Deathwatch: Blinkbox

October 1st, 2014 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

blinkbox 300x174 Deathwatch: BlinkboxTesco are doing so badly at the moment, that it really is very difficult to stifle everyone’s laughter… and the whole thing is getting worse.

The struggling supermarket is apparently putting everything in place so they can sell or shut down their Blinkbox service.

A Tesco spokesman said: “We wouldn’t comment on internal meetings.”

Of course, running a TV service is an expensive thing to do, so it makes a lot of sense for Tesco to want to ditch it as soon as possible, especially when they thought they had £250m more than they actually had.

That black hole of money is being investigated by Tesco themselves as well as by the Financial Conduct Authority. Thanks to all this, Tesco’s share value is dropping quicker than rugby team’s jock straps on a night out.

It seems that Tesco aren’t capable when it comes to taking on the mighty Amazon, BSkyB and Netflix. Then again, not many are. That said, earlier in the year, Tesco saw Blinkbox expanding into a music streaming service after they acquired Bloom.fm.

Not only was Blinkbox expensive, but it wasn’t particularly popular with consumers either, behind in popularity to Now TV and the rest. Blinkbox’s most recent accounts show that it lost £18.5m last year.

It wouldn’t make much sense for anyone to try and buy the ailing firm, so it looks like we’ve got a corpse on our hands.

 

Deathwatch: Argos aliens

October 1st, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

Cheerio Argos Aliens!

Yes, the slightly baffling and teeth grating family of aliens that Argos have had as a front for their business, are to bid farewell after three years of unfunniness.

They’ve posted a 60 second video to Argos fans. Clearly because such a realm exists.

The aliens final fling is set to a rendition of Frank Sinatra’s ‘My Way’ from a Ziggy Stardust-clad Dad, voiced by Bill Nighy. Even as you watch them depart, they’ll manage to make you unhappy.

Apparently the aliens attracted seven million YouTube hits over the last three years. Mostly people rubbing their eyes and going “WTF is this garbage?”

As a parting gift for aliens fans Argos’ social media agency, The Social Practice, has launched a Facebook and Twitter competition to win a set of alien dolls and Argos vouchers by voting for the best alien moments from the last three years.

“best alien moments”

old man on phone 199x300 Insurance firm fined £10,000 for nuisance calls as Ofcom launches consultationNo-one likes insurance companies. Not even their mothers. So how can insurance companies make themselves even more odious? By engaging in the severely-frowned-upon practice of making abandoned or ‘ghost’ calls to older adults, that’s how.

Specialist over-50s* insurer Ageas was investigated by telecoms regulator OfCom who found that they made 148 abandoned calls over three separate days during a seven-week period of investigation. This breached the maximum of 3% of all calls made and the company was fined £10,000 for their misdemeanors. That’s almost £70 per wasted call.

Nevertheless, Ofcom considers this to be a small fine, as it considered the “degree of seriousness and harm to consumers was at the lower end of the scale.” Ageas was found to have been in breach of legislation relating to “persistent misuse of a telephone network or service.” The fine also reflects the company’s offer of a £10 shopping voucher to affected consumers and the steps it has taken to bring itself into compliance. Presumably by ceasing and desisting.

Claudio Pollack, Ofcom’s Consumer and Content Group Director, said: “The law is there to protect consumers from suffering annoyance, inconvenience or anxiety, including from abandoned calls.”

“Organisations using call centres must comply with the law or face the consequences. Where we find breaches, even at the lower end of the scale, we can take action” he finished.

However, Ofcom itself is not finished, as it has also announced a review of its ‘persistent misuse’ policy.

The existing policy identifies silent and abandoned calls as two examples of misuse, although we are sure that Bitterwallet readers could come up with many more examples. Ofcom’s policy also describes steps organisations can take to avoid making them and how to reduce consumer harm where they do occur.

However, Ofcom want to know if this could be better and is asking for initial views on what, if any, changes could be made to:

help make enforcement more efficient and effective;

reflect technological developments or other changes in the call centre industry; or

clarify the policy to make it easier for companies to understand and follow. We don’t think “stop bothering people” is particularly hard to understand, but perhaps you have some simple suggestions on how to reinforce this message. To idiots.

Responses need to be submitted to Ofcom by 7 November 2014.

*that’s older than I am

Wonga to pay out £10million over fake law firms

October 1st, 2014 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

wonga ladies 300x282 Wonga to pay out £10million over fake law firmsRemember when Wonga sent out a load of threatening letters from fake law firms?

Well, they were soon told off and it was estimated that the payday loan company would have to cough-up £2.6m in fines.

Well, turns out that it is a bit more than that, with the lender now being asked for the princely sum of £10 MILLION.

That means that Wonga’s annual profits have dipped by 53% to £39.7million.

All in all, this debacle has cost Wonga nearly £19million, which serves ‘em right for being underhand, the shithouses.

There’s been an estimated £2.6million in payouts to 45,000 customers too, which were agreed with the people at the Financial Conduct Authority.

Maybe Wonga’s puppet nanas will get the sack now and they’ll have to see if there’s any jobs going at the Gran Factory where they knit everyone’s Shreddies.

Paypal bids for a life away from eBay

October 1st, 2014 1 Comment By Ian Wade

paypal Paypal bids for a life away from eBayPayPal is going to become its own thing.

It will now trade as a separate publicly traded company, and will no longer be completely associated with eBay – the breakaway is scheduled to occur sometime during 2015.

Pre-market shares in eBay surged by 11% on news of the announcement on Tuesday.

eBay said a decision had been made to separate as a strategic move to help maximise growth and shareholder value for both the payment and retail entities.

“eBay and PayPal are two great businesses with leading global positions in commerce and payments,” eBay president and CEO John Donahoe said.

“For more than a decade eBay and PayPal have mutually benefited from being part of one company, creating substantial shareholder value. However, a thorough strategic review with our board shows that keeping eBay and PayPal together beyond 2015 clearly becomes less advantageous to each business strategically and competitively.”

“The industry landscape is changing, and each business faces different competitive opportunities and challenges.”

This comes several months after investor activist Carl Icahn demanded a split of the two divisions. Meanwhile, most people who aren’t associated with either company are still glaring at them with contempt.

tax disc New system means those trying to renew car tax, cantYou won’t believe it – after ditching tax discs for cars and setting up a new online system, the whole thing has buggered up.

Thousands of drivers haven’t been able to renew their car tax online, after the DVLA sank under the huge amounts of traffic. The high volume of people accessing the site was predictable and as clear as the nose on your face, however, it looks like the DVLA weren’t prepared.

According to reports, some people have spent up to 13 hours online trying to sort their car tax out. At some point, they should’ve stepped away from their computer, but there you go. Some people are crackers.

The DVLA said the site had seen “an unprecedented volume of traffic”. Feel free to make your own ‘DVLA unable to deal with traffic’ puns.

Our pals at the DVLA said that an extra 30,000 people had visited the site and apologised for the farcical situation and said that, if you are desperate to get your tax sorted, you should go to the Post Office instead. Of course, with Post Offices being closed all over the country over the years, you might have to drive there as well.

The AA aren’t happy either. They reckon that this new system could see some cars being taxed twice. Nice little earner for the government that, eh? You see, someone buying a car will no longer be able to benefit from an unused period on a tax disc, which means there’ll be a lot of crossover with two drivers paying tax on a vehicle at the same time.

“Someone driving a car that costs £500 a year to tax would lose £41 if they sold it at the beginning of the month,” said Edmund King, the AA’s president. Likewise a buyer purchasing a car mid month would have to pay Vehicle Excise Duty for the entire month.”

house 300x233 First councils named in Right To Build initiativeThe first raft of councils who are offering to help for people who want to build their own home have been announced.

The 11 authorities will share £550,000 (which in the grand scheme of things, isn’t an awful lot) of funding to invest in projects that include creating 1,000 self-build plots and 2,000 custom-build homes.

Tory Housing Minister Brandon Lewis said in a Tory oaf stylee that it would “get Britain building”.

The scheme was first announced in the 2014 Budget.

Mr Lewis said: “We’re determined to help anyone who aspires to own their own home – whether that’s buying on the open market through schemes like our Help to Buy, or to build.”

“This is one of a range of measures we’re taking to help aspiring homeowners, but also to get Britain building – and thanks to our efforts, housebuilding levels are at their highest since 2007 and rising.”

The 11 local authorities are: Cherwell, South Cambridgeshire, Teignbridge, Shropshire, Oldham, West Lindsey, Pendle, Sheffield, South Norfolk, Stoke-on-Trent and the Exmoor and Dartmoor National Park Authorities.

The money should fund plots of land for sale at market value to prospective builders.

A government spokesman said: “This first wave of areas will form part of a consultation on Right to Build. It will be decided whether the changes should be extended across the country later this year.”

We imagine that it should go well then.

Deals of the Day: Wednesday 1st October 2014

October 1st, 2014 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

zs1 Deals of the Day: Wednesday 1st October 2014Everyone likes Lego don’t they? Until you stand on a brick in your bare feet and you’re left with a pain that is worse than a thousand simultaneous Vietnams and more brief than the time it take you to say ‘AAAARRGH OH GOD THE SUFFERING KILL ME NOW!’

Mercifully, there’s no pain issues when it comes to Lego spin-offs and, if you haven’t seen the excellent Lego Movie, now is your chance. You can get the film on Blu Ray (with UV Digital, of course) brand new and sealed for a piddling £7.79! Have a look at the deal here.

THERE’S MORE DEALS? YES? WHOOP! 

Middle Earth – Shadow of Mordor (PC Download/Steam) £22.50 with code
Loads of great PC games for cheap! Mirrors Edge £1.49, Sim City 4 £2.99, Dead Space 3 £2.99, Most Wanted £4.99 and loads more here.
Apple iPhone 6 @ £539+10 = £549 or 22.39/Pay monthly with 50 upfront
SanDisk 8GB Micro SDHC Class 4 Memory Card, five pack for £12.99
PS4 with Driveclub pre order £311.17 delivered
Beyond Good and Evil £1.68 @ Xbox (also UBISOFT games sale)
TP link TL-PA210 Twin Pack Powerline Kit 200Mbps £9.99
Acer Aspire laptop 6GB 750GB 15.6 inch Windows 8 for £439
LG G3 Titanium 32GB 4G Quad HD £373.19 delivered
Trendnet 300Mbps Wireless N-Draft PCI Adapter Card or USB Network Adapter £5.99
PlayStation Camera (PS4) for £37.19

FOR MORE FABULOUS DEALS, VISIT HOTUKDEALS NOW!

o2logo mediacentre 300x224 O2 adds your iTunes purchases to bill if you wantO2 users will now be able to purchase iTunes codes that will be charged to their bill!

The UK mobile solutions operator will now allow customers to purchase iTunes Codes that can be charged directly to their monthly bill.

Using O2′s “Charge to Mobile” payments service, customers can now buy iTunes Codes, which will be charged straight to their monthly phone bill or from their pay as you go credit.

The codes are available from o2vouchers.co.uk, and are available from £10-£30. To celebrate the launch, O2 is offering customers who buy iTunes Codes a voucher worth £25 for £20.

The codes can be used to purchase all sorts, be it music, films, apps and books and the charges will be shown on the monthly bills as “O2 iTunes”.

O2′s Commerce Sales head Danny Barclay said, “We look forward to making our customers’ lives easier by offering them a fast, easy and safe alternative method of payment to purchase iTunes credit.”

A similar service is already available for Windows Phone users, allowing them to charge apps bought on their smartphones to their O2 bills.

We eagerly await the papers running a story about how someone’s child has racked up a gigantic bill buying One Direction and Little Mix remixes without permission.

Microsoft announce Windows 10

October 1st, 2014 1 Comment By Ian Wade

windows logo 300x274 Microsoft announce Windows 10Windows 10 – it’s here. Get out your bunting and celebratory bottles of booze.

Microsoft have announced the launch of Windows 10, which seems to have bypassed 9 as the last version was Windows 8.

The software will run on a wide range of devices, from phones and tablets to PCs and Xbox games consoles, with applications sold from a single store.

The Start Menu is back too, so you can cease the rioting at last.

In addition to offering a list of the user’s favourite applications, the menu also brings up resizeable tiles – similar to those featured in Windows 8′s touch-centric interface on PCs and tablets.

The Start Menu will now feature both a list of apps and live tiles.

The company said the facility was intended to make the software seem familiar to both users of Windows 8 and Windows 7, and generally stop everyone saying ‘what on Earth are Microsoft playing at?’

Apparently businesses wait about a year after a new operating system’s release before offering it to workers, to give IT staff a chance to get to grips with the new technologies involved, but it has been nearly two years since Windows 8 first went on sale and adoption is still low.

Windows 10 Microsoft said Windows 10 would work on devices with 4in (10.2cm) screens and 80in screens and, for developers, Microsoft have updated command prompt, which is beyond thrilling.

Well let’s hope they’ve learnt their lesson.

At last! A wearable drone that takes selfies!

September 30th, 2014 1 Comment By Ian Wade

Some inventors have cooked up a wrist-based drone that takes selfies. That’s it. Everyone can go home now, we’ve finished as a species.

The Nixie is a flyable wrist-worn camera, and is the brainchild of Christoph Kohstall, Jelena Jovanovic, and Michael Niedermayr who are a team of one of ten finalists in Intel’s Make It Wearable (MIW) Challenge.

LET’S SEE IT IN ACTION THEN

It was originally meant to be a flying pair of glasses, which would have no doubt been REALLY useful, but now morphed into a wristband that unfolds into a remote-controlled quadcopter.

The Intel Creators Project blog said:”With traditional cameras, shooters have to interrupt the moment to take pictures, and the controls require manual manipulations. Nixie puts you front and center in your photos and videos—without requiring your hands, or your attention.”

While still a prototype, the Nixie should include preset modes for all sorts of filming criteria.

Within its capacity as an Intel MIW Challenge entry, the Nixie, of course, utilizes Intel’s Edison—a functioning, Quark-powered computer with wireless capabilities packed into a chip as slim and small as an SD card.

It’s just one of the inventions in the running for the award, along with nine others that include  sports, healthcare, robotics, and existing wearable technology.

The winning team will be announced at the Make It Wearable Finale Event on Nov. 3.

kebab 300x200 StopTober wants you to stay sober in order to save moneyIt’s the end of September, which might mean you are excited to go and spend this month’s salary on beer and fags at your earliest opportunity, or it might mean you are looking forward to a month of abstinence in the name of StopTober. Which starts tomorrow, being as it is 1st October.

Originally coined as a catchy activity-month rhyming phrase (see also Movember and Vajanuary), the stop smoking month has been hijacked by another charity campaigning for people to have an alcohol free month as well. October is just no fun anymore.

But just in case people think abstinence is boring, Macmillan have today ‘warned’ people about how much they spend on alcohol, attempting to rebrand StopTober as some kind of money-saving, rather than enjoyment-killing wheeze.

Apparently, the average adult in Britain spends almost £50,000 on alcohol during their lifetime. Macmillan’s survey spoke to 2,000 over 18s and found that each Briton spends around £787 a year on alcohol, although this figure was “sizably more” in London. Men spent an average of £934.44 per year, while women spent £678.60.

Even our friend Martin Lewis from Moneysavingexpert.com jumped on the stop-drinking-to-save-money bandwagon, ominously cautioning the “cheap night out that turns into a pocket-killer.” We’re not sure whether he’s referring to the pointless and regret-inducing purchase of stinky kebabs at the end of a night, or those nights when you end up in a kebab shop buying lap-dances…

Hannah Redmond for Macmillan Cancer Support, said: “By abstaining for the month of October and being sponsored to do so, you’ll save money, reap the health benefits and raise vital funds to support people affected by cancer.” While we have nothing against giving money to charity, surely people are going to be more inclined to join in with doing fun things for charity, rather than giving up things you enjoy. Besides, £50 grand over a whole lifetime?

Doesn’t sound like people are trying hard enough…

Anti-deathwatch: HMV

September 30th, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

hmv 300x168 Anti deathwatch: HMVHMV’s rebirth from the jaws of the dumper has been a success!

The entertainment solutions retailer originally filed for administration in January 2013.

But now, they’ve recorded operating profits of almost £17 million in the 11 months after it was rescued by restructuring firm Hilco in 2013.

According to reports set to be filed at Companies House, HMV posted operating profit of £16.7m on sales of £311.2m between January 29 and December 28 2013.

All of the chain – or those that are left – are back in profit, thanks to some wheeler-dealing as regards their debts and overheads, and negotiations with suppliers.

HMV paid out £10m in intercompany charges and £4m in on-off restructuring costs. It also paid £2.3m in interest on loans and working capital provided by Hilco.

After one-off costs, the retailer posted a pre-tax loss of £4.8m.

So that’s good news then.

TNT has a change

September 30th, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

tnt 300x228 TNT has a changeTNT have been having something of a rebrand.

Some designers named Design Bridge have rebranded delivery company TNT, “positioning” it as The People Network and to emphasise this, they’ve created a circular device which represents “perpetual motion”.

Further ponce-speak is to be had, as Design Bridge were asked to come up with something that would “reflect TNT’s vision”.

“The People Network”, reflects the company’s aim to connect people and businesses in a “truly personal, rather than purely professional manner”, according to Design Bridge.

And – Oh God – they hope it will help “galvanise the ‘challenger’ spirit of those working internally at TNT”, as well as TNT customers.

TNT chief executive Tex Gunning, said this with his mouth: “Customers are not barcodes and we are not robots. We all relate to what drives our customers: business growth with a personal touch. Taking time to understand what customers really need distinguishes us from others. We are The People Network.”

There’s an advert too, so feast your eyes

TNT Post rebranded as Whistl earlier this month too. No idea why.

Bitterwallet Facebook censorship Facebook will now follow you around throwing ads at youUpgrade your ad blockers, for Facebook’s ads are now going to start stalking you on the internet.

Starting today, Facebook will use data it gathers from the users for its new ad network, Atlas, which it will serve up ads on non-Facebook sites based on what Facebook knows about you.

Atlas was a Microsoft thing that Facebook scooped up last year to the tune of $100 million. Facebook have tinkered a bit with it a bit, but Atlas is a bit like Google’s AdWords, which will let advertisers follow users across the web and mobile devices.

According to a blog post from Atlas’ head, Erik Johnson: ”Cookies don’t work on mobile, are becoming less accurate in demographic targeting and can’t easily or accurately measure the customer purchase funnel across browsers and devices or into the offline world.”

Let us all enjoy that once again; “customer purchase funnel.

This opens a hellmouth of new opportunities for online advertising, with Atlas acting as an alternative to Google ads. Feel free to add your own ‘do bears shit in the woods’ sentiments in the comments below.