DICK SMITH GIFT VOUCHERS – THE REAL CULPRITS

Dick Smith entered into voluntary administration on 5th January. This was obviously not acceptable to their bankers, NAB and HSBC, for almost immediately they, in their capacity of secured lenders, appointed Receivers, who take precedence over voluntary administrators.
One of the first acts of the Receivers, Ferrier Hodgson, was to announce that outstanding gift cards would not be honoured and that any customer deposits would not be refunded.

Naturally, this brought howls of outrage from disgusted customers and, understandably, Dick Smith’s social media pages were flooded with complaints. Since then it has become the accepted wisdom that the blame for so many customers losing their money in this way rests fairly and squarely with Dick Smith.

But a different set of culprits might emerge if we delve a little deeper. We know that it was the Receivers who announced that gift cards and deposits would not be honoured or returned. But who appointed the Receivers? Why none other than the two major banks, in exercise of their almost limitless powers as SECURED lenders.
Who do the Receivers answer to? Only to the banks who appointed them. And what is the Receivers’ primary duty? None other than to extract from the company enough to repay the secured lenders whatever they say is owed to them.

It was therefore a conscious decision on behalf of the banks, who never fail to make a colossal profit every Quarter, to put their own financial interests before those of ordinary people who innocently trusted small sums to a deeply flawed financial system that favours the big and powerful.

And where is the much-vaunted Australian Consumer Law when it comes to protecting shoppers who lose out in cases like this? The answer is nowhere. It might just as well be so much ‘window-dressing’. ASIC, ACCC, Fair Trading and all the others in the consumer-protection industry will, of course, huff and puff but, as usual, will do little or nothing to protect ordinary people against predatory big-business and banks. And what about the lack of political will? It would be the simplest thing in the world to enact legislation that provided that deposits (covering gift-vouchers, lay-bys, etc.) up to a certain reasonable upper limit made by non-commercial persons are deemed to be held on trust, thus keeping them out of the greedy clutches of secured lenders.

Meanwhile, we shouldn’t let the banks off the hook. If they had an ounce of moral scruples they would never have allowed their Receivers to have stated on their behalf that they would not honour outstanding gift vouchers or refund deposits paid for goods. So, next time you hear on television the usual public-relations propaganda about how generous the banks are to all sorts of sporting clubs and events, just remember what they’re really like when their mask of respectability slips. And why not let them know what you think of them!

TV ADVERTISING – TAKING US ALL FOR MUGS!

You’ve just settled down to watch the latest Test match or ODI and suddenly a wicket falls. The moments that follow are usually the most exciting of the day; seeing the reaction of the players, and the crowd, as well as hearing those of the commentators, are what sport is all about.
But no, we the public are never allowed that luxury. In the shortest time known to man we’re switched from the ground to endure two or three minutes of forced ingestion of mindless adverts. Many we probably find amusing the first, second, third and even fourth time we see them but by the time we’ve been exposed to them for the umpteenth time that hour we’re probably ready to wish KFC, VB or Toyota products all to hell.

But that’s not the end of it. At the end of every over there’s an advertising break. And how many times have we been returned to the game only to find that the first ball of the following over has already been bowled.

Not content with all that ad time, the former players in the commentary box are now usually required to mouth endorsements of sponsors’ products in the midst of their comments on play. The latest development is to beam advertising onto the scoreboard and sight-screens actually between balls.

I know that most of these channels are “free-to-air” but the contempt with which they treat us the viewers raises the question as to whether we should seriously consider demanding payment from them for consenting to be their milch-cows.

Hello world!

Welcome to the-contrarian.org.   This is a site that will dare to challenge the “widely-accepted” and the “majority” view on a number of subjects, particularly in relation to the way we live and are governed today.

Most of us have neither the time nor the inclination to research any subject thoroughly and so, increasingly, we are having our opinions formed for us by information and/or propaganda peddled by big-business, state-funded broadcasters and other media, and a whole host of other organised and vested interests.

For example, the accepted wisdom or ‘default view’, fed to us over many years, is that we in Australia are lucky to live in one of the most free, fair and democratic countries in the world.   Well, that may be true if you’re rich and powerful (Paul Hogan probably wouldn’t agree) but if you’re an ordinary citizen your rights and freedoms are pretty narrow and restrictive.  Again you soon find that if you’re in dispute with, say, any large organisation, whether public or private, it’s they that hold all the cards.  This despite all sorts of highly publicized legislation designed to create a level playing field but which in practice is usually so much ‘window-dressing’.

If by questioning and taking up contrary positions to ‘overwhelming majority views’ we can in some small way curb the natural arrogance of power, and by so doing bring about an improvement to the freedoms and liberties of ordinary Australians, we shall be well content.