Tuesday, May 26, 2015

M&S Bans Christ and upsets 29 Million People Again

Marks and Spencer plc, also known as M&S is a major British multinational retailer headquartered in London, listed on the London Stock Exchange and is a constituent of the FTSE 100 Index. M&S was founded in 1884 by Michael Marks a Belarusian Jew from Slonim and Thomas Spencer, a cashier from Skipton in North Yorkshire. Employing over 85 thousand employees worldwide, M&S stores specialize in the selling of luxury clothing, home and food products.

Things could be going better for the multinational as it is facing huge controversy and backlash from the Christianity Population in the UK (which accounts for roughly over 29 Million People) after The words ‘Christ’ and ‘Jesus Christ’ had been placed on a list of banned words by Marks & Spencer and couldn't be used in gift messages. Customers purchasing flowers who tried to add a free message containing them were prevented from completing their order. An on-screen error, which pops up if any blocked words are entered, read: ‘Sorry, there’s something in your message we can’t write.’

m&s jesus banned Christ

The retailer had added the term to a list of banned words to prevent abuse – despite allowing ‘Buddha’ and ‘Mohammed’. The IT blunder has now been rectified after endless calls and messages from upset users came flooding in.

A spokesman for Marks & Spencer said: ‘An automatic phrase checker is in place to prevent the use and misuse of certain words and it includes hundreds of words of varying nature.

This is not the first time it has faced backlash from the Christianity population. In fact it is the second time in less than two years. In mid-2013 Marks & Spencer was left facing a boycott from hundreds of customers furious at the store's decision to allow Muslim staff to refuse to serve customers buying alcohol or pork products.

The policy was revealed after customers trying to buy pork or alcohol from a Muslim shop assistant in a London store were told they would have to use another till or employee because of the cashier’s religion. At the time a Facebook campaign calling on people to boycott the store attracted hundreds of 'likes' within just a couple of hours of being live. Comments featured that gained a lot of attention included "If you have Christian workers who wish to refuse the sale of ladies garments to male homosexuals or men’s trousers to lesbians, I do hope you will equally stand by those workers' religious or personal beliefs…

"Or perhaps if an atheist worker notices a customer purchasing hot cross buns during Easter and wishes to refuse sale to that particular customer based on beliefs that conflict with their own, I do hope you will not punish such workers for their actions surrounding refusal of sale…

Similar to then, today the M&S Facebook Page has seen a steep rise in negative comments and feedback from upset customers.

marks and spencer facebook complaints religion Jesus

Personally I don't think that M&S are trying to upset any religion or faith. In fact I am pretty confident that this huge controversy was probably caused by a single IT employee that either updated the system manually or made it live without testing it first. Therefore I do think that their internal protocol and systems need to be updated to prevent future mishaps like this. All changes and updates to the website need to go to a Beta site which cannot be seen by the general public and intense tests need to performed before anything goes live.

It will be very exciting to see how M&S will deal with the backlash on their Social Media accounts and how they cope with their Easter Marketing campaigns and in fact the Christmas (the clue is the word) battle for customers with their competing retailers. Although as we have seen before Xmas is a long time away and by then all will be forgotten and forgiven especially if Marks and Spencer's bring out a Multimillion pound heart-warming Xmas TV ad.

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