It’s a fact of life, like death or taxes, that your insurer will try and diddle you at insurance renewal time, saving all their best deals for new customers, and those who can be bothered to shop around. Every year. However, one insurer has recently announced a ground-breaking new policy that might make comparisons a little easier for consumers- they will tell you how much you paid last year.
Axa Insurance have announced the “welcome” and “overdue” change in policy, becoming the first insurer to tell customers how much they have spent on their previous year’s motor cover when issuing new quotes for renewal. The insurer will now display the previous year’s premium on all home, car and small business renewals; Axa piloted the publication of existing premiums on car renewal quotes in its direct motor business in March and will now continue. Renewal letters for home cover will include last year’s comparisons from next month and all direct business customers from July. The changes will also apply to customers of Swiftcover, an Axa subsidiary.
Now, while this might seem a little basic, it is interesting to note that insurers don’t routinely do this already. And while you might know how much you paid last year, particularly if you pay monthly, you might not remember without checking a bank statement from last year. Which is just more faffing around.
What providing you with last year’s figure will do, of course, is enable you to directly compare last year’s price with the current offering, and see precisely how much the cost has gone up by, which may help in gauging whether this year’s premium is totally laughable or not. A 10% increase is a far different prospect than a 70% increase, of course. Alternatively, you might wonder aloud that those people who do not routinely compare premiums with last year are the very mugs that allow your premiums to be kept down…
Yves Masson at Axa said that the car insurance pilot received a positive response, adding: “We believe that being more transparent with the information we provide will help customers make the right purchasing decisions. It’s a key factor in building trust, which has been all too sadly lacking in our industry in the past.”
Matt Oliver, car insurance spokesman at Gocompare.com, said that insurers putting last year’s premium on renewal documents was “good news for drivers” and “a positive step towards making the insurance industry more transparent and competitive”.
He said: “We’ve been saying for years that loyalty doesn’t pay when it comes to insurance, with the best deals typically offered to new customers, not those who renew. If insurers choose to display last year’s premium at renewal it doesn’t change the fact that, regardless of what premium you’re offered, getting online and comparing prices and policy details from other insurers should be your first thought when you see your renewal letter.”
It remains to be seen whether other insurers will follow suit, or whether they will wait to see whether Axa impales itself on its owns word first-historically, around two thirds of AXA’s motor customers renew with the insurer each year…
Following on from WH Smith’s utterly bizarre take on where you can drink booze, McDonald’s are getting all quantum theory on our asses with a sign that melts the mind.
It seems that this particular Maccies has a worm hole in it.
As you can see, the sign doesn’t say that you can use either lane to place your order, but rather, you should use ‘both’. Why McDonald’s would want you to be in two places at the same time is beyond us.
Maybe this particular branch is for Sam Beckett and Al, only?
Spotify have been shaking things up, now that Tidal is coming after them, with the announcement that they’ll be providing original video content and more.
As previously mentioned, the music-streamers are also teaming up with Strabucks, turning everyone in the stores into DJs – but how will it all work? Well, Starbucks are going to use Spotify as a way to turn its loyalty program into a source of revenue.
The baristas will soon be able to create custom playlists through Spotify in their outlets, which hopefully means more interesting tunes while you drink your joe – coffee chains have the most awful corporate playlists imaginable, so anything is a bonus really.
If you’re drinking your coffee and hate the selections made by staff, then no fear – you can use your Starbucks points to get your songs played on the Spotify playlist. We await people asking for profanity laden hip hop and 20 minute prog tracks, for the japes.
We wouldn’t be surprised if Mansun’s ‘Taxloss’ and Johnny Cash’s ‘After Taxes’ get a sudden spike in interest.
Of course, this is all good corporate sense, as Spotify gets access to Starbucks reward program and the chance to try and woo the huge amount of customers that Starbucks have, while Starbucks can now open up their loyalty points to all manner of things outside of their own coffee shops. It’ll also encourage people to sign-up for the loyalty schemes too. Looks like a win-win from here, if people are keen.
This Spotify/Starbucks tagteam will kick off in the USA, before launching in Canada and then the UK.
As predicted, Google have announced that they’re giving everyone a new way of paying for things, called Android Pay. Like all the other apps, it allows you to pay for things by wafting your phone at a machine and will be introduced down the shops in due time.
All the tech and financial big guns are getting in on the action, despite the fact most people have never even seen someone complete a payment with a phone’s near-field technology, let alone used it themselves. Most people are still cooing at contactless payments on their cards like they’re in a science fiction film, set in Japan 4729AD.
Anyway, undeterred, Android Pay is getting cosy with over 700,000 shops in That America and then they’ll be rolling it out across the world. There’s no mention of a UK release date, so it looks like Android are doing the same as Apple and getting out in the States to iron out all the bugs first.
If you’re uninitiated in all this, basically, to use Android Pay, you’d unlock your phone as you normally would, and then, you hold your device over the machine in the shop, they wirelessly talk to each other, some of your data gets gobbled up and, hey presto, you’ve made a payment. You’ll be glad to know that retailers won’t store your account number, which is something.
In addition to this, Android Pay will work with other apps, so you can hit the payment button while looking at things in, say, Groupon.
If you don’t like reading words, here’s a video with the usual musical hipster drivel, telling you all about it. Beware – there’s a lot of irritating people in this.
Remington has found that, in some Remington Model 887 shotguns (those manufactured between December 1, 2013 and November 24, 2014), the firing pin may bind in the forward position within the bolt. To the layman, that sounds like nothing, but you pump action shotgun fans will know that this can result in an unintentional discharge.
When you’ve stopped chortling as ‘unintentional discharge’, that means there’s some guns out there that might shoot bullets, even when the safety is on. Of course, that could result in someone dying.
That means Remington are voluntarily recalling ALL potentially affected products to inspect and repair.
That means you should stop using your shotgun immediately, if it was manufactured in the aforementioned period. Click here to find out whether or not yours is an affected gun.
The previous link will have all the news you’ll need about the replacement programme and all that. Please don’t use your gun until this has been fixed.
For a guide to all product recalls, have a look here.
Bedroom Tax has been a hot topic of late, with many social renters struggling to cope with the charge. There might be a chink of light in all the gloom though, as a tribunal in Middlesbrough has decided a child of parents who are living apart is entitled to have their own bedroom in each of their parents’ homes, and that Bedroom Tax shouldn’t apply.
While the local authority felt that a single man, in a two-bed semi, was under-occupying his home, Judge Moss disagreed and said that his child was entitled to his own room “and consequently no deduction applies”, adding: “It’s now a normal part of society that children split their time between their parents.”
So how do you appeal the Bedroom Tax?
Well, if you think you have a genuine reason why you need a spare room, firstly, you need to see if you have a case. Coast & Country, say that some of the reasons you might convince a tribunal are:
- You need an extra bedroom due to overnight needs of a child with disabilities
- The need for separate bedrooms owing to adult disabilities
- Need for bedroom for student who is studying away from the home
- ‘Exceptional use’
- The room is too small to constitute a bedroom
- It is used as a bedroom
- Child access
- 12 month protection on death (joint tenant)
- 12 month protection on death (where a further change reduces the number of rooms needed)
One thing to do, is to look at some previous decisions (which you can do here). If you see that a previous case was rejected that is similar to your situation, remember that your circumstances could well be different, so it is still worth pursuing. Cases that involve children or people with disabilities certainly have a stronger chance of success.
You should absolutely write an appeal letter – you need to write to your Housing Benefits section and ask them to appeal your claim. Whether you’re looking after a disabled partner or child, a parent has passed away, you have a child studying away from home, your room is too small, or whatever it is, there’s some great template letters you can use to appeal.
Well, you’re in luck as we’ve found a deal where you can get yourself a PS4 for £249.99. There’s a strict ‘one-per-customer’ ruling in place and stocks are likely to be ravaged at a price like this, so act sharpishly if you’re interested. Click here and hop to it.
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If you’ve been using Hola Unblocker to get to all that lovely content on the American version of Netflix, you’re not alone. It is one of the most popular Chrome extensions and has been freeing up TV shows for everyone to enjoy.
However, there’s a bit of a problem with it.
The free VPN has been using some pretty dodgy business practices, and could be putting you at risk.
Of course, using any VPN comes with a number of problems, but this is worth pointing out all the same. As Hola is a peer-to-peer VPN, if you’re watching episodes of Friends in the UK, you are routed through IP addresses based in The States – all the while, Hola make some money by bundling and selling people’s bandwidth to a third party company called Luminati.
Luminati then re-sell the connections, which means that anyone using the free version of Hola is having their connection sold to absolutely anyone who wants it. A number of people are clearly not aware of this (bully for you if you already knew).
Motherboard explain how bleak the situation could be: “By becoming an exit node for a Tor-like network, Hola users are exposed to the same risks that Tor exit nodes operators are. Their connection can be abused by someone else, by trafficking in child pornography or downloading illegal material, for example. To police authorities, it would look like the innocent Hola user was responsible for those actions, since his or her IP address would be associated with them.”
Of course, this all seems a bit pie-in-the-sky, but it is a real problem – recently, a spammer worked Hola users’ connections, bought by Luminati, to conduct a DoS attack on 8Chan. As far as the authorities are concerned, that’s your IP address that did it, so to speak.
Hola have updated their FAQ to tell people about their sales practices, and say that criminals can’t use their service because “Hola is a managed and supervised network and thus any illegal activity such as CP, etc. would be reported to the authorities with the real IP of the user.”
So there you have it. You’ve got a decision to make now – you can either get wildly jumpy and stop using Hola, or you can ride your luck and carry on watching all those unlocked shows from the American version of Netflix.
The adage ‘the customer is always right’ is often wide of the mark. Some customers are almost always wrong and, not only are they wrong, but they act like arseholes in the process.
So with that, we look at the latest spat between an establishment and a customer, both venting spleen on TripAdvisor.
Steve Bothwell, who is the owner of Café 52 in Aberdeen, decided to reply to a review from a disgruntled customer, in a bid to set the record straight. We’re going to let you decide who is right.
To us, it looks like we’re dealing with the kind of customer who could’ve dealt with the situation at the establishment, but decided they’d rather be an internet snitch on something that is, to all intents and purposes, an incredibly unremarkable event.
A waitress dropping a glass isn’t anything new and of course, no-one has yet found a system where service staff can control physics to stop something from breaking or to stop glass from flying through the air after the impact of a drop. Still, the customer wanted the owner, Steve, to offer “recompense”.
Anyway, you’ve read the accusation and the response, so you’ve probably made your mind up. We checked Café 52 and, it looks like it is well thought of in the area. Seeing as that area is Aberdeen, you can make your own jokes up about whether or not that’s a good or bad thing.
Well, Apple claim to have found the bug which has been causing phones to break down and cry, which apparently, has been something to do with messages containing a specific string of text being received by devices.
This pesky bug, which includes symbols and Arabic characters, was has been a pain for many users and Apple have finally got the chops to make a statement about it all.
They said: ”We are aware of an iMessage issue caused by a specific series of unicode characters and we will make a fix available in a software update.” Of course, every time Apple do a software update, someone finds something else to complain about, so this invariably isn’t over.
If you want to try and fix this yourself, and can’t be bothered waiting for a software update – here’s a video which should be able to help you out. Okay? Good.
Just when you thought the rail strikes were off, turns out that it wasn’t a decision that was to last forever, as there’s another strike afoot!
RMT union members at Network Rail are going to go on strike next month after rejecting the latest pay offer.
They’re going to hold a 24-hour strike from 17:00 BST on 4 June and a 48-hour strike from 17:00 BST on 9 June, so update your calendars accordingly.
Basically, staff didn’t walk out last week after a new deal was offered by Network Rail, but the union’s executive suspended strike action while they looked at what was being offered.
Now they’ve looked at what has been tabled, union reps met up today and, after discussions, the offer was rejected, which leads to this fresh batch of announcements of strikes. This, of course, means more disruption for commuters.
Think emails are worthless junk? Think again! A judge in California has ordered Yahoo! to face a nationwide class-action lawsuit, after accusing them of illegally intercepting the content of people’s emails that were sent to Yahoo email-havers from non-Yahoo accounts.
What were they doing with this information? You guessed it! It was all to hoover up information to be used to make money with advertising!
US District Judge Lucy Koh has ruled that anyone who sent emails to, or received emails from someone with Yahoo email since 2 October 2011 can sue as a group under the federal Stored Communications Act for alleged privacy violations. That’s going to be a terrifying amount of money, if the suit is successful.
Apparently, non-Yahoo Mail accounts were analysed by Yahoo!, who copied and snooped around in correspondence, including attachments and keywords and the class-action wants to see an injunction barring the alleged interceptions, plus damages.
What’s the excuses and reasoning from Yahoo! execs? Well, they reckon that, because some of the plaintiffs emailed Yahoo accounts despite concerns over the ways their information was processed, that pretty much amounts to consent. And, as well as that, we should feel sorry for Yahoo! because, it this goes through, the suit could set email services back by a decade.
The judge rejected both arguments. We’ll keep up with this and see who is allowed to claim for damages.
We’ve spoken about PlayStation’s digital refund policy in the past, which isn’t up to much at all. Tonight (Thursday May 28th, 8pm), BBC’s Watchdog are going to be looking into it after receiving a number of complaints about the service.
They’ll be looking at the case of a PS4 owner who was refused a refund after a fraudulent purchase was made on his PSN account.
Of course, this isn’t a new complaint, but one that persists.
One of Sony’s loopholes is that they refuse reimbursement unless you can prove that the game you bought was defective in some way.
PlayStation looked into it and told the BBC: “Our investigation concluded that the serial number of the console on which these transactions were made does not match the serial number of the console you provided to us on your original call. Regrettably, as stated in the PlayStation Network Terms of Service, we are unable to offer a refund for purchases made on PlayStation Store unless the content is found to be defective.”
PlayStation have a dedicated page, which looks at refunds which you can see here. They look at purchases that your child might have done without your knowledge, automatically renewing subscriptions and people being charged of PlayStation products without actually owning a console.
The line seems to be that, regardless of your complaint, they’ll ‘investigate further’, but don’t clearly state that refunds are available. Will Sony provide a solution with pressure from a big-gun like the BBC? We’ll have to wait and see.
Tesco are still playing catch-up after all that accounting trouble (and some) and of course, have seen their market share being eaten away by Lidl and Aldi.
One of the things they’re weighing-up, in a bid to win everyone over, is mobile coupons, which they’ll send to customers as they walk past their stores. Tesco have buddied-up with mobile marketing firm Weve, and they want to target commuters and tourists as they wander by the new concept shop in Villiers Street in Central London.
Tesco used Weve to spot a number of 40,000 shoppers who’d either walked past the store six times over a fortnight, or who had walked in-and-out of Embankment tube station – they then sent coupons to them to get money off in the shop.
Those who accepted the offer redeem the coupon by scanning it with their shopping at a self-service till.
It seems like the trial was popular enough for Tesco and Weve to consider rolling this out across the country, but there’s likely to be a second trial somewhere before anything is made concrete.
A spokeswoman told Marketing: “We’re always looking for ways to make it easier and simpler for our customers to shop with us. That’s why we trialled texting local customers with some money off coupons to introduce them to our new food to go store at Villiers Street. We’re really looking forward to hearing their feedback.”
This is a bit of positive news which comes in the wake of the retailer facing a “substantial” shareholder damages claim which was set up by American law firm Scott & Scott to look at legal action in the UK and Europe and, in a statement, said that it intends to “pursue claims vigorously on behalf of affected shareholders.”
A lot of investors want compensating for Tesco’s mess.