Thursday 22 March 2012

Zero harm

This morning I was in London, home of perpetual redevelopment and permanent reinvention. As I passed a building site I noticed a sign that had been put in place by a construction company. The company's goal? "Zero deaths".

Never mind injuries. Never mind deadlines. Let's just not kill anyone when we're turning this old office block into a new office block, okay?

Initially, it struck me as the kind of aim Brunel might have aspired to... not a 21st century building contractor.

But the more I thought about it, the more it made sense. In Brunel's time, construction-related fatal accidents - while regrettable - would happen pretty regularly. It was dangerous work. Today, construction is much safer. Accidents still happen but they're less frequent and less serious. It's now realistic to set a goal of avoiding serious injuries.

Mind you, I'm not convinced that 'zero deaths' or 'keeping the public safe' really require a well-publicised commitment. It doesn't reassure me, anyway.

Monday 19 March 2012

Take out a loan... and shop 'til you drop

It’s not often I take to my soapbox. Oh, alright then. It’s not often I admit to taking to my soapbox.

Anyway, last week I received an advertisement posted through the letterbox. The format – not especially classy – was of two leaflets stapled together. The front sheet gave details of Provident Personal Credit and its local agent, while the second sheet promoted ‘Love2shop’ vouchers in association with… you’ve guessed it… Provident Personal Credit.

LeafletsThe first was largely inoffensive. “I could help you with a loan of £50 to £500!”

The second offended me rather more.

“Love to shop till you drop?” it asked. “Ready to start shopping?”

Apparently I could take out a loan “from as little as £3.50 per week!”

You may be thinking this promotes irresponsible spending. I can assure you it doesn’t. Provident’s small print insists the company is a responsible lender.

You may think “Your vouchers could be delivered today!” might encourage customers to make an inappropriately quick decision about entering into a credit agreement. Once again, I refer you to the small print.

And that’s before you wonder whether customer satisfaction statistics from 18 months ago are still valid, or whether having different representative APRs on each leaflet is confusing.

Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for your time. I shall now step down from my soapbox.