Sunday, July 2, 2017

PETER BRUCE & THE JOYS OF JOURNOS MAKING THEIR OWN HEADLINES

Dear Peter Bruce, Tiso Blackstar (formerly Times Media) Editor at Large,

          I see you have been having fun with the Guptas. As a journalist the joys of exposing the crooks of this world are never ending now that they can easily hit back via the internet.
          Unlike writing for a newspaper they don’t have to worry about whether what they tell the world is true or not because it’s so difficult to track them down.
          Of course my blog is not in the same league as the publications you write for, but I have taken my share of crooks to task over the years.
We are never too old to learn and your experience has taught me a few things that I hadn’t thought of up to now.
          While you have been accused of cheating on your wife the wide boy I wrote about was not quite so direct when he implied that I was a paedophile who had been jailed for “spreading child pornography.”
          Having smeared me like this in a post he emphasised that whatever the truth people always believed the worst. He then went on to say “that was just a story, but it happened to someone you know.”

          His purpose was to try and show that what I had written on my blog about his criminal activity was an equally fabricated story. Unlike your case where the author was not identified he openly headed his attacked on me with: Kevin Cholwich Labeled (sic).

          After you wrote some not too complimentary things about that immigrant Gupta family, who has capture the imagination of South Africans in more ways than one for years now I see they set up a website to get their own back.

          As you wrote in your latest Business Day column they had you secretly followed and took pictures of you and your wife walking the dogs as well as when you went to a business to order custom made collars for the animals.
          “When the owner walked me back to my car and gave me a goodbye hug they photographed that too,” you told us. That it seems was their basis for saying you had been unfaithful to your wife.
          But if you don’t mind me asking Peter who gets a “goodbye hug” from the “dog collar lady” as you called her unless she happens to be a close relative or…..
          Anyway I can tell you now that after reading about your experience I have stopped hugging our 23 year old, blonde model-like, dog parlour owner every time I take our two poodles in for a cut.

          You never know who is waiting round the corner with some high tech camera ready to catch that compromising moment.
          Also if we go for a walk with our grandchildren I keep well a way from them. My wife can be holding their hands on one side of the road while I just wave to them from the other side.
          You can imagine what my friend Kevin or others I have upset might do with a picture of me looking lovingly down at my six year old granddaughter, especially after the seven year prison sentence Kevin claimed I had been given.
          What got up his nose was a post I wrote in May 2012 in which he was mentioned:noseweek exposes dearjon. A shortened version of it appeared in Noseweek South Africa’s only investigative magazine. Cholwich and his partner in crime Francois Buys had just been exposed on Carte Blanche, the TV investigative channel, as having defrauded numerous people out of a total of more than R100-million with a variety of scams.
          Buys was the only one of the two who had the guts to appear on the show to answer the allegations made against them. The experience evidently proved too much for him because he hung himself a few weeks later. And you don’t do that if you are innocent.
          By coincidence the main thrust of my post was about how I had tried unsuccessfully for years to get the Sunday Times, a paper in your media stable, to stop carrying get-rich-quick advertisements, many of which turned out to be promoting the scams run by Cholwich and Buys. As long as their advertising kept coming in this paper that is promoted as being an expose` publication conveniently ignored their dodgy activities.
          In a different series of posts I also upset the smooth talking Kevin Pearman by shining a light on his shady investment scams. He managed to briefly con Cell C and Telkom into allowing him to sell their services through a network of agents with the only winner being Pearman. He also used the Blue Bulls rugby club logo to promote a scheme that offered unbelievable interest returns. People who invested hundreds of thousands lost it all.
          At one stage Pearman employed Cholwich to sell for him.
          For a long time after my last post about Pearman’s shlenter deals I got anonymous calls on my land line in the earlier hours of the morning. And in an email I saw he blamed me for Buys’ suicide.
          For two years I wrote a hard hitting column Business is Business in the Sunday Times in which I took big business to task for behaving badly. But that was in a different era.
          Things are a lot worse now that anger, spiced with all kinds of lies to attract the most attention, can be easily whipped up in seconds on the internet.
          When you get threatened by a Gupta linked mob surrounding your house journalism is getting more precarious than ever in this Wild South that we now live in.
          Now we have to convince people, especially our wives, close relatives and friends to forget about the old saying: "You can’t believe everything they write in the papers” and replace it with: “Don’t believe anything about me that they put on the internet.”
          You do have the advantage of having a big group behind you. Bloggers like me are on our own.
          Perhaps it’s time for all of us journos to go back to reporting on church fetes and bowls matches
          Happy hunting,
          Regards,
          Jon, the Poor Man’s Press Ombudsman and Consumer Watchdog.
P.S. As some of my posts revealed the established media have a lot to answer for on occasions, so they can also be no better than the internet at times. It’s just that it’s a lot easier to find out where to deliver the summons.
P.P.S. Presumably your firm’s new name of Tiso Blackstar is to dispel any notion that it might be financed by that much maligned “white minority capital.”  

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

While 40 000 Blacks live in 'disgusting conditions' Cape Town keeps spending millions on a rubbish dump site closed 30 years ago

Dear Patricia de Lille, Mayor of Cape Town,
            While 40 000 Blacks live in what the Public Protector Advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane described as “The most disgusting conditions I have seen in my life” your Council continues to squander a fortune on the site of a rubbish dump closed more than 30 years ago.
            This scandal is compounded by the fact that the Blacks live in the township of Masiphumele, just a few kilometers away from the controversial dump site next to the popular surfing beach of Witsands. So they don’t have far to go to see how futile the Council’s efforts have been to try and keep the sand in place in an uninhabited wasteland of wind swept dunes.  



            Year after year your Council spends hundreds of thousands on trying to keep the sand in place above what is left of the rubbish. Your officials appear to be obcessed with the notion that our winter rainy season will result in the plastic and other biodegradable material being washed out to sea. So it has just started repeating exactly what proved to be such a failure last year and like last year the first winter storm has flattened or covered kilometres of nets that were erected a little over a month ago.
            That’s another R200 000 or more that has been blown away on top of the R6-million that has already been wasted on this dump over the years. This is all money that could have been used far better to upgrade the facilities at Masi.



            To add to that a huge bulldozer has just spent two weeks moving the sand about and, of all things in the middle of the worst drought anyone can remember, digging a river bed for the small stream that sometimes runs down from the nearby mountain to the sea towards the end of the winter months. At a hire fee of something like R1500 an hour that’s R100 000 or more added to the amount so far rubbished on the dump.



            About this time last year when the stream was running a few centimeters deep and about 10 meters wide an excavator was brought in to deepen it.  But as the sand that covers the area is the finest of powders the trench that was dug just closed up within hours, making this expensive exercise as pointless as everything else. And as soon as the winter was over the strong winds that are endemic to the area closed the river bed so completely that there was no sign of it ever having been there.
            Now this will happen all over again, possibly even before the winter ends because the sand has been piled so steeply on the banks that it is asking to be blown straight back to where it came from. 
The Council stopped answering my questions last year when
I asked it to explain how the contracts were awarded
          The pictures below tell the sorry story of one failure after another.

February 2016 Sand being dumped on area of exposed rubbish. This
was done again within a couple of months after the first lot
was blown away

May 2016 Rubbish exposed after twice being covered with sand and
having nets erected on it to keep the sand in place.
January 2017 The nets have all been blown away & the rubbish is
once more exposed.

May 2017 Nets are erected again this time right on top of the rubbish
whereas this was previously first covered with sand before
the nets were put up
June 2017 What's left of the nets after the first big storm of the winter
            I can only assume that there must be some reason that is not immediately apparent that would explain why so much of our ratepayer’s money is being repeatedly spent on very expensive methods to keep the sand in place, when they clearly don’t work.


August 2016 Stream being deepened                                              
                                         
                                         
Jan 2017 It's as if there was never a stream there the sand has covered
it so completely
May 2017 The newly dug river bed for the stream that may never come

May 2017 The bulldozer used to make a new river bed & to move the
 sand around 

            This terrible waste just goes on and on with a reckless disregard for the fact that you and your Council are entrusted to spend our money wisely.
            I appeal to you once again to stop this right now.

            Regards
            Jon, a Consumer Watchdog who only wishes his bite was a lot more effective than his bark.
*Note: The first five pictures are of one of the most
affected areas. But there were other larger sections of
the 19ha site further inland that also had nets trashed by the weather and on 14 June 2017 about half a dozen men were digging the nets up and re-erecting them. This 
was something that should have been done on an 
ongoing basis since the nets were first put up at the
beginning of last year. But this was hardly ever done.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Should Margie Orford, patron of children's book charity Little Hands Trust & writer of school books use foul language on Twitter?

Dear Margie Orford,

         I’m all for freedom of speech but I am at a loss to understand why women, particularly female journalists, are so much more likely than men to use the word “fuck” in ordinary conversation and on Twitter in particular. It reminds me of a little kid in a supermarket, who thinks that by shouting out some swear word or other he will shock everyone there into giving him the attention he craves.
         Surely a woman in your position should know better. As an internationally acclaimed journalist; writer and President of  the South African arm of Pen, the organisation that represents writers of the world, it may be acceptable to some for you to publicly use this kind of language, although my feeling is it cheapens your standing.
         But is it acceptable when you also write school text-books and are patron of Rape Crisis in South Africa and the children’s book charity Little Hands Trust?
         I don’t think so, especially when, like the supermarket kid, you are so proud of what you did.
         Readers you be the judge. Here’s our Twitter conversation.







         Regards,
         Jon, the Poor Man’s Press Ombudsman and a Keep Twitter Clean advocate.

P.S. Margie perhaps you would like to be posted on my Sweary Woman’s Wall of Shame. You would probably be the most prominent personality there.
See also:wall of shame; sweary lady rebecca davis
P.P.S. I had a swift reaction to my tweet promoting this post.

     It had me trembling. It took me back to my school days. I imagined the stern telling off I would have got from the headmistress, if I had had one, for saying something like that.
     "Sorry Ma'am, it's just that the use of that word was forbidden in our home when I was growing up."


Tuesday, May 16, 2017

IT'S A PAYNE WHEN MUM EDITOR LETS HER RACIAL BIAS SHOW

Dear Samantha Enslin-Payne, Deputy Editor of the Business Times,

The titled of your column today (May 14) headed: Inequality: how can we face our children? should have read: How can I face my readers after this?
You wrote how difficult it was to explain to your children that the lives of Blacks in South Africa had hardly changed since the Black majority government came to power in 1994.
To back your line of thinking you quoted from the 2016-2017 annual report of the Commission for Employment Equity. As a journalist in your position I would have thought you would have analysed it in a reasonably unbiased way and not cherry-pick it to suite your own argument.
As this Commission is a Government organisation, one would hardly expect it to be anything other than very pro-Black. And that is certainly reflected in this report to a quite unnecessary extent. 
You quoted Tabea Kabinde, chairperson of the Commission as saying: “Whites, despite constituting only 9.5% of the economically active population, still took the lion’s share of top management positions in the private sector.”
Your story continues with: “Africans, who constitute 78% of the economically active population, account for 10.7% of management positions in the private sector compared to 72 % among whites.”  
Nowhere in your entire column did you mention anything about the colour of those employed in the public sector where a Black Economic Empowerment policy (old time apartheid in reverse) is the norm.
I can understand why you didn’t want to mention that because it pretty well blows your cause completely.
Tabea Kabinde

Perhaps you didn’t see or didn’t want to see that the Commission concluded that Africans hold 74.6% of the top jobs in Provincial Government and 76.0% of those in Local Government. “There is a 33.3% split between African and White males in National Government” we were told. Women evidently don’t count and if you look at a picture of the members in Parliament you don’t get the impression that there are an equal number of Blacks and Whites.
Can colonialism and apartheid be blamed forever for the slow progress of Blacks in our economy? Surely after 22 years of running the country the Blacks must take a lot of the blame for keeping the majority back with things like an appalling education system.
Also it evidently doesn’t bother you that we are still perpetuating apartheid style government by colour coding the entire population so that our rulers know who to give preferential treatment to. As you no doubt saw that report gives figures for Whites, Africans, Indians, Coloureds and Foreign Nationals, with only Blacks being classified as Africans when most, if not all the Whites, Indians and Coloureds were probably born in South Africa making them as African as anybody else.
Many of our problems with nation building will never come right until the Government leads the way by referring merely to “people” without classifying them the way it is doing.
Even though huge operations like the South African Broadcasting Corporation, South African Airways and the Post Office get bailout after bailout from the Government, they are still in deep financial mire.
The private sector has no such limitless backing, yet I defy you to name one large comparable company headed by a White that is in anything like the same kind of trouble.
Talking of the Post Office I am sure you know what colour the man is who has been brought in to save it. Significantly he was put there by our Black Government that wasn’t prepared to uplift one of its own by giving him or her the job.
There’s hardly anything run by the Government that is not suffering from terrible inefficiency and mind boggling graft. The railways are in a mess with Cape Town’s Metro rail inconveniencing thousands daily by having more delays than running time. Main line passenger trains are no better. They are guaranteed to stop for hours in the middle of nowhere so that passengers never have any idea when they will actually arrive at their destination. Numerous local councils are bankrupt with the Police Service and Eskom’s hierarchy in disarray. Not to mention a President hiding under a huge cloud hoping nobody will notice what he’s been up to, while prominent members of his own party call for him to step down. And that’s just a rough sample.
Oh and whose fault is it that our country has been downgraded to junk status?
These are the areas that the Commission tells us are mostly headed by Blacks so surely we must thank God for that 9.5% of Whites who are keeping the most productive part of the economy on the road. Without them we would all be even further down the drain than we already are and nobody would have a job of any kind.
It would be just as futile then, as you have done, to blame colonialism or apartheid when we know perfectly well what the real cause is.
If your column is an indication of what you are telling your children I think you are misleading them. You neglected to put things fairly in perspective by giving both sides of the story like every cub reporter learns to do at journalism school.
Unfortunately the way things are heading that small percentage of Whites, who are our life line at the moment, might soon disappear altogether. Then we’ll have to see if we are any better off with top management in the private sector being 100% Black. But it will be one hell of a gamble judging by what has already happened in the public sector.
The papers are full of stories about the rich planning their escape to other countries if radical economic transformation means having their properties seized and riots get completely out of hand. The ‘rich’ they are talking about are almost certainly 100% White.
I hope I haven’t whitewashed the seriousness of the situation.
Regards,
Jon, the Poorman’s Press Ombudsman.

P.S. You are in good company when it comes to understanding the Black and White complexities of our employment situation. Advertising in your own paper for a Municipal Manager the King Cetshwayo District Municipality had this to say:
The Municipality subscribes to an Affirmative Action Programme, which is non-racist, non-sexist, non-discriminatory and based on merit.

P.P.S. For readers who don’t know Business Times is the business section of the Johannesburg based Sunday Times. Its Editor Bongani Siqoko certainly hasn’t let the country’s history hold him back. And presumably he’s in that 10.7% of Blacks who have made it to top management in the private sector.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

VAN BREDA MURDERS - INCREDIBLE SIMILARITIES TO A SENSATIONAL AMERICAN CASE

Dear Readers,
Henri 
          While the scenes of these two horrific crimes were some 13 000 km apart separated by nearly half a century, and the precise details might have been different, they have an eerie sameness about them that certainly makes one wonder how this could be possible.
          In 2015 20-year-old Henri van Breda was the only person to survive virtually unscathed when his father Martin 54; his mother Teresa 55 and his brother Rudi 22 were butchered around 3.0 am in their luxury town house on the De Zulze Winelands Golfing Estate near Cape Town. Both his parents, brother and sister were hit on the head repeatedly with an axe and Marli 16 had a gash across her throat leaving her close to death. However she recovered after being hospitalised for months, although she still suffers from retrograde amnesia and prosecutors are hoping that her memory of what happened will eventually return.
The Van Breda family in happier times
          Henri, who had a history of drug abuse, had razorblade-like cuts on his chest and a knife wound to the left side of his chest. Medical reports described them as “superficial” and “self inflicted.” All he required was treatment at the scene.

          In 1970 27-year-old Dr Jeffrey MacDonald a Princeton-educated, Green Beret army surgeon was the only person to survive virtually unscathed when his pregnant wife Colette 26 and daughters Kimberly 5 and Kristen 2 were murdered in their home near the Fort Bragg military base in North Carolina. Colette, who was expecting a son and her girls, were stabbed multiple times with a knife and an ice pick and were also clubbed on the head.
          Macdonald’s wounds were not severe. He was taken to hospital with minor cuts and bruises to the face as well as a stab wound to the left side of his chest which punctured his one lung. It was described as a “clean, small sharp incision” and he was released after a week.  
          One of DStv’s true life crime channels IDx has been showing The Accused Jeffrey MacDonald in South Africa in the last few weeks. 
          Almost two years after the killings when Van Breda appeared in the Cape Town High Court accused of the murders he claimed his family was hacked to death by a masked, axe wielding man wearing a balaclava, who entered their home in the early hours of the morning. He was in the toilet at the time playing games on his phone. The court was told through his lawyer that he saw the silhouette of the man hitting his brother and father and heard him laughing. His mother and sister were attacked in another room. Henri managed to wrestle the axe from the man who then stabbed him in the side with a knife before knocking him out. Inexplicably when he came round he waited four hours before raising the alarm at the high security complex after first trying to contact his girlfriend. Both the bloody axe and a knife from the kitchen downstairs were found in the apartment. 
          At 3.42 a.m. dispatchers at Fort Bragg received an emergency call from MacDonald who reported a “stabbing.” When four military police officers went to his house in Castle Drive they initially thought they were going to settle a domestic dispute. They found the front door locked and the house in darkness. After no one answered the door they went to the back of the house where they found a door wide open. Inside they were confronted with the gruesome scenes in both bedrooms. 
Colette was lying on the floor in her room with her husband’s torn pajama top draped over her chest. He was found wounded next to his wife. He told investigators that after one of the children had wet his side of the bed he had moved to the living room couch where he fell asleep. He was awakened by the children’s screams and as he got up three men, two white and one black attacked him with a club and an ice pick. A white woman with them was chanting “Acid is groovy, kill the pigs.” His pajama top was pulled over his head in the scuffle and he used this to ward off the thrust from the ice pick. Eventually like Van Breda he was overcome by his assailants and knocked unconscious. The blood covered murder weapons, an ice pick, a paring knife and a length of timber ripped from Kimberly’s bed were found outside the back door.
          Van Breda’s trial is continuing while MacDonald now aged 73 remains in jail after being sentenced to three consecutive life sentences in 1979.  Van Breda is out on bail of R100 000.
          MacDonald’s story has inspired books; a TV mini series and is the most appealed case in US history. As recently as early this year his lawyers launched another appeal as he has consistently maintained his innocence.

          MacDonald was found not guilty at an army hearing and given an honourable discharge. His wife’s father-in-law Freddy Kassab initially believed in his innocence. His undoing was when he made jokes; painted himself as the person who had been wronged and showed complete indifference to what had happened to his family, when he appeared on the The Dick Cavett TV show.
          Kassab was so incensed by his behaviour that he joined forces with an army investigator to file a citizen’s complaint to have MacDonald tried in a Federal Court. In 1975 MacDonald, who had returned to work as a doctor, was arrested and given bail of $100 000.  
          Investigators concluded that an enraged Macdonald killed his wife during an argument and disposed of the children as they could have been witnesses against him. He then stabbed himself to substantiate his story that he was attacked.
          The living room where MacDonald claimed to have fought for his life against three armed assailants showed little sign of a struggle.
          They believed he tried to make it look like a Charles Manson type murder done by hippies by writing “Pig” in blood about their bed. Six months earlier in 1969 the nation had been mesmerised by the story of how the followers of cult leader Manson killed five people including actress Sharon Tate. They wrote the word “Pig” in blood on the walls where the murders took place.
          The prosecution’s reconstruction of what happened in the MacDonald home was fortified still further when they found a copy of Esquire magazine that contained a detailed account of the Mason massacre.
MacDonald as he is today
          In 1991 MacDonald became eligible for parole but refused to ask for it as he believed that would involved him having to show remorse for something he had not done. He finally applied in 2005 because he wanted to live with the woman he had married three years earlier while still in prison. But this was turned down.
He can’t apply again until 2020.
          At the parole hearing Kassab described him as a heartless psychopath who would never admit to butchering his family.
It remains to be seen what the verdict will be for the good looking Van Breda.
Regards,
Jon
      

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Cape Town's Money Wasting Department is at it again where millions have already been blown away


Dear Cape Town Ratepayers,
Patricia de Lille
          Your City’s futile efforts to stabilise the sand above a rubbish dump that was closed 30 years ago have already wasted nearly R6-million. But the Council has learnt nothing from this reckless use of your money.
It has just started splurging more on a repeat of what it has proved conclusively doesn’t work. This scandal is particularly galling because there are so many more deserving causes among the poor.
My plea to the Mayor Patricia de Lille to stop this has proved fruitless and yesterday kilometres of costly, brand new netting was once again being erected on the dunes at Witsands next to a popular surfing beach not far from Cape Point.
        About a year ago netting was put up at exactly the same place after the wind exposed the rubbish and tons of sand was twice brought in by heavy earth moving equipment to cover it.
         The nets were supposed to ensure that the sand remained in place. But the strong winds that are endemic to the area just blew them and the sand away. And again the plastic and other non-biodegradable material that still remains was revealed.
This time the nets have been erected directly onto the exposed rubbish without it being first covered with sand. So if the experiment didn’t work the first time it is even more unlikely to work now.

February 2016 sand was dumper here to cover exposed rubbish
which was netted. Within a couple of months this had to be
repeated because everything had blown away 

Feb 2017 the place where the sand shown above was dumped
       and had nets put over it after it was all blown away

March 2017 part of the same area immediately above showing
the rubbish more clearly
 
April 2017 new nets that have just been erected over the exposed 
rubbish shown in the above two pictures
      
     The whole idea of all this fruitless tinkering with nature is to try and ensure that in the winter rainy season none of the existing rubbish gets washed out into the sea.
Yet the Council is making little effort to do what the international experts believe is the most cost effective and sure way of stabilising sand dunes. And that is to cover them with vegetation. This is growing naturally on either side of the 19 ha site but it doesn’t stand a chance of getting established over the dump if the Council keeps moving the sand around almost annually with heavy earth moving equipment.
        How can Patricia de Lille, her City and ours still claim to be “committed to building a Caring City, a city that does everything it can to help  those most in need of our assistance” when it regards misusing huge amounts of money on a obsolete RUBBISH DUMP as more important than people.
I ASK YOU ONCE AGAIN PATRICIA TO STOP THIS DREADFUL INDICTMENT ON YOUR REIGN AS MAYOR OF THE MOTHER CITY.
Regards,
Jon, a disgusted ratepayer who deplores this kind of public waste which is one of the main reasons our country is being dragged into the gutter.
P.S. See: millions blown away

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

THE TIMES & CORPORATESPORT HAVE BEEN PLAYING AN ILLEGAL GAME FOR YEARS


Dear Newspaper Readers,
Andrew Bonamour Times Media's CEO
          You would have thought that a large organisation like the Times Media Group that claims to be a “premier newspaper and magazine publisher with the most recognised brands in South Africa” would know one of the most elementary advertising legal requirements.
          Included in its stable are the Sunday Times and its daily offshoot The Times.
          For years The Times and perhaps other newspapers have been blatantly breaking the law by carrying illegal CorporateSport advertisements for its business breakfasts.
Part of Times Media's pledge
          This firm that is in sports management and marketing claims that these occasions “have become the most established breakfast forums in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban and offer sponsors a cost effective and focused environment through which to impact large captive business audiences and enjoy the effective brand exposure.”
          Various high profile sporting personalities such as rugby coach Brendon Venter; Proteas cricketers Hashim Amla and Dale Steyn and All Blacks Kieran Read and Israel Dagg have been the stars of these events.

          Sponsors of the breakfasts have included firms like Vodacom, Mimecast international cloud based email managers, Landrover, Accenture the business management consultants and McCarthy Toyota. The backers of these get togethers must surely take some of the blame for what has been going on.
          But none of the top business people who have been involved in these breakfasts over the years or anybody at the Times Media Group appear to have noticed that the CorporateSport advertisements were illegal because the prices given excluded VAT.
          The VAT tax came into force in South Africa in 1991 and the South African Revenue Service’s VAT Guide begins its “10 Important Principles” with this: “All prices charged, advertised or quoted by a vendor must include VAT at the applicable rate (presently 14% for standard-rated supplies).”

Another extract from the Times Media pledge
          The earliest CoporateSport advertisement I could find was a 2013 one that gave the prices for individuals and tables of 10 marked (excl.VAT). And the firm has been breaking the law like this since then or even before that aided and abetted by The Times Media Group, which more than perhaps any other type of business should have known better.
          When I pointed this out to Andrew Bonamour the Chief Executive of Times Media in an email he replied promptly saying: “I will look into it. Thanks.”
          Oops almost a month later on 10 April I told him, “You need look no further than one of your own papers, today’s The Times.”

          In one of those quirks of life Wendy Knowler, that ace consumer expert, who writes regularly for The Times, just happened to have a page spread about advertising. In it she told us: “‘The price you see is the price you pay’” was the catchy phrase devised by the Government “many years ago when value-added tax was first introduced.”
          “By law,” she went on, “retailers had to advertise VAT-inclusive prices - and still do. So that was intended to impress on consumers that no retailer could add tax to an advertised price.”
          But undeterred CorporateSport has been doing just that.
          Bonamour passed the problem on to his General Manager Reardon Sanderson who told me he had spoken to Ross Fraser, the head of CorporateSport and “he will amend the adverts going forward. We should not have a repeat of this,” he added.
          Meanwhile my efforts to get comment from Fraser went unanswered. I assume he got my 11 April email because I checked with his PA and she phoned me back to say it had been received.
          He seems to keep out of the limelight as I could find nothing about him on the internet. So perhaps not answering my emails is just part of his hideaway approach to life.  
          In the last one I told him that as his advertisements stating “excl.VAT” were illegal then people who had paid more than the advertised price were all entitled to a refund, going back years, of 14% if that’s what they were charged. And judging by the website pictures showing the crowds of people who attend these CorporateSport gatherings this could mean a great deal of money.


          Evidently as a result of my inquiries an advertisement for the 11 May 2017 breakfast gives two prices for tables of 10 and two for individuals. One is the (excl.VAT) price while the other one is the (incl.VAT) price.

          This prompted me to email Reardon saying: “I suggest this is not right either. If ALL advertised prices have to include VAT then the ones that don’t are surely not legal. And this latest ad suggests you have a choice, to pay the price that includes VAT or the one without it.”
          I questioned why CorporateSport was so obsessed with pointing out the Vat aspect in its ads. “Surely the Vat amount is given on all its receipts and everybody who goes to the kind of event that it organises will know that VAT will be charged,” I argued.
          Reardon has yet to reply to this email.
The Times & Corporatesport finally get it right in the
paper's 21 April edition although the '(incl. VAT)' is
not necessary
          Regards
         Jon, the Spoil Sport; Consumer Watchdog and Poorman’s Press Ombudsman who evidently reads the The Times a lot more thoroughly than they do at Times Media.