My mom and I were walking to the check out area at a popular chain retailer when suddenly, it seemed like flashing lights at check-out popped out of nowhere. The store was selling rapidly strobing fidget spinners, which were all flashing asynchronously. The lights were at a high frequency with red, blue, and green lights. I went to stand away from the display while my mom checked out. I was glad she was there, because otherwise I would have had to leave the store, due to my sensitivity to flashing lights.
When I was there, I didn’t say anything to the cashier, or ask to speak to the manager about the flashing lights at check-out. My head was already hurting, and I knew it was likely a decision from corporate, not the individual store, so there was nothing they could do about it. Still, I was surprised to see that someone had decided the best place for a rapidly strobing item was at a place where customers couldn’t avoid it. Red and blue lights are one of the most common triggers for adverse responses to flashing lights- an episode of Pokemon flashed red and blue lights in a similar frequency and hospitalized hundreds of children with seizures many years ago. There are many medical conditions that can be aggravated by strobe lights- besides seizures and epilepsy, there’s also migraines, PTSD, and anxiety, to name a few.
I am not demanding that the store stop selling this product, as I’m sure it is very profitable given the increase in fidget toys. Fidget toys help people with attentional conditions, autism, and anxiety, as well as people without these conditions. I would just like to request that the product be moved to another area of the store, and have a small sign warning customers of the strobe lighting. Having flashing lights at check-out, where it can’t be avoided, is a medical crisis waiting to happen.
If you encounter a strobing display similar to this, do not get angry at the cashier or other employee at the store, as it was likely not their idea. It is more effective to send feedback directly to corporate. Below, I have attached a sample message I sent to the store I visited:
I went to visit your store today, and discovered there was a display right next to the check-out counter that was selling rapidly strobing fidget spinners. Had I gone to the store alone, I would have had to leave and not be able to purchase my items. Strobe lights are a medical trigger for me, as I have chronic migraines, and there are many other people who can be affected by rapidly strobing displays. If possible, please consider move this display out of a high-volume area and having a sign warning guests of the rapidly strobing lights.
While some people do enjoy strobe lights, there are many others who can have very adverse reactions or just be downright annoyed. While I’m not looking to outlaw all strobe lights, I do hope that companies will remember their guests with light sensitivities and not have flashing lights at check-out.
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