Could having to order via a smartphone deter older pub goers? Telegraph readers have their say

Telegraph Readers
·5-min read
Sam Nelson pub Manager at the Coach and Horses with The Plants from the Hoticulture Garden Centre The coach and horses in harrogate which is turning into a garden centre during lockdown - Charlotte Graham /Charlotte Graham 
Sam Nelson pub Manager at the Coach and Horses with The Plants from the Hoticulture Garden Centre The coach and horses in harrogate which is turning into a garden centre during lockdown - Charlotte Graham /Charlotte Graham

As pubs and restaurants reopened on Monday this week, many turned to smartphone apps to allow customers to order without leaving their tables or to submit their contact details to NHS Test and Trace. However, the practice risks discriminating against older drinkers, Age UK has warned.

David Walters, 78, was one patron who was refused service in a Northumberland pub that required him to use a tracing app. This was despite government guidance that allows drinkers to fill in their details on a paper form if they are unable to use the official NHS app.

Telegraph readers have had their say on pubs refusing service to those without smartphones. Read on for the best discussion points from our readers and share your own view in the comments section at the bottom of this article.

'If smartphones had a written manual more older people would use them'

@Stephen Kemp:

"Perhaps if you received a written manual with a smart phone more older people would use them. It appears you just have to mess about with them to discover what they can do.

"It also amazes me how angry people get because you have your phone switched off and they want to contact you. People seem to think that you should be available at all times."

'Part of the experience is talking to staff'

@Chris East:

"Going to a pub and ordering on an app? Part of the pub experience is talking to the bar staff and enjoying conversation with other people at the bar.

An app-only bar is reducing its appeal to a wider customer base and could be losing trade. Money talks as they say.

'An unnecessary distraction'

@Jenny Williamson:

"I'm not going to be forced into having a smartphone by a landlord who cannot read regulations.

"I use a computer at home. Elsewhere, it (and its like) would be an unnecessary distraction. You only have to look around you to see youngsters tapping away on phones, and not apparently having a care about where they are going.

“Are we all supposed to be like zombies?"

'They need a feature phone'

@Paul Sheppard:

"This isn’t about age, rather about businesses assuming that everyone has a smartphone. Whilst the vast majority of people do, business need to write fall back procedures to work around their technologies for that minority that can’t engage with them. Or make it clear that they're not interested in their custom.

"I have had the same issue in numerous locations, but found that businesses are generally prepared when presented with a feature phone."

'There was always going to be some hiccups'

@Thomas Percival:

"The pubs have been allowed to reopen for just two days. There will be some hiccups over procedure. If the pub is a managed one then ask for the manager's name and complain to the CEO of the pub chain in writing. Tell the manager of your intentions so that he has the choice to change his mind."

'I shall stay away and save money'

@John Henson:

"I am 68 and used to enjoy the odd pint on an afternoon. However, I do not like beer gardens for several reasons including: uncomfortable seating, smokers, children and cold weather. I have no need for a smartphone and I always use cash in order to control my spending.

"If, next month, pubs are not able to accommodate my preferences, I shall stay away and save money."

'It’s not difficult for a masked person to take your order at the table'

@Joanne Lee:

"It took me 15 minutes to order a beer yesterday and about 30 seconds for it to arrive. The Greene King app didn’t recognise the Greene King pub I was in so I had to scroll down to find that my pub is not in Greater London but is in Middlesex? Then it didn't scan my debit card. I had to input it manually.

"I wonder how many people order their drinks to the wrong pub? It’s really not difficult for a masked person to come and take your order at the table."

'I will avoid places that refuse to take cash'

@Mark Nogula:

"It’s not just older people. I'm in my 40s and I refuse to download an app for every pub I visit. I also dislike being forced to pay by card and will avoid places that refuse to take cash."

'Don't brush us all with the same ageism'

@Richard Griffiths:

"I sympathise with the plight of some but I’m 'old' and I am computer literate.

"Don’t brush us all with the discriminatory tar of 'ageism'. A lot of our elders are perfectly comfortable with smartphones. Although I do have one friend who refuses to get one, but that’s by choice."

'The government shouldn't just reach for everything digital'

@Andrew Kevill:

"I think that the stupidity of this is the governmental instinct to reach for anything that is digital, no matter what it’s dealing with.

"All that is needed is an immunisation card, not readily forgeable and issued at the time of the jab. You could also have a sign-in sheet in pubs and restaurants.

"The mobile phone is not the answer to everything and the system is, of course, hackable and crashable."

'This is discrimination against the old and disabled'

@Michael Gibson:

"I knew this would happen. Smartphones are now expected and people assume that when they have my mobile number it must be a smartphone and send me stuff that I can't respond to directly, even my GP.

"The fact is I'm 80 and suffer from a condition where the nerves in my hands mean a smartphone, with touchscreen and gestures, is impossible to use – it's too sensitive and my hands and fingers aren't.

"I'm okay with computers and use a PC all the time, with a keyboard. Tablets are out for the same reason as smartphones. So yes, this is discrimination against the old and the disabled."

Do pubs risk discriminating against older drinkers by making customers order via smartphones? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.