BBC One’s consumer affairs show Watchdog is back this Wednesday in a new timeslot investigating the stories that affect everyone. Presenters Nicky Campbell, Julia Bradbury and Paul Heiney are more determined than ever to take on the big companies and rogue traders giving consumers a raw deal.
Nicky Campbell says: “There’s no greater buzz than righting wrongs, and I can’t wait to get stuck into the huge variety of stories that we tackle on behalf of the great British public.”
The team won’t reveal who’s in their sights but, as usual, suggestions for investigations come from viewers. The Watchdog team receive around 7,000 emails every week and the series has an extraordinary record in getting results.
During its last series, Watchdog named and shamed the valet-parking company joyriding customers’ cars at speeds of over 100 mph. The company claimed it kept cars in a secure compound but, when the programme’s researchers put a tracker in a car, they found that it was driven on the motorway at speeds fast enough to earn an instant ban. The firm is no longer in business. “That was a shocking story,” recalls Julia Bradbury. “One of the great things about Watchdog is you never know what we’re going to uncover.”
The team exposed the banks leaving customers’ confidential details in the rubbish. Researchers found full account details, personal information and even easy-to-reassemble credit cards left in bags in the street. The Information Commissioner launched an immediate investigation, and all the banks concerned were found to be in breach of the Data Protection Act, and warned to tighten their procedures.
Watchdog also revealed how the bonnets of hundreds of thousands of Renault Clios could open while the car is on the road. Throughout the series the programme kept a tally of accidents caused by the problem (which can affect the Clio II model) and, eventually, one of Renault’s senior managers left the company in disgust � coming straight to Watchdog to blow the whistle on how the company had handled the issue. Renault eventually wrote to owners of all affected vehicles warning they should be checked.
That’s just naming a few of Watchdog’s successes. Many of the things people complain about today didn’t even exist when the programme began in 1980, such as mobile phones, broadband providers and telephone call centres.
Viewers who have a story for the team to investigate can contact the programme at bbc.co.uk/watchdog.