PharmaPrix to Make Debit-Card Readers Accessible to Handicapped Customers

By Allison Lampert, Montreal Gazette July 14, 2010   

Pharmaprix drug stores have agreed to make their debit card readers more accessible to handicapped customers, following an agreement with the Quebec Human Rights Commission.

Pharmaprix, operated by Ontario-based Shoppers Drug Mart Corp., is to ensure all debit card readers at its franchised stores are connected to the cash register with a cable, the commission said Wednesday.

In January, Montrealer Linda Gauthier, who uses a wheelchair, filed a complaint to the commission, after she couldn’t access the reader at a Pharmaprix
store in the Plateau Mont Royal. To prevent debit information theft, many retailers are attaching their card readers to an immovable metal base which is
inaccessible to customers in wheelchairs.

Gauthier’s complaint received the support of the Confédération des organismes de personnes handicapées du Québec, which argued that the practice of attaching bank-card readers to store checkout counters discriminates against certain handicapped customers – such as those in wheelchairs – who can’t easily reach the counter.

“It’s discrimination. My money is as good as anyone else’s,” Gauthier told The Gazette during an interview in February. “We aren’t second-class citizens.”

Commission president Gaétan Cousineau urged other retailers to make debit card readers accessible to their handicapped clientèle.

“I would like to congratulate the parties for quickly reaching this agreement,” he said in a statement.

During the 2009-2010 fiscal year, the commission opened 178 files based on complaints of disability-related discrimination. This represents a quarter of
the commission’s caseload and its second most frequently-received complaint.

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