The Adversarial Consumer Society In Practice – Whose side are you on?

I thought the following e-mail debate was interesting. I received this e-mail from the MD of Viking Direct, Richard Carvell. Many times people from this site have gone to get freebie intro offers from Viking and its been in the tip.

HIS EMAIL (I have his permission to publish it)

Dear Mr Lewis,

I thought I should write as your site has been giving my business a lot of publicity in the last few days. Some of it, to be honest, less welcome but beggars can’t be choosers. I quite like your site, your philosophy and, as a consumer myself, value your advice. On the downside its causing me one or two problems at the moment!

Yes, we have promotions and freebies to encourage new customers and reward loyal customers. Yes, sometimes I’m very trusting and don’t put restrictive conditions on the offers. Sure I know some people will take the piss and cherry pick the very cheapest items but it will be a small proportion of all those that take up the offer and I will win many more genuine customers. Unfortunately for me the forums such as your own have changed the dynamics of these offers and the proportion of freeloaders who will never buy again
has reached untenable proportions. So I’ll be adopting the restrictive conditions for future
promos: shame but that’s life. It is not your fault.

Neither do I blame you or MSE for the fact my real customers can’t get through – that’s my lookout too – silly me for having a freephone number andan introductory offer that was open to a very liberal interpretation of ‘new customer’.

However I do have a problem with my staff being abused by MSE readers demanding their ‘right’ to free stuff in the most extreme terms. I have people in tears tonight. Sod the thousands of pounds we’ve given away to people who are not interested in us: what bothers me is my people are in the firing line.

I appluad you for contributing to a society that is demanding as consumers insisting on best and fair value each time. I question whether we want to create a society of vultures out to get something for nothing and then ready to abuse those who don’t go along.

Best regards


“Thanks for your email. I’m with you on some, but not with you on others.

Im sorry to hear MSE users are being rude to your staff, that is of course not very nice, and totally not what MSE is about (every page of the chat forum has please be nice to other users on it).

However grabbing freebies, spotting loopholes and manipulating companies terms is. Viking does provide a good service I’ve seen the feedback. Yet my philosophy is ‘a companies job is to make money, a consumer is to try to let them make as little profit from them’

The situation is adversarial (though not agressive) so it is a question of playing the game. I dont blame you for dropping the promotions, and i’m sure you’ve massively built market share and reputation by speedy delivery even though its cost you. However i also applaud MoneySavers who’ve grabbed the freebies and played the game.”

Discuss this Blog