We received an e-mail yesterday from another company offering musical classes for the very young (like ‘Bestbeans’) who were warning of a person pretending to be from the local authority asking to visit classes who then turned out to be a competitor basically ‘spying’. This hadn’t happened to us, but one of our teachers knew the individual ‘accused’ and was absolutely certain that the allegations were false. There followed a series of e-mails to and from where we tried to broker some kind of peace and things seem to have been resolved.This unfortunate episode brought a number of issues to mind:-
Firstly, the accusations were broadcast not only by email, but also through NetMums. Potentially this could have destroyed the accused person’s business for absolutely no reason at all, and with no possibility of comment prior to publication. At worst it was libellous, at the very least ill-advised but the Internet makes it so easy to fall foul. In the old days you’d rant to a friend over the phone – nowadays you go straight to a forum and pour out your unfiltered angst. TripAdvisor has recently been in the centre of a similar debate – what is there to stop ill-founded or totally fabricated opinions receiving tacit legitimacy through established websites? (I do like TripAdvisor though...)
Secondly, isn’t it sad that a business based on developing the very youngest children and supporting parents is dragged into the realms of industrial espionage? Is it really that difficult to find out about how to structure such classes without allegedly resorting to underhand tactics? It doesn’t speak well of our business.Thirdly, how frail is a business delivering service to the very young. Your reputation is everything and a single false allegation can do lasting and irreparable damage. It’s enough to give you sleepless nights.
Anyway, I’m off to don a false moustache and beard and to try to get in to one of Top Hat’s classes posing as a 7 year old. What could possibly go wrong?