For economic reasons this will be the last edition of our free newsletter Marketing Matters.
We would like to thank all who gave us feedback, to praise or condemn, and hope that many have enjoyed reading it as much as we have enjoyed producing it.
All best wishes
Mark Ely – Publisher
Peter Cotterell – Editor
Large online companies, banks, insurance companies and energy firms have been warned by the Competition and Markets Authority that ripping off their customers is destroying the public’s faith in capitalism.
The CMA are calling for changes in regulations that would make it easier for them to take action against the unscrupulous, citing the manipulation of the banks, insurers and energy firms that offer very competitive deals to get customers to sign up and then squeezing them with far higher prices thereafter. This, many feel, creates an unhealthy and toxic culture where loyalty is punished, rather than rewarded, by companies abusing their dominance.
Reality TV is “a combination of reality and produced elements” say ITV after criticism of the veracity of its Love Island reality show.
ITV have a history of deceiving viewers. The company’s franchise holder, Carlton, was fined £2 million in 1996 by the Independent Television Commission (ITC) for 16 deceptions in its faked drug “documentary” The Connection.
And the ITV network picked up a record total fine of £5,675,000 in 2005 for a string of serious breaches of Ofcom’s Broadcasting code, which included ignoring paid for telephone votes from viewers for awards to celebrities when they failed to nominate the celebrity the ITV producers wanted to win, selecting competition finalists before the lines were closed, selecting finalists on the basis of their deemed suitability to be on television rather than at random and selecting finalists on the basis of where they lived rather than at random. The size of this fine would have been very much larger had not ITV pledged £7.8 million for viewer compensation and to charity.
ITV programmes reportedly guilty of fakery over the years include Love Island, the Jeremy Kyle Show, the Trisha chat show, Ant and Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway, I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here!, Britain’s Got Talent, The X Factor and courtroom show Judge Rinder.
The fact, exposed by the Daily Telegraph, that 377 MPs have had their credit cards suspended for breaking expenses rules was the subject of a failed cover up by the now discredited Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA).
The authority was set up after the 2009 expenses scandal, which saw eight MPs and Lords jailed for fraud, and tried to argue that publishing the names of the latest crop of culprits would damage its relationship with the MPs it was charged with policing.
However, High Court judge Sir Robert Owen ruled, under the laws of Freedom of Information that the risk of “embarrassing” the MPs was no reason to keep the names secret.
So, thanks to the Daily Telegraph, and others we learn that some well-known names in Westminster have had frozen credit cards, including Boris Johnson, Jeremy Corbyn, Amber Rudd, Claire Perry, Stephen Barclay and Chris Grayling. Apparently nine MPs have had their cards suspended more than ten times, including Damian Collins, who leads the field with fourteen.
Trustworthy bunch, then?
The imposition of gagging orders by the Hotpoint Group has been revealed. These are legal orders made to stop those it pays compensation to from talking about their problems with the group’s appliances.
These Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs) were served on two women whose Whirlpool tumble dryers caught fire whilst being operated. One woman, who was paid more than £11,000 under a Hotpoint NDA said she thought it was “disgusting” that the firm were trying to keep people quiet about the fires, reportedly 750+ since 2004. The other, paid a “five figure sum” to keep quiet, was a mother who had to flee her house with her two young children as the blaze took hold. In both cases the tumble dryers had been ” fixed” by Hotpoint engineers.
There are an estimated 500,000 unfixed Hotpoint Group machines in homes across the UK. Fires can occur, according to Hotpoint, when a build-up of fluff or lint from clothes comes into contact with the heating element.
Stansted and Manchester Airports have been criticised for their greedy treatment of motorists who take too long to park to drop off passengers at their terminals, a rip-off fine of £25 for taking more than 10 minutes at Manchester, or 15 minutes at Stansted. At Manchester the “normal” charge is £3 for 5 minutes and £4 for up to 10 minutes. At Stansted its £4 for up to 10 minutes and £9 for up to 15 minutes. The fines at these airports make the parking more expensive than the cost of many European flights (Daily Mail).
The Escape passenger lounge at Stansted, charging £25 for two hours, was recently deemed “hideous” and slammed for serving a cooked breakfast without eggs.
Consumer group Which? have warned that some of the products they have tested and given a “Dont buy” rating to have scored very highly in customer reviews posted by retailers that sell the products.
- AfterShokz Trekz Titanium headphones that scored a low 28% with Which? – owing to “low battery life” and “awful sound” – were nevertheless given an average rating of 4.2 stars by Amazon and 4.7 by Argos.
- The Black and Decker SVJ520BFS 2 in 1 Dust Buster scored a low 32% with Which? – where it was deemed “awful at cleaning carpets” – but was given 3.8 stars by Amazon and 4.6 stars by Argos.
- The Nikon Coolpix A10 camera scored 34% with Which? – for its “slow start up time” and “poor image stabilisation” – but was given 4.5 stars at Currys PC World and 4.6 at Argos.
Worth checking with Which? before you buy?
The makers of Hovis bread are bringing back their iconic 1973 TV ad, 46 years after it was first screened and after it won the recent Kantar poll for the most iconic ever.
The ad, directed by Sir Ridley Scott six years before his rather different Alien shocker, has the heart-warming image of a young boy pushing his bicycle up a seriously steep hill, its front basket loaded with Hovis loaves, to the strains of Dvorak’s New World Symphony. Also in the top five were Cadbury’s “gorilla” drumming along to “In the Air Tonight” from 2007, Yellow Pages J.R.Hartley looking for his own book from 1983, John Lewis Always a Woman from 2010 and predating the Hovis ad by two years the Coca-Cola choir from 1971, teaching the world to sing.
The hill on which the Hovis ad was shot is Gold Hill, Shaftesbury, Dorset, which has a gradient of around 1 in 6 – it rises 1 foot for every 6 travelled. This it shares with Steep Hill in Lincoln, and Blake Street and Old Wyche Road in Sheffield. Britains steepest street however is Vale Street in Bristol at just a tad gentler than 1 in 5.
Diners may well be pouring into the Hawksmoor restaurant in Manchester, hoping to be accidentally given a rare and pricey bottle of vintage Bordeaux instead of the rather more modest bottle ordered.
Apparently some lucky diners there recently ordered a £260 bottle of the excellent 2001 Chateau Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande, which works out at just over £40 a glass, but due to a staff error were given a £4,500 bottle of an even more excellent 2001 Chateau le Pin Pomerol, which works out at a bargain £750 a glass. Reportedly the diners were so impressed with their choice that they ordered another bottle of the same, only to be told it was “unavailable”.
The restaurant’s management, we are told, big-heartedly told the customers they hoped they enjoyed their evening, and equally magnanimously told their mortified member of staff who made the error to keep their “chin up” and that “one-off mistakes happen, and we love you anyway”.
Now there’s nice people…
For economic reasons we regret that we are ceasing publication of our Charity Matters free newsletter after this issue.
We hope that you have enjoyed reading it as much as we have enjoyed writing and publishing it. Thank you to all readers who responded to us, to praise or condemn.
All best wishes
Mark Ely – Publisher
Peter Cotterell – Editor