But when we read about dodgy bets on The X Factor, we wondered whether our vote meant anything anymore.
Mktg: Hi, I tried to call up earlier about The X Factor and I think the teams were busy ...
ITV: Yes, you're (name), you're enquiring about the Virgin Media element, aren't you?
Mktg: I'm a bit confused, was this a betting fix?
ITV: As you may know you can vote (for The X Factor) by telephone or by red button. As you can imagine, all the voting figures are quite carefully guarded and we rely on the co-operation of people at places like O2, Orange and all the telephone providers, because they all see how many votes are coming in via their service. Only the people in the vote room at ITV and The X Factor know what the totals are, but three people at Virgin Media who had access to the information thought they would be really clever and bet on who was going to get knocked out, because they could see who would be in the bottom two.
Mktg: So it wasn't a betting fix?
ITV: No, they were getting the voting figures from people who voted via red button on Virgin Media. The figures are more or less the same across all platforms. So if 10% of people were voting via red button for Matt Cardle, that probably means 10% of people are voting for him on the phones. So if you had access to one set of figures, you could make a more or less educated guess, but just don't know.
Mktg: So it's got nothing to do with the show?
ITV: No, they could have done it with Dancing On Ice or Strictly Come Dancing if they wanted.
Mktg: So that's not why Simon Cowell has said that he won't do The X Factor any more?
ITV: Oh no, no, no ...
Mktg: OK. Does it mean this sort of thing could happen again?
ITV: No. It can't affect the votes placed by our viewers and it can't affect the results of the show. If anyone tries to use insider information to take advantage again they will likewise be discovered and prosecuted as happened to these blokes.
Mktg: That makes me feel a lot better, thanks.
It took a couple of attempts to get through to the right people at ITV. When we did, however, the call-handler was exceptionally clear and able to explain the situation in layman's terms, without being patronising, while reassuring us of the integrity of the voting system.