Today I went to buy lunch at the Bagel Factory in London Waterloo Station. I was greeted by a sign offering 30% discount to pregnant women. You can imagine the reaction this provoked. Here is the email I have sent to their customer service department in the hope of not only getting the offer withdrawn, but also to educate them a little about how upsetting and life changing infertility can be.
Dear Bagel Factory,
Today I went to your store in Waterloo Station, hoping to pick up lunch. On arriving, I spotted your cute little sign showing a bagel with the slogan “bagel on board”, advertising your 30% off for expectant mothers. I stood there, open mouthed for a couple of minutes before turning on my heel and deciding to get lunch elsewhere.
Why? Because I am currently suffering with infertility. Because I had a traumatic miscarriage back in July and would be 30 weeks pregnant now, had that not happened.
You would be right to say that this isn’t your problem, however I’m not sure you realise how insensitive and plain old offensive this offer is. Are you aware that last week was National Fertility Awareness Week in the UK? Are you aware that part of that initiative is bringing infertility out of the metaphorical closet and making it something that is ok to talk about? Offers like this make sure it stays firmly in the closet.
Here’s some statistics for you –
– Around a quarter of couples in the UK who are trying for a baby suffer with infertility. Infertility being categorised as being unable to conceive after a year or more of trying.
– Around a third of pregnancies end in miscarriage.
– Second to pregnancy, infertility is the second most common reason for women to visit their GP.
– Around one in six couples require costly assisted conception and medical intervention.
(Statistics from the British Fertility Association)
Your offer alienates all of those people. It is unfair that because my body was unable to hold on to my much loved baby, I have to pay more for my bagel than I would have had my miscarriage not occurred. I guarantee that I am not the only one who feels like this. I guarantee you that there are members of your staff – male and female – who find this offer offensive, but feel unable to tell someone about it because of the taboo surrounding infertility.
I can’t speak for anyone but myself, but I know seeing that offer was like a kick square in the stomach. I had had a great day, going about my life and not thinking about our failure to start a family or the loss of our baby. Seeing that offer was a painful reminder of what me and my partner should have. No doubt there are many other women and men who visit this store who feel the same.
Really, this is not about the cost of a bagel. This is about being offensive. Fact is, you wouldn’t offer a discount that only people under 5ft5 tall could access. It’s not anyone’s fault that some couples suffer with infertility. It’s not anyone’s fault that some babies are lost, same as it’s not anyone’s fault that sometimes people are taller that 5ft5. It’s not an inclusive offer and I guarantee you it is an offer that will lose you a portion of your customers.
I understand that whoever thought of this offer probably just thought of it as a nice thing to do. There was probably no further thought to it, which is why I wanted to send this email. I wanted to inform you of how debilitating infertility can be. We learn to cope with babies and pregnancies around us, but people won’t expect to not be able to get a discount just because they are suffering with a medical condition. You wouldn’t offer a discount to only people without asthma or diabetes, so why offer it only to those who are not suffering with infertility?
I hope this letter better explains some of the points that I was attempting to make when I contacted your company via Twitter. The response I received to expressing my discontent on there was “@BagelFactoryUK: Doesn’t cost more! It’s the same price for us all @forgotthesperm we just thought it’d be a nice thing to do for those eating for two :)” and as much as I understand that the intent was positive, this did not help. Apart from anything, it is very unhealthy for a pregnant woman to “eat for two”. Just another example of how research was clearly not done before this offer was put out for public consumption.
I very much hope that this offer will be withdrawn. I, for one, do not want to be reminded of my fertility status when shopping for lunch. After spotting this offer today, I decided to go some place where the price of my lunch doesn’t change dependant on my ability to reproduce.
Many thanks for reading and I look forward to your response,
For reference and in the interest of honesty, I have also posted this letter (and will post any response) to my blog at https://weforgotthesperm.wordpress.com
I didn’t want to just rage at them, even though that was what the emotional side of me was doing. It took me over an hour to write this as in some parts I had difficulty finding the words. I will be sure to post any response here.