Executive Hire News › Archives › April/May 2016 › Crosshire : Will they get rich quick?
Crosshire : Will they get rich quick?
Every industry seems to attract a number of parasites who think they can get rich quick by coming up with some ill-thought-out wheeze that will benefit no one except themselves. Before the tool hire revolution in the mid-1970s, it was not uncommon to find voluntary organisations, such as allotment groups or ratepayers’ associations, acquiring items of kit such as ladders and cultivators that could be ‘borrowed’ by members for a nominal rental fee. In the days before Health & Safety, or the realisation that if blame for any minor injury or inconvenience could be passed on to someone with a claim for compensation, no doubt these self-help schemes worked well.
Most appear to have given up their equipment loan activities quite quickly as our industry reached most major towns and cities. In fact, I remember one well-known early pioneering
tool hirer who sought out such organisations and offered a discount to their members, thus removing competition
and gaining income.
Since the internet became established there have been occasional attempts to undermine our industry with schemes that offer to put private owners of equipment directly in touch with potential users - or peer-to-peer hires, to use their jargon. The usual mantra is that, if you want to hire Joe Smith’s chainsaw for half the price, or less, of that charged by a legitimate hire outfit, all you have to do is register for the scheme on-line. Fees are paid through the website which will, of course, charge commission. Owners are introduced to users in their own area and sort out matters such as delivery and instruction themselves!
I recall one ex-hire guru who attempted to set up such a barmy scheme about 15 years ago. He should have known better and, after some pressure and comment from the likes of Crosshire, no more was heard of it. Now, that was before the days of social media, and guess what? Someone else is proposing a similar scheme and inviting expressions of interest for their new website promised this month.
At the moment there is little detail, but they claim to offer insurance to protect owners of 20-years-old, never-been-serviced kit if their nice careful hirer turns out to be one of the machinery abusers you and I have banned from our emporiums. No mention of little matters such as, if you agree to deliver your ladder across town and it flies off your rusty roof rack and impales itself into the back of a bus, your car insurance will be void as you are conducting a trade.
And insurers love excuses not to pay out.
The fact that most of us will not hire ‘high risk’ items such as brush cutters or chainsaws to consumers has led to a big increase in the number of these items being purchased in the DIY sheds and merchants. Indeed, my Sunday dog-walk the other day was accompanied by the sound of more than the odd blunt chainsaw valiantly resisting the efforts of its owner to overload it as its engine note rose and fell like an angry giant wasp.
No doubt these little-used, but often abused, machines will be prime candidates for a peer-to-peer hire scheme. If such a scheme became established, it might not undermine revenue greatly for our industry, but the fallout of bad publicity when the accidents start to happen could have a very unwelcome impact on the reputation of legitimate hire companies. Professional competition promotes a healthy market and,
if your competitor wants to give away free transport, at least you know he is having to pay the same for his fuel and running costs as you are.
It is human nature that the owners of little-used equipment might want to make a few shillings out of their cobweb-encrusted assets, but we should ensure that the sleazy proprietors of cheap-to-set-up websites are under no illusions that they have a responsibility to ensure that the equipment they introduce to the market is safe, fit for purpose and that their clients are aware of the potential risks they are taking. I hope our trade associations are watching this one on our behalf, and will express suitable comment in the appropriate high places.