Letters: Online shopping registration is sending customers round in circles

Online shopping sites are either crashing or are fully booked
Online shopping sites are either crashing or are fully booked Credit: Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images

SIR – I, too, have been trying to register for online shopping with Sainsbury’s (Letters, March 26). Both my husband and I are well over 70.

After great persistence I have got through twice on the recommended telephone number, only to hear a recorded message telling me to go to the website. The website then sends me back to the telephone.

My local store can’t help and is not big enough to do Click and Collect. There are no delivery slots for the foreseeable future. What do we do?

L C Browne
Ashbourne, Derbyshire


SIR – I have just counted the number of times I have attempted to contact Sainsbury’s to register as a “vulnerable person”. I am so far at 48.

Michael Gregory



SIR – I went to the over-70s shopping slot at Waitrose in Lymington. I arrived just after 7 am and was second in the queue, as the shop did not open until 7.30. The man ahead of me was turned away, as he was only 60.

The staff controlled the numbers entering, asked customers to be as quick as possible and to limit their purchases of certain items. I was out before 7.50 with enough for my wife and me for a week. It beats spending hours online trying to book a delivery.

B H Sherrad
Barton on Sea, Hampshire


SIR – My mother is 93 and very frail. She has severely impaired vision and can barely stand or walk. I live a 90-minute drive away. Since last year I have shopped online for her with Sainsbury’s, which delivered to her. This worked well until last week, when I was unable to get a slot for three weeks. When I tried to register her as vulnerable by phone, I couldn’t get through.

Yesterday a recorded message told me to register via gov.uk, which I attempted to do. Several screens in I was asked if my mother suffered from a range of conditions, largely related to cancer, diseases of the immune system or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. As she does not, I ticked “no” – and was told that she did not qualify. How am I supposed to get food to her?

Kerry Wedlock
Winchfield, Hampshire


SIR – I operate a chauffeur service and, due to the loss of business, I am offering my 50 clients who live in north Norfolk a home-delivery service. They email me their shopping list or prescriptions and I go out and do the shopping, paying for it myself.

I inform my client by a call or text when I will be delivering and leave the shopping by their door. Remaining at a safe distance, I watch them take the shopping in and check to make sure they are well. I then email them a receipt for the shopping and they pay by Bacs into my account.

This is a very simple solution that allows a large number of people to remain at home.

Matthew Hawkes
Fakenham, Norfolk


Profiteering banks

SIR – I am a business adviser with clients across the North West. Four of my clients – all well-run businesses and financially sound until coronavirus struck – have approached their banks for support under the initiatives recently announced by the Government.

Without exception, they were turned down, but the banks offered them alternative products, which in some cases involved 22 per cent interest rates, exorbitant arrangement fees and personal guarantees.

I’m afraid to say the banks are not helping at all. Indeed, they are seeking to profit from the situation by tying desperate business owners into punitive deals that will create hardship and, in some cases, bankruptcy – the exact opposite of the Government’s objective.

David Lee
Wistaston, Cheshire


No direction home

SIR – We have every sympathy with Seán Bellew (Letters, March 25), who is trying to get back home from South Africa. We are in Eleuthera in the Bahamas and are experiencing similar difficulties.

We weren’t allowed to board an American Airlines flight to Miami last Friday, even though we had current Esta travel authorisation and a connecting British Airways flight to London for the same day. We had at that time been out of Britain for 15 days.

The Bahamas is now in lockdown, which might end next week, or it might be extended. Calls to the Foreign Office go unanswered and email submissions are responded to with round robins that are of no relevance to us. I have spent hours on the phone to BA and AA and we have flights booked for next Tuesday, but we think it unlikely they will operate.

We appreciate that we are not alone, but statements from Dominic Raab suggesting we must get home immediately (report, March 24) are, in the circumstances, extremely frustrating.

Sue Gowar
Eleuthera, The Bahamas


Evasive action

SIR – Perhaps we could start a system of all walking on the right, in order to avoid the bizarre dancing that is now going on as we try to get out of the way of fellow walkers, particularly in the busier towns and parks.

Helen Wynne-Griffith
London W8


Support for charities

SIR – This is a difficult time for many in our country, but it has been heartwarming to see charities stepping up to the huge challenges we all face – supporting people in their homes, in care facilities and hospices across the country, alleviating pressure on the NHS at this most crucial time and mobilising people to help neighbours and the most vulnerable in our communities.

Yet some are closing and thousands more are teetering on the brink and will close soon. Charity income is collapsing as fundraising events have been cancelled and their shops are shut. Much other trading income has fallen away and investment values have tanked. The National Council for Voluntary Organisations estimates that charities are set to lose at least £4.3 billion in the next 12 weeks.

Much of the crisis support does not help charities. Many can’t access business interruption loans or the new business rate relief. Supporting wages for workers who can’t work won’t help charity trustees having to run big deficits to keep going. Many are already having to take decisions about redundancies and closures as the situation is financially so grave. The Chancellor has said the Government is working on support for charities and, of course, it needs to be set up in the right way. It can’t come soon enough.

Charities can’t help tackle coronavirus, or help us rebuild, if they no longer exist.

Rob Wilson
Minister for Civil Society, 2014-2017
Ed Miliband MP (Lab)
Minister for the Third Sector, 
Nick Hurd
Minister for Civil Society, 2010-2014
Sir Iain Duncan Smith MP (Con)
Rt Rev Stephen Cottrell
Bishop of Chelmsford
General Lord Dannatt
Chairman, National Emergencies Trust




Petty politics


SIR – It is good to see so many working together for the common good and to hear of the business world mobilising resources to fight this pandemic.

Contrast this with the politicians who still can’t resist the odd dig, while claiming to support the Government. This is no time for silly point-scoring.

It was great to see Alan Johnson hit back at Emily Maitlis on Newsnight on Monday, as she tried to drag criticism of the Government out of him.

R W Cousins
Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire



SIR – Boris Johnson should learn from Andrew Cuomo, Governor of New York, regarding his daily broadcasts.

Mr Cuomo’s exposition of the situation, plans and how any gap is to be addressed is impressive. His use of graphics and direct style cut through. Viewers know what the numbers are and will be in terms of staffing, equipment, logistics and impact. Mr Johnson’s briefings tend to leave one with more questions than answers.

Ian Watson
Swanton Novers, Norfolk


The annual trim

A man gets his hair cut in the Petare slum in Caracas, while Venezuela is under quarantine Credit: Carlos Becerra/Getty Images

SIR – Nigel Gerrett (Letters, March 24) could, like me, have his hair and beard cut and trimmed once a year in spring.

I put the trimmings outside, so the birds can use them for their nests. But they now have to wait until next year.

Oliver Smith Boyes
Worthing, West Sussex


If you are quarantined with a talented topiarist, you could emerge with a stylish new look Credit: David Rose

SIR – My husband cuts hedges with absolute precision, so I am not worried about his hairdressing skills. He awaits his turn with trepidation, however.

Debrah Lawson
Runcton, West Sussex


How avian antics can keep cabin fever at bay

Two western jackdaws (Corvus monedula) perched on roof tiles of a house Credit: Alamy


SIR – Watching a family of jackdaws trying to refurbish a nest under the solar panels on the roof of an outbuilding is providing constant entertainment while in isolation.

The male arrives with a very long ash twig and struggles to get it under the panels, while the female sits on the gutter directing operations. She then dives under the panel, fishes the twig out and makes him start again, as it is obviously not to her satisfaction.

Pamela Wallis
Cucklington, Somerset


SIR – Our daughters and their families usually come to us in the summer to take part in our local flower show, which includes cookery, handicrafts, photography, and showing flowers and vegetables grown in our gardens. This year the flower show has been cancelled.

We are all very competitive, and the youngest daughter has come up with a solution. Although we are scattered around the country, we are running our own photographic competition. This week each of us is to take a photograph of a creature, and father will judge the entries it. The winner will choose the following week’s theme, and become the judge.

Polly Hurlow
Marnhull, Dorset


The perfect time to take a virtual cruise around the world Credit: Peter Finch/Stone RF

SIR – My wife and I enjoy cruising, so, being confined to barracks, I picked out a lengthy world cruise itinerary from the Cunard brochure, which should take us to the end of the current isolation period.

We are currently on course for Bermuda, where we plan to bone up on the food and culture of the island before sailing down the Panama Canal and arriving back in Southampton, via Hong Kong and South Africa, some time in early June.

By the time we reach the end of our virtual cruise we should have learnt a lot about the places en route, as well as enjoyed a few formal nights at sea where we can dress up and take cocktails in our lounge. We shall, of course, always be dining at the captain’s table.

Stuart Robertson
Aboyne, Aberdeenshire


Vulnerable key workers face a conundrum


SIR – I work in the railway industry. In my role, I am unable to avoid people and I can’t do all of my work from home. I am considered a key worker. However, I have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and a heart condition and, therefore, according to NHS advice, I am at increased risk if I contract coronavirus.

My GP suggests that I self-isolate, yet my employer expects me to attend work. I largely support the Government’s response to the crisis but more emphasis should be given to the actual staff, not just the role, when deciding who is fit to work.

Clifford Baxter
Wareham, Dorset


Letters to the Editor


We accept letters by post, fax and email only. Please include name, address, work and home telephone numbers.

ADDRESS: 111 Buckingham Palace Road, London, SW1W 0DT

FAX: 020 7931 2878

EMAIL: [email protected]

FOLLOW: Telegraph Letters on Twitter @LettersDesk