Friday, February 20, 2009

British company addresses letter "Dear Mr Blindman"

From the BBC:

A Hull man says he was "shocked" by a letter from council contractors addressing him as Mr Blindman.

Paul Harris, of the Wincolmlee area, who was only registered blind late last year, received the letter from Kier Building Maintenance on Feb. 18.

"I just couldn't believe it," said Mr Harris. "Words just can't explain how I feel, I'm really upset." The company apologised saying the error happened when Mr Harris's disability was mistakenly entered on its database.

The letter was sent to Mr Harris to inform him that modifications were to be carried out on his home as part of the Hull City Council's Decent Homes programme.

"I was literally horrified that they can send anything through the post saying 'Dear Mr Blindman' about your disability," said Mr Harris. "I was just so shocked.

"You wouldn't send a letter to a person who's got Down's Syndrome saying Dear Mr Down's Syndrome would you?"

Ann Massam, from Hull and East Riding Institute for the Blind, said: "He has recently been registered as blind and that in itself is enough to come to terms with.

"Then to get something like this through the post, it just shouldn't happen."

A Kier spokesperson said: "We sincerely apologise to Mr Harris for the distress caused by this error.

"The letter was part of a routine mail-out about Decent Homes work being carried out in his property.

"Any information relating to customers' personal circumstances are entered into a remarks column on a database.

"Unfortunately, information about Mr Harris' disability was accidentally entered into the name column, which was not noticed prior to the letter being sent."

He said an internal investigation was under way to determine how the error occurred and ensure it did not happen again.

"We have visited Mr Harris to apologise and explained the error, and a letter of apology will be sent to him," the spokesman added.