Vacation, Vacation, Vacation and SuperScrimpers

I’ve had a few days of seeing other people produce relatively poor work. First, someone sent me a link to this page, which is all a video Samsung produced, which uses actors, masquerading as non-actors, to promote a product. My first thought when watching the video though, was “wtf is wrong with the sound?!”

My EARS! How does a technology company produce something that poor?

But what of the shows mentioned in the title? It seems Channel4 have started a season of thrift, with two shows devoted to helping you save money.

SuperScrimpers: Waste Not Want Not

SuperScrimpers (8:30pm, Wednesday, Ch4) was like a lesson in how to be as vague as possible, while still apparently imparting wisdom.

They start by telling you about this family who are on a combined parent salary of over £100,000 per year. Despite this, they’re over-spending. Why?
They give you a tiny bit of information about how the family buy a lot of takeaways, the wife likes shopping, the husband has a big uneconomical car, and that’s as much of a breakdown as you get, really.
They go out into the family’s garden, which they’ve filled with the big car, all the wife’s clothes in bin bags, and a load of takeaway bags. I think what they were aiming for here, is the kind-of ‘visualising your debt’ system, used by financial guru Alvin Hall on “Your Money of Your Life”, years ago. The difference is that he used to quantify everything – “each bag is worth £100 of overspend”, he might have said. They didn’t quantify it, instead telling them that “this” was what they were wasting. What’s “this”?

The elderly were featured quite heavily. If anyone knows about how to make a meal go further, or how to make do and mend, it’s someone who was actually alive during WWII, right?
So what of their tips?

1. Grow your own vegetables.
Great idea. But how much fruit and veg do they imagine the average person watching this, can really grow? I’ve currently got the biggest garden I’ve had in 10 years of renting. It’s on the back of my new build flat, is 3m x 5m, has 2″ of soil, and 3 tonnes of old builder’s rubble. I can put stuff in pots and bags (I do), but I’m not going to dig the entire lawn up. Looks like I’m still going to have to buy carrots. Damn it.

2. Decorate old silver tea trays to make them look like different tea trays.
This brings them up new, and gets visitors talking, apparently. The tray featured was ugly before, and hideous afterwards. It would certainly raise question like “where did you get this disgusting tea tray? And why?”

3. Repair old cuffs on sweatshirts, by cutting the top off a sock, and stitching it back to the sleeve.
Where did they get this sweatshirt from? The 1960s? I’ve never owned a sweatshirt that has a cuff in the first place.

There was a Lady featured. I’m not sure if she bought the title from a website. She apparently lives off of almost nothing. She picks nettles and uses it for flavouring in pasta, and brews her own alcohol, which she claims costs 11p per bottle. I’m teetotal and have never enjoyed drinking beer, but of the people I know who have tried making their own home brew, only one person did it more than once. The others admitted that while it was alcoholic, it was absolutely disgusting.

They told the viewers about ISAs, without really going into detail on what makes them so good. Then they set up a stall giving out cute porcelain piggybanks to people in the street, in order to make saving fun. That’s not how an ISA works.
And while piggybanks are fun for children, the average adult spends a lot more frequently on debit/credit cards. Hard to save cash, if you never withdraw it in the first place.

There was nothing about budgeting. They took the £100k family from overspend, to being forced to go a week spending almost nothing. They didn’t really see what changes they made for the long term. It doesn’t go into detail or break down anything, in the way that “Bank of Mum and Dad” does. A bit poor really.

Vacation, Vacation, Vacation

This was on at 8pm, on Wednesday, on Channel4 – just before Super Scrimpers, and was billed as Phil and Kirstie from Location x 3 and Relocation x 3 showing you how to save money on holidays.

Interestingly their first show was saving money going to Ibiza. In October.
I went to Ibiza last year. In October. In fact I stayed at a hotel in Santa Eulalia (one of the places they also stayed). What are the chances?

They spent a long time looking at plane fares and hotel prices.
All their effort was to get the cost for under £500 per person for a week. I went via a Thomson/First Choice package for around £350 per person and stayed in a 4-star hotel with breakfast and evening meal included in the price. It’s pretty easy to meet their goal, really.
And I didn’t have to fly from London, or pack myself in a shipping crate and post myself via Ryanair to do it.

They made it for just under £300, but it was self-catering. I was quite surprised they didn’t mention that it is sometimes cheaper/easier to go with a package deal.

They spent an inordinate amount of time looking at hotels, too. It’s only where you sleep – you’re not on holiday in a foreign country to sit in your own hotel, surely?
There was hardly any mention of what else is in Ibiza except beaches.
What about the walled city in Ibiza town?
What about all the lizards?
No mention of the sunset in San Antonio, that people travel miles to see?
They mention the hippy market once. They didn’t bother to go. Nor did I to be fair – it’s just a load of old tat, like you can get at Glastonbury on any given day.

Their bargain activity deal was a fairly expensive horseriding trip, but where did they go? Who knows. We watched as they left the beach and rode off together. And then returned to the beach later.

They didn’t warn viewers of anything, either. No tips on the lack of public toilets anywhere on the island. The longest beach in Ibiza, Playa d’en Bossa – gets mentioned a lot in brochures/guidebooks. What nobody seems to mention however, is that it is right under the flight path to the airport, for planes approaching. Every 20-3omins, ALL day, EVERY day. Avoid.

Phil and Kirstie also went to a nearby island called Formentera. They chartered a boat to do this, to show “how the other half live”, and get to this apparently unspoilt very private island. Before you do this, you might want to consider the daily passenger ferry. €28 return from Santa Eulalia. It takes an hour. It’s faster, probably cheaper, and maybe less vomit-inducing to catch the larger ferry from Ibiza town, though. That is what the commuters do.
And Formentera is nice. It has cars, several thousand inhabitants, and bike hire for €5 for the day. It’s not unspoilt (it has perfectly-surfaced roads, bars with wifi, a shipping port, etc.), but it’s very pretty/clean, and has some nice nature reserves.

Overall, both pretty vague/shoddy programmes. I’ll undoubtedly watch them both for another few weeks, so I can be angry that a huge group of people get paid for working on this shite.

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