Dragons Dens Series 6 Ep 1

The sixth series of BBC2’s Dragons’ Den kicked off tonight, and managed to deliver the now familiar mix of worthy cases for some funding, together with a dash of hopefuls that have you wondering if there is a team of orderlies in white coats  waiting at the exits with those jackets that are tied shut at the back, and have no holes for the hands to exit the sleeves.

But first, a word about the camera operators – are they ex-Top Gear employees? This programmes, also BBC2, used to suffer from truly atrocious camerawork as the operators seemed to view with one another from week to week to see how could produce the most irritating and intrusive and fades while moving from scene to scene, leaving you eyeballs feeling as if someone had used them to play ping-pong. Dragons’ Den seems to have the same problem now, with jarring step focus changes, odd angles, and unnecessary changes of view. We can only hope the operators are spotted by a music video producer, and moved on quickly.

There’s really one team of cowboys to comment on this week, and its the pair of con artists that turned up caliming to produce water from air. When you’re presented with crap that like from the moment they open their mouths, you know you’ve got trouble, and they went on to prove this in style. They were full of it every time they opened their mouths, even suggesting that producing water by using electricity to condense it by chilling the air was green and environmentally sound – as one of my colleagues used to say when presentations like this started “At least Dick Turpin wore a mask”.

Deborah Meaden– was spot on when she picked on the browbeating techniques of the “super-salesman” and pegged him as a Kirby vacuum cleaner salesman, not only was he willing to admit that he had been such a bully, he was ready to boast about it. You can go find Kirby yourself, I’m not advertising for them. This has to be one of the most reprehensible companies around, and you may remember them for their repeated appearances on That’s Life with Esther Rantzen. As far as selling goes, Kirby’s salesmen had one tool, get in your door and don’t leave until you’ve made a sale, if that means browbeating the customer for hours (the pitch can be 2-3 hours once they’re in)  until they’ve been beaten into submission, then so be it. And the deal is not cheap, neither are Kirby vacuum cleaners, finance is preferable, and they choose area where their victims will need finance to purchase their cleaners at vastly inflated prices – how else would they make their money? They just loved to people to who had no money to sign up for finance, then chase them for payment for years. Then there was the service, or lack of it, as those same folk who were being chased for their payments had no cleaner – once it broke, it was a case of weeks and months for service, if it was ever delivered.

I’m genuinely stunned that anyone standing in front of the Dragons would even admit to being involved with Kirby, worse still, the idiots with the water-from-air machine even described their operation as pyramid selling, and various other reprehensible descriptions too. It’s a wonder the Dragons didn’t call security and have them thrown out on their ears.

I have a special place reserved for people like Mr “super-salesman” – First against the wall when the revolution comes!

I’ve always been amazed to see that a tiny little Kirby shop stays open along the road from me. I only found it by chance some years ago, when I decided to go exploring down streets I don’t usually have a reason to go down. I didn’t even associated it with the Kirby con, and went to have a look in the window, and there were the cleaners, looking as ancient as they ever did. I don’t know if they’ve ever been updated, I haven’t been back for years, but they looked like escapees from the 1940s or thereabouts, as if they just kept churning the same stuff out year after year, until the machinery wears out. While they may be lovely aluminium castings, they have a price tag somewhere in the £800 or more (maybe lots more now since I haven’t come across then for years now) range, for an obsolete machine, to be paid at £10 a week, plus a suitably exorbitant rate of interest. Not a bargain, or even a good deal.

I went into that little shop once, not for anything Kirby of course, but it had a big sign over the window advertising service for a vacuum cleaner I do own – and I was looking for a part after a coin had trashed a blade inside one of its turbine brushes. When I eventually managed to get the less then intelligent girl minding the store to understand I wasn’t in the shop for anything to do with Kirby, but because of the sign, realisation dawned, but I was then informed that “He didn’t do that anymore, but had just left the sign up”.

I’m glad “He” was out that day, or it might have taken me 2 or 3 hours to get back out the door!

Whatever, the chancers were ejected with not a penny, and their plan to fleece their sales staff and customers was more than quickly uncovered.

The participants that won finding in this opening programme weren’t from the usual genres either, so the Dragons may be looking to invest in different areas in the the current economic climate, so it will be interesting to see if this is a one-off, or of the trend continues next week.

On reflection, I think they missed a trick, and should have kept Mr Kirby super-salesman there for another three hours or so, trying to talk his way into the money before they turned him down. He was already sweating buckets just from starting his pitch, and would have melted away to a wee greasy spot, or had a stroke or something if they’d kept him going. He would have deserved it too, for providing a sample machine that hadn’t been properly purged or set up, and was producing cat’s pee for the Dragons to sample.

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