sometimes there are embarrassing rap tunes played in the supermarket with constant referral to the F— word or mother f—–s. Nobody notices except me! I’ve asked the staff but they are immune to what is played. “Christmas music” (sic) starts at the last week in October. Luna new year music starts on December 26th.

    A few evenings ago I was at Brewerkz on the Sentosa Bridge in Singapore. Being an unusually cool and pleasant evening I decided to sit outside on the wooden decked area tables. Music drifted across the water quite loudly from a theme park on Sentosa island, the restaurant also played muzak through speakers pointed at the tables on the deck. This was all jarring enough, but the decking had speakers installed by “Sentosa Management” which cannot be turned off playing a 3rd lot of muzak. 3 competing lot of piped music all jarring against each other. The staff don’t notice it at all. Actually sitting on the water at Sentosa doesn’t require any music at all to “enhance the experience”. I asked the staff if they could stop any one of the 3 but they said “no”. No control over what Sentosa pipes in the fixed decking speakers, so when I suggested turning off their own muzak to cut it to 2 they said “no” it was policy to entertain the customers. Honestly the staff don’t even notice how incongruous and jarring it all is – a mixed cacophony of noise.


    Andrew, I know exactly where you were and what you were experiencing having been there a week or so ago…. Couldn’t have put it better myself


    I still love my classic rock & roll played loudly … in PRIVATE. In my truck, in my living room, or on Saturday morning when I am cleaning the house. The fact that “this generation” is brain dead should not subject the rest of us to their loud music. Nobody should have to listen to ANYTHING that is louder than a whisper There’s just no excuse for it. I pitch fits every time I encounter loud music if I can’t walk out of the place. Even on an airplane, I’ve found a few FAs that will turn down the volume.

    Interestingly, American supermarkets and drugstores have started to air commercials with their music. What a lovely experience … perhaps they don’t realize how many people are turning to ordering online because the in-person shopping experience is so unpleasant. My husband loves TV, I hate it. I read books. In a hotel room, I don’t know how many years it took me to convince him that I was not invading his world with my book but he was definitely invading mine with his mindless TV. Thank God the man has learned to love reading.


    Thought I’d share a few odd, amusing and infuriating stories to do with background noise…..

    Firstly, many moons ago my company went all hip and modern and decided to reflect this with their hold music. So Vivaldi gets ditched to be replaced by the best of The Rolling Stones. The complaints department suddenly experienced an increase in call volume as other areas of the business either transferred or seeked advice from those agents.
    Consequently queue limes increased as already disgruntled customers waited in line listening to Mick Jagger belt out such classics as ……………….”I can’t get no satisfaction “ ….Priceless

    The second two stories come directly from my local village pub and their management of the on –going relentless noise out of the juke box…….
    Friday night and my mates and I arrive after playing football to a near deserted bar, and settle down to watch the live football game on the Sky Sports. Everyone in the bar is interested in watching the football and we request that the commentary is turned up. The young barmaid dutifully complies and the sound bar rises from “0” to “50” . We then logically ask for the juke box to be switched off for the duration. …. 2oh I’m not allowed to do that she proclaims, but I’ll turn the volume down by half. . Resulting in an inability to hear anything as both systems drowned out the other, negating the enjoyment of either. Could this young lass understand the quandary …. Nope, it was pubs rule that both had to be played as not to upset music lovers and football fans!! ….. Totally barking mad!!

    Finally and annoyingly, a dreich and drenched Saturday afternoon , and all is well in the pub,. Lively chat, jocular jesting and even the horses racing like donkeys couldn’t dampen our spirits. Sadly it was all a bit too wet and the local football teams game is called off . With nothing to do, 8 of the players arrive, order up their lagers, request that the juke box is turned up to blareific levels and opt for trance-techno tunes. What do they do next. All sit at the same table and play on their phones for the next 2 hours. Not once talking to each other. ……Infuriating : (


    I intensely dislike piped music in restaurants, planes and shops to name a few.
    I dislike it even more at breakfast when I just want peace and quiet and perhaps the rustle of newspapers.

    Recently arriving very early for breakfast and being the only person there apart from staff, they turned on the music as I arrived. I said it was not necessary for me but they said it was managements orders to turn on the music when a customer arrives. I said ok, turn it off and if others arrive then turn it on gently. Oh no they replied, you are a customer and it must be on. Infuriating!!!

    At another restaurant while the waitress went to make my tea, and again alone, I removed the output jack. I had to laugh as the manager then offered me a free breakfast as there was no music. After my breakfast I suggested he made sure the wires were properly connected and he then offered me a free drink in the bar that evening by way of a thank you for showing him how to fix the problem!


    That reminds me of going for dinner in an Indian restaurant in Lewes where we sat with the boombox right above us, and there were no other seats on a busy Saturday night. I asked for it to be turned down and the waiter said it couldn’t be turned down ‘just for us’ because all the speakers were on the same circuit. I asked him to turn it down for everybody, and he came back and said ‘Manager says no.’ I was bloody annoyed and would have walked out but it was raining and late on a cold wet Saturday night …… not a lot of choice. Took the law into my own hands and pulled out the wires from the the back of the box.

    Waiter came back to take the orders, glanced at the speaker, then at me, and gave me a sly conspiratorial grin. I left the manager, after the meal, in doubt as to my views, but didn’t dare say anything before eating in case any odd body fluids or something be added to the food. I also made a point of giving our waiter a generous tip in cash and telling him to put it straight into his pocket.


    A couple of years ago just after the Shard had opened my daughter who lives in London had made lunch reservations for her family and me the visiting grandpa. After about 15mins I asked if I could speak to the manager who eventually come sliding over, I said to him that I understood that all of the construction work had been completed and if so why was such noise disturbing my lunch, he paused non-plussed and after a moments thought said “but sir that is music”. I looked him firmly in the eye and the penny finally dropped, the “noise” level was significantly reduced and we enjoyed our meal and family get together.
    Good thing about old age we can push the boundaries occasionally.

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