Dutch homeware brand Brabantia is launching new branding and packaging in a bid to reposition itself as an ‘interior design brand’.
The new identity was created by Amsterdam-based Studio Aandacht, working with fellow Dutch consultancy Agency Proud on packaging design.
Mechteld Petersen, value director for brand, marketing and product innovation at Brabantia, says the new look aims to give a “more approachable, feminine and warm” feel.
“Our aim was to soften our brand”, says Petersen. “We want to seduce our consumers with our new packaging by touching their hearts”.
Brabantia manufactures products including waste bins, laundry racks, food storage containers.
Just say that out loud: “We want to seduce our consumers with our new packaging by touching their hearts”.
Christ on a bike.
Remember QR codes? Those funny looking squares that were supposed to be the Next Big Thing in technology but were really a bit crap? Never fear, always on the cutting edge of everything the UK Government has decided to force the issue of putting QR codes on energy bills, despite everyone else being decidedly meh about it.
In a statement, Energy Secretary Ed Davey said “We’re determined to make energy markets work better for consumers – and despite all the evidence showing that QR codes on bills would make a real difference to people, energy companies still haven’t done anything about it.”
The idea is that these QR codes will link through to tariff and usage information, allowing consumers to check and compare their bills more easily. There is even a suggestion that the data could be fed straight into comparison sites to allow consumers to switch more easily. And no doubt the selected comparison site will be very grateful for all that free customer data…
A previous feasibility study on this issue found that there were “no barriers” to the implementation of QR codes on customer energy bills and that the technology would in fact be “helpful in increasing consumer engagement.” However, there has been no voluntary move by the energy sector to introduce QR codes, presumably as they are looking towards smart meters and other new technologies, rather than something most of us no longer use (if we ever did.)
The Government has now opened a consultation under the Energy Act, which will run until April 21, which will look to modify the energy company licences to have QR codes compulsorily included as part of energy bills.
So what do you think? Is your energy bill just crying out for a randomly printed black-and-white square or is the compulsory implementation of such a system only going to increase energy companies’ costs (and therefore consumers’ bills) without actually offering anything of value?
Bring back Changing Rooms!! As the housing market is back on the up, so too are sales of DIY products. Yes, after almost a decade in the doldrums, people are dashing once again to B&Q and Homebase to stock up on stone cladding. According to a survey by Barclaycard, spending in DIY stores reached a two year high in February – up by 11%.
The logic behind this upsurge in Dulux Matchpot purchases and sales of gazebos is simple – people are sprucing up their homes to put them on the market. After all, you won’t make a profit if your house looks like the inside of Albert Steptoe’s lung, will you?
But let’s get a highly paid analyst to tell us that, instead. ‘Housing market activity is being supported by substantially improved consumer confidence, markedly rising employment and extended low mortgage interest rates, and is still being fuelled by the Help to Buy initiative,’ said Howard Archer from IHS Global Insight.
However, although we’re flinging ourselves at B&Q, Barclaycard found that sales of furniture dropped by 3.8% last month. And apart from the DIY sector, sales in February were still fairly muted across the board. It seems like confidence won’t fully recover until wages go up.
But in the meantime, we’re biding our time, grouting that ensuite and waiting to make the sale of the century…
Want to hear the final ‘shamones’ of Michael Jackson on his posthumous new album? Well, it’s going to take more than an iTunes voucher, I’m afraid. If you want to get your ears on the King of Pop’s farewell creation, you’ll have to spend £600. Why? Because you can only get it if you buy the new Sony Xperia Z2 smartphone.
Yes, it’s bad. It’s bad. You know it.
This fiendish move by Sony is bound to bring all the hardcore Michael Jackson fans running wildly towards the new Xperia – which is supposed to be a good piece of kit – but it’s not very fair for anyone else wanting to hear his final work without having to invest in a new and expensive smartphone.
Will there be a release of the album for people who don’t have £600 to drop on an exclusive albumphone bundle? Who knows. One thing’s for sure – MJ has enough crazy diehard fans out there to give the forthcoming Xperia Z2 a head start in sales.
What next in the depressing world of marketing? Will we have to buy a pair of Timberlands to get the next Justin Timberlake record? A royal yacht to hear Prince? What a bleedin’ rip off.
You don’t have to pay loads of money to pick up your fluff and crumbs – Which! has found (as they’re increasingly doing these days) that a cheaper vacuum cleaner can be as good as an expensive one. 11 cheaper models hoovered up praise in their survey, whereas the most pricey one – a Miele Hybrid, costing £450 – scored the same as a cheaper Miele version costing just £150.
The best was a Bosch BSG8PRO1GB Home Professional Cylinder Vacuum (with a bag), costing £263, and was particularly good for allergy sufferers and getting rid of animal hair. A cheaper version of the Bosch scored highly too – costing only £148 and scoring 77 out of 100 in the test.
Which! vacuum cleaner experts said: ‘While you can pay up to £450 for a vacuum cleaner, our testing shows that there is currently no real increase in quality once you go beyond £300, so don’t pay more than that if you can help it,’
They added: ‘The range in prices of similar quality vacs can be astonishing. You can save £322 by not buying the £450 model that gets a test score of 77 per cent and spending £128 on a vac which gets 76 per cent. The difference between the two is tiny, with the cheaper model getting one star less in a couple of areas.’
So don’t splurge more than £300. But don’t go under the £100 mark, either, because that’s when they really start to suck. (Or not, as the case might be.) The big clangers in the test were the Vax Pets and Family upright, (£79.99) and the Asda Value cylinder (£25) – together, neither of them could hoover the Dorito dust from your belly button.
The latest album from Alex Turner and his band of leather jacketed faux teddy boy reprobates is called AM, and seriously, you wouldn’t be able to buy some Brylcreem and 20 Rothmans in 1959 for that money. So go forth and snap up this crazy rock and roll bargain RIGHT NOW, or you’re a total chimp.
OTHER BANANAS DEALS
PS4 Playstation Plus 365 day subscription at Currys for £29.97
Western Digital 3TB My Book Live at PCWorld for £99.97
Breaking Bad – The Complete Seasons Boxset on Blu-ray for £65 at Woolworths.com
BOGOF on Disney Blu-ray/DVD at Zavvi
Mario Kart and wheel for Wii instore at Sainsbury’s for £9.99
Family Guy Seasons 1 – 11 complete collection for £34.99 at The Hut
FOR MORE BRILLIANT BARGAINS AND OUTSTANDING OFFERS, VISIT HOTUKDEALS!
You may recall a fine, fine review spotted on a dodgy bootleg of Old Boy we shared (if you missed it, have a look here) and it seems to be quite the thing in the Far East.
Now, a knock-off of Shrek sees another killer one-line review which says “good, but not great.” Wouldn’t it be nice if all film blurb was that honest?
David Cameron has told us proles that the UK will be developing the next-gen 5G wireless internet.
We’re going to need the help of our pals in Germany though, who will probably be doing all the heavy lifting in this relationship.
Cameron said that in the current world of “permanent technological revolution” the UK couldn’t afford to miss out on developing 5G. This inevitably comes on the back of our messing up 4G compared to the rest of the world.
5G is an exciting development though. Everything will be dizzying fast.
“With 4G, an 800 megabyte movie takes around 40 seconds to download; with 5G that would be cut to one second,” said Cameron. “This is a prize that researchers all over the world are going for and so I am delighted to announce a new collaboration, between the University of Dresden, King’s College University in London and the University of Surrey.”
Cameron hasn’t said how much we’ll be collectively throwing at this, but it’ll be a hefty amount if he’s serious about this; South Korea announced they would be investing $1.5 billion with their research and development.
He did, however, talk about his conceptual Internet of Things idea.
“Electricity meters that talk to the grid to get you the best deals. Health monitors that keep an eye on your heart rate. Water pipes that warn of a fall in pressure. And yes, even a fridge that can order you milk when it notices you are getting low,” said Cameron.
“I see the Internet of Things as a huge transformative development a way of boosting productivity of keeping us healthier making transport more efficient reducing energy needs, tackling climate change.”
“We are on the brink of a new industrial revolution and I want us – the UK and Germany – to lead it,” said Cameron. “Take British ingenuity in software, services and design, add German excellence in engineering and industrial manufacturing and together we can lead in this new revolution.”
River Island mock the homeless bitterwallet/river-island
Hoverboards, eh? bitterwallet/hover
Energy companies are doing everything wrong bitterwallet/extortion
PC World is worse than hell bitterwallet/hell
Much Co-op. So convenience. bitterwallet/co-op
OFT go after property gits bitterwallet/investigate
The Best of the Rest
Privacy groups aren’t happy about WhatsApp getting in bed with Facebook theinquirer/whatsapp
Would you rent your toilet to a member of the public? bbc/pee to pee
Are all Android updates just designed to hammer your phone’s battery? 3g/drain
BooHoo. Worth more than you. reuters/boohoocom
Big fine for SMS app con theinquirer/question-and-answer
Planes! On fire! With passengers on it! ibtimes/emergency
Although you might think the only people who use cheques anymore are nonagenarians and milkmen, good news is on the horizon for those getting paid by the antiquated paper form. It’s going to get faster.
Currently, cheque payments take at least three working days to clear when paid into an account but the government has now unveiled detailed plans to modernise cheque payments, “reinforcing their relevance in 21st century Britain.” The changes will make a “real difference” to cheque users, reducing the time it takes for a cheque to clear to “as little as two days.” How underwhelming.
The government is proposing legislating for “cheque imaging” which will speed up cheque clearing times and give customers greater convenience and choice in how they deposit cheques. The reforms will enable banks to clear a certified, digital image of a cheque instead of a traditional paper cheque. A Treasury statement said that this will “secure the future of the cheque as a reliable method of payment in the UK, using proven technology which has been in operation in the United States for 10 years.”
In addition to reducing the clearing time by a day, the new technology will allow banks to offer the option of paying in cheques via smartphone or tablet. Additionally, banks may be able to offer later last times of deposit to customers if they no longer require couriers to collect paper cheques daily from branches.
And no matter what you think, cheques are apparently “crucial” to the “British payments landscape”. Treasury figures show that nearly £840 billion of cheques were processed in 2012 – accounting for 10% of all payments made by individuals. Small businesses, such as sole traders and other micro businesses make over a fifth of their outgoing payments in cheques and nearly a third of smaller charities receive over 75% of their income by cheque.
John Allan, National Chairman, Federation of Small Businesses, said:
“Many of our members, and their customers, still rely on cheques so will be pleased with the investment and innovation to ensure their continued use. Speeding up cheque payments into business accounts will help boost a firms’ cash-flow as many find the current process frustratingly slow. Using smart phones is an interesting idea which should allow firms in areas, particularly where bank branches are closing, to be able to accept cheques as a method of payment.”
Powa-Tag is a UK based start up that helps you buy things on your mobile while you’re in store (or outside) – and it’s got some powerful big retailers on its side, too.
240 retailers, including HarperCollins, Reebok, Argos and Adidas, are all in partnership with the Point and Click app, which uses QR codes so that you can make instant purchases in a shop without having to queue for the tills. Or you can buy when a shop is closed, or have stuff delivered to you if the store you’re in is out of stock. Basically, you can point your phone at a shop window and buy stuff at midnight when it’s shut. WEIRD.
The app also allows stores to bombard target customers with special offers – which won’t be irritating at all!
But…aren’t QR codes a bit 2009? Wouldn’t it put sales assistants out of a job? And if you want to buy on your mobile, wouldn’t it be easier just to go home, put the kettle on and browse the online store, rather than lurking about outside an empty shop in the middle of the night, waving your phone about?
This old lady is confused.
Mozilla are currently hopping mad and investigating claims that Dell have been charging users to install Firefox for them. One report states that people have been asked to cough-up £16.25 to have the browser installed on their new computer.
Of course, Firefox is open-source and completely free. And it is an absolute doddle to install as well. Mozilla have said that there’s “no agreement” with Dell to permit this fee.
“Our trademark policy makes clear that this is not permitted and we are investigating this specific report,” said Denelle Dixon-Thayer, vice-prez of Mozilla’s general counsel.
If you look at Mozilla’s policy document, it says: “If you are using the Mozilla Mark(s) for the unaltered binaries you are distributing, you may not charge for that product. By not charging, we mean the Mozilla product must be without cost and its distribution (whether by download or other media) may not be subject to a fee, or tied to subscribing to or purchasing a service, or the collection of personal information.”
So what is Dell’s excuse? Well, they’ve said that they’re simply charging for time and labour: ”In this particular situation, the customer would not be charged for the Mozilla Firefox software download, rather the fee would cover the time and labour involved for factory personnel to load a different image than is provided on the system’s standard configuration.”
Are Dell just exploiting the dimwitted or is this an outrage? Comments please, readers.
Josh Grant’s mother died, leaving him with her iPad. Of course, the tablet was secured with passwords so Grant asked Apple if they’d unlock it for him. Apple refused, despite the fact Josh had provided copies of his mother’s death certificate and will. Apple, it seems, don’t think these things are sufficient.
Grant said: “We obviously couldn’t get written permission because mum had died. So my brother has been back and forth with Apple, they’re asking for some kind of proof that he can have the iPad. We’ve provided the death certificate, will and solicitor’s letter but it wasn’t enough. They’ve now asked for a court order to prove that mum was the owner of the iPad and the iTunes account.”
Naturally, Grant could buy a tablet all of his own, but you have to assume that, rather than wanting an iPad to dick around on, he’s actually wanting access to photographs and the like.
Threads have been started on Apple’s Support Communities, but it seems like the tech giants are closing them all down. However, these things are cached.
Obviously, Apple have these measures in place to look after devices that have been stolen.
Grant said: “I’m a big fan of Apple, their security measures are great but we have provided so much evidence. At 59, my mum was fairly young, I’ve already lost my dad and it’s a bit cold of them not to treat things on a case-by-case basis.”
Nearly half of people who shop online have had some kind of problem with their purchases in the last two years. That’s according to Which!, who showed that 46% of people were left vaguely unsatisfied by their online shopping experience.
34% of those polled said they’d had issues with Amazon, and 29% had a bone to pick with eBay. So what are people most upset about? Mostly, the problems are with deliveries arriving later than expected or not turning up at all. Other issues concerned faulty goods and packages being left outside their house without the customer’s permission.
It also found that we have no clue about our consumer rights when we shop online. After all, do YOU know what the Distance Selling Regulations are? (No, me neither). Apparently, DSRs state that you have seven days to cancel your order – from clicking your mouse until the day after you receive your package. You’re also entitled to information about the seller, and if you’re sent duff items, the retailer has to pay the postage by law.
Consumer powerhouse Ricardo Lloyd said: ‘With people increasingly shopping online and millions experiencing problems with their purchases, it is vital that consumers know their rights on late deliveries and faulty products.’
So if you’re one of the 46%, you can swot up on your consumer rights here.
M&S, when it’s not designing unattractive middle aged lady clothes and selling prawn sandwiches, is now hoping to compete with the banking big guns with a new free current account.
Up until now, M&S Bank, which is owned by HSBC, has only offered premium access accounts which offer a variety of cosy middle class perks, like coffee vouchers, travel insurance and access to a nice savings account with a 6% rate.
Free current account customers will have to buy their own coffee, but the deal isn’t half bad. You get an automatic £100 M&S gift card for switching, and account holders can earn M&S loyalty points when they use their debit card in store. There’s also a £500 overdraft, the first £100 of which is interest free.
M&S bank chief Colin Kearsley said: ‘Our premium current accounts, developed specifically for the regular M&S shopper, have proven popular with this audience and following the launch of the current account switch service, which has made switching faster and easier, we want to offer the same transparent banking and great service to a broader audience with the launch of the M&S current account.’
Initially, the account will be offered to M&S Bank’s existing customers, but will be available to us plebs very soon. So even if you’re not a regular M&S junkie with a thing about ready meals and wide fitting shoes, you can get a decent deal with the high quality M&S cache.
Well, it beats an account at Costcutters.