What's In a Dud??

Business is fraught with risk. In one stroke of the pen or one flash of misjudgement millions and even billions of dollars can be lost. Relative novices at business can pull a master stroke and make millions whilst so called experts can lose billions in a second. Take for example Ross Perot who in 1979 passed up the opportunity to buy Microsoft. Perot at the time owned Electronic Data Systems that were worth more than a billion dollars. He decided that the young Bill Gates was being cheeky and asking too much for Microsoft. Apparently Gates was asking $40 to $60 million. Today Microsoft is worth $224 Billion. Perot must be kicking himself!

Perot is not alone in making dud business decisions. Coke lost millions in 1985 when it changed the flavour of Coke. Market testing would have told it that the tried and original formula did not need tampering with. Instead it went ahead with launch of the new Coke and people switched off in droves. Realising its error Coke relaunched Coke Classic to recoup the lost ground in the market. Although Coke made an error they were not so stupid as to ignore their market. They quickly rectified their decision and the rest is history. Dud decisions are made all the time. The smart people realise their errors and fix them.  (The Perot  and Coke stories, along with other fascinating business duds,  can be found at http://www.businessinsurance.org/10-worst-business-decisions-in-history/ )

The smart movers and shakers identify very early when their decisions are not hitting the mark. For Perot it was a missed opportunity. What Perot failed to do was recognise the real potential of Microsoft and missed a gilt edged opportunity that he could not reverse. Perhaps he was just a wee bit too arrogant and stubborn. Coke, on the other hand, had a process for evaluating its decision. Harrison, in a paper, HOW TO FIX A BAD DECISION, outlined a number of key principals for evaluating bad decisions. Essential principles included having an appropriate time frame to evaluate whether the decision is going to plan, developing criteria to measure whether a decision is achieving its objective, sticking to the facts and LISTENING TO OTHERS. Coke clearly did all of this and wasn’t too proud to own up to its mistake. (Harrison’s paper can be found at, http://www.cuttingedgepr.com/articles/how-to-fix-bad-decision.asp  )

What does all this have to do with The Rebuttal, a rag that debates deaf issues? Well it brings us back to one of our pet grievances, namely the introduction of Captiview. Of course Captiview is the technology that the Big Four cinemas are introducing to provide people who are Deaf and hearing impaired with access to captions at the movies. Captiview is also part of the Big Fours strategy to address their aversion to open captions.

Now the Cinemas had us believe that Captiview was the answer! It was going to provide Deaf people with access to a range of movies like never before. We were going to have choice, and by 2014 there would be 214 cinema complexes providing a range of movies accessible with Captiview. That was the spin anyway.

Our advocates and our politicians were quick to jump on the band wagon. The roll-out of Captiview could not happen quick enough. People were claiming credit left, right and centre. Access to the cinema was here and now! BUT one voice said WAIT, trial it first and test the market. He was out voted and derided as being negative.

The problem here is that the Cinemas refuse to see the Deaf and hearing impaired as a market. To them we are a welfare case that they are HELPING! That three to four million people plus their families and their friends are a substantial market wanting access is not obvious to them.

The result of this is that the Cinemas, our advocates and the Government are refusing to follow basic market principles in the roll-out of Captiview. They are investing thousands without a proper market process. Simple wisdom, as outlined by Harrison, will dictate that the Cinemas should trial and evaluate within an agreed time frame, collect the facts, listen to the feedback and then decide on a way forward. Instead of following a very basic and common sense formula the Big Four are telling the Deaf and hearing impaired that they must like it or lump it.

So the Cinemas, with some substantial Government support, have decided that Captiview is what we must have. This is despite the obvious fact that Captiview is clearly a DUD. The business acumen being displayed by the Cinemas in the roll-out of Captiview is, to put it mildly, lacking. Perot and the Cinema bosses must be best buddies. The scandal is that not only are they wasting their own money but also a substantial amount of tax payer money too.

If we followed Harrison’s principles the Cinemas would have trialled Captiview for a period of time, preferably with alternate technology to make comparisons. They should have agreed on an evaluation report at an agreed time to see if an investment in Captiview was worthwhile. They should have collected the facts, listened to the users and then made a decision on a roll-out. Simple common sense should have dictated. But they did not follow these basic principles and many thousands, if not millions, of dollars are being wasted on what is a DUD business decision and DUD technology.

And what are the facts. Well one only needs to go to the Action on Cinema Access Facebook page for feedback. Here is a collection of comments. The Rear Window Captioning was way ,way, way better than Captiview ( well anything has to be better doesn’t it?)” – “I just can’t get comfortable – you have these tiny green captions which are disproportionate to the size of the screen. God help you if there’s action that you don’t want to miss!” –“Watching The Muppets with family using Captiview at Forest Hill. Ten minutes into show and still no captions”. – “If you want to use Captiview it is like applying for a housing loan. You need a licence, credit card and have to sign for it! What’s worse when I signed I could see all the names of the other people that had used it.” – “Bought ticket and had lunch prior to the movie… Only to find out that the system is not working!!!!” – “I used the Captiview device for the first time and I do NOT think it is a good idea for the deaf patrons. I had to laboriously move my face back and forth between the movie and the device to get full access to the story.”  It would take all day to put all the negative comments about Captiview on here, suffice to say there is not ONE positive comment on the page about Captiview. These are the facts, and they are not just Deaf people, they are hearing impaired too. THE SYSTEM IS A DUD!

So why are our decision makers continuing to invest money in a system that the market do not want? Coke saw sense to bring back Classic Coke the minute they realised that it was what people wanted. Yet our decision makers tell us we must accept Captiview or lump it. Can you imagine Coke telling customers to like or lump the new Coke? No, because the customer is always right. They respond to the market.

Will the Cinemas continue to invest in a DUD in the face of clear market feedback? Or will they persist with something obviously loathed? Ironically IMax have recently trialled Rear window Closed Captioning and before investing en-masse have sought customer feedback first. They have offered free tickets to the deaf so that they can get proper feedback. Not only does that show good business sense it shows good old fashioned respect! Will the Big Four Cinemas follow their lead?


Ok, we know! The Rebuttal is criticizing Captiview again. We have written about it many times and we have been none to complimentary. This article is no different.

The problem is that the people in control, the people making the decisions on our behalf, appear to not be listening. In a way this is understandable. They are working hard to give us better access and all they are receiving is flack. They must feel that we are ungrateful and shallow.

The issue is not one of gratitude it is one of simple common sense. What these people in control need to understand is that we deaf people do not want to be HELPED we want to be seen as a viable market and have a product provided to us that is value for the money we spend.

The Rebuttal has been asked to tone it down. We have been asked to give the technology a fair go. We have even been accused of having a conflict of interest in being involved in the captioning campaign and being critical of Captiview through The Rebuttal. We have been accused of using privileged information to cause trouble.

This is, of course, nonsense. What we at The Rebuttal do is listen and present the consumer view of Captiview. And so far that view has been unflattering. Any information we provide is simply public knowledge. Nothing underhand and nothing we say is privileged information.

The feedback coming from the consumers is clear, Captiview is a DUD. It detracts from consumer enjoyment, it is uncomfortable to use, it is not good for children, people with vision impairments find it hard to use and worse, it often is not even working.

Just yesterday one of us went to watch a movie with Captiview. The movie was the Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. Admittedly a great movie but ten minutes into the movie the captions had not come on. An usher had to be summoned to get the captions going. The movie was three hours. The constant re-focusing from movie to Captiview device was tiring. Some captioning appeared to drop out and when trying to read the captioning large chunks of the action was missed. It was not comfortable viewing.

Anti-Captiview feedback is coming thick and fast. Not only in Australia but also overseas. The Rebuttal is part of an Internet captioning discussion group. Feedback about Captiview overseas mirrors the feedback that is coming from Australia. Captiview is a much-loathed device. It is a DUD.

Some say that there are many hearing impaired people that actually like Captiview but are not voicing their view. Nonsense! Positive feedback on Captiview is almost non-existent. The most positive we have seen is that the device is tolerable and provides more access to more movies.

As paying customers we demand quality. Captiview simply does not provide that. We at The Rebuttal are not ungrateful for the efforts that people are making to increase access but it needs to be said that Captiview is not the answer. The roll-out needs to be stopped now. Let’s find a better technology before any more money is wasted on this DUD!