Feel free to stick my photo up on your site any time, Brian. Fair Go doesn’t ask permission to stick other people’s photos up on the wall and nor should you. I think companies that deal with the public have a responsibility to front up to the public when things go wrong. That includes fronting up on television. It’s not good enough to just say, “we’ll fix it…but we refuse to talk on the telly about what happened, who was responsible, or if it’s likely to happen again.” The Fair Go Wall is about companies not fronting up on camera when we think there are still questions to be answered. It’s not about whether they’ve decided to fix the problem or not.
Now there’s the Wall, these people know they’ll be “appearing” if they front up or not.
As for Mr Callander. He had every opportunity to front up to the camera originally but didn’t. Good on him for fronting up in the end, though.
I Reply with a Challenge
Good morning, old friend. And thanks for replying to my post. Unfortunately, that isn’t good enough. As a public figure, I don’t think just providing a written response to my complaint will do. I require you to come to my premises, so that I can cross-examine you further on this infringement. If you fail to do so, I will put a large photograph of you in the window of my offices with the inscription: Kev Milne – Wanted for Questioning! I will refuse to take it down until you yield, Further, when you get here, I will take measures to loosen your tongue, by forcing you to drink large quantities of fine wine. So there! Now Kev, we are going to agree to differ. Other media investigate consumer complaints, most notably the Consumer’s Institute. They seem to find no difficulty at all in dealing with those complaints and in getting results for the complainants. The entire exercise is conducted in writing. The complainant submits his/her complaint in writing, Consumer forwards it to the complainee for a response, conducts its own investigation of the arguments on both sides and , if it decides to publish the complaint, supplies the complainee with a draft of the article to comment on, before it is published. Not a camera in sight. Before Fair Go came along, Truth was an enormously successful consumer advocate. No cameras again.
Fair Go just happens to be a television programme. And I see no reason at all why a complainee should have to play by television’s rules, just to keep you happy. Indeed, you have neither mandate nor authority to require anyone to do anything. Your power comes from your ability to put people you have deemed to be villains in the stocks of public opinion. And though your intentions are good and the results often beneficial to the complainant and sometimes to the general public, the modus operandi of the programme is often quite unfair. I have discussed this with you and the Fair Go team before. Fair Go operates like a court but does not follow the rules of a court. The complainant is offered every possible assistance to present his/her evidence. Invariably the complainant’s side of the story is filmed. The filming takes place in the familiar setting of the complainant’s office, home or premises – an unfrightening environment. This may take half a day or more to do. Not only is the complainant helped to get their story across as well and persuasively as possilbe, they may be given lines to say to camera. This does not happen in a normal interview situation. Essentially the complainant’s side of the story is packaged and choreographed to make them look as good as possible.
In a nutshell the complainant is assisted by counsel. The complainee has no counsel, unless they come to people like us for advice. The vast majority of course do not. They get extremely short notice to respond to the complaint and appear “in court”. Several clients of ours have received notice of the complaint on Thursday and been asked to make themselves available to be filmed on the following Monday or Tuesday or to be recorded in the studio on Wednesday, the day of the programme. They have been expected to put all their other personal and business commitments aside to prepare for their appearance. The arrogance of this is mind-blowing. Then we have the disparity in the time given to the complainant and to the complainee. I haven’t put a stopwatch on it, but my reasonable assessment is that the complainee will get around two and a half to three minutes to respond to the complaint in the studio. Clients of ours have ended up with around a minute and a half. This may include Fair Go’s ‘free minute’ to say what they want without interruption. Sounds fair, but of course it isn’t. In more than 40 years in the business I have met very few people, including professionals, who could gather their thoughts together in a frightening environment and speak coherently to camera for a minute.
What Fair Go seems determined to ignore is the fact that public speaking is one of the top five activities that people world wide fear most. And that fear includes everything from speaking at an office party to appearing on a television programme, in an alien environment, in front of hundreds of thousands of people to defend yourself in a couple of minutes against charges that are often of a highly complex nature. And there’s no counsel there to object if the treatment you’re getting isn’t fair. You’re on your own. As to the wall, I ‘m sticking by every word I said. The concept is outrageous and the idea that people should have to come into your studio to plead their case so that their name and photograph should be taken off the wall, displays a level of hubris bordering on megalomania. Kev, Fair Go is a great show and it does a lot of good. But its processes have never been fair. They aren’t now and they weren’t in my time as host or producer. In fact they were probably worse. The problem for those working on the programme is that it’s hard to resist seeing yourself as a knight on a white horse. I certainly found it hard and was entirely unsuccessful in resisting that delusion. It’s easy to forget that, as I said in my post, “It’s a television show”. As to the two cases I highlighted, both complainees responded to your questions in detail, both put things right and both compensated the complainees. They should never have been on the wall in the first place. Now I’d like to issue you with a little challenge. I’l happily debate this with you, your producer, or any member of your team in any forum that’s interested. I’ll even offer you a free minute at the start.