Last month I wrote about some of our advertisers with a view to protecting our readers from unscrupulous traders and dealers, but I must say that it never occurred to me that I would need to protect traders and dealers from unscrupulous readers. Following that article I received numerous comments from people in the motor and accessory trade with regard to incidences where they have been “caught” or “nearly caught” by people who were outwardly private enthusiastic readers of Motor Sport, but who turned out to be nothing more than professional confidence tricksters or spivs. These people undoubtedly buy our magazine and read certain parts of it, but I would not class them as “Readers” in the true sense of the word. One such person got a lot of work done on his car by people in the specialist trades, either for free, or the cost of the materials, by saying that we had commissioned him to write for us and all the firms who helped were to get Editorial mention! It seemed a sound story and this fellow was obviously putting it over well, so he got free work from various people. Needless to say he was not writing for Motor Sport and, indeed, we had never even heard of him.
Then there are those who breeze into a shop or garage and drop names, like W.B. or D.S.J., giving the impression they are close friends and they get special service or rates. Many times I have had people in the motor trade tell me they have let a friend of mine have “trade discount” when it has turned out that the person concerned was no friend of mine or W.B., and, in fact, we had never heard of him. Some of these “readers” are very convincing and friends in the trade are often taken-in and most surprised to discover the truth when it is too late. There have been cases of false letters and forged signatures, and a number of race organisers have been caught by unscrupulous readers getting Press tickets on the pretext of reporting the event for Motor Sport, knowing that I am away at a Grand Prix race and the Editor is at a Vintage meeting. This problem has arisen as far away as the Argentine where our man, A.R.M., found a local with a Motor Sport Press ticket. Whether these people are unscrupulous or just over-enthusiastic I am not sure, but they often come unstuck and then have to disappear into the public enclosure pretty smartly.
Another reader, who also drives racing cars (I cannot bring myself to describe him as a racing driver), purchased a photograph from our picture department and then used the photograph in a professional advertisement. When it was pointed out that he had infringed professional photographic copyright and should have paid a reproduction fee, he replied that we ought to pay fees to racing drivers when we took their photos in action, for in effect they were acting as professional models for professional photographers who were making money from the photographs. This discussion got a bit involved and complicated like the American firm of “big-business boys” who are trying to get Royalty-money from the model-making firms for the Grand Prix teams whose cars are copied. Our “reader” in this case got away with it.
Fortunately, dodgy readers are not too common, but they do exist and we occasionally have to combat them, so I would say to our advertisers, “watch out for the unscrupulous reader of Motor Sport, they are about”.—D. S. J.