Examination of Witnesses (Questions 260-279)|
6 JUNE 2007
Q260 Mr Fallon: Thank you. Can I
just come back, finally, to this point about consultation? Have
you consulted the credit unions on this PR campaign?
Ms Cook: We have consulted the
credit unions on the first part of the campaign and they have
agreed to work with us on the dissemination of the consumer education
Q261 Mr Fallon: Have you consulted
all the other providers?
Ms Cook: Yes.
Q262 Mr Fallon: You have.
Ms Cook: Yes.
Q263 Mr Fallon: And you have spoken
with Park Group on this.
Ms Cook: I said earlier on we
have not with Park Group. I have talked to major retailers, we
have talked to Citizens Advice, I can give you the list of who
we spoke to, the BBA. We have also spoken to the DWP who are going
to work with us to deliver the consumer education programme.
Q264 Mr Fallon: What efforts are
you making to target those particularly affected by the collapse
Ms Cook: As I said, the PR element
focused particularly on Farepak. You may have noticed we had a
launch last Friday
Q265 Mr Fallon: I had not noticed
your launch Friday.
Ms Cook: Maybe you are not the
Q266 Mr Fallon: How would I have
noticed it if it was not advertised?
Ms Cook: Because it was on national
TV, it was on national news, it was included on regional and national
radio. We had Farepak victims along to the launch, I think we
had 15, we had a great deal of media interest, we had the BBC,
Channel 4 interviews, and we also had a celebrity, Charlie Dimmock,
who was the sort of person who was probably not the
Q267 Chairman: Let me try and clarify
this because in your memorandum you talk about a 1 June national
launch and then you go on to say it will be for short term savings
for Christmas this year.
Ms Cook: And it was.
Q268 Chairman: 2007, and then you
go on to say this will include "local and national PR and
advertising", correct? In answer to Michael Fallon you have
said the national advertising which you have mentioned in your
submission will take place in December of this year.
Ms Cook: Yes.
Q269 Chairman: You have then said
that that national advertising that is taking place in December
is for 2008.
Ms Cook: Yes.
Q270 Chairman: But your submission
to us says the launch in June this year will be to focus on short
term savings for Christmas this year.
Ms Cook: And it did.
Q271 Chairman: I must ask you then,
that was a mistake saying that.
Ms Cook: It may be a mistake saying
advertising but the launch did focus on savings for this year.
Q272 Chairman: No, no, you are talking
about national advertising; it was a mistake telling us that,
so it was sloppy.
Ms Cook: It was a mistake saying
that the advertising was at that stage of the campaign.
Chairman: It was sloppy. The fact of
the matter is, is it not the case, Mr Williams, that you took
on a brief when you should not have really taken on a brief?
Q273 Mr Fallon: Quite right.
Mr Williams: I do not accept that.
Q274 Chairman: Because it takes eight
months and you are going to spend in December this year. This
is a waste of a million quid.
Mr Williams: I am surprised you
say that. I do not think it is a waste
Q275 Chairman: I will tell you why
I am saying it, because it seems a shambles from your point of
Mr Williams: I do not think it
is a shambles from our point of view.
Q276 Chairman: Tell me why it is
not a shambles.
Mr Williams: We have moved very,
very quickly in a two month period to launch a national campaign
to alert people to the issues with these products.
Q277 Chairman: But you are spending
your money on national advertising in December this year, and
that has not got a hope in hell chance of getting to people who
are involved in the Christmas savings market for this year, has
Mr Williams: The point is we are
trying to do something for the long term for this sector, it is
not just about
Q278 Chairman: Then do not send us
submissions in that tell us the launch is for the market this
year; that is what I am trying to tell you. Your credibility is
shredded when you do that.
Mr Williams: If I may, what we
are trying to do is not just for Christmas 2007, it is for a long
term improvement in consumer protection in this area.
Q279 Chairman: If that is the point,
we are a Parliamentary committee, we deserve for it to be transparent.
You should get your message out to a Parliamentary committee in
a clear and transparent way and you have not done that.
Mr Williams: I naturally apologise
if there has been any lack of clarity in our submission, but the
point that we are trying to get over iswe have launched
very quickly, we have a commitment to make a long term difference,
it is absolutely in line with the OFT's responsibilities for consumers
as well as for competition and our responsibilities for consumer