The trailer for David Farrier’s new documentary Mister Organ is out now. This is the story, first published in 2016, that started it all.
The only tweet I’ve ever been “forced” to delete was about Bashford Antiques.
It happened about three years ago, when I was working at TV3. One of my colleagues came into the office in tears.
I just got her to recount the story to me again, because my memory was a little fuzzy:
“It was mid-morning on a week-day. I parked for less than 10 minutes in an unmarked park in the car park outside Bashford Antiques – an area they share with another business.
I was visiting the place right beside it to get a new ear-piece for work, only to find my car half-winched onto the back of a tow-truck when I walked out.
Such a heartwarming memory of two grown men – one a large burly tow truck driver (who called me a “Ponsonby wanker” for having a coffee in my hand), the other a small, mean little man from Bashford Antiques.
Both stood over me as I sat in my car, verbally abusing me at very close range – the little man threatening me with trespass notices – while I wept and shook uncontrollably (admittedly still breastfeeding and hormonal as hell), refusing to pay the $250 cash they were demanding before releasing my car from the truck.
They eventually wore me down and I paid up. I was a total emotional wreck and I have never ever been in a situation like it before or since.”
After hearing this story back in 2013, I tweeted something along the lines of, “Bashford Antiques made my colleague cry, stay away from this awful place”.
Shortly afterwards I got an email from management, telling me the CEO of Mediaworks wanted me to delete my tweet, immediately. I stuck my feet in, but eventually backed down. Job security and all that.
Why did he want me to delete it? I don’t know. He probably loved antiques.
But I’ve always been a bit annoyed about it.
Bashford Antiques can do what they want on their own property I suppose – including towing. They can tow, tow, tow all day long. But it was more their behaviour around the towing that I thought was a bit odd.
Three years later: Bashford Antiques is still going strong
Bashford Antiques came crashing back into my consciousness last week, when TV3’s Story ran a Story story about them.
It focused on a driver who says she parked in one of Bashford’s four carparks, which was unmarked (two of Bashford’s parks have no-parking warnings, two do not).
The driver got clamped, and was approached pretty quickly by a clamper demanding $220 cash.
This sounded an awful lot like what happened to my colleague three years ago, but with clamping instead of towing.
Now technically, Bashford Antiques can clamp. They can do pretty much whatever they want to do to cars on their property.
They can, for example:
- Cover the cars in chocolate sauce
- Take a big poo on the bonnet
- Tow them
- Clamp them
Thing is, I found myself not really caring about the act of clamping itself… I was more curious about who was doing the clamping. That’s where Story went next:
“The clamper said he worked for Premiere Clamping Services but when Story investigated there was no company registered with that name and we were unable to get hold of anyone using the phone number on the clamping sign.”
So, “Premiere Clamping Services” may or may not exist.
On top of this, Story reported that Bashford Antiques denies any link to the clamping company, which potentially isn’t real.
It’s worth watching the whole video, as things get increasingly feral. A tow truck is called in. Then the owners of Bashford Antiques decide to chuck some road cones across the parks of the neighboring business, which apparently doesn’t mind people parking there after hours.
A cynical brain might ask: surely they weren’t trying to divert drivers into their parks where they could clamp, clamp, clamp and tow, tow, tow?
The story ends with this guy – someone associated with Bashford Antiques – saying “Bully, bully, bully!” to Dale, the reporter.
I wasn’t sure he was saying “bully” to the right person.
Stuff.co.nz decided to follow up Story’s story by inviting the owner of Bashford Antiques to speak her mind. She appeared in a video, which is primarily notable for featuring what appears to be the world’s saddest dog.
She talks as if her Ponsonby carpark has turned into a kind of modern day Sodom and Gomorrah:
“These people have defecated here, there’s been drug dealing, prostitution, and vandalism.”
When asked about whether she profits from the $220 clamping fee, she seemed a bit more unsure than in her statement to Story, this time saying it’s “neither here nor there”.
The Bashford backlash
Soon afterward, people started flooding Bashford Antiques’ Facebook page with negative comments.
Bashford had flown into full damage control mode. Their main technique appeared to be telling everyone to piss off.
The line that really stood out for me was, “all accounts of Bashford Antiques Ltd are certified by the prestigious firm of Marsden Robinson Chow”.
It’s seemed like quite a grandiose way to describe an accounting practice. Also, I wasn’t sure why they were bothering to describe it in the first place.
It reminded me a lot of the language I encountered when I first met Jane O’Brien Media, a company in America that took great pride in talking about its giant legal team and wonderful ethics, and would often spontaneously ERUPT into capital letters.
I felt like I was in familiar territory.
After seeing comments like that, I was curious to see what Bashford Antiques had been like in the past.
It quickly became apparent that Bashford’s Facebook page was riddled with interesting comments and reviews.
This 1-star review, and accompanying allegations, from June 2016 stood out:
I got in touch with the reviewer’s sister, Jessica, and was told that she’d emailed owner Jillian Bashford-Evans directly – and that Jillian had replied:
There were those capital letters again, shouting.
This time, there was talk of defamation, which was signed off by a lawyer.
I don’t know who was wrong and who was right in this exchange, but I was definitely drawn to the words MDA ORGAN MA [HONS] LLM [HONS].
The legalese reminded me again of the run-in I’d had with people making legal threats.
I remembered the lack of clarity over the nature of the clamping company patrolling Bashford’s Antiques, Premiere Clamping Services.
So what about the person behind this letter, MDA Organ? Who is MDA Organ?
While I have no reason to doubt this person’s credentials, no Organs can be found in the law society database:
And the only “Organ” lawyer I could find anywhere else was Dean Organ, of Dean J Organ & Associates. I e-mailed him asking if he had ever had anything to do with Bashford Antiques. He replied:
Now, there is a “Michael Organ” on Facebook who has commented on some of Bashford’s bad reviews, and left a review of his own:
Could Michael “Low Class People” Organ be our mysterious “MDA Organ”? Or is Michael simply a man with the same last name and a passion for antiques?
Or was he made up by Jillian?
That would be quite weird.
Or is it even weirder? Had the owner of Bashford Antiques once employed the services of a sex-shop owner who masqueraded as a blue-blooded prince, and was eventually jailed for stealing a yacht?
Michael Daniel Albert Organ.
AKA Count Michael Andrassy-Organe.
AKA Prince Michael Organe-Schirinksi.
AKA… MDA Organ… of Bashford Antiques?
What the fuck is going on here?
Who is MDA Organ? Who is Premiere Clamping Services? WHO IS REAL?