eBay phishing scam exposed

September 19th, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

eBay have been having a right old time of it lately.

They’ve now been hit by online badmen who’ve been phishing and rinsing unsuspecting customers for their usernames and passwords, by placing fake item listings and redirecting users to external sites.

According to a BBC report, it was brought to attention by an eBay PowerSeller who thought something was a bit fishy about an iPhone 5 listing that took him to a weird address.

He’s also provided a video about, bless him.

The IT professional told the BBC: “It’s guaranteed – you can bet your bottom dollar that somebody’s going to click on that and be redirected to a third-party site and they’re going to enter their details and be compromised.

“You don’t know how many of the hundreds of thousands of people who use eBay will have done that.”

eBay have removed the listings, but it’s likely to be the tip of a vast iceberg, as it tries to find out how many people had been fooled by it. It’s the last thing eBay need, having had a dozen service crashes this year already.

But anyway. Keep ‘em peeled.

Made.com congratulate Scotland on their independence

September 19th, 2014 2 Comments By Mof Gimmers

The Scottish Independence Referendum (or, ‘neverendum’ for those who have been furiously bored by the whole thing) has had a lot of people debating and musing, and when that happens, you can bet your ass that a load of people in marketing are looking at ways of getting on board with the whole thing.

Made.com got a bit trigger happy, congratulating the Scottish on their new found independence… that didn’t happen.

IMG 0864 381x500 Made.com congratulate Scotland on their independence

 

What with Scotland still being part of Britain for the time being, the email will have no doubt offered Scots a painful glimpse into a future they could’ve had, where they could’ve had a bunch of navy blue things in their houses.

Obviously, navy blue things are banned now.

Made.com realised their error and sent another email out, which was inspired by the Union Jack, which will serve to offer certain Scots the bleak realisation that they’re tied to David Cameron for a while yet.

IMG 0867 347x500 Made.com congratulate Scotland on their independence

 

Now, all Scottish people who voted ‘Yes’ will be required to store all their broken dreams in a £179 ‘Jack Upholstered storage box’ while watching their hopes float away while sat on a £769 ‘Edward Jack Armchair’.

Cruel business this politics lark.

Goodbye Scotland? Hello duty-free whisky?

September 18th, 2014 5 Comments By Thewlis

whisky Goodbye Scotland? Hello duty free whisky?It’s independence day! Or stay the same day! We won’t know until the early hours of tomorrow morning, and everyone is awaiting the result with baited breath. Not that we are trying to change the minds of any last minute swing voters or anything, but some folks have calculated that whisky, and indeed potentially other forms of alcoholic beverage even if they aren’t made in Scotland, might actually be cheaper if Scotland were to go its own way.

The reason is, of course, that the UK levies massive amounts of excise duty and VAT on alcohol, which can comprise up to 80% of the actual retail price. A free Scotland would be at liberty to set its own rates of duty and even (assuming it wouldn’t be part of the EU. Sore point) make up whatever rate of VAT-equivalent it chooses. Given that Scotch whisky is a Scottish product, canny lawmakers could choose to set lower duty on whisky than other types of drinks which would, presumably, stimulate consumption, and therefore the economy behind it. And if the duty/VAT on other drinks was lower than in the UK, there would be an increase in cross-border demand too.

And that’s what accountant’s Baker Tilly envisage. A frozen North, white with transit vans, as cheeky bootleggers pop over the border on booze cruises to stock up on cheap alcohol. Forget Gretna being a place where you can elope, soon it could be the place you met your perfect match in a single malt.

“The sale of whisky from an independent Scotland to retail customers in the rest of the UK would no longer be a UK domestic supply subject to UK excise duties and VAT,” said a Baker Tilly spokesperson, nodding sagely. “Currently, total UK consumption taxes – excise duty and VAT – can be as much as 80pc of the consumer price of a bottle of whisky.

The firm added: “We’ve seen similar cross-border pricing anomalies between the UK and France, resulting in the so-called ‘booze cruises’ to hypermarkets in northern France. A price differential arising from changes in excise duties and the Scottish equivalent of VAT to the consumer price of a bottle of whisky as Scotland leaves the UK and transitions to EU membership could result initially in a new cross-border market with the rest of the UK for duty-free goods.”

So what else could Scotland be a duty-free haven for? Fuel perhaps? UK fuel duty (with added VAT) is also scandalously high, so a lower duty rate would bring down the price of fuel. Although the savings would probably outweigh the costs, unless you live in Carlisle or Berwick upon Tweed.

Of course, the full benefit of a lower duties Scotland would have to be tempered by the exchange rate, given we’re not letting them keep the pound…

sugar is a drug New sugar tax to double the cost of your favourite snacks?Sugar. Yummy, delicious sugar. It tastes nice, so we like to eat it, even if we are all obese and getting fatter/diabetes/rotten teeth. But what can we do about it? Well a new report into tooth decay recommends slashing the maximum recommended intake to almost a quarter of WHO limits, with a bonus ‘sugar tax’ to help us all decide not to eat sugary treats anymore.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) recently lowered the recommended sugar limits to a maximum of 50g per day for the average adult and ideally no more than 25g, but a new report from doctors at University College London and the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine warns this is still too high, calling for a limit of just 14g per day.

The study, which looked at rates of tooth decay in comparison to average sugar intake, found that people who eat little or no added sugar had little or no tooth decay. As a result, the authors want to impose a maximum sugar intake of five per cent of total calories per day and ideally less than three per cent. Three per cent of total calories would be around 14g for the average adult – less than half a can of fizzy drink or four blocks of Cadbury’s Dairy Milk chocolate. For children this would be even lower, with seven-year-olds munching no more than 11g of sugar, or three squares of Dairy Milk.

Now, before anyone starts ranting that no-one, let alone a seven year old, should be munching bars of dairy milk everyday, the sugar limit would also include all sugar added to food by manufacturers (ever checked the sugar content of a ready meal?) or at home, but also natural sugars present in things like honey and fruit juice.

Co-author Professor Philip James, Honorary Professor of Nutrition at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and past President World Obesity Federation, said  “A sugars tax should be developed to increase the cost of sugar-rich food and drinks.”

“This would be simplest as a tax on sugar as a mass commodity, since taxing individual foods depending on their sugar content is an enormously complex administrative process. The retail price of sugary drinks and sugar rich foods needs to increase by at least 20 per cent to have a reasonable effect on consumer demand so this means a major tax on sugars as a commodity. The level will depend on expert analyses but my guess is that a 100 per cent tax might be required.”

A 100% tax seems quite hefty, but he might be right. Demand for sweet treats is fairly inelastic- meaning that if you want one, you will buy one, without worrying too much about the cost. In order for a sugar tax to have an actual effect, and not just be absorbed into rising costs of living, it needs to be a doozy of a tax, doubling the cost of the ‘bad’ items.

But would it work? If you really want a Mars bar would you pay £1.20 for a Mars bar if you really needed to work rest and play? Or 84p for a can of coke? And let’s not forget that once upon a time Freddos were 10p. Look at them now even without a sugar tax surcharge.

Let’s face it, we probably have all paid similar prices for these products at airports or motorway service stations in the past. But would we just happily keep on paying this amount or would such a high price make us cut down our consumption? Or should the Government just naff off and leave us to enjoy whatever we want to fill our faces with in peace?

Fake government websites banned

September 17th, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

asa logo 300x200 Fake government websites bannedThe advertising watchdog ASA – who sadly aren’t a real dog – have banned three cheeky copycat websites.

The sites have been posing as government channels for health insurance cards, passports and birth certificates, leaving consumers baffled, poor and riotous.

The websites – europeanhealthcard.org.uk, uk-officialservices.co.uk and ukpassportoffices.co.uk – duped users into thinking they were official providers of services they were offering, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) said.

It also ruled that the websites must not appear again and any future versions must feature disclaimers that say “we’re not real”.

Although, putting a thing on a site saying it’s a fake, sort of defeats the purpose of being a moody front to steal your life.

The ASA said it received large numbers of consumer complaints about websites that offered access to online government services, but which were not official channels and typically charged a premium.

The ASA said the europeanhealthcard.org.uk website charged for an application verification service, while the EHIC was available for free when applied for via the official gov.uk website.

Only stick to the proper gov channels, and if in doubt, call ‘em up and waiting 45 minutes to get through to someone.

Who is the worst company in the UK?

September 17th, 2014 1 Comment By Mof Gimmers

npower logo Who is the worst company in the UK? Like clockwork, npower are here with their latest unsavoury accolade – they’ve capped off a dismal year by being named the worst company in the UK, replacing Ryanair who were the previous owners of the ‘Worst’ title.

Which!!! have been collating their annual customer service rankings for the UK’s 100 biggest brands and npower came out as the absolute pits.

Other energy companies featured prominently too, with ScottishPower going from 62nd place to 99th, which just happens to be the biggest drop of any of the brands featured.

Both companies have been blaming the fact that they’ve got new computer systems, which means that customers have been sent fantastically incorrect bills, not had bills at all, seen their complaints vanishing and queries taking months to be sorted out.

As previously reported, npower have been so poor that they’ve been separated from the rest of the class and been forced to sit on a special table with Ofgem and put back on pencil.

Ofgem set npower a series of targets for clearing a swathe of problems which were affecting 400,000 customers. They were threatened with a ban on all telesales and npower just sneaked their targets. EDF Energy are 81st in the table, and British Gas and E.On were joint 86th, while SSE sat in 94th place.

So which companies are any cop, sitting pretty at the top of the table? First Direct was ranked 1st and John Lewis and Lakeland did rather well also.

An npower spokesman said: “We’re determined to improve and we’re already making progress. Since this survey was carried out we’ve reduced the number of late bills by over 75%, and the number of complaints we received by nearly 30%. However, we know we still have a long way to go before we can reach the top spot and we’re continuing to focus all of our efforts in this area.”

So, npower aren’t very good and neither are their energy competitors. Next week, we’ll bring you the news of the Pope’s religious preferences and confirm whether or not bears go to the toilet in woodland areas.

Continued deathwatch: ASOS

September 17th, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

bw asos 300x168 Continued deathwatch: ASOSASOS are having a rough time. The troubled online clothing retailer had already posted a profit warning earlier this year, and have now posted another one.

This follows something of a disastrous 12 months for them, after a warehouse fires damaged stock and fourth-quarter sales were dented by a strong pound. The fire damage alone cost the company £30 million in lost sales.

Shares fell 8.88% to 2207p after the firm warned full-year profits were set to be lower than previously expected.

Whereas the analysts had reckoned on a £62 million profit in their forecasts, it’s more likely to be nearer to £45 million.

The firm warned: “In the new financial year we’ll make significant investments in our international pricing and proposition, as well as in our logistical infrastructure and technology platform. As a result, we expected profit before tax for the year to August 31 to be at a similar level to 2013-14.”

Retail sales for the three months to August 31 did increase 15%, but was still a slowdown deom the 25% from the previous quarter. The international business now accounts for 60% of sales but the strong pound means prices have risen by up to 20% in some markets.

Basically, international sales have fallen from 63% to 61% with Australia and Russia bringing sales down. We’ll be keeping an eye on Asos.

Pizza Hut: Now with free live animal

September 17th, 2014 1 Comment By Mof Gimmers

An Australian Pizza Hut joint has finished scratching their head after there was a kerfuffle about a recent offer they promoted.

Basically, the restaurant offered to give customers a free pet with the purchase of 10 large pizzas.

30639 o571ye 500x281 Pizza Hut: Now with free live animal

In a statement Pizza Hut Australia apologised saying that the Mount Waverley store had taken the poster down and that the promotion had not been approved centrally.

“It has come to our attention that one of our stores have recently been running a promotion which was not approved by Pizza Hut Australia, nor was condoned in any circumstances. We would like to sincerely apologise to anyone who was offended by this,” they said.

“The poster has since been taken down and all those involved have been made aware of the severity and inappropriateness of the promotion.”

Of course, if you get 10 large pizza from this lot, it probably equates to one hamster’s worth of meat anyway, so really, it is much ado about nothing.

Parents want payday loans to do one

September 16th, 2014 1 Comment By Ian Wade

wonga ladies 300x282 Parents want payday loans to do oneThree-quarters of the parents want payday loan adverts banned before 9pm.

Research found that more than one third (34%) of children considered the adverts to be fun, tempting or exciting as they tend to peddle their wares via the medium of puppetry, such as those wankstains at Wonga.

Look at it. How can a child REFUSE TO BE DRAWN INTO A WORLD OF GERIATRIC FELT?

This group were significantly more likely to say they would consider using a payday loan, even if they’ve never heard of them.

The report by The Children’s Society calls for restrictions on advertising loans to join those already in place to protect children from adverts on gambling, alcohol, tobacco and junk food.

Matthew Reed, chief executive of The Children’s Society, said: “Through our frontline work, we see first-hand the devastating impact of debt on children’s lives.”

“We know it’s become a daily battle for families to pay the bills, meet the mortgage or rent payments, and find money for food or other basics. One setback or even a simple mistake can lead to a spiral of debt. Right now children are being exposed to a barrage of payday loan adverts, which put even more pressure on families struggling to make ends meet and to provide the very basics for their children. That’s why the law should be changed to ban these ads from TV and radio before the 9pm watershed.”

“It is crucial that children learn about borrowing and money from their school and family – not from irresponsible payday loan advertising. A significant majority of parents back a ban and it’s now time for the government to act.”

The survey questioned 1,065 adults and some 680 kids from the 13-17 age range.

coffee cup 200x300 Want to pay less for your posh coffee? You can already save £130 on Nespresso...Some people drink coffee. Comes in a jar, add hot water. Other people drink (sh)ambrosia from the gods, served in a paper cup with your name scribbled on in marker pen, and charged accordingly. However for those who like to drink coffee at home, but still pay many times the price for it, we have some good news for Nespresso owners.

Nespresso is, of course, not just a coffee machine that needs feeding with moderately expensive coffee pods. Nespresso is a lifestyle. Anyone who’s anyone knows that Nespresso drinkers run into George Clooney all the time. However, part of the reason that Nespresso pods are so (relatively) expensive compared with stuff in a jar is the difficulty (for other manufacturers) in making generic pods to fit the machine.

But all that is about to change. A recent court case in France has meant that Nespresso have accepted court directions to provide more information about their coffee machines that will allow other coffee makers to manufacture their own pods to fit the dimensions of the machine. Nespresso will also remove wording from the guarantee that suggested the guarantee might be invalidated if non-Nespresso pods were used in the machine. Good news.

But, despite the current difficulty in manufacture, there are actually a number of non-Nespresso alternative coffee pods available on the market. This could mean that you can pretend you are posh ish, while not having to pay to be so.

A Nespresso cup costs around 30p on average, but many alternatives are not vastly cheaper, coming in at 27-28p a cup. Waitrose are currently selling Cafepod pods at £2 for 10, which works out at 20p each, but this price is due to go back up to £2.75 on October 1. However, following their French compatriots, our German neighbours could be dashing to the rescue, as Lidl’s Bellarom pods are a bargain 18p each. 18p! That would save a three-cups-a-day drinker £130 a year. And  it’ll still be better than Mellow Birds.

Of course, not everyone sees it like this, with Cafepod founder Peter Grainger telling the Telegraph that he thinks punters would be put off by “very low prices”. He said: “My gut feeling? Coffee is a bit like wine. There is a perception of quality being related to price. People do want to feel like they are getting value for money. But they are also conscious of quality. Would they want to pay £1 for a box of 10? Somehow I doubt it.”

So there you have it. Even before the ruling takes effect you could save £130 on your (overpriced) coffee, and this saving could get even bigger in the months to come. Or you could continue to pay premium prices for premium pods and look posh in your house. On your own. Waiting for George to show up…

120,000 compaints to water companies in a year

September 15th, 2014 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

tapwater 258x300 120,000 compaints to water companies in a yearThe collective ‘we’ made over 120,000 complaints to water firms in a year, according to a new report.

Between April 1st 2013 and March 31st 2014, water companies received a total of 123,218 written complaints and you can only imagine how many phone calls were made on top of that.

According to the Consumer Council for Water (or CCWater for lazy typists), over half of the gripes concerned billing and charges. Remarkably, these figures are dropping from previous years.

Tony Smith, chief executive of CCWater, said: “Most water companies have responded well to our challenge to improve performance, with complaints now at their lowest level since we were formed in 2005; but affordability remains a huge challenge for the industry, with one in five customers telling us their water bill is not affordable.”

“Water companies and the regulator Ofwat must deliver prices for the next five years that customers can afford and find acceptable or risk a backlash from struggling households.”

The two companies performing the worst are Southern Water and South East Water and the report said: ‘We have repeatedly told them that they need to bring themselves into line with the rest of the industry, but they continue to lag significantly behind.’

The best? Well done to Wessex Water, Portsmouth Water and Cambridge Water.

Steve George, customer services director at South East Water, said: ‘We are pleased to see the downward trend continue during 2014 but we recognise that there is still more to do. Over the past year we have been working hard to integrate the new communications technologies into customer service. Not only has this new instant approach been welcomed by our customers, our own staff have enthusiastically embraced each development as it has come on board.”

Darren Bentham, Southern Water’s chief customer officer, said: ‘While our performance in 2013/14 saw a big improvement, we are still lower down the results table than we want to be – and where our customers want us to be.”

“However, we are continuing to make changes which ensure we focus on our customers – from training, to new systems and an improved website. These changes are making a huge difference as proved by a significant reduction in written complaints over the past 18 months. Our customers have told us they expect better service and we have promised to bring more improvements. There is still work to do but we’re confident we can deliver our promise, while ensuring bills are affordable for all.”

In other news: bears continue to defecate in woodland areas.

Asda streamlines internet presence

September 12th, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

asdabag 228x276 Asda streamlines internet presenceAsda are shutting down their Direct website. The portal that sells everything that isn’t food, clothing or home guff is going.

However from February, 80% of the Direct stuff will be merged into the grocery site, while George.com will remain the home for all your fashion needs, but will become the online lifestyle store bolstered with no doubt matching towels, toys and pleasing-but-fragile cushions.

The Direct site especially triumphed with deals in stuff like books, garden bits and bobs as well as white goods, like electrical cleaning solution providers such as the washing machine.

This follows Sainsbury’s announcing similar last month, with streamlining  its non-food into their grocery site.

Asda chief executive Andy Clarke said: “We’re creating an online experience that logically fits with how our customers want to shop and focuses on the areas that our customers love. Ultimately, we want to give more people access to the price, quality and style that we are famous for.”

There’s that dreaded ‘experience’ again.

“In what is still a challenging market, I am delighted that we are able to make an investment that will not only step on delivery of our strategy, but also bring new and convenient ways for our customers to shop with us,” Clarke adds.

The company are also hoping to boost online sales by launching the first fully automated click and collect points in the UK, which should roll out in London and the South East from early 2015.

How to delete an unwanted U2 album

September 12th, 2014 1 Comment By Ian Wade

u2 300x300 How to delete an unwanted U2 albumSo you’re one of the billions of people who were “gifted” a copy of the new U2 album and you don’t want it stinking up your iTunes, yeah?

Well, help is at hand.

As not everyone is a massive fan, or even occasional fans, who might have liked a few numbers by the hitmakers once upon a time but that moment has been obliterated by Bono being Bono and his band’s increasingly desperate attempts to remain a colossal thing and all that avoiding tax lark, you might need help in deleting their new album.

If the panto phishing business seemed bad, to some, this felt like a home invasion. Well anyway. Calm down.

Go to your music, select albums, mainly ‘Songs of Innocence’, and then swipe each track to reveal the delete option.

To remove it from your iPhone or iPad, go to Music and switch off “Show all Music”. This way you won’t see any tracks that aren’t actually on your iOS device.

This is quite informative if you’ve ever drunkenly bought something several years ago like, for instance, Kate Nash’s ‘Foundations’, and you were horrified when the cloud shoved it onto your new laptop.

So there you have it. And well done to those of you who already knew how to delete the U2 album and crowed about how much you didn’t care about the whole stunt on Twitter to your 32 followers.

Millions moving banks

September 11th, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

bank sign Millions moving banksMore than a million people have switched their bank accounts since a national switching service began a year ago.

Thanks to The Payments Council, a trade body which came up with the ‘switch guarantee’ as a thing to encourage competition, said that the number of switches was up 19% on the year before.

The highly lucrative current account market is dominated by four banks – HSBC, RBS, Barclays and Lloyds – and they provide three quarters of the UK’s bank accounts.

The Payments Council have not issued a breakdown, but outside of the big four, Santander have been one of the biggest beneficiaries, with Nationwide.

A lot of switchers have come from the troubled Co-operative Group, who’ve been basically handing out their customers to their competition.

While no sign of them making much of an impact, the future could be shaken up by TSB, Tesco, Virgin Money and M&S Bank.

David Mann, who is the head of money at comparison service uSwitch, said “We no longer see our bank as our lifetime companion.”

2007 mad men 005 200x300 Moneysavingexpert sends misleading advert in email to suscribersThe Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) does a sterling job protecting us consumers from those scurrilous types who would seek to mislead us with not-quite-kosher adverts. But it seems their job is even harder than you would have thought- when they have to uphold complaints against consumer champions and their adverts…

The millionaire Martin Lewis’ Moneysavingexpert.com is the latest organisation who has had a complaint (partially) upheld against them. The ASA found that the adverts, for telecoms products, were misleading and omitted relevant information that would have helped the consumer make an informed decision. Still, on the bright side, the affiliate links worked just fine.

Moneysavingexpert was advertising a Talk Talk telephone package described as “B’band & phone equiv £15.25/mth + £75 Love2Shop (if line rent paid upfront)”,  and compared it with other telecommunications providers’ packages. The ASA was asked to investigate whether the advert was misleading because it would suggest to consumers that the new package included calls (it did not) and that there was a restriction on the amount of unbilled calls to a maximum of £20 that was not mentioned anywhere, nor were any details of call charges.

The ASA considered the overall impression created by the reference to “phone” in the headline, reinforced by the claims that followed and the image of a landline phone, was that the package comprised broadband and inclusive phone calls in the advertised price. Because phone calls were not included in the stated price and that was not made sufficiently clear, they concluded the claim was misleading and that the advert broke four regulations of the applicable CAP code.

The ASA also felt that considered consumers “would not expect to be restricted in the amount of calls they could make or that they would need to make a payment prior to the end of the billing period to have that restriction lifted.” As a result, they felt that the £20 “unbilled call limit” was a “significant condition” which should have been included in the ad, along with a reference that such calls would be charged at TalkTalk’s standard rates.

Two other complaints about the advert were not upheld by the ASA.

So next time you read a Moneysavingexpert email, purportedly issued to save you money, make sure you’re getting the full facts before you sign up for that super deal…