Costa Coffee suspend cards after hack

April 24th, 2015 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

costa coffee Costa Coffee suspend cards after hackCosta Coffee have suspended millions of Coffee Club Card online accounts after a load of their loyalty scheme members fell foul of a security breach.

The drink vendors said that they’d identified “some unusual activity” on some customers accounts while they were doing security checks.

A Costa spokesperson said that the number of people affected was in the “low to mid-hundreds”, but were confined to the UK. It will take a couple of days to reset everyone’s passwords and, until they’ve completed this, all online accounts will be suspended.

Mercifully, Costa don’t hold any customers financial data.

“We have already contacted those customers affected and emailed all registered Coffee Club members to make them aware of the situation. Customers can still continue to collect and redeem points as usual,” Costa Coffee said in a statement.

Now, feel free to complain about people spending too much money on coffee in the comments.

Tesco Broadband problems? You’re not alone

April 22nd, 2015 1 Comment By Mof Gimmers

broadband slow 319970 Tesco Broadband problems? Youre not aloneIf you have Tesco Broadband, you may have been having a frustrating time with your connection. Don’t worry – you’re not going mad. The company confirmed that its UK broadband service has been down for thousands of people across the country.

The problem started yesterday and Tesco said that around 10,000 of their customers had to go without services. They’re in the middle of an investigation to find out what the problem is, saying that the “search for the issue is narrowing”.

“Some customers are experiencing network problems. This is not related to the migration of customers to TalkTalk,” it said in a statement.

“We are liaising with our network partner [Vodafone] to get the issue resolved as quickly as possible and apologise to any customers affected for the inconvenience.”

Looking at the company’s Twitter page, this is the tenth network failure they’ve had THIS MONTH. That’s preposterous. We advise getting a different provider.

A Tesco spokesperson told the BBC: “Tesco broadband uses its Twitter feed to update customers on all network outages as our customers have told us they find this very helpful. This means that we report on any network problem even if just a handful of customers are experiencing issues.
Our fault rate is in line with the industry and we have high customer satisfaction ratings.”

It should be back online now.

supermarket sweep b 300x225 Theres going to be a Super Complaint against supermarketsEver heard of a ‘super complaint’? We thought it might be a place where Spider Man can air his grievances about the tightness of his outfit or a place where Wonder Woman can take baddies to an ombudsman.

It isn’t, sadly. Either way, this super complaint is being levelled at the supermarkets of the UK over their pricing tactics and it could well result in a competition inquiry.

Which!!! threw their weight around and accused businesses of ripping off consumers with misleading and confusing prices, and they have given a load of evidence to the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA).

Which!!! have accused retailers of giving shoppers the illusion of saving money if they get multi-buys, but they end up buying products that have shrunk, alongside sales offers with 40% of groceries sold on promotion, which are making people flummoxed. Consumers clearly know something is amiss, which is why they’re turning to Aldi and Lidl, where offers are replaced with things that are simply cheap.

The report says that consumers could be losing out on millions of pounds if they can’t fairly work out if a deal is fair or not. Under the spotlight, as well as multi-buys, as ’was/now’ promotions, which sees own-brand and branded goods being sold at the same price, even though the product itself is much smaller.

Some people are calling this ‘shrinkflation’.

Which!!! big cheese Richard Lloyd said: “Despite Which!!! repeatedly exposing misleading and confusing pricing tactics, and calling for voluntary change by the retailers, these dodgy offers remain on numerous supermarket shelves.”

We’ve seen all this before, of course. Which!!! have the example of a multi-buy offer that misleads consumers, seeing a leading chain increasing the price of a Chicago Town Four Cheese Pizza Two-Pack from £1.50 to £2 last year as it went onto multi-buy at two for £3, which went back to £1.50 after the offer ended.

The CMA has 90 days to respond to the super-complaint.

96 minutes and Sky still not cancelled…

April 21st, 2015 11 Comments By Mof Gimmers

sky 96 minutes and Sky still not cancelled...Retention teams at various businesses are there to guilt-trip you and promise the Earth, in a bid to keep you spending money with them.

When one chap tried to cancel his Sky subscription, he spent 96 minutes on the phone. That’s a pain in the hole, for sure, but get this - he didn’t actually manage to end things with the company.

Talking to Rachael online, Gavin Hackwood became insanely frustrated when trying to complete a most basic task. The more he wanted to leave, the more packages he was offered.

After 96 minutes, all he did was cancel his movie package and thanks to a technical snag, he could do no more. Below, we have the transcript of the phone call (if you’re into that sort of thing – but obviously, it is pretty long) which has left Sky saying that they’re going to look at their cancellation policy going forward.

Sky Cancellation Transcript

Chat start time Mar 19, 2015 8:49:27 AM EST
Chat end time Mar 19, 2015 10:26:10 AM EST

Duration (actual chatting time) 01:36:42

Operator Rachael

info: Please wait for a Sky Advisor to respond. Your chat may be monitored and recorded for training, legal and compliance purposes.

info: You are now connected with Rachael

info: ** Please do not share your credit card information, security code or CVV during this chat **

Rachael: Hello, you’re chatting with Rachael, a Sky expert, may I take you name please?

You: Account number: ************

You: Hi Rachael, I would like to give you 31 days notice to cancel my services please.

[continued over the jmp]

Read the rest of this entry »

Which!!! are the best brands for 2015?

April 17th, 2015 3 Comments By Thewlis

witch1 300x220 Which!!! are the best brands for 2015?We like brands. According to Which!!! more than half of people (53%) say brands can play a role in improving their quality of life and wellbeing, which is a bit weird in our opinion. However, Which!!! also found that people are twice as likely to choose brands that they trust. Every year Which!!! dish out awards to those brands they consider the most trusted, and this year’s shortlist is full, as you’d expect, of those brands we hear good things about, with dodgy delivery drivers, PPI-pushing bankers and famous coffee brands notably absent. And while some categories are stocked with market leading brands, like Apple and Ford, others have some more discerning brands, like Richer Sounds, which have made  it there, purely on the merits of their great customer experience.

The full shortlist is:

Best Car Manufacturer: BMW, Ford, Volkswagen

Best Banking Brand: First Direct, M&S Bank, Nationwide Building Society

Best Insurance Services Provider: John Lewis Financial Services, M&S Bank, NFU Mutual

Best Retailer: John Lewis, Lush, Richer Sounds, Screwfix, Wex Photographic

Best Supermarket: Aldi, Iceland, Lidl, Ocado, Waitrose

Best Computing Brand: Amazon, Apple, Samsung

Best Audio-Visual Brand: LG, Panasonic, Samsung, Sony

Best Home Appliance Brand: Bosch, Miele, Samsung, Siemens

Best Telecom Services Provider: giffgaff, Plusnet, Tesco Mobile, Utility Warehouse

Best Photography Brand: Canon, Nikon, Panasonic, Sony

Best Travel Company: Audley Travel, HF Holidays, Riviera Travel, Trailfinders

This year does see a raft of new names, but also some repeat nominees, like Waitrose, First Direct, Bosch and John Lewis who are all looking to repeat last year’s success. So is this a good shortlist? Are there any companies you consider ought to have been included? Which!!! are keen to point out that these awards are completely independent- in that brands cannot nominate themselves for an award. Instead, the shortlist is chosen by Which!!! experts based on research, testing, and  endorsements, as well as feedback from Which!!! members and the general public throughout the year.

Which!!! group chief executive Peter Vicary-Smith said: “Over the last eight years, consumers have expected more from businesses and increasingly reward those that provide excellent service. Our awards recognise that what’s good for consumers is also good for business, and champions those who successfully set themselves apart by putting their customers at the heart of what they do.”

The winners will be announced on 17 June.

galaxy cookie crumble inside 300x178 Galaxy Cookie Crumble chocolate bars may contain plastic Found some plastic in your chocolate?! This is not a new cost cutting initiative by Mars to reduce the cocoa content in their bars but instead an incident which has led to a product recall from the manufacturer Mars.

Mars Chocolate UK are recalling 114g bars of Galaxy Cookie Crumble after some were found to be containing pieces of white plastic.

Bars subject to this recall contain a ‘best before’ end date of 16 August 2015. and the packets feature the batch codes PB21, PB22 and PB23.

If you are concerned you can contact the consumer care team for more information by phoning 0800 952 0084, writing to GCC, Freepost, Mars Consumer Care, or emailing: recall@uk.mars.com.

 

Problems with Apple Watch orders

April 10th, 2015 2 Comments By Mof Gimmers

Apple Watch Problems with Apple Watch ordersApple Fanboiz will know that the Apple Watch became available for pre-order this morning, and since then, there’s been a bit of bother.

Thanks to huge volumes of traffic, some people have found that the Apple website is unresponsive, groaning under the weight of people wanting the new smartwatch.

What’s a little more surprising is the news that there’s going to be rather a long wait for the watch to be delivered. While a small number of people bagged an April delivery date, a lot of people have noted on various social networks that they’re looking at deliveries in May, with a ’4-6 weeks’ window being offered.

Some will have to wait until June or July to get the thing on their wrist.

It seems it all depends on which model you’ve ordered and, seeing as there’s a lot of variations you can choose from, there’s a lot of variation in delivery dates.

Whether this is a matter of Apple not being able to make their Watch quickly enough to sate demand, or whether this is a case of Apple withholding some stock to make their product feel more exclusive, is anyone’s guess. Both aren’t out of the realms of possibility.

Either way, the earliest anyone will be getting one is the end of this month.

How many internet things do you own?

April 10th, 2015 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

slow internet connection 300x294 How many internet things do you own?Unless you’re wearing a tinfoil hat and worried about people spying on you, getting someone to read this out to you on a self-destructing sheet of paper in a lead coated house, chances are, you’ve got some internet on you.

With that, we mean devices that access the internet. In Britain, we have a lot of gadgets and according to a survey, the average British household owns 7.4 internet devices. Your old HTC Desire that ran out of memory after a week counts as the .4 or something.

Count up how many you have. Tablets? Phones? Consoles? Laptops? There’s a lot of stuff that talks to the internet these days.

The survey also showed that people are getting more into the idea of tablets, with 40% having purchased one within the last year. The YouGov poll found that consumers are most likely to have a smartphone to get online, followed by laptops and then tablets. Per British household, on average, there’s 1.7 smartphones, 1.3 laptops, and 1.2 tablets. How about that then? 70% of households now have at least one tablet. 11% have three or more, like massive show-offs.

When the survey asked which bit of your life would be most affected without the internet or phones, 51% said banking and finance. After constantly checking your balance came keeping up with the news (42%), shopping (38%) and relationships (37%).

And how much would you pay for internet things? Well, the survey found that the average Briton would be willing to pay up to £1.53 a month for their email service, £1.33 to use search engines, £1.10 for video content, 92p for news websites, 88p for social media, 55p for online games and 52p for price comparison sites.

Let us hope we don’t have to pay subscriptions to our own emails and tweets, eh?

mobile phone 300x200 Which!!! are the top five ways to keep your mobile spam free?It’s the second four-day week in two weeks, so we’re expecting you all to be a great mood. However, one of the things most likely to ruin a glorious mood is constant and persistent hounding by spam peddlers who, it seems, never take a day off. And it’s not just nuisance calls that get our collective goat- Which!!! research suggests that almost half of people with a mobile phone receive at least one spam text a week, mostly wittering on about whiplash compensation or claiming for mis-sold Payment Protection Insurance (PPI). Yes, still. And they’re constantly finding new ways to annoy you- with reports that the latest en vogue topic of spam textiness being the plugging of dodgy pension liberation schemes.

So, our good friends at Which!!! asked their friends, and 60% of them said they would report nuisance calls and texts, if only they knew how. So here we have the top five tips for getting rid of spam texts and leaving your inbox free for messages from pizza delivery companies and your mobile provider…

1. Use 7726

A massive 90% of the people Which!!! asked didn’t know that you can use 7726 to report spam texts directly to your mobile phone provider. 7726 is a universal number used by all providers (except Vodafone who use 87726) and, if you’re into that kind of thing, spell SPAM on your phone’s alpha-numeric keypad.

All you need to do is either forward it or copy and paste the message (if you are over 35 you might need to get a young person’s help to do this) and send it to 7726. You should get an automated response thanking you and giving you further instructions.

2. Never EVER reply to the text message…

If you reply, the scurrilous spammers will know that your number is live, rather than just being a randomly generated number on a list, so they will take this as an invitation to send you more and more unwanted text messages. Just delete the text, and if it comes from an identifiable number, block the sender to prevent further fishing contact.

3. … unless you know who the text is from

While many spammers use ‘unknown’ numbers, you can sometimes get marketing texts from companies who might legitimately have your mobile number, such as pizza delivery companies or taxi firms.  While you are supposed to have explicitly opted in to text marketing, these text from proper companies will have instructions on how to remove yourself from the list, often by replying STOP. Do this and they should not contact you again.

4. Tell them to go away

It sounds too simple, but under the Data Protection Act you have a right to ask companies to stop unwanted direct marketing – whether it is by phone, post or email. Of course, this again assumes this is an identifiable company contacting you who is registered as a Data Holder.

You can contact the company directly and make a formal request to have your details removed from their system and no longer user those details for direct marketing purposes. If they refuse, or you discover that they subsequently have not removed your details you can…

5. …report them to the ICO

If you continue to receive spam texts or calls from a company after asking to be removed from its database, you can report it to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) for breaches of the Data Protection Act.

Consumers are feeling confident!

March 31st, 2015 No Comments By Mof Gimmers
dr manhattan ljpg 300x300 Consumers are feeling confident!

A consumer, this morning

Are you feeling confident? Do you have more purpose in your stride and feel like you could shove a mountain over? Well, it isn’t surprising seeing as consumer confidence in the UK is at its highest level for nearly 13 years, according to the stat crunchers at GfK.

Look at you spending money on onions and socks like you’re Rick James!

Gfk’s Consumer Confidence Index rose three points to +4 in March, and over the last three months, there’s been an eight point rise. Good eh? There’s been a nine point increase from March 2014. That’s livin’ alright.

All five of Gfk’s index’s key indicators saw monthly and yearly increases this month, with confidence over the general economic situation over the last 12 months being the strongest climber up the charts. It is now at +1 when, last year, it was at -15!

Sounds like we’re all getting our swagger back too, as the survey showed that consumers are more confident about the economy in the coming year, as well as getting rather cocky about our collective personal financial situation for the coming 12 months. Basically, that means people are starting to look at spending money on bigger purchases like sofas or new TVs.

Nick Moon, Managing Director of Social Research at GfK, says: “Reaction to the budget has thus far been muted, but if people warm to it over the next few weeks then we may well see a further increase in the Index next month. A consistently rising Index in the run-up to the election is likely to be good news for the government.”

Barclays top complaints table

March 31st, 2015 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

barclays bank limited 300x300 Barclays top complaints tableIt won’t surprise you to learn that complaints about banks increased in the second half of last year and, coming top of the gripe list – according to the FCA – was our pals at Barclays.

Crucially, this doesn’t include PPI nonsense. This is looking at the day-to-day bank stuff, and Barclays are coming up short it seems.

Complaints rose to 1,124,622, which is a 1% increase between the first and second halves of 2014. The good news for the banks is that, when you factor in complaints relating to PPI, figures actually decreased by 7% between Q1 and Q2 of 2014. Compared to 2013, stats show a drop of 12%. So that’s something.

Barclays topped the complaints list, followed by Lloyds Bank, Bank of Scotland, HSBC and then NatWest.

“Today’s statistics offer a mixed picture. When you take PPI out of the equation, complaints are still on the up. So, while the overall decreases we have seen should be welcomed there is still more for financial services firms to do,” says FCA’s director of strategy and competition, Christopher Woolard.

As a result of analysing the complaints, the FCA have proposed a reduction in the time a consumer has to wait before approaching the Ombudsman and banning the use of premium rate phone numbers for those wanting to bring up concerns with their bank.

digitalbritain 300x221 New consumer rights bill gives extra rights on digital and faulty productsMost 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.

tick 259x300 FCA plans to ban opt out marketing on insurance productsGood news for consumers but bad news for insurance companies- the FCA has today announced plans to ban ‘opt-out selling’, which is where insurers handily pre-tick boxes offering you additional products and services, over concerns that customers were paying high prices for things they didn’t want or need. A triumph of common sense.

The FCA ran a study into the general insurance add-ons industry last year, which concluded that opt-out selling often results in “consumers purchasing products that were of poor value and not what they needed.” The FCA also found that the value of general insurance products “is not always clear,” with some consumers are not even aware they have bought an add-on.

The FCA is concerned that consumers “are not able to make an informed decision on whether they need or want” the extras being foisted on to insurance purchasers. As part of the review, the FCA also wants firms to provide consumers with “more appropriate and timely information” to help them identify if they even want an add-on at all, and if so, which is the most appropriate and most cost-effective option for them.

The FCA plans to introduce guidance encouraging insurers to raise the issue of the most common add-ons to consumers earlier in the sales process, while also making it easier to compare alternatives, specifically recommending that firms provide the annual price of add-ons rather than just giving the smaller monthly figures in a shameless attempt to make the overall cost look smaller.

Christopher Woolard, Director of Strategy and Competition said, categorically, “this is about ensuring consumers can make the right decision on what add-on insurance they do or don’t need. Forgetting to un-tick a box at the end of a purchase is not making an informed choice.”

“Our work shows that the opt-out model means too often consumers are buying a product when they have not been able to give any thought to whether or not they need it,” he continued, citing the familiar example of consumers having to double check whether or not they have accidentally agreed to buy an add-on insurance product when buying car insurance or tickets online, for example.

“These proposals will mean that consumers will be in a better position to decide what they want and consider the options available to them. Fewer consumers will end up with products they didn’t want or don’t even know they own,” he finished, with a flourish.

The proposed ban would apply to any add-on sales of regulated or unregulated products offered alongside financial primary products, which would include the almost industry-standard add ons of  legal expenses sold with home or car insurance, breakdown or key cover sold alongside motor insurance, or protection cover when taking out a mortgage or credit card.

The consultation period ends on 25 June 2015.

yodel UK parcel 300x224 Yodel not happy with retailers unrealistic delivery expectationsYodel’s boss – Dick Stead – is not happy with retailers who have been using them for deliveries. He wants to see them setting more realistic expectations for deliveries and that, if parcels are delivered late, then the retailer should take the blame, not the courier.

Of course, Royal Mail will be howling at this, as they’ve been complaining about companies muscling in on their turf, cherry picking the best delivery areas, when they don’t have a universal obligation.

Yodel themselves have been getting it in the neck, especially on Mother’s Day and Black Friday. Over Christmas, the company rejected the idea that late deliveries were their fault and had a big backlog after the crazy scenes on Black Friday.

Speaking to Retail Week, Dick Stead said: “You can’t ask parcel carriers to build up the capacity that’s only going to be used three times a year. Retailers haven’t quite grasped you can’t provide next day delivery at this rate, not this [Black Friday], next year or the year after.”

“We’re working really hard with retailers at the moment to say ‘come on guys, there’s a certain limit of capacity next day delivery’. Reserve it for people who really need it the next day, and for everyone else for goodness sake you’ve had the bargain of a lifetime, but it might take 3-5 days to deliver.”

“The difficulty is the people working in their supply chains understand it, but their marketeers don’t,” he added.

Mobile contracts are failing us all

March 20th, 2015 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

mobile Mobile contracts are failing us allCitizens Advice aren’t happy with our mobile contracts, calling for a big overhaul of the rules that surround them, noting that the state of things can take people “to the cleaners”.

They compiled a report called ’Calling The Shots’ (nothing to do with the Girls Aloud track, sadly) and they found that consumers are facing charges of (up to) £800 to leave maximum two-year contracts that fail to live up to the promises they made.

CA looked at 21,500 mobile phone complaints, and found that the most common problems involved faulty phones (39%), bad service and leaving contracts (17%), misleading sales practices (16%) and disputes over their bills (12%).

The charity pointed out that most contracts don’t specify a reasonable minimum service one can expect from their phone, which means that people then don’t have the right to cancel contracts that haven’t delivered what has been advertised. The noted toward consumers who had paid for contracts that included 3G or 4G, but couldn’t get coverage for them, and if they wanted out, they were asked to pay-up the full contract or pay for the remainder of as much as £800 to end it prematurely.

It was also found that some have been charged the full amount of their contract to cancel it before they’d even got their hands on a phone.

Citizens Advice were also unimpressed that the Government and providers haven’t put a cap on bills that have been run-up by thieves, while also noting that a lot of customers don’t know who to go to if their phone is faulty (it is the retailer’s legal responsibility, if you didn’t know).

Citizens Advice chief executive Gillian Guy said: “Consumers can be taken to the cleaners for ending a mobile phone contract that doesn’t deliver. Consumers should only be paying for the service they receive. For consumers to be guaranteed a good deal from their mobile phone providers, clear minimum standards of service and better contract exit rights are needed.”

“Nobody should be left to fall through gaps in regulation, so the Government should now look into simplifying how mobile phone users can get redress when they are treated badly.”