Telematics- the black box that can be fitted to cars- are already A Thing, but for most people, the decision of whether or not to subject your driving to such scrutiny is a voluntary one. However, increasingly drivers under 25 are being ‘encouraged’ to install a system or face the consequences of higher insurance premiums. But some insurers are even installing systems that will grass you up to your mum if you exceed the speed limit.
The new technology not only tracks youngsters’ every move behind the wheel, but texts their parents if it thinks they have broken the speed limit, or are braking too quickly, for example. Insurers claim this is all kosher because parents, who often cough up to fund their child’s car, have more influence over their child’s driving habits than the insurer.
“We contact parents, as well as phone call, text and update a driver’s online account if they don’t drive safely,” Crispin Moger of specialist insurer Marmalade told the Telegraph, adding “We involve parents as we don’t want young drivers to ignore messages we send them, although we can withdraw the policy if they keep driving badly.”
Other insurers will only tell parents if they have bought the policy. Steve Kerrigan of The Co-operative Insurance, who have shopped 1,500drivers for speeding since installing telematics four years ago think the system offers “reassurance to parents who can ‘see’ their children when they are out on the road and otherwise on their own.”
Some firms work by reducing premiums for drivers who agree to have telematics installed, others offer discounts for good driving behaviour, like More Than, who offer a discount of up to 2.5% after every three month review or the Co-Op who assess driving every 90 days and when the premium will either go up by 20%, or be discounted by 30%. Marmalade just slap you with a £250 penalty for bad driving as “if it was just a £10 increase then people would ignore it.”
But of course these telematics are entirely optional. You can choose to pay up to £1000 extra for a non-monitored policy. The average increase for More Than customers is around £750, and premiums are 25% higher with Direct Line than if you concede to having a black box.
But is telematics going to be forced on to the rest of us? On a purely market-led basis, the answer would be no as the eye-watering prices levied on young drivers- who are twice as likely to have an accident than the over 60s- are what makes the cost of installing a system worthwhile for the insurer.
There are cheaper options though- some insurers offer an app that can track your driving an earn you a discount, although these systems aren’t without their issues.“The difficulty with an app-based product is the potential for fraud – you could switch your phone off or give it to your gran,” said Graeme Trudgill of the British Insurance Brokers’ Association, with uncharacteristic common sense.
But chances are that we will all be driving cars with telematics in the future as from 2017, all new cars will have black boxes installed, as part of new EU targets. The “eCall” project says that, in two years, all new cars made or sold in the EU should have a telematics device that can transmit data to insurers and call the emergency services in the event of a crash.
So is this a good thing? Surely once Big Brother is watching all of us, premiums will be weighted towards those more likely to cause an accident and safer drivers will benefit from cheaper premiums. In theory anyway…
We all know that Sports Direct is run like a ‘backstreet operation’, thanks to a dressing down offered to the company. Well, in news that will surprise precisely no-one, there’s more.
Sports Direct is responsible for a fifth of all zero hour contracts in retail.
After a number of revelations about the company, chairman Keith Hellawell said that they used zero hour contracts no more than any other retailer, however, the figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) suggest something rather different.
Hellawell said: “I suspect that, in percentage terms, we are probably not much different from other people in the retail business. It is just that we are so big, so the numbers are quite substantial.” ONS stats show that from October to December 2014, just 1.8% of people working in retail and wholesale were on zero-hour contracts. If this is right, then around 72,000 have jobs on these controversial contracts, with one in five of them working for Sports Direct.
With Sports Direct only giving staff at USC (who they own) 15 minutes notice of the business going into administration, it turns out that everyone sacked might be able to take Sports Direct to a tribunal.
Mike Ashley, if he’s got any sense, will be smelling the warm pants of trouble. He’d be wise to act, sharply.
The app is available today (which means, hurray, yet another update to do on your PS3 or PS4) and you’ll be able to listen to albums over the top of in-game audio. That means you can play a super bleak horror game while listening to ‘Yakety Sax’ by Boots Randolph. And who wouldn’t want to do that?
Of course, if you like tutting about things like Spotify, you can always ignore all this and play Solitaire with some playing cards while listening to an LP.
For those of you interested, the app is available even if you don’t have a premium Spotify account.
Gustav Soderstrom, chief product officer at Spotify, said: “Music has always been a big part of gaming. I remember playing computer games like Quake and Counter-Strike with my favourite tunes on in the background, taking the experience to a whole new level. With today’s launch, we’re bringing back that magic of gaming with music – all in a beautifully-designed and smooth experience that looks great on the big screen.”
You’ll get all the usual features through the app, as well as a new the option to control the music in-game via a pop-up volume menu. Spotify Connect technology will be part of the app too, which means other people in the room with access to your account can control the tunes with their phones or whatever.
After talking about bacon the other day, we ended up making a vegetarian cry. So, to recalibrate the balance, we’ll slag off some meat now, so that the vegetarians can pat each internal organ contentedly.
Someone’s done a study and, shock horror, it turns out junk food might have a few negative knock-on effects. While you were scarfing cheeseburgers and pizza into you like it was going out of fashion, it wasn’t making you happy.
In fact, things that are high in fat might be making you anxious and depressed.
Is it something to do with your skin hanging over the top of your trousers, like your belt is wearing a blubber beret? Not quite. It is thought that the transferring of poo from one bowel to another can really mess with the way you feel, maaaan.
The Louisiana State University study mused on the idea that the bacteria in our guts might be making us really sad. Of course, they found this by testing on mice and those on high fat diets showed disruptions in their behaviour, with increases in anxiety and impaired memory. Or, maybe those meeses just hate those burgers to peeses?
Maybe we can all start suing Burger King for feeling miserable all the time?
An investigation has been kicked off by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) after claims were made that the data of millions of people’s pensions are being sold to cold-calling firms and shady fraud types. The ICO have said that the rumours they’ve heard are “very worrying” and they will be talking to regulators and the police.
As you’ll know, there’s been changes which means that, from next month, people can cash-in their savings when they retire, rather than buying an annuity. These changes have seen increased concern about an upswing in fraud.
According to reports, people’s pension details are being sold off for as little as 5p without consent. Over at the Daily Mail, reporters said they were offered information about 15,000 pensions without checks being made. This backs up previous ICO warnings that these reforms could lead to more scamming.
Steve Eckersley, the head of enforcement at the ICO, said: “It suggests a frequent disregard of laws that are in place specifically to protect consumers. We will be launching an investigation immediately. We’re aware of allegations raised against several companies involved in the cold-calling sector, and will be making inquiries to establish whether there have been any breaches of the Data Protection Act or Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations.”
If any company is found guilty, there could be fines of £500,000 dished out and criminal prosecutions could be brought forward to anyone found obtaining personal data.
Eckersley added: “The information we’ve been shown supports the work we’ve been doing to target the shady industry that operates behind the nuisance of cold calls and spam texts. We’re already aware of the potential for a huge spike in the number of scam texts and calls linked to pensions when the law changes in April, and have already taken action against a company that was sending out misleading messages.”
“What we’ve seen here confirms those fears. Personal data is such a valuable asset, particularly financial information. The worst case scenario here is this information getting into the wrong hands and being used to target individuals at a critical point in their financial lives.”
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The airline said that customers’ personal info, like addresses and bank details was not stolen in the attack, which is something, but those affected won’t be able to use the air miles they’ve accumulated while BA try and sort everything out.
A spokesperson said: ”British Airways has become aware of some unauthorised activity in relation to a small number of frequent flyer Executive Club accounts.”
“We would like to reassure customers that, at this stage we are not aware of any access to any subsequent information pages within accounts, including travel histories or payment card details.”
“We are sorry for the concern and inconvenience this matter has caused, and would like to reassure customers that we are taking this incident seriously and have taken a number of steps to lock down accounts so they can no longer be accessed,” the spokesman added.
There’s no word on which set of hackers it is (it doesn’t look like the work of our pals at Lizard Squad), but it is thought that the hackers got into the company’s computers by utilising an automated computer programme that looks for vulnerabilities in online security systems, which is gaspingly unsurprising.
Anyway, reset your passwords if this affects you.
You see, as usual, the train companies have decided to do a load of engineering works on the days when loads of people might actually want to use them. Naturally, that means there’s going to be huge traffic jams as well, so you might as well stay in and sulk.
So what’s going down? Well, there’ll be no Southeastern trains running to or from Charing Cross, Waterloo East or Cannon Street in That London. As well as that, there’s major works going on at Watford, which means there’ll be no Virgin or London Midland trains able to run in-and-out of Euston station between Good Friday and Easter Monday.
Virgin won’t have any trains running any further south than Milton Keynes, Rugby or Northampton and there’ll be no direct London Midland services between Euston and Hemel Hempstead, with Virgin saying that they are “strongly recommending” that passengers don’t travel between Good Friday and Easter Monday.
Trains through Manchester will also be affected as well as services in Scotland and, well, bloody everywhere. If you’re planning a journey, have a look at your routes to see which ones are going to be a pain in your backside.
The roads will be chockablock too, with traffic information givers from Inrix saying that the congestion hotspots this weekend will be in the South East and the South West of England.
If you’re travelling by road to Gatwick and Heathrow, journeys could take four times as long, so set off early if you’re going on holiday.
Pardon? Well, a group called Safari Users Against Google’s Secret Tracking (which has the frankly rubbish aconym of SUAGST) want to sue the internet behemoth in the English courts over what they claim are Google bypassing security settings to track them online.
Three appeal judges have dismissed Google’s appeal against a High Court ruling and ruled that claims for damages can be brought over the allegations of Google’s misuse of private information.
The Safari Users say that Google’s “clandestine” tracking and collation of internet usage (between the summer of 2011 and early 2012) led to distress and embarrassment among UK users. You might not remember that, because as a BW reader, you’re in a constant state of embarrassment and distress, so all the years roll into one.
Anyway, the group say that Google collected private info through cookies, without their information.
Dan Tench, a partner at law firm Olswang, who are representing the group, said this case decides “whether British consumers actually have any right to hold Google to account in this country”. Tench added: ”This is the appropriate forum for this case – here in England where the consumers used the internet and where they have a right to privacy.”
Lord Dyson, Master of the Rolls, and Lady Justice Sharp said in their joint judgement, with which Lord Justice McFarlane agreed: “On the face of it, these claims raise serious issues which merit a trial. They concern what is alleged to have been the secret and blanket tracking and collation of information, often of an extremely private nature… about and associated with with the claimants’ internet use, and the subsequent use of that information for about nine months.”
“The case relates to the anxiety and distress this intrusion upon autonomy has caused.”
Most consumers probably woke up this morning with no idea of the momentous events of yesterday. Putting driving programme ex-presenters and boy band ex-members in the shade is the news that the new Consumer Rights Act received Royal Assent in Parliament yesterday. While you might not think it is exciting, the new rights will extend consumer rights to digital products and offer greater redress and clearer rules on faulty products. Thrilling stuff.
The Consumer Rights Act is described the biggest change to consumer legislation in “a generation” and replaces the Sale of Goods Act, and seven other pieces of consumer legislation. The Act is also predicted to boost the economy by £4 billion over the next decade.
When the new Act comes into force on 1 October 2015, consumer rights will now be extended to digital products for the first time, meaning that anyone buying a digital product that turns out to be faulty could be entitled to a refund or replacement.
The Consumer Rights Act gives consumers new rights to a repair, replacement and refund of faulty content such as online films, games, music downloads and e-books- even if you didn’t pay for the original platform.
Take the example cited by Which!!! of a free to download app that you have been playing for months and on which, you’ve spent an amount of money on in-app purchases to improve your game character. However, after your last character upgrade, the game stopped working. Under the new rules you’ll be entitled to a repair or a replacement (of all your added parts) and if a repair isn’t provided within a reasonable time or is impossible to replace then you’d be entitled to some money back.
But the new rules also offer clarity when dealing with faulty items. For example, if your kettle or toaster knackers up three weeks after purchase, are you entitled to a refund or not? The current law refers to a ‘reasonable time’ which is open to different interpretation from seller and purchaser. However, under the new law you will have a clear right to a full refund for up to 30 days after you buy your item.
Finally, there will also be clearer rules for shoddy services- those provided either without reasonable care and skill, or as agreed. For example, this could be a restaurant meal delivered lukewarm or painting and decorating that’s been completed in the wrong colour or to a poor standard. From 1 October, you will now have a legal right to ask for the service to be repeated or to get a full/partial refund.
Business Secretary Vince Cable said: “This is the biggest shake up of consumer law for a generation, bringing legislation in line with the fact many people now buy online.
“Consumers will now be much better informed and protected when buying goods or services on the internet. They will now be entitled to get for the first time a free repair or replacement for any faulty digital content.”
Consumer Affairs Minister Jo Swinson said: “For too long consumers and businesses have struggled to understand the complicated rules that apply when buying goods and services.
“That is why the Consumer Rights Act is so important in setting out clear and updated consumer rights for goods, services and, for the first time, digital content.
With that, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) said that they have got in touch with all the British airlines “to require them to review all relevant procedures”.
The details of the crash in the Alps are well documented, so you’ll know that, in the lead-up to the crash, Andreas Gunter Lubitz waited until the captain of Flight 4U 9525 left the cockpit and then crashed the aircraft into a mountain range.
Post 9/11, the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) brought in rules which require a member of the cabin crew to enter the cockpit if the captain or first officer needs to leave for some reason. These rules weren’t put in place across Europe.
The CAA said: “Following the details that have emerged regarding the tragic Germanwings incident, we are co-ordinating closely with colleagues at the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and have contacted all UK operators to require them to review all relevant procedures.”
“All UK airline pilots undergo extensive and regular medical assessments to determine their fitness to hold a licence. As part of this, aeromedical examiners are required to assess a commercial pilot’s mental health at each medical examination which, for an airline pilot flying with at least one other pilot, is undertaken annually.”
Virgin, Thomson, Monarch and Easyjet have said that they’ll be bring in the procedure immediately and Ryanair, Jet2 and Flybe already undertake this system.
Ever wanted to learn a new language, but hate the idea of doing a class that will make you take irritating exams? Want to be able to converse abroad without having to sit on your sofa with the headphones on, repeating inane phrases?
Well, you might be in luck if you’re tired of simply shouting in staccato English and have an Xbox One.
The successful language learning tool, Rosetta Stone, has been launched as an app on the Xbox One, which is a good idea.
The app will visualise real-world situations for you, so you can learn phrases that matter to you. Presumably, phrases like “Can I have a beer please?”, “where is the nearest cash machine?” and “I’m sorry, but I’ve soiled myself – please stop laughing.”
For the time being, there’s only English and Spanish that are available, but obviously more languages will be added.
The developers say: “You explore several locations in the Discovery Zone and chat with the characters you find there. In the Training Zone, you’ll solidify the concepts you encountered with study recommendations, cultural tips, phrase books, and of course, more games! Keep track of your achievements, and keep practising until you get a perfect score.”
Thanks to bacon’s power, it can make people go crazy, as you’re about to find out with one lady from Michigan.
Shaneka Torres went to a branch of McDonald’s and, at the drive-thru in Grand Rapids, twice tried to order a bacon cheeseburger, but after mix-up, she didn’t get one with bacon on it. By way of apology, she was promised a free bacon cheeseburger the next time she’s stopped by.
All well and good, right? WRONG.
Shaneka came back to the restaurant and again, was given a cheese burger without bacon. This is when things started to get crazy. According to reports, she said: “Bitch, you don’t know who you’re talking to…” before whipping out a handgun from her bag and firing through the drive-thru window.
The bullet narrowly missed a worker who’d ducked seconds before, to pick up a burger. Seriously – how bumbling are the staff at this particular McD’s? Dropping stuff and giving out the wrong orders all the time? We suspect a portion of Bitterwallet readers are firmly on the side of the handgun.
Take heed though, if you’re thinking of going all Falling Down: jurors took a mere hour to convict Torres of the shooting and now she’s looking at seven years in prison. Let us hope the prison slophouse has some bacon on their cheeseburgers or there’s going to be a riot.
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Remember how much trouble the Co-operative Bank were in? Well, they’re slowly sorting it all out and reckon they’ve ”stabilised”, cutting their losses to £264.2m in 2014. However, they’ve still got some way to go and there’s going to be more branches being closed.
They said that they’ll be closing 57 branches in 2015.
Chief executive Niall Booker has agreed to stay on and chip away at the mess until the end of 2016. He took over in 2013, when the bank looked like it might vanish completely after a £1.5bn hole was found in their accounts.
That said, the Co-op said that they’ve now revised their 2013 debt to £688.3m, which is still loads of money.
Booker said: “Over the course of 2014 the management team has continued to take significant steps to implement the strategy and to turn the bank around. The Co-operative Bank is stronger than a year ago and we end the year with a strengthened capital position, ahead of schedule in the reduction of non-core assets and having made progress reducing underlying costs and improving the day-to-day management and governance.”
“However, we are in the early stages of the turnaround and there is still much to do to transform the organisation into a sustainable business. There are a number of matters where the bank does not yet meet FCA and PRA regulatory requirements and expectations.”
“The revised plan, accepted by the regulators, seeks to address this.”
While this is all well and boring, the thing that really hammered the bank’s reputation is the fact it was embroiled in a sex and drug scandal, which was the worst kind of PR for a service that wants to scream stability and not an association with orgies and crystal meth.