The Checkout sits among top alumni of ABC conversational and comedic consumer affairs programs – most notably similar is Gruen, which comically debunks and disembowels advertising campaigns, which, during it’s season, hosts a similar time slot.
The Checkout presents itself in the interest of the consumer and makes it their business to sort out what’s right and fair for those of us who fork out big bucks for a service. Tonight, the case of a frequent gym-goer was bought into question when he paid almost $650 to a gym because they boasted extended trading hours, pulled at our heart strings. A week after signing up, the gym reduced those trading hours considerably, and forced him to pay an extra $25 to ‘unlock’ additional hours. He filed a complaint with Fair Trade who contacted the gym, only for the gym to turn its nose up to the law.
It’s a similar situation for many of us who feel like we’ve been duped by a company who claims to care for us.
When it comes to consumer law, it’s hard to find a foot to stand on. Many of us don’t know the law intimately enough to know where we stand when a dispute arises. The Checkout aims to provide viewers with helpful knowledge in terms the average Joe can understand, often presented through humorous skits and scenarios.
When I was living in a small apartment complex in Melbourne and working night-shift, I was once rudely awakened by a door-to-door salesman knocking on my door. I, being of fresh beauty and rabbit pyjamas, did not answer the door and instead, the door-to-door salesman moved to my next door neighbour. Cue twenty minutes of him telling him he wasn’t interested, and thirty minutes of the salesman trying to convince him, yes he definitely should be interested. It’s something we’ve all experienced, whether we’ve been stopped a shopping centre of disturbed in our own homes, there is law to protect us and that this law ascends any sort of contractual commitment we may have made to a company or salesperson.
The Checkout is a fine piece of educational comedy. With the boys from The Chaser (Julian Morrow and Craig Reucassel) helping out on scripts and skits, there are a lot of amusing scenes. Others, perhaps, such as an honest singing cowboy singing about VitaGummies, verge on the cringe-worthy. The small team of Kirsten Drysdale, Kate Browne, Scott Abbot, Zoe Norton Lodge and Ben Jenkins, work tirelessly to bring up-to-date information on consumer affairs, backed by leading government bodies and independent researchers such as Choice.
The Checkout is an amusing take on a complex issue, and should be required viewing (8pm Thursdays on ABC1, or iView at any time) for anyone who has ever been ripped off, or who never wants to be ripped off.