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The Sydney Morning Herald

New TV channel for those born to shop

Author: By ANDREW HORNERY Marketing Writer
Date: 05/12/1995
Words: 391
          Publication: Sydney Morning Herald
Page: 2
Despite warnings of consumer exploitation and possible invasion of privacy, Australia's first home shopping television channel was launched yesterday in a flurry of garlic crushers and special offers.

At noon, The Value Channel (TVC) began transmission to viewers across the country via the Galaxy and Optus Vision pay television networks and the Ten Network's regional affiliates.

TVC is on air 24 hours a day, seven days a week, flogging everything from jewellery and ovens to lasagna dishes and CDs in segments ranging in duration from a few minutes up to an hour.

And success, according to TVC management, will be in the service's convenience and product range. "TVC represents an obvious step forward for Australian consumers. It adds a new option to a range of choice about how, when and what consumers can buy," said the TVC chairman, Mr Michael Milne.

But shoppers should be wary, according to the Australian Consumers' Association (ACA), which claims home shopping channels "aren't the best way to shop".

Ms Gail Kennedy, as spokeswoman for the association, said because it was a new medium for Australians, consumers were particularly vulnerable to being exploited.

"TV home shopping might be an enjoyable pastime for some but it's not the best way to shop, as it's reactive, impossible to seek out specific items, and you must watch and simply respond to offers," Ms Kennedy said.

However, a TVC spokesman defended the channel, saying the ACA's claims were "erroneous".

"I think home shopping has an image problem in that Australians don't know what to expect. People are at liberty to shop around and compare prices, in fact we encourage it. We also offer a money-back guarantee on products sold," he said.

Ms Kennedy warned that home shopping was no substitute for shopping around, and exploited customers' weakness for impulse buying.

"Prices are often higher than in real shops and a range of techniques are used to urge quick purchases," she said. "Home shopping presents products and makes sales pitches on the TV screen creating a sense of urgency by implying that a special offer is running out."

Mrs Kennedy claimed TVC had boasted to its vendors it could provide them with information about who and where their customers are along with what they had bought.

But the TVC spokesman said: "The customer database represents the company's intellectual property. Why would they want to sell that? We do tell vendors we can inform them on what geographic areas their callers are coming from."

It is understood TVC received about 200 calls an hour yesterday, which was expected to decline significantly during the late evening and early morning timeslots.

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