How appalled I am by the decline in standards of business practice in our society!
It seems that almost every business no longer considers what is reasonable or fair in its dealings with customers or suppliers; rather what it can get away with. This attitude is also prevalent among many consumers.
A few examples: salespersons who sell goods they do not have, and accept payment in full against a promised delivery date; customers who insist on squeezing the last drop of goodwill from a supplier on principle, because unless they have, they do not consider they have received 'value for money'; suppliers who deliver far short of what they should, especially those who accept payment without the slightest intention of delivering the goods; workmen who promise to show up on a particular day, for whom one takes time off work, and then fail to appear, never even having the decency to telephone and explain; advertisers who whip up imaginary desires for products people neither need nor even really want through specious and outlandish claims. I could go on. The fact that the BBC can find enough material to fill the weekly programme Watchdog is a sorry testament to all this.
Government also must accept their share of the responsibility for this decline; after all, they set the standards which the nation must follow - through what they legislate and refuse to legislate against, and the standards they purport to uphold. America's intelligence-gathering community has for many years maintained a policy of "plausible deniability" - where they do not consider for a moment what is truthful, rather what people might be persuaded to accept if that was what they were told. Through scandals such as Watergate and more recently, closer to home, the likes of the Mandelson affair (although the tories are far from blameless in this regard - I need hardly mention Messrs Archer, Hamilton, Aitken and their ilk), we can see that this attitude has already fed through into government circles, if indeed it did not emanate from them in the first place. Political careers rise and fall on the basis of whether or not one can successfully escape detection.
There was a saying in this country only a few decades ago: "An Englishman's word is his bond". It would appear that this concept now means less than nothing to the average businessperson.
How refreshing it is when one has dealings with someone of true integrity, and receives not only courtesy and truthfulness, but actually what one sought in the first instance! And how rare! I always make a point of returning to businesses such as these whenever I have need of something they provide, since their approach is for me a major selling point.
Is it not time that the business community rediscovered integrity? Reputations are made of such things.
as published in the Nottingham Evening Post, 27th February 2001