Brian Edwards Media

Posts Tagged 'Fair Go'

I write a letter of complaint to Fair Go about their former host, and my former friend, Kevin Milne

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Dear Fair Go

Complaint Re Mr Kevin Milne

Today a large parcel, addressed to Judy Callingham and Brian Edwards arrived at the Ponsonby Post Office. The sender was one Kevin Milne, whose name will not be unknown to you.  My wife explained that it was probably a present from my former colleague to celebrate my 75th birthday – which was three-and-a- half months ago. Mr Milne had another engagement on the 4th of November, probably filming a commercial for hair restorer or erectile dysfunction pills in Hawaii, and had been unable to come to my party. He had apparently phoned her to say he’d been looking for an appropriate present ever since.  I was very excited. This was clearly it.

The parcel was quite heavy and an unusual shape – 60 X 600mm. As we sat drinking our flat whites at a local cafe, I examined the gift with my fingers, trying to guess what exciting and no doubt expensive present (Kevin is loaded!) it might contain. Anticipation, as the Germans say, is the greatest pleasure. (Die Vorfreude ist die größte Freude)

Whatever it was appeared to be in a frame. Undoubtedly an artwork, quite possibly a recently discovered McCahon triptych. (Kevin is extremely generous!)

“Or at least a framed piece of carpet!” I joshed.

We sped home in the Mini Cooper, the McCahon triptych carefully stowed in the back. I tore off the outer wrapping. There indeed was a stylish birthday card.

It is too painful for me to quote the words that Mr Milne actually wrote. However, if this is essential to my complaint, I will ask my counsellor to sent the card to you. But the simple bitter truth is that the present was not for me at all, but for my wife. In three-and-a-half months Mr Milne had not been able to find anything for me. ‘So you get the gift, Judy,’ he wrote, ‘Brian won’t mind.’

Well, if a more serious case of false advertising combined with breach of promise has ever come your way, I’d be very surprised.  This is like having a wedding photographer lose your photographs or finding your Big Mac is half the size it looked in the ad. Only ten times worse!

Milne must pay for my hurt feelings and he must pay dearly.

Could it get any worse? Oh yes, Fair Go crime fighters, it could. For Milne’s gift was indeed a painting. And like the McCahon I had thought it was, it did have writing on it. And what it said, the very text my wife would display on her office wall for all to see , was grossly defamatory of her husband, the birthday boy!

I look forward to your urgent response. I am available to be filmed at any time and assume you will provide make-up and a hair stylist.

Do I get a fee?

Dr Brian Edwards

Attached: Photograph of Mr Milne’s ‘present’ to my wife.  Read the rest of this entry »


Last words on my critique of TVNZ’s ‘Fair Go’ (after Lewis Carroll)

   But  answer  came  there  none!


I return reluctantly to the topic of Fair Go and reply to a friendly critic.

I hadn’t intended to return to this topic, but a response by Kevin Milne to my critique of Fair Go’s modus operandi leaves me little choice. Kevin was speaking to Herald media commentator John Drinnan. Drinnan reports him as having said:

“I don’t know if there is a word for people who attack their own babies. Brian’s comments are outrageous and criticism about the show from day one is just nuts. He started an amazing programme that has been hugely popular for 30 years and I think he knows that. My impression [of the people who commented on the Edwards blog] was that they are not the sort of people who watch Fair Go very often. It’s a major conversion on the Road to Damascus. You also need to put into focus that he makes his living – an extremely good living one would assume – advising big business how to deal with Fair Go.”

A deranged Waiheke neighbour of ours, whose ginger tom was terrorising every other cat in the district, and to whom I complained, put it about the island, when the cat mysteriously disappeared one Christmas, that I had killed it by throwing it over the cliff. I hadn’t. But for some time people would approach me and say, ‘Ah Brian, the Waiheke cat killer!’

This is, however, the first time I have been accused of attacking my own babies, whatever the word for that is – ‘child abuse’ I suppose, Kevin – but I’m going to treat the accusation  as an elderly moment and move on.  Read the rest of this entry »


Target this week – Public Service Television or Gratuitous, Voyeuristic Sleaze?

[This post produced some strong responses from readers who considered I was being unfair to the producers of Target by accusing them of deliberately appealing to the prurient interests of viewers in order to gain higher ratings. The following piece appears in today’s Sunday Herald – along with a photograph of the cleaner masturbating. We’re told that the item, described by the show’s producer as ‘just so dramatic we thought we really can’t not show it’, has gone viral on the Internet.]


Regular watchers of Target, TV3’s answer to Fair Go, will know that hidden camera footage of tradesmen doing various jobs in the ‘Target house’ while the actor/owners are out, has been a regular feature of the programme. My guess is that these segments are the principal, if not  the only reason why people watch the programme.

The tradesmen, you see, aren’t just judged on their workmanship or pricing, but on how they behave when they think they have the house to themselves. And, on that score, Target has certainly been an eye opener. Fossicking through cupboards and drawers and reading owners’ diaries and personal mail are at the lower end of their  invasions of the owners’ privacy. Somewhat more serious is perving over and occasionally sniffing the lady of the house’s bras and panties. And, to cap it all, masturbating.

This week’s programme had that and more. To summarise:   Read the rest of this entry »


Why Fair Go must never be afraid to bite the hand that feeds it.

I probably should have commented on this story earlier, but the repossession of Q and Livy’s car, sold to them by an unlicensed dealer on Trade Me with a $7,000 debt owing to Pacific Dawn Finance, rather took precedence over everything else.

But this story is important. It strongly suggests improper editorial interference by TVNZ management in its high-profile consumer protection programme Fair Go.

The issue was brought to light by Labour Broadcasting spokeswoman Clare Curran when TVNZ management appeared before Parliament’s Commerce Committee.

Curran asked: ‘How can you explain reports that TVNZ’s Head of Programming called a meeting of Fair Go staff, including all reporters, together in the last couple of weeks and instructed them not to produce programmes that would upset advertisers?’

TV1 and TV2 head, Jeff Latch, said he had been invited ‘as a guest’ to the meeting. He went on:

‘The key points I made at that meeting were the fact that the heart of Fair Go for the last 20 plus years that it’s been on New Zealand television, is that it represents the underdog and the small guy and stands up for them and that’s what’s made it a special programme for New Zealanders for a large period of time.

‘I also made the observation that we operate in a commercial environment and that Fair Go like all our programs needed to exercise care in terms of the way they handle stories, they need to make sure they’re always balanced because in a commercial environment a story that is not balanced could be something that we would not want to run on this network.”

‘It wasn’t an instruction per se. I asked them to contemplate and think about when you’re looking at stories it’s very important that they’re balanced and we actually show both sides of the story and I think Fair Go does.’

This is a fascinating reply. Read the rest of this entry »


R.I.P. Fair Go


images3I am in mourning for Fair Go, the programme producer Peter Morritt and I devised 33 years ago.

Fair Go was designed to be, and has remained for those 33 years, a court of last resort for ordinary Kiwis, ripped off by conmen, crooks and shysters.

Its format was simple: three stories each week in which the Fair Go team brought to book dishonest traders, heartless corporations, shoddy tradespeople and assorted other rip-off merchants. Plus the occasional light hearted look at your rights as a consumer.

It was in essence a ‘goodies and baddies’ show. The viewer’s satisfaction was in seeing the baddies get their comeuppance and the wronged get justice.

And the programme got results, often to the tune of tens of thousands of dollars, for those who came to it for help.

To do all this, Fair Go needed no flashy sets, no gorgeous presenters. In many ways Kevin Milne,  its host for around 20 years, exemplified the programme he presented – honest, unpretentious, down-to-earth, a real Kiwi institution.

All of this changed last night as Fair Go was transformed into little more than a glossier version of Target – trivial, insubstantial, more interested in effect than in doing its job on behalf of those not given a fair go. As Herald television critic, Linda Herrick, quite rightly concluded, ‘a lemon of a programme’.

It may not be too late for Fair Go to return to its brief, to abandon the bells and whistles, the gimmicks and devices, the fake cliff-hangers that it believes will hold its audience, but which will in reality alienate that audience. The popular saying applies: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Fair Go wasn’t broke. It has not been out of the top five programmes in living memory. If it is to stay there, it must get back to its job of looking after its customers, the thousands of ordinary Kiwis who have not had  a fair go.



Lunacy and Appalling PR from Air New Zealand

Lee Shelton - TVNZ

Lee Shelton - TVNZ







If you want to know how not to handle a complaint to Fair Go, you could scarcely do better than check out the extraordinary story of Lee Shelton’s attempts to get Air New Zealand to make a minor change to his flight arrangements for a return trip to China.

Lee had booked a domestic Air New Zealand flight from Wellington to Auckland where he would join an international Air New Zealand flight to Beijing. But some time after booking the flights he changed his job and moved to Auckland. So he phoned Air New Zealand to cancel the Wellington-Auckland leg and tell them he would be checking in for the international flight at Auckland. Very reasonable.

Air New Zealand didn’t think so. Lee would have to pay a penalty for making the change to his travel arrangements. He was then offered three options:

1. He could cancel and rebook the entire journey for a fee of $500

2. He could buy a new one-way ticket to Wellington and catch the original flight back to Auckland. Read the rest of this entry »


Kevin Milne Responds to “Unfair Fair Go” and I Issue a Challenge

Kev Writes

Photo: TVNZ

Photo: TVNZ

Feel free to stick my photo up on your site any time, Brian. Fair Go doesn’t ask permission to stick other people’s photos up on the wall and nor should you.

I think companies that deal with the public have a responsibility to front up to the public when things go wrong. That includes fronting up on television. It’s not good enough to just say, “we’ll fix it…but we refuse to talk on the telly about what happened, who was responsible, or if it’s likely to happen again.”

The Fair Go Wall is about companies not fronting up on camera when we think there are still questions to be answered. It’s not about whether they’ve decided to fix the problem or not.

Now there’s the Wall, these people know they’ll be “appearing” if they front up or not.

As for Mr Callander. He had every opportunity to front up to the camera originally but didn’t. Good on him for fronting up in the end, though.

I Reply with a Challenge

brian-edwards12Good morning, old friend. And thanks for replying to my post. Unfortunately, that isn’t good enough. As a public figure, I don’t think just providing a written response to my complaint will do. I require you to come to my premises, so that I can cross-examine you further on this infringement. If you fail to do so, I will put a large photograph of you in the window of my offices with the inscription: Kev Milne – Wanted for Questioning! I will refuse to take it down until you yield, Further, when you get here, I will take measures to loosen your tongue, by forcing you to drink large quantities of fine wine. So there!

Read the rest of this entry »


Unfair Fair Go

Photo: TVNZ

Photo: TVNZ


On a reasonably regular basis, companies who are the subject of a complaint to Fair Go come to us for advice or training. If we think they’re ratbags, hoping to enlist our help in ripping people off, we send them packing. Otherwise our advice is the same advice we give to all our clients: be straightforward, tell the truth, admit your mistakes. And: Sort it out. Fix it. 

Recently I gave a brickbat to Fair Go for an item it did on a company called My Refund. The company undertakes for a fee to apply on your behalf to the IRD for a refund, if it discovers you are entitled to one. Two of My Refund’s clients were kept waiting an unreasonable amount of time for their refund to be sent to them. A third not only didn’t get a refund, but discovered that she now had to pay the IRD almost $1,000. She would have been better to let sleeping dogs lie. Read the rest of this entry »


How to Handle (and Not to Handle) Fair Go

Eleanor Black wanted to go to the Simon and Garfunkel concert at the Vector Arena in Auckland. According to the Ticketmaster ads, tickets would be on sale on line and on the phone from 9am on Friday, April 17. So Eleanor got onto her computer dead on nine only to discover that by 9.01 tickets for the seats she wanted were already sold out. She then tried for cheaper seats. Sold out! Undaunted, she decided to try the phone, but couldn’t get through at all. After 20 minutes she gave up.

But there was a mystery here. There was seating for 10,000 people at the Simon and Garfunkel concert in the Vector Arena, so how could the seats have sold out so quickly. Eleanor took her story to Fair Go. Read the rest of this entry »