It’s always been a bit of a one-horse-race, but new figures show that, once again, it is energy bills that are far and away the most misunderstood of household bills, with almost three-quarters of people describing their energy bills as ‘very complicated’.
But it’s not just that the 1,600 Which!!! members surveyed are stupid, most of them can cope with working out their other household bills, it’s just energy bills that baffle people. In fact 18% of those surveyed suggested that, even given a calculator, wet flannel and a quiet room, they couldn’t check the accuracy of their energy bills if they tried. And not being able to check your bills makes it pretty difficult to make sure you are not overpaying for your energy, as apparently 95% of us are to the tune of £234 each.
Terms like standing charge, kWh, calorific value and unit rate mean that only 30% of people think they could work out their energy bill- and that’s a year after Ofgem introduced new rules to make bills clearer. Most people don’t think they could find the details of their own tariff with both hands. However, this might be less of a problem than it sounds as additional research shows that although most people would be better off on a fixed rate tariff (which have fallen by 7% in the last year), over three quarters of people are languishing on a standard rate tariff, which have increased by 4% over the past year, on average.
Which!!! executive director, Richard Lloyd, said: “Despite efforts to make bills simpler to understand, our research shows people are still bamboozled. Consumers can’t tell whether they are getting a fair deal from their energy supplier and are losing out as a result.”
“We want the Competition and Markets Authority to force suppliers to make bills clearer by adopting simple pricing, like you see on a petrol forecourt. In a truly competitive energy market people should be able to spot the cheapest deal at a glance, making it easier to switch supplier.”
We can’t argue with that.
Annah Sophia Stevenson was tucking in to a nice Big Mac from McDonald’s when she got a surprise – a cockroach! Doo doo doo d’doo, I’m buggin’ it.
Someone from McDonald’s visited Ms Stevenson at home to retrieve the burger, so it could be sent away for tests. However, the mother from New Zealand wants it back after her mates told her she was daft for handing evidence over to Maccies.
“Everyone was going. ‘That was silly, you’ve given the only evidence to McDonald’s, who obviously want to make it go away quickly’,” Stevenson said. The burger was returned to her, and she added: ”I don’t know if I’m being overly suspicious, but I didn’t want McDonald’s to be connected to the only evidence.”
She’s now asked her local council to independently check the burger and insect in a scenario that can now be officially described as a gigantic faff.
A spokesman for McDonald’s said: “It’s important to note that the products were ordered via Drive-Thru, transported by car and then consumed at the customer’s home… unfortunately, without the burger and foreign object it severely limits our ability to further investigate the matter.”
You can see a video of the offending burger and a child getting up close and personal with it. Hope this hasn’t spoiled your lunch.
The latest release of Google Chrome – version 42 – has blacked out the services thanks to the removal of support for NPAPI plugins, including Microsoft’s Silverlight, which many on-demand services use to power things.
On Now TV’s support forum, they said: “Google Chrome version 42 has now been released, and Chrome no longer supports Microsoft Silverlight. From this point, you’ll need to use Microsoft Internet Explorer or Mozilla Firefox to watch Now TV on your PC.”
Meanwhile, at the @BTCare Twitter account, they said: “If you use Chrome to watch BT Sport you may get a Silverlight error. Silverlight is no longer supported in Chrome, pls use another browser.”
Blinkbox added: “Because our HTML5 player is newer than the Silverlight player we use in other browsers like Internet Explorer and Firefox on PCs and Safari on Mac, you might need a faster broadband connection than usual to have the same experience that you’re used to, whilst we work to further optimise streaming using HTML5. Because of this, for the best experience, we recommend that you use a different browser right now, particularly if your internet speed is close to our recommended minimum speed or you’ve got an older computer.”
Eventually, all video-on-demand services will have to move away from Silverlight as it is being discontinued by Microsoft.
For the rest of you motorists who aren’t tedious Nigel, here’s a thing that could save you a decent amount of money when it comes to MOT time.
One of things that rinses drivers is MOT retests, which could be avoided if you simply make sure your car’s tyres are correctly inflated before the initial test date. You see, under current legislation, any car that has a warning light showing on the dashboard fails its MOT. If you have a car that is fitted with TPMS, the wrong pressure on your tyres could see the rest of your good work coming unstuck.
Basically, under-inflated tyres are costing drivers millions across the board.
Stuart Jackson, chairman of TyreSafe said: “Although TPMS technology has been around for decades, its inclusion in new model vehicles has only been mandated in Europe since 2012 and on all new cars since 2014. This led to a gradual introduction into the market over a period of years and with little or no fanfare to help educate motorists.”
“Garages have been telling us that they’re encountering a lot of customers who either aren’t aware of how these systems work and need to be maintained or just see them as an expensive luxury rather than the crucial safety feature they are.”
The sun is breaking out all over the UK (sorry if it is drab where you are) so we all need to start making provisions for the 4 days we get where we actually get some vitamin D, rather than sitting inside going yellow.
With that, you might want to doss in your back yard on a sun lounger. Luckily, we’ve found a deal where you can get this great reclining sun lounger – ideal for slowly getting drunk at your leisure – for £21.99.
Asus laptop for £159 with code
70% off games at Google Play
Xbox One Forza 5 console bundle for £249.99
James Bond – complete collection by Ian Fleming for £2.84
Tomb Raider – game of the year for £4.92 using code
Psychonauts (Steam) for £1.04
Sony Universal smartwatch for £68.92
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Asking prices for houses are at a record high according to Rightmove. This is because of a shortage of homes and a high demand for properties. Insert your own thoughts about estate agents having a lot to do with it, here.
Rightmove said new sellers’ asking prices went up by 1.6%, which is £4,381 month-on month in April, which means on average, it has reached £286,133 on across England and Wales, beating the previous peak-figure from last June.
The property website said that a shortage of homes on the market have shunted prices upward. Add to that, a rising demand based on Rightmove humble-bragging about how traffic to their website rose by 20% to an all-time high in March.
Other surveys have shown similar results.
Rightmove director Miles Shipside said: “Hesitation to sell and the use of property as a long-term investment are factors in this month’s new price record. As we approach the election, the highest-ever cost of housing sets an interesting challenge for political leaders.”
“The high cost of housing is a big concern for many home-hunters, so the contents of the respective party manifestos and well thought-out sustainable solutions to the lack of affordable housing supply will be high on many voters’ agendas too.”
Wonga has dropped into the red, which will make any disgruntled ex-customers of theirs – especially those who received threatening, fake legal letters – hoot in derision.
After a host of scandals, the company have been fined a number of times. New rules on payday loan companies are hammering the company, and advertising agencies have backed away from Wonga, as they don’t agree with what they do.
Basically, Wonga are a toxic brand at the minute.
This week, they’ll report that their revenues have slumped by a third to a little over £210m, with losses rocketing to £35m.
The fines paid out hit the company hard on top of the new rules across the industry, which meant that payday loan companies had to lower charges and cut back on potential customers. Wonga’s losses will be announced this week, alongside a detailed explanation by top boss Andy Haste and his new chief executive of UK lending, Tara Kneafsey.
Wonga has also announced 325 job losses while it is in the process of trying to renew their licence with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). The whole thing threatens the very existence of the company. The add to their misery, Labour have said that they’ll put an extra levy on lenders’ profits in order to subsidise local credit unions, which have lower interest rates. That’s if they get in of course.
Analysts say that many payday lenders will be able to pull through all this, but Wonga is the one that will probably perish.
One worrying thing in all this, apart from job losses, is that customers who feel the need to get these short-term loans may have to go through shadier channels, such as loan sharks, to get a quick advance – and nothing good comes from those.
We like brands. According to Which!!! more than half of people (53%) say brands can play a role in improving their quality of life and wellbeing, which is a bit weird in our opinion. However, Which!!! also found that people are twice as likely to choose brands that they trust. Every year Which!!! dish out awards to those brands they consider the most trusted, and this year’s shortlist is full, as you’d expect, of those brands we hear good things about, with dodgy delivery drivers, PPI-pushing bankers and famous coffee brands notably absent. And while some categories are stocked with market leading brands, like Apple and Ford, others have some more discerning brands, like Richer Sounds, which have made it there, purely on the merits of their great customer experience.
The full shortlist is:
Best Car Manufacturer: BMW, Ford, Volkswagen
Best Banking Brand: First Direct, M&S Bank, Nationwide Building Society
Best Insurance Services Provider: John Lewis Financial Services, M&S Bank, NFU Mutual
Best Retailer: John Lewis, Lush, Richer Sounds, Screwfix, Wex Photographic
Best Supermarket: Aldi, Iceland, Lidl, Ocado, Waitrose
Best Computing Brand: Amazon, Apple, Samsung
Best Audio-Visual Brand: LG, Panasonic, Samsung, Sony
Best Home Appliance Brand: Bosch, Miele, Samsung, Siemens
Best Telecom Services Provider: giffgaff, Plusnet, Tesco Mobile, Utility Warehouse
Best Photography Brand: Canon, Nikon, Panasonic, Sony
Best Travel Company: Audley Travel, HF Holidays, Riviera Travel, Trailfinders
This year does see a raft of new names, but also some repeat nominees, like Waitrose, First Direct, Bosch and John Lewis who are all looking to repeat last year’s success. So is this a good shortlist? Are there any companies you consider ought to have been included? Which!!! are keen to point out that these awards are completely independent- in that brands cannot nominate themselves for an award. Instead, the shortlist is chosen by Which!!! experts based on research, testing, and endorsements, as well as feedback from Which!!! members and the general public throughout the year.
Which!!! group chief executive Peter Vicary-Smith said: “Over the last eight years, consumers have expected more from businesses and increasingly reward those that provide excellent service. Our awards recognise that what’s good for consumers is also good for business, and champions those who successfully set themselves apart by putting their customers at the heart of what they do.”
The winners will be announced on 17 June.
Barbie is rubbish. Everyone knows that. While other toys enable children to make things fly and explode, or go on wild adventures in their minds, Barbie has a glamorous, yet somehow humdrum life. What does she do? She has a house. She has a horse. She drives around a bit.
No high-speed chases. No saving the world from baddies. She just exists and does menial tasks with expensive stuff.
So with that, it is little wonder that Barbie is on the ropes, with Mattel reporting big losses with its core brand. What isn’t helping is that Frozen is handing Barbie her arse. Children, it seems, are playing with Lego and video games, rather than something designed solely to occupy some pink stuff.
In the first quarter, to March 31st, the toy vendors said that Barbie sales dropped by 14%. Mattel’s loss before tax grewing to £49.1m.
The Frozen franchise saw a 22% jump in consumer product sales for Disney’s first quarter to $1.4bn and with a sequel on the horizon, the fanaticism isn’t going to go away any time soon.
Mattel’s shares have lost over a third of their value over the past 12 months. Maybe it is time for Barbie to retire and finally get some well earned rest in the Betty Ford Clinic.
They noted that, over the last few weeks, the price of oil has fallen by nearly 5% – but guess what? Surprise, surprise – petrol prices are up by 1.2%. The AA said that drivers are now paying an extra 1.73p a litre of petrol, and an extra 0.63p a litre of diesel.
The fuel industry said that wholesale costs are up, which is why prices have risen at the pumps. The fact that oil is priced in dollars and the pound has fallen against it, isn’t helping either.
Edmund King, the AA’s president, isn’t having any of it and said that motorists are losing out. ”Cars are like blank cheques for whoever feels the need to balance the books by plundering drivers’ pockets,” he said. ”Now the fuel retailers are taking £3 a tank extra on diesel to steady their finances.”
This comes on the back of the RAC saying that fuel prices were ‘highway robbery’, which again, saw the sellers saying that everyone should leave them alone and that no-one understands them.
There’s nothing worse than finding out your favourite chippie is closed. Usually, they’ve shut up shop ‘due to a family bereavement’ or because they’re ‘renovating’.
However, one chippie closed for something quite different. This fella was going on holiday and he left a note to customers, which will have left them chuckling.
As you can see, he wrote: “This year my wife has decided to take us all youth hosteling, I told her at her age she would be better off with Saga. We are taking two of our children. 1 Daughter in law, plus 1 grandson. No internet, mobile phones, playstations etc.”
“Personally I think we will all be bored to tears. She who must be obeyed says we will have a great time telling tales round the campfire etc.”
He’s back in the shop now, and hopefully, stocked up on beer and gadgets.
Do you love films? Do you like going to the cinema to watch movies? The thrill of bass dials cranked up to 11 and a screen so large it gives you vague motion sickness, not helped by the heroic volumes of M&Ms you’ve just eaten?
Well, here’s a thing. You can get 2 adult cinema tickets for a paltry £5.79 every Tuesday. This offer is for Vue cinemas, so it’ll help if you have one of those nearby. To get your hands on this, click here.
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Xbox One console, refurbed, for £219
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Now a new Star Wars trailer has landed online, everyone of a certain age has been reduced to a dribbling, nostalgic wreck. As Star Wars is such a huge deal, the hype surrounding it and marketing opportunities are not like any other franchise.
Not many films can get an airline so excited that they paint one of their planes like R2D2. That’s exactly the craic with Japanese airline All Nippon Airways who unveiled plans to dress their plane in a way that will see everyone making puns on ‘may the air force be with you’.
In a couple of months, there’s going to be a Boeing 787 flying around the sky looking like Artoo.
This design is part of the airline’s five-year “Star Wars Project”, which means more Star Wars themed aircraft. We’re hoping for a Jabba The Hut one, as that’d look disgusting.
And while we’re here, we might as well watch the second trailer of Star Wars Episode VII and dribble all over ourselves with excitement. Yes. We know it’s a children’s film.