• August 15, 2013


A six year old girl from Rhyl in Wales was so disappointed that her local Sainsbury supermarket store did not have a Welsh language option on its self-service checkouts that she decided to make a complaint.

Mari, whose father describes as ‘optimistic’, wanted to show his daughter that it is important to do what she thinks is right and agreed to help her contact Customer Services at Sainsburys asking them to consider introducing bilingual check out tills, like they do in other stores they had visited. Even though Mari received the expected negative response from Sainsburys, her father Dewi promised Mari that together they would try to persuade Sainsburys to change their position.

Father and daughter subsequently decided to write a petition and stood outside Sainsburys in Rhyl to ask customers what they thought. In an hour Mari and her father had collected 150 signatures, which showed them that their request seemed to have the support of a large number of people. Dewi has now written to others asking them to write to Sainsburys and/or to sign a petition demonstrating their support.

Below the General Secretary of the Celtic League has written his own letter to Customer Services at Sainsburys in support of Mari and more importantly in support of her broader campaign to get 1000 signatures over the coming weeks in order to show Sainsburys that there is support for such a measure.

Dewi writes:

“If you support Mari’s campaign, then we would appreciate your help.” Some suggestions about how people can help in the campaign are set out below.

You can contact Sainsburys Customer Service on either customer.service@sainsburys.co.uk or by telephone on 0800 636 262, by writing an email similar to the one below. If you email them, copy Mari and Dewi into your email and send them a copy of Sainsburys response. Their email address for this purpose is ymgyrchu@gmail.com. Dewi asks that all communication is kept polite and reasonable and to focus on asking for bilingual self-service checkouts.

If you want to sign the petition, an electronic copy can be obtained by writing to Dewi and Mari at the email address above, which will help them to reach their 1000 signature target.

The full text of the letter sent to Customer Services from the Celtic League can be found below.

Dear Customer Services

Welsh on self-service checkout

I am writing to you following the news I received recently that your self-service checkouts in your stores in Wales do not have a Welsh language option. This news is disappointing to learn, especially since I learned about the matter from the father of a six year girl – Mari – who couldn’t understand why Sainsburys did not use the Welsh language on its self-service checkouts, like they do in the Tesco and B and Q stores in the area.

I believe that the father wrote to Sainsburys’ Customer Services on behalf of his daughter who felt optimistic that Sainsbury would reconsider their ‘English only’ option on their tills.

Despite a negative response from Customer Services and intending to teach his daughter that it is right to stand up for the things that she believes in, father and daughter stood outside Sainsburys with a petition to discover what other people thought about the matter. I have been informed that in just one hour they managed to collect 150 signatures from customers and to be honest I am not surprised. Research published by Beaufort Research this month shows that 84% of people in Wales indicating that they would welcome the chance to use the language more, with the Welsh Government indicating for the last couple of years that they are working towards a bilingual Wales. As you may be aware the Welsh Language Competence Order came into force in 2011 which raised the profile and status of the language in Wales, which is one of the priorities of the Welsh Government.

With other companies in Wales, and in the Rhyl vicinity in particular, providing bilingual services I am disappointed that Sainsburys lacks linguistic sensitivity by ignoring what can only be described as good practice.

We hope that Sainsburys will reconsider its position on the matter and we look forward to hearing from you soon.

Yours faithfully

Rhisiart Tal-e-bot
General Secretary
Celtic League

For comment or clarification on this news item in the first instance contact:

General Secretary, Celtic League:

The General Secretary will determine the appropriate branch or General Council Officer to respond to your query.


The Celtic League has branches in the six Celtic Countries. It works to promote cooperation between these countries and campaigns on a broad range of political, cultural and environmental matters. It highlights human rights abuse, monitors all military activity and focuses on socio-economic issues

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