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Saturday 25 May 2013

Express Launches Crusade Against Itself

There is nothing more irritating than bad servicedeclares a Daily Express headline today. Quite so. I’m glad to see Richard “Dirty” Desmond’s dwindling band of hacks getting stuck in to some proper investigative journalism for a change. So who’s hot on the tail of this practice? Their “Consumer Affairs Editor”, that’s who. Perhaps there are some examples to stand up the headline?

Abandon hope all ye who enter here

Sadly not: after telling “Poor quality goods, gadgets that don’t work, things that don’t do what they said they would - I am not alone in saying these things drive me mad. Then there are the staff who are responsible for delivering these sub-standard products”, readers get a list of imagined examples, before finally, they are told that this is not actually a news piece.

Yes, in the thirteenth paragraph (you read that correctly) comes “The Daily Express has joined forces with price comparison site uSwitch.com to test the feeling of the nation when it comes to the art of complaining”. So this is an advertorial intended to promote a price comparison site, except that this should be clearly signposted at the start of the article, but it is not.

But there is a poll of 2,000 people – oh, hang on, make that a uSwitch poll. So Des’ finest haven’t stumped up for it, then. All that has happened is that the hack concerned has gone for a chat with Ann Robinson (no relation), who is the uSwitch director of customer policy. This is then spun out into several more paragraphs about how we should complain, if only because they do in the USA.

And that hack has a very familiar name – Nathan Rao. Now where have I heard that being pitched? Ah yes, another look at his by-line gives the game away: “Consumer Affairs Editor who loves the weather”. That would be the weather that Rao is always forecasting wrongly, like, oh I dunno, this post from January last year summarising several of Nathan’s wrong calls over that winter.

Perhaps that was a one-off? Sadly not: Rao was back with the misleading frighteners less than a fortnight later. And his abysmally bad forecasting was at work last winter, telling of a big freeze when wind and rain was on the way. On it went: the ever vigilant Tabloid Watch caught Rao facing both ways over his forecast for the May Day bank holiday weekend just gone.

There’s a concise description for that kind of thing: bad service. And, as the very same paper asserts, “There is nothing more irritating than bad service”. So it’s good to see Nathan Rao so selflessly campaigning against Himself Personally Now. It certainly saves the readers from complaining.

So that must make it, once more, Another Benchmark Of Excellence.

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