It must Idiot Customer Week as a pair of berks have become infamous after their rants were shared online. The first is a remarkable lesson in a human thinking they’re the exact centre point of the known universe. A woman in Dunkin’ Donuts filmed her own complaint, thinking she was so correct, she’d turn into an internet star.
Did you catch all that? Thanks to a lack of receipt, she went postal because someone had ‘crossed a line’. Of course, swearing at staff and calling one of them a “sand nigger” isn’t crossing a line at all.
Naturally, the customer thinks that she’s righteous and says “”It’s all on video, and it’s going to be on the internet… I hope it gets a million f**king hits…”. Alas, what she didn’t bargain on was that it would get so many hits because everyone absolutely hated her. The customer took it offline, but alas, it had already been swiped and it is still on YouTube.
Elsewhere, a man ‘lost his shit’ because of the difference between a hamburger and a cheeseburger.
Online retailers still preferred over High St- but could the cost of online shopping be about to rise?June 18th, 2013 • 7 Comments
Despite reports claiming that 42% may be moved to boycott certain shops, a new survey claims that the retailer most of us would like to see on the high street is Amazon. A new survey on the demise of the high street showed almost a third of those polled would like to drop in to their local Amazon, more than any other brand. The survey also reveals that 73% of us “care” the high street is in decline, but half of us are reluctant to spend in independent shops as they are more expensive than big chains who are normally blamed for the demise of the town centre.
Nick Gray, managing director of Live & Breathe who conducted the survey, said: “Shoppers face a tough decision – they want to support their high street but they also seem to believe it’s more expensive and provides less choice.
“Shoppers have romantic memories of high street shopping but they’re still buying online. There’s a massive disconnect between what the shoppers say they want and what they’re doing.”
But the cost differential between online and offline shopping could also narrow if some lobbyists get their way. On the back of the new US Marketplace Fairness Act of 2013, which will allow states to force online retailers to charge a kind of sales tax, some UK retailers are campaigning for a similar charge here. In particular, Sainsbury’s boss Justin King cites the crippling nature of business rates for offline retailers and seeks a “rebalance” of tax between online and offline retailers.
But online retailers are unsurprisingly not so keen on the proposal. The founders of sofa.com have written an open letter to Danny Alexander, Chief Secretary to the Treasury claiming any such levy would “most likely lead to a reduced consumer choice online” adding that:
“Online businesses often fail. Online isn’t some magical way of beating the high street, only the best businesses survive and as such, it’s absurd to imply that online retail has an ‘inherent advantage’ over traditional shops.”
While an online levy is not yet on the cards for UK retailers, with the G8 currently in session, tasked with tackling tax avoidance, more expensive online purchases could be a sledgehammer to crack the nut of the multinational online giants.
Yesterday it was announced that e-cigarettes, non-fatal means of puffing on an addictive substance, are to be reclassified as medical products. Many people welcome this news, as currently there is no regulation on the industry at all, and bring the UK in line with other countries who have already taken this step.
The chief medical officer, Dame Sally Davies, said: “More and more people are using e-cigarettes, so it’s only right these products are properly regulated to be safe and work effectively.”
The UK is trying to win support for an EU-wide position and it is believed that neighbours like France, Germany and Denmark are likely to take a similar stance. However, there is no indication that the UK will follow France and ban the use of e-cigarettes in public places.
The new classification is due to be introduced in 2016, and from that point onwards, the advertising of e-cigarettes will also be regulated. No longer will we have adverts ‘glamourising’ e-cigarette use, in the same way that you wouldn’t expect to see a party scene in the middle of Corrie where everyone takes a hit of methodone. Part of the reason behind the change is concerns that widespread images of e-cigarette use will tempt young people into smoking the hard stuff, which is exactly what the tobacco companies (who are all dabbling in the e-cigarette market) were hoping. We’ll probably have to say goodbye to the dancing baby too.
But what that does mean is that we are all likely to be bombarded with e-cigarette adverts between now and then. How else are they going to get brand recognition akin to the red (or gold) triangles, or the purple ribbon unless we are subjected to adverts 24/7. Perhaps people will start buying e-cigarettes even if they don’t smoke, just so they can look cool in front of their friends.
However, supporters of e-cigarettes warn that restricting their use and promotion will mean more people are unable to switch from dangerous cigarettes to warm and friendly e-cigarettes. Although Labour backs the proposals, its public health spokeswoman Diane Abbott warned that “increasing regulation on e-cigarettes while kicking standard packaging for cigarettes into the long grass is a sign the government has caved into the bullying tactics of Big Tobacco and risks sending out the wrong message that e-cigarettes pose a greater threat than smoking.”
And the e-cigarette companies themselves can also see the benefits- once reclassified, they will be able to market on health claims and quitting ratios in the way that currently regulated nicotine replacement products can. So it’s good news all round.
Citizens Advice don’t think the new consumer regulations, announced yesterday, are enough. While they “welcome proposals to simplify regulations” they would like to see increased powers to help customers get justice against bad practice. Don’t get me wrong, they like the new draft legislation, they’d just like to see more of it.
The new regulations will give consumers more rights, but Citizens Advice has been calling for groups of customers to be given the power to campaign collectively for compensation for some time, and now they want to go even further. They want regulators to name and shame naughty companies so we all know who to steer clear of, as well as protecting businesses who play by the rules.
Citizens Advice Chief Executive, Gillian Guy, said:
“Streamlining existing rules won’t be enough without urgent, strong, new tools for customers to get fair treatment…Regulators should name and shame businesses which refuse to put right bad practice so that customers know who they can trust to treat them fairly. As well as protecting customers, naming and shaming by enforcers would prevent dodgy businesses gaining a competitive advantage over companies that abide by the law.”
So what do you think of the idea of a consumer blacklist? Would it work, and would you check it, like you do (or don’t) check a seller’s feedback on eBay before making a purchase? Wouldn’t just the threat of such a thing cause sloppy businesses to pull their socks up, or do they think consumers will be too stupid to notice?
It’s high street doom and gloom time AGAIN! Putting another nail in its TX Maxx shaped coffin today is The Centre for Economics and Business Research, who say that consumer spending will grow ‘at a snail’s pace’ in the next six years. A snail’s pace, in case you’d prefer that in percentage form, is a predicted growth rate of just 1.8% until 2018.
They predict that families will tighten their belts rather than splurging all their wages on Xboxes, H&M hotpants and One Direction merchandise. Arse-aching Government austerity and the financial crisis means there’ll be more joyless saving and making do in the years to come, as households struggle on for no good reason. That’s six years of darning socks and eating powdered egg while the rich drink foie gras cocktails from a hollowed-out unicorn horn.
CEBR’s head of macroeconomics Charles Davis said: “Households have had to get used to living within their means as they have been buffeted by the financial crisis, weak economic growth, fiscal tightening and high inflation.We think consumer spending will rise only slowly and a sustained recovery will be unable to rely on consumption.’
Why don’t we just demolish the high street and give up on the idea of ever being able to afford anything nice again? Just replace it with a massive Job Centre and a cut-price offy?
Sod it. Let’s all just go crazy and put 2 thousand quid’s worth of John Lewis patio furniture on our credit cards and then declare ourselves bankrupt. It’d be more fun than this.
When it was first mooted, it was a bit of a joke, but following the consumer backlash against Starbucks, resulting in them promising to make ‘voluntary’ additional tax payments and growing consumer grumblings about boycotting the worst tax offenders, the new fair tax mark has indeed come into existence.
With the same kind of idea as the fairtrade badge, where consumers can choose whether they spend their money on items that are fairtrade or not, the fair tax campaign think their mark is “a unique tool aimed at setting a high standard of corporate behaviour and transparency relating to tax.”
Today, the first set of rankings have been released, where 25 of the UK’s largest retailers (note this is UK companies, so Amazon is not included as it is not a UK company) have been scrutinised on three separate measures,; whether they report their earnings by each country, how close their effective tax rate is to the headline rate, and whether they have subsidiary companies in tax havens. Only companies with a score of 12-15 (out of 15) will get the all-important badge.
The results of the retail sector can be seen here. Top of the shop is George Osborne’s favourite Greggs with an impressive 15 out of 15, closely followed by wine retailer Majestic, which has seen impressive growth over the past few years since no-one can afford to pay pub prices any more, with a score of 14. These two are the only two UK retailers to earn a Fair Tax Mark.
At the bottom end, Carphone Warehouse, Home Retail (Argos), Sainsburys and WH Smith all languish on just 2 points, with Tesco and N Brown Plc (clothing) just a point higher on 3. Tesco apparently got all defensive claiming their tax rate is low because of Government subsidies to encourage investment and job creation. Not sure what the 50+ tax haven subsidiaries have to do with the Government though.
The plan is to roll out the judgment to various other sectors in due course.
Consumer watchdogs are welcoming new government proposals to strengthen consumer rights. At the moment consumer laws – especially those relating to online purchases – are murkier than Nigel Farage’s lunchtime pint.
But the ALL NEW draft Bill of Rights, which seeks to simplify rights for businesses and customers, would reform the law on unfair terms and conditions.The bill would also give consumers more power over faulty downloads and digital purchases.
Lib Dem Consumer Minister Jo Swinson said: ‘We want to make sure consumers are confident about their rights in everyday situations, be it their washing machine breaking down or an online game they purchased always crashing. This will also benefit businesses as they are going to spend less time working out their legal obligations when they get complaints from customers.’
The bill would be designed to ease the suffering of hacked off consumers, who currently spend a mind boggling 59 million hours a year complaining, crying down the phone and threatening to firebomb guilty companies.
If the legislation goes through, we could all be looking at more power over the dodgy dealers who sell us terrible services and defective guff and expect to get away with it.
Of course, no story about consumer rights would be complete without a quote from Richard Lloyd from Which! What do YOU think, Richard?
‘The new Bill of Rights will bring consumer law into the 21st century at last, making it easier for everyone to know their rights and giving people more power to challenge bad practices… This will be good for consumers and good for businesses that try to do the right thing by their customers.”
Ricardo, he say yes. That means everything is going to be OK.
We could all do with a bit of extra cash sometimes, and once you’ve factored in eBay and Paypal fees, sometimes selling your stuff isn’t actually worth it. So why not rent it out instead?
If you have a bike that you really are going to use one day, or an empty garage just crying out to be filled with someone else’s stuff, you need to jump on the peer lending bandwagon and make your stuff work for you.
This week, six different companies offering this kind of free way to make money joined forces to promote their services via a combined website, thesavvyearner.com, where they offer a free downloadable guide, and claim you can earn an extra £2,638 a month* by getting cash for stuff you don’t use.
The six sites included are:
Rentmyitems.com, which allows you to rent your unused stuff, like a bike, kayak or Superman costume to people for a weekly fee, plus returnable deposit. Currently free, the plan is to start charging 8-10% of the rental fee.
Storenextdoor.com, which offers parts of your house (loft, garage) out to people who have too much stuff that they are not renting out and need somewhere to store it (insured by Aviva). Free to list, the renter pays 23% fees which include the insurance which is added to the price you specify.
Parkatmyhouse.com, which lets you rent your driveway to motorists. More than 250,000 customers are said to use the service, earning on average £40 a week, more if you live near public transport links or a hospital with extortionate parking charges.
Spareroom.co.uk, which helps you find a lodger (Shallow Grave anyone?). Average UK room rents are around £114 per week for a double room including bills- but don’t forget you can take advantage of the Rent a Room scheme which allows homeowners to earn up to £4,250 a year tax-free.
Gocarshare.com connects empty car seats and lonely drivers to save money on petrol (important) and save on CO2 emissions (not so great for money saving). Currently free, the site is mostly used by young type people going to festivals and the like, who could probably save more money by not going to said festival, but staying indoors for a weekend without washing listening to the cd.
Taskhub.co.uk is the 21st century equivalent of Bob a Job. “Task requestors” list the task they want done and the price they are prepared to pay, while “task doers” search the posts for jobs they would like to do and bid for those they want, saying how much they would like to be paid.
But finally, don’t forget that any of this lovely extra moolah (except rent a room) you make all ought to be reported to the taxman as additional earnings- after all, you *are* doing it to make money, no?
*actually even they say that the £2,638 figure is “unlikely” as most people won’t “have the spare time and capacity to do all of these things at once”.
The survey by Which!!!!!!! found those registered with TPS receive, on average, double the number of unsolicited calls than those who haven’t signed up, even though companies are legally obliged to avoid numbers on the TPS list.
As a result, over half of those polled have said they are not satisfied with the service, with 85% of people getting an unsolicited call in the last month, and 8% of these receiving 50 or more unwanted calls or more over the same period.
Richard Lloyd, executive director at Which!!!!!!!!! said: “Consumers are sick and tired of being bombarded with nuisance calls and texts. The current system is failing the public and given the scale of this problem, it’s time for the Government to step in.”
“We urgently need to see a new approach, new laws and new technology to tackle this scourge on people’s lives. People must be put back in control of their personal data.”
Meanwhile, John Mitchison, head of the TPS, said: “TPS registration stops unsolicited calls from law-abiding companies that check names against the TPS’ ‘do not call’ list. However, it can’t physically block calls from rogue companies that flout the law. We agree with Which!!! that further steps must be taken to stop nuisance calls. Government regulators need to enforce the law to punish those breaking the law, which would deter others from doing so.”
Over at Ofcom, a spokesman said: “Ofcom takes firm action against companies who are in breach of the rules on abandoned and silent calls and we take this issue extremely seriously. Since last year, Ofcom has issued fines of more than £1.5m to companies that break the rules.”
In the meantime, we’ll just have to suck it up. That, or throw away our landline telephones.
There’s swings and roundabouts in everything in life, and credit cards are no different. There is good news, but also some bad news for those dabbling in plastic.
The good news is that, given people are less inclined to go silly on borrowed money these days, credit card companies are jostling with each other to attract new customers, and the best deals are available on 0% cards with balance transfers.
Figures from moneysupermarket.com show that balance transfer fees are at their lowest for five years, and even since last year, the cost of an average £3,000 balance transfer would have reduced from £91.20 to £84 today.
Interest-free periods on 0% cards are also longer than ever, with Barclaycard now offering a 27 month free period, with other cards not far behind at 25 and 26 months. Just four years ago, in 2009, the maximum was between 13 and 16 months. That’s like half as long.
However, the bad news is that average APR rates have been going up since 2009. Back then, the average rate was 16.4%; now the average rate tops 18.7%. It’s almost like the credit card companies will bend over backwards to get you in the net, but once they’ve got you, you’re the one bending over.
Of course, the way to beat the system is to keep moving a debt to 0% cards until you can pay it off, but if you want to continue using a card, make sure the one you go for has 0% covering purchases as well. And remember to switch again at the end of the interest-free period- even if you can’t get another 0% card, there are lower-rate cards on the market. Finally, if you have old cards that you aren’t using after your balance transfer, close the account. This will remove the temptation to use them and will also improve your credit rating for the next time you apply- lenders can get nervous if you have too much credit available and you may get turned down for a new card because of an old lingering one.
Amazingly, there are still people who smoke. Not that there is anything wrong with people making their own minds up to smoke, provided they are in full possession of the health warnings, it’s just that smoking nowadays requires such a high level of commitment. Sure, having a fag outside is no hardship on a sunny day, but in the middle of a never ending wet and snowy winter? You’ve gotta really want that fag.
One claim smokers make is that smoking helps calm their nerves, something that might be in abundance just before a job interview. But new research from the States might mean that smoking before a job interview would not be the best way to get a job.
According to the completely unbiased Tobacco Control Journal, smokers actually cost more to employ than non-smokers owing to absenteeism, lower productivity and increased pension costs. They put this extra cost as the equivalent of £3,839 a year, including £344 in extra days off, £307 in reduced productivity while you dream of your next fag break, and £2,045 in time wasted on fag breaks themselves.
Anti-smoking groups have welcomed the report, because they knew this all along, with some groups, such as of British Lung Foundation Wales calling for employers to provide smoking cessation services for employees to help them over their addiction. After all, it’ll save them money in the long run.
But Simon Clark, director of the consumer group Forest, which lobbies for the rights of smokers, was understandably less impressed:
“This study trots out the usual estimates and calculations. Yes, smoking is a risk to people’s health but so is obesity, drinking to excess and lack of exercise,” he said.
“Non-smokers take coffee breaks, make personal phone calls and use social media at work. Should those activities be targeted too?” he concluded, conveniently ignoring the fact that smokers can also drink coffee, make personal phone calls and use social media.
However, he finished by insisting that whether a person smokes or not should not be a factor for employers, saying “people should be judged on their ability to do the job, not on whether they smoke”. While smokers are not officially a discriminated-against group (although smokers may argue they are discriminated against) it is unlikely to be legal to refuse to employ someone just because they smoke. But then again, perhaps your CV will just look better if it doesn’t smell of stale smoke…
You may remember that last year, after a campaign by Which! The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) ruled that airlines had to include unavoidable charges, like debit or credit card charges, in advertised headline costs of flights. Clearly some airlines found this something of an affront to their profit projections.
Now, in a playground-style move, easyJet have told on another company for breaking the rules. Couched as assiduous concern for easyJet passengers, easyJet have not only dobbed on eDreams to the OFT, but also to the Civil Aviation Authority and our favourite consumer champions Which!, who will presumably frown them into submission.
Concerned that “hundreds of thousands of UK consumers” are being “duped” into paying more than they should, easyJet have declared all out war on eDreams, claiming its “illegally” advertised prices are “unachievable”, despite its own checkered past on engaging in similar practices omitting card and luggage fees.
Peter Duffy, marketing director of easyJet said: “The activity of eDreams means that we estimate around one million easyJet passengers are being duped into paying too much.
“The eDreams website has no authorisation to ‘screen scrape’ in order to sell easyJet flights and the way they present their prices is wrong and misleads consumers.”
Richard Lloyd, executive director at Which? told yourmoney: “Companies must comply with the ban on excessive card charges that came in after our campaign, and shouldn’t be misleading consumers by adding on charges late in the booking process. Trading Standards and the Office of Fair Trading should crack down on any company found to be breaching these laws.”
Have you ever thought about an electric car and then quickly thought of something speedier and less expensive to buy in the first place? Then find your mind wandering back to those halcyon dreams of zero vehicle excise duty and cheap fuel costs (even at energy company prices)? Well, Ofgem may have come up with a plan to help you out, assuming you speak to your neighbours.
The idea is simple- find ten friends/acquaintances/people you don’t actually hate who live in your road and convince them all to try an electric car. Nissan will give you an 18 month lease on a shiny new Leaf, maintenance costs will be covered and every house will get a lovely new charging point installed so you can juice up. The Government gets to meet some kind of environmental driving target, Nissan get shot of some more overpriced cars and the electricity companies get more cash out of you; the only people missing out here are the oil companies.
The scheme is now open for applications in specific trial areas, which includes Scotland, the North East and Dorset/Hampshire. Wittily named My Electric Avenue by some card in marketing, the full details of the scheme can be found here. A highly important point to note here is that the scheme is not free, although it has been touted as such in the press. Nissan will offer participants a ‘reduced’ rental which will be further subsidised by Ofgem. Unfortunately no-one is actually willing to talk numbers at this stage, other than the cost of the car will be “a very low rental price” provided at least ten people all sign up for the deal at the same time. Presumably the final cost will depend on how many victims volunteers Nissan can sign up.
If you are desperate to get your hands on an electric car, this might be a way of getting what you want for less. Otherwise, it’s a canny marketing ploy by Nissan who have convinced the Government to indirectly buy their very expensive cars…
* not actually free.
You see the delivery van pull up and start punching the air because you are within seconds of getting your hands on the bargain of the century. Over at HUKD, HP sold some expensive graphics card valued at £585 for just £12. Before you say it, we know it sounds too good to be true but the course of events that followed led many to believe that they had bagged one of these heavily discounted bits of kit.
HP accepted the orders, processed them from the warehouse, took payment and then shipped these with DPD and confirmed this to their customers. However, quite a few over at HUKD are now saying that once DPD had arrived and scanned the item prior handing it over, HP had placed an alert to state that the item must NOT be delivered and instead retained by DPD before being returned to HP.
When considering your legal position in this situation you must review the Terms of Sale by HP. Commonly, a retailer will state that the contract is not formed when payment is taken but instead when they confirm that the item has been despatched. So, that was exactly what we expected to see when reviewing the Terms on the HP website but instead we found their likely get out clause:
“HP reserves the right to cancel any accepted order prior to delivery, at HP’s discretion (whether or not payment was made), and this in case of any material errors in connection with your order”
So, it seems that they probably CAN recall the product right up to the moment that their delivery company rocks up to shatter your dreams. However, within your Order Confirmation they also state:
”Correct prices and promotions are validated at the time your order is placed”
“We will send you an email with estimated delivery date once your order has been accepted”
By confirming that the item has been despatched they have accepted your order which is an integral part of the formation of a contract. They are also stating that prices are validated by them when your order is placed. We have the offer, the acceptance and they have your money (consideration). So, we have a contract, don’t we?
Quite clearly some confusion not just on our part but also from HP. We are currently waiting on a response from them to clarify their position.
It’s official – we don’t trust financial services firms, and we’re also getting more confident about complaining to them. Complaints to the Financial Ombudsman have risen by 92% in the last year. Ok, so most of the complaints are in response to those not-at-all irritating recorded message phone calls about missold PPI – but even so – that’s a lot of dissatisfaction.
It’s the latest indicator that most of us aren’t happy with our banks, and that we don’t want to be hit with extra charges and bad customer service when most of us can’t even afford fabulous luxuries like cheese and shoes for the kids. The general distrust caused by the financial crisis has meant that customers are angry, and if necessary, will take their complaints to a higher level than before.
Chief Financial Ombudsman Natalie Ceeney said: ‘We have seen a much stronger consumer voice in the last year, with people becoming more aware of their rights and less willing to put up with poor customer service.’ So much so, in fact, that the Financial Ombudsman Service might have to take on 1,000 extra staff.
The big high street banks, however, aren’t upping their game, despite there being a record breaking half a million official complaints lodged through the free Ombudsman service in 2012-13. Compensation payments have been particularly difficult to prize out of financial companies, with 1 in 4 initial complaints turning into formal disputes.
Even so, I would say that we’re all being quite restrained, considering how royally most people have been shafted. Instead of going through the Ombudsman, it’s a wonder we’re not all leaving parcels of flaming excrement outside Barclays, instead.