Monday, January 12, 2015

Radar failure

The interests of the Dutch consumer are taken care of by a flock of organisations, magazines and television programs which pay attention to sad cases of consumer abuse, rare cases of company kindness, pitfalls, traps and other bumps in the road from shop to trashcan. There is the Consumentenbond, which is mainly concerned about its paying members, ANWB, for consumers on wheels, Eigen Huis, for the besieged home owner, and, on television, Kassa and Radar.

Radar boasts an active forum, so it seemed a logical place to seek support in the MacCity case. The discussion started evoked some critical remarks, some supporting gestures, as can be expected in a discussion forum, but no concrete pointers on how to proceed. At the very least, the discussion could serve as a word of warning for those dealing with said companies, so, as such, it served a purpose.

The discussion on the Radar forum had lived happily for three months or so, when MicroFix' CEO joined, demanding that my 'false accusations' be removed. I countered some of his irrelevant claptrap, was actually waiting for some sound arguments on Dutch consumer law, service, quality, and the sorry state of Apple, but he immediately bailed out.

It did not take too long for the entire discussion to be removed by the Radar forum moderator, because documents provided by MacCity seemed to have proved that some of my statements were incorrect. My request to see those 'documents' was refused with a simple 'this is between you and MacCity.' Earlier, MacCity, MicroFix and Apple had refused to provide any documentation supporting their claim that I had gotten the new logic board I had paid for, but now MacCity was all too eager to send this documentation to Radar, which accepted it without questioning, and used it against me?

I sent a complaint to Radar, asking them to give me a chance to defend myself. All in all, it was simply my word against the word of MacCity et al., and Radar had blindly chosen the side of MacCity, based on confidential 'proof', which could not be checked for authenticity or relevance. At the very least, Radar should apply the basic journalist's principle of an adversarial process.

To my astonishment, Radar replied with an easy way out: Radar has no journalist pretentions, Radar just facilitates and moderates discussions among consumers and companies. My reply that applying the adversial process is not just a matter of sound journalism, but also a sign of good manners has remained unanswered, so far.

Radar has lowered itself to a level where Radar is about Radar. Without sound journalist principles, and without good manners, it has become another sad instance of pulp fiction, another talk show that is just about getting cheap attention, scoring high ratings, and hitting next days' front pages. Dutch commercial television has had its fair share of sub-standard productions, but Radar is still on the government-funded public net, which provides an incentive to produce quality. I hope to start a discussion with the responsible broadcast company, AVROTROS, about the position of Radar on the public net, but in my honest opinion, Dutch consumers can fly without Radar.

In Radar speak, this is why I would like to nominate Radar for a scalding hot shower.

Postscript - Radar has been reprimanded repeatedly by the Dutch Raad voor de Journalistiek (Council for Journalism), for guerilla-journalism, ignoring the principle of the adversarial process, and twisting the truth. I take it that Radar found an easy escape by dropping all journalist pretensions.

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