I must say, I’m really disappointed in the BBC’s ‘Watchdog‘ programme (which exposes frauds and scams). As a public broadcaster, I would have thought the BBC would have a public duty to not promote ludicrous superstitions. But, since they broadcast Songs of Praise, I suppose I have over-optimistic expectations.
Anyhow.. to the reason for my rant today. In last night’s programme, presenter Julia Bradbury spoke to Mike Haley from the Office of Fair Trading following an insert on scamming psychics who scare people into shelling out hundreds, and sometimes thousands, of Pounds to avoid imaginary disasters. Apparently, we Britons contribute over 40 million a year to “bogus psychic scams”, according to the OFT.
But the use of the word “bogus” made first my ears prick up, then the hair on the back of my neck. Why was the qualification “bogus” being applied. Surely that implied that the OFT and Watchdog believed that there were authentic ones operating?
My fears were confirmed after a short discussion about soliciting letters sent out by these operators when Bradbury asked her guest: “Is there a way of judging these letters, because of course there are genuine psychics out there as well, so what are the tell-tale signs?”
Does Watchdog monitor cowboy alchemists? Does the Office of Fair Trading offer guidance on choosing a reputable exorcist?
I would like to know now which “genuine psychics” the BBC endorses and what objective criteria the OFT apply to differentiating between bogus psychics and ‘the real deal’ a consumer can approach with confidence.
I would like to see an apology from the BBC for misleading vulnerable viewers into believing that only some psychics charging money were crooks. If they won’t offer an apology, and they genuinely believe some psychics are plying an honest trade, then I think we should be told. I also think the process by which the ascertain the bona fides of “real psychics” it should be explained to viewers.
The BBC’s ‘Watchdog’ should offer viewers the same transparency it demands from the companies it scrutinises every week.
As a footnote, I should add that I have no sympathy for the woman who complained to Watchdog to spark the investigation. She was happy to pay £45 to have her future told, so what made her think “aura repair” wasn’t worth £375? If you’re stupid enough to believe some cosmic codswallop muttering clown can tell you your destiny, I predict a great weight will be lifted – from your wallet!