Friday, 2 September 2011


© Copyright JC Farley Ltd.
Ramsgate-based furniture retailer JC Farley Ltd has fallen victim to the 118 118 phone line's apparent bias in favour of big businesses. It's been reported in the Daily Mail that a local caller asking for JC Farley's phone number was treated to a bit of insidious sales patter about how the national furniture chain DFS offers four years' interest-free credit. This has led to a media storm in which 118 118 has been accused of favouring High Street giants and lambasted for undermining small local businesses by allegedly receiving a 'secret cash deal' from major outlets like DFS.

In an interview with KOS Media, the owner of JC Farley Ltd, John Farley, said

"I was asked by 118 118 if I would like to pay for the service DFS receives but I can't afford it. Also, DFS has 150 stores; it's very different for them. I can't see anybody calling up for DFS and instead coming to us if they hear advertising deals."

John Farley has also told me the story has been covered on BBC Radio 4 and BBC South East Today so it certainly has appeared to open up a debate about 'clone towns' and how competition from independent retailers is being stifled by big sharp-elbowed corporations with large marketing budgets.

How do you feel about this? Is 118 118 in the wrong? Should it be fair that rich major consumer retailers can hog their share of the market by paying for privileges from 118 118 that their rivals can't afford? According to the Office of Fair Trading, 118 118 has not breached fairness regulations or behaved unethically, but I would argue that pitching DFS deals to a prospective JC Farley customer over the phone goes beyond mere competition and strays more into potentially coercive territory. What do you make of it?

1 comment:

  1. Good post Luke.

    It is encouraging to see the punters getting irate, looks as if people are waking up to these corporate thugs at last... (cue the politically correct useful idiot, accusing me of incitement.)

    Another thing that irritates me, from a privacy standpoint, is the highly dubious, targeted advertising we get on the web. Thank God for adblockers!