What are you thinking of buying in the next ten days? Some new clothes? A few beers? No, what you need to be putting on your shopping list is a new vacuum cleaner before the EU ban the best vacuum cleaners on 1 September.
Although this sounds like a dirty protest, no aspersions are being cast on the greasy nature of our near neighbours. Instead this is an environmental protest that is simply the latest instalment after the evil non-energy-saving lightbulb saga.
The new rules will apply to vacuum cleaners with a motor more powerful than 1600w, and from this date companies will be prohibited from manufacturing or importing super-powered vacuums. While stores can still sell their remaining stock, once everyone hears about it, we’ll all be stockpiling vacuums in the same way that we all have a cupboard full of old lightbulbs
Of course, the European Commission is claiming that this will cut down energy use dramatically, and, in much the similar way to how car emissions dropped rapidly once the Government brought in penalty rules for high-emitting cars, consumers will actually “get better vacuum cleaners than ever before”.
However, our friends at Which! claim that many of the models that its reviewers rate as the best on the market will fall foul of the rules. Out of seven “best buy” ratings awarded by its vacuum cleaner reviewers since January 2013, five have motors of more than 1,600 watts.
Which! are also sceptical over the massive energy savings expected by the new rules: “A Best Buy 2,200w vac costs around £27 a year to run in electricity – only around £8 more than the best-scoring 1,600w we’ve tested.” But never ones to miss out on a selling opportunity, the full list of endangered “best buy” vacuums is only available to paying subscribers.
In a blog last year, European Commission spokesman Marlene Holzner ranted about how this was actually A Good Thing, and not at all a Really Stupid Thing claiming that “the amount of watt does not automatically indicate how well a vacuum cleaner will clean.” She also claimed that the new
completely made-up self-regulated labelling system will ensure that “vacuum cleaners that use a lot of energy, that pick up dust poorly, emit too much dust at the exhaust of the vacuum cleaner, are noisy or break down pre-maturely will not be allowed on the market anymore. This means a better cleaning experience and less time and money spent on vacuum cleaning.”
And it gets worse. The average power of a vacuum on the market in Europe last year was 1,800 watts which will have to be halved within the next three years, as the limit of 1,600 watts will be reduced to just 900 watts from September 2017.
We think the new rules suck. Just not very well.
Ryanair is the airline we all love to hate, mostly because they never shy away from an opportunity to slap an extra charge on passengers, even mooting a charge to use the toilet on flights a little while ago. It seems obvious, therefore, that Ryanair’s latest partnership is with eBay payment service PayPal, who are also known for charging
Although sketchy on the details, Ryanair have announced today that they are instigating a new ‘payment partnership’ with PayPal, to allow their 86m customers to book “even faster” on Europe’s biggest travel website.
Personally, we think the thing that would make the booking system fastest of all would be to remove all the add-ons, like insurance, cabin bags, car hire that all need refusing before you can make your booking, but perhaps that’s just us.
Now, anything that makes the consumer experience run more smoothly is clearly A Good Thing but past experience suggests that Ryanair in particular think additional charges are a good thing. No details of what charges, if any, will be levied in order to enjoy the convenience of paying by Paypal have yet been disclosed.
Of course, there may be no charges, Ryanair having tried on the “customer friendly” approach of late, which has seen a number of improvements and fee reductions, including allocated seating, a second free cabin bag, and a new website and app. Ryanair are even threatening to ‘unveil’ a new business offering in the near future.
Ryanair’s Chief Marketing Officer, Kenny Jacobs said: ”Our partnership with PayPal is the latest element of our Always Getting Better programme and our commitment to the continued improvement of our customer experience, and follows the introduction of allocated seating, a free second carry-on bag, reduced fees, a new website, a new app and mobile boarding passes and our Ryanair Family Extra service. We will next unveil our tailored business product, as we continue to offer so much more than just the lowest fares.”
Not to be outdone, PayPal’s Vice President for Global Operations Europe, Middle East and Africa, Louise Phelan said:
“Ryanair revolutionised low fare air travel in Europe. As the pioneer of faster, safer online payments, PayPal is delighted to help Ryanair develop its customer experience by making it even easier and quicker for travellers to book and pay for their flights online. With our 152 million active accounts across the world, we’re also making it easier for businesses such as Ryanair to expand their international sales.”
However, the one word missing from all of this is ‘free’, so it is likely that one or other of the partners will be turning a fast buck to save you the bother of getting your debit card out of your wallet…
At the moment, the banks charge £25 set-up fee for people going over their agreed limit.
However, from November this will change to a £5-a-day usage fee, capped at £80 for a monthly charging period, somewhat less appalling than the current £150.
The charges are also capped by the amount the account holder exceeds their authorised overdraft limit: so if the transgression is only of the order of £15, that is the maximum that they will be charged, even if they stay over this limit for more than three days.
Customers will also benefit from a £10 unauthorised overdraft ‘buffer’ before any charges start to kick in.
Also, which is quite handy, the banks will alert customers who go over their limit by text. They won’t be charged anything if their balance is within their limit before 11.45pm the same day.
This move follows Barclays’ recent re-jigging of their charges system.
A man named Andy Mielczarek, head of retail products at HSBC UK, said: ”We have spent time listening to our customers on how we can improve our overdraft offering.”
“These changes have been designed to provide a simpler way for customers to understand the cost of any borrowing not agreed in advance.”
The bank helpfully point out that there will be no charges if you DO stick in your limit. Well, duh. Next time though, how about getting rid of pointless charges altogether?
As you can imagine, there’s a lot of people moaning about it.
When you phone EE’s customer service line, an automated message offers callers the chance to jump the queue into a “priority” queue. Customers already have to pay to call the provider at certain times of the day, so some think it’s a bit rich they should be asked for more.
Most of the outrage is on social media, with one disgruntled customer spouting off: “As an already paying @EE customer, why should I have to wait longer for help because someone else with no patience can pay [to] jump the queue?”
Another spat: “I have been a customer of [T-Mobile and] @EE for 10 years now. The call jump system they want to introduce is disgusting. I’ll be off to O2 then.”
Talking to the Inquirer, an EE spokesperson said: “EE’s goal is to set the highest standard for customer service in the telecoms sector. To support that ambition we’re investing significantly in our retail stores, contact centres and account management websites and apps.”
“We’ve already committed to returning over 1,000 roles to the UK from overseas call centres, and have already opened two new UK centres. To contribute to this and other investments in service we have introduced some small charges for certain customer services.”
What do you think? Should EE up their game so they don’t need a priority queue, or is this quite handy as it’s only 50p?
That’s a bit careless.
The troubled energy supplier also reported a 38% drop in profit for the first six months of the year.
Profit before tax and interest payments on debt fell to £109m, or about £14 per customer, from £176m last year, npower said.
Understandably, the firm is spending more on improving its customer service, while costs of the government’s energy efficiency scheme have risen.
There’s also a worry that coal and gas stations may be shut down as low wholesale prices are making them run at a loss.
Npower also blamed the mild weather and one-off factors for the drop in profits to 2.27bn euros (£1.8bn), which is a little bit daft seeing as it is actually Summer and it is supposed to be the time people tend to lay off the radiator action.
They have until the end of the month to sort out its billing problems or it will be forced to stop all telephone sales to new customers. Apparently, their challenge for its customer services is to ‘become a more human interface while remaining compliant’.
Well, using language like ‘interface’ and ‘compliant’ is really going to help there, pal.
We all know advertising is supposed to make you want to buy stuff, but we have a reasonable expectation that the adverts we are subjected to are not a bunch of outright lies. That’s what the Advertising Standards Agency is there for,right?
However, just because businesses can’t lie, doesn’t mean they aren’t found guilty of stretching the truth a little bit. Strictly speaking, you might consider it lying but the ASA calls it ‘misleading’. A new ruling from the ASA has just banned a Virgin Media advert claiming that Sky customers could save over £400 a year by switching, when chances are, they actually couldn’t.
A regional press ad for Virgin Media Ltd compared Sky’s ‘The Family Bundle’ with Virgin Media’s ‘Premiere Collection’. The ‘receipts’ shown in the advert listed the features and monthly total price of the respective packages. Sky’s Family Bundle was priced at £103.65 and Virgin Media’s Premier Collection at £67.99. The advert stated an “Annual saving with Virgin Media £427.92″.
The problem was not, actually, with the facts- while Virgin had handily included the cost of BT Sport, which is actually paid to BT rather than Sky- Virgin maintained that 100% of Sky customers who took the exact combination of services set out would achieve the claimed saving. Nor was this disputed by the ASA. Virgin also claimed that the trifling detail of the exact amount of consumers holding this particular combination of services did not affect the comparison being made or a consumer’s understanding of the price saving.
However, on this point the ASA disagreed, given that fewer than 0.1% of Sky customers did have those services, and could therefore possibly save over £400. The ASA noted that the ad was phrased conditionally, and that Virgin Media did not claim that all customers would save over £400, however the ASA felt that “it was necessary for a reasonable proportion of consumers to achieve the claimed saving,” adding that “using the comparison in this example, only a relatively small proportion of Sky customers would save to the degree claimed. “
As a result that advert was banned on the grounds of misleading by exaggeration. Moral of the story- don’t believe everything you read in the papers and do your own research when comparing costs of broadband and television services.
The three shops – House of Fraser’s Online Store, Hawes and Curtis in London’s Jermyn Street and Bentalls in Kingston upon Thames – will have showroom dummies embedded with relevant information about what they are wearing in the shop window, or anything else the store wants to flog in your direction.
You’re not going to suddenly think you’re having a breakdown with windows talking to you willy nilly, the scheme relies on customers downloading the app and opting in.
Obviously there’s the creeping feeling that innocently sourcing a new blouse and some info on your phone says “Yeah! We have that in a blue and you’d look marvy!”, that it’s another way of marketing using your life choices and eating your mind.
Basically, you can select what you fancy and then order it online, if you’re pushed for time to actually enter the shop.
Naturally there’s also a social media aspect, as customers are also encouraged to share their fashion looks and dressing room selfies with friends.
Co-founder of the VMBeacon, Jonathan Berlin, speaking words he may live to regret, said: “Research shows that customers already use their smartphones while shopping in store, but until now, the retail industry hasn’t realised the full potential of this,”
“The VMBeacon creates a completely new dimension to the shopping experience, by combining the consumer desire to be connected on the go, with the bricks and mortar store.”
It’s an inevitable idea, but surely by driving everything online, when the ‘bricks and mortar store’ does rely on a footfall of people actually going into them, seems a bit mad, but we’re sure they know what they’re doing!
Nice to know you can be mithered outside shops, as well as in them.
Ofcom did a load of research testing each of the main British mobile operators, and the Orange/ T-Mobile love-in ranked top with 97% of phone conversations over its network completed successfully – 97.5% in urban areas and 93.7% in rural regions.
Admittedly, the less controversial O2 was a close second, with 95.3% overall completion rate that breaks down as 87.4% for rural customers and 97.7% for urban users.
And Vodafone came up the rear to complete the Top 3, with a total of 92.6% completed calls – 79.9% in rural areas and 95.3% in urban.
Overall, Ofcom said that 78% of urban customers were happy with their mobile solution, compared to 67% of rural customers.
It’s all part of Ofcom’s working with EE, O2, Three and Vodafone to devise a common system for measuring the quality of calls on their networks.
And if that wasn’t dizzying enough, Ofcom are publishing results of their study into 3G and 4G services.
David Elliott was in the process of enjoying a £6.99 wash and wax of his new £75,000 BMW (a bit like this one pictured) at the Morrisons branch in Evesham, Worcestershire.
It was when the back window shattered, that he realised that this wasn’t part of the service.
Part of the car wash mechanism had got snagged the lower edge of the car’s boot. However the safety mechanism that usually kicks in to cut the machine off didn’t work, and the car wash rollers carried on.
When Mr Elliott drove his car out of the machine, he then noticed the full extent of the damage, which he has since been quoted £4,000 to have it fixed.
Now Mr Elliott claims that Morrisons are refusing to accept liability. A claim disputed by the supermarket, who say they have not yet finished their investigation into the incident.
“I called Morrisons customer services immediately telling them what had happened and within a week they had basically denied liability.”
“They didn’t even send somebody to look at my car. The car wash was broken by the incident. But they got an engineer in who presumably just pushed the reset button and said the car wash was fine.”
“Morrisons said to me they didn’t deny that the incident took place but because the car wash was fine beforehand and now the engineer said it’s working, it’s not their liability. They are completely washing their hands of it.”
There’s probably some gag about a company washing their hands of a car wash incident, but now’s not the time. However, next time he wants his car cleaning, he might have more joy if he goes for a good old fashioned hand-job.
So to try and combat that, the Post Office plan to bring forward collection times for 50,000 of them.
Some will have their late collections moved forward to 3pm from the traditional 4pm or later slot.
The rest of the 115,000 post box network will remain unaffected by the change.
Using a statement as their medium, Royal Mail said: “Rather than decommission uneconomic postboxes, while staying within the regulated density requirement, Royal Mail will ensure their viability by improving efficiency of its collections arrangements.”
However, it’s not all doom and gloom, as 2000 new boxes are on their way out into the country, especially in rural areas, as Ofcom ruled that post boxes must be found within half a mile of 98% of UK households.
They chirped in with: “Ofcom recognises the need for Royal Mail to become more efficient so it can sustain a universal postal service that consumers value highly.”
The mid-nineties were dark days. Not just because of Peter Andre and East 17 but also because those were the shady times when building societies forced you to take out their own buildings insurance policies when you had a mortgage with them- at a healthily inflated premium of course.
But in the face of a sledgehammer of legislation to tackle the problem, the practice was dropped, and in today’s more enlightened times, new buyers are free to shop around, using any one of the multiple comparison sites around to secure the best deal on home insurance.
However, there is still an issue for homeowners. Last month comparethemarket.com (the one with the rodents) calculated that, for the‘significant number ‘of people, who have not switched since taking out their home insurance under sufferance through their original lender, they could have saved ‘legacy losses’ totalling around £2.2bn – an average of £1,446 per household over the last 20 years.
Additionally, the cheeky anthropomorphic creatures discovered that some building societies, mostly smaller regional ones, are still levying a penalty charge of up to £45 if you choose not to take out their overpriced insurance.s
Sounds a bit rum. Of course, the building societies can’t actually charge you for not buying their products, that would be madness. What they can do, however, is charge you an administration fee for requiring sight of your alternative insurance provider to ensure that it is, in fact, bona fide. Unlike the admin charge itself.
The comparethemarket.com research found Ipswich building society to be the worst offender in a list of 18 lenders which charge home buyers for daring to choose a cheaper insurance provider.Ipswich charges £45, but out of the other charging lenders, the largest is Skipton, which charges £25.
Simon McCulloch of comparethemarket.com said, based on the mortgage and remortgage market share of those lenders that impose a fee, consumers are collectively paying nearly £2m a year for these charges.
“These charges are essentially a tax on being financially proactive and prudent,” he said. “Shopping around for buildings and contents insurance saves a third of UK households more than £100, which could, for example, pay for your first six months broadband after you move house. But charges like these are designed to put people off doing this and, in many instances, to tie them into more expensive products.”
A spokesman for the Ipswich said: “The society has recently conducted a review of the ‘own insurance’ mortgage fee. The result of this is that we intend to remove this fee for all applications from 1 September 2014.”
A Skipton spokesman said: “There is a charge we make to ensure that if someone buys their buildings insurance elsewhere, we need to check that the property is properly insured.”
And yes, I know they are mammals.
Californian Douglas Ladore is taking Sony to court as he reckons they falsely advertised the native resolution of the multiplayer mode in Killzone Shadow Fall as 1080p
Mr Ladore boo-hoos that Sony is guilty of, “negligent misrepresentation, false advertisement, unfair competition and fraud in the inducement” for various claims from the company that a ‘native’ 1080p resolution was present in the game’s multiplayer.
Going on to shade them with “Unfortunately, Sony’s marketing and on-box representations turned out to be nothing more than fiction.”
Sony have always said that Killzone Shadow Fall runs at native 1080 and 60fps in both its single and multiplayer modes. However the game actually uses a thing called ‘temporal reprojection’ to achieve this 1080p image from a lower resolution render.
This ‘temporal reprojection’ lark tracks the position of pixels and manages to predict where they’ll be to form a higher-resolution new frame.
Obviously Ladore is having none of it, claiming how this is more a “technological shortcut” rather than an actual native to the game as he claims advertised.
There’s getting upset about something and then there’s going through the process of thinking “yes, I’m going to sue this company for their LIES” and then doing so.
Some people eh? They need to go outside and have a minute.
The design, for Dirty Bird, who ply their wares around festivals and dos around Wales, has been deemed phallic and ‘not the sort of thing that should be on display around children’.
Cleverly, the design combines both the ‘d’ and the ‘b’ of Dirty Bird, and helps form the base and main throbbing shaft of the cock itself.
Along with a head and comb placed at the tip, it is quite evident that the rooster represents a delicious range of chicken.
But the customers aren’t having it with clever design. Claiming that clever design is not the sort of thing they want to see or think about when tucking into their fried chicken, because the clever design looks quite a bit like a penis.
Now, Bitterwallet have seen a fair share of penises in our time (Speak for yourself – Ed) but none, if any, had a beak.
Dirty Bird owner Neil Young (not that one) has denied the company tried to make the logo phallic, saying: “We’ve never really thought about it like that. Our designer created a d and b for “dirty bird” then pushed them together to make a cockerel.”
They’ve also done some giant posters with stuff like “Touch My Thigh” and “Touch My Breast” on them, which again has alarmed some people with no sense of humour.
We particularly enjoyed the typesetting of the “Eat Cock” poster.
Mark James, who designed the logo, said: “We were given the name Dirty Bird as the brief, and started working on ideas. We looked at the initials, DB. Then worked with the lowercase ‘db’ linking them to form the shape of a rooster. It’s graphic representation of a rooster incorporating the initials. It depends on how you look at it.”
“I’m not sure there have been any complaints. A few comments, but it’s in the eye of the beholder, as they say.”
According to the industry, shop prices were an average of 1.9% below the same month last year. This is the biggest fall in years.
It’s all good for people who’ve been facing price rises overtaking wages, throwing everyone into varying levels of financial despair.
According to the British Retail Consortium (BRC), food prices are rising at 0.3% a year, which apparently is the lowest figure ever seen in the survey.
It claims that, what with discounting, vouchers and general deals, the cost of getting food on the table is actually down. Yeah, but, it really couldn’t have continued going up though, eh?
Clothes and shoes were an average of 11.2% cheaper in July than a year ago as clothes shops waged an actual war on each other. All your electrical bits and bobs like tellies, mobile phones, computers and that sort of thing were on average 5% cheaper.
The director general of the BRC, Helen Dickson reckons: “This is great news for households who are benefiting from fierce competition within the industry at a time when disposable incomes remain under pressure. The lowest ever recorded food inflation will be particularly welcomed by the lowest income households who typically spend around a third of their expenditure on food”.
“Deep and widespread discounting across the grocery sector is intensifying with prices falling almost one per cent month-on-month – another record jump. After accounting for the use of multi-buys and vouchers, food prices are falling.”
It looks set to continue, too, as harvests around the world have been quite good, things are stable, imports are cheaper and all that.
Proposed reforms to the way claims are paid out could wipe out businesses and homeowners financially, according to some insurers.
Following the rioting of Summer 2011, where disaffected youths rose up and acquired free rice and sportswear, around £167 million has been believed to have been paid out to people and companies who were affected by it, according to the Association of British Insurers (ABI).
However the ABI say that plans to overhaul the 128-year-old Riot Damages Act could threaten insurers’ ability to cover such damage in England and Wales as a standard part of property insurance.
It said the proposals could reduce access to insurance and potentially lead to new excesses for riots having to be built into some policies and riots having to be excluded completely from cover in certain areas.
The ABI estimates that for every £10 paid out in compensation after the 2011 rioting, only £1 would be paid out under the reformed Act, which whatever way you look at it, is a bit shit.
It also warned that proposals to put new curbs on the Act would leave “all but the smallest firms unable to claim compensation”, while car owners could find that the vast majority of vehicle damage is also excluded.
The ABI said that a proposal to limit those businesses who can make a claim to the police under the Act to those with an annual turnover of less than £2 million would leave all but the smallest firms unable to claim. Firms with a turnover of less than £2 million made up only 9% of the total value of commercial property material damage claims in the 2011 riots.
It also said that proposals to only include third party motor policies within claims to the police under the Act would leave a vast majority of motorists outside it. Around 96% of motorists have comprehensive cover rather than third party.
The ABI also shaded the idea that police and crime commissioners to decide whether a riot is actually a riot, and not just ‘lots of people running about smashing stuff up and burning things’ would also create potential conflicts of interest as the police are liable for riot damage.
There’s a guy named Huw Evans, who is director of policy and deputy director general at the ABI, and he has said this: “Government proposals to drastically cut back compensation are at odds with its intention to retain the principle that the state is responsible for the costs of riot damage, that has proved its worth for taxpayers for over 100 years.”
“Not only does the Act provide important protection for the uninsured, it means insurers can cover riot damage in England and Wales as a standard part of property insurance.”
“Both would be in jeopardy under Government’s new proposals, which instead need to reflect today’s world and the needs of modern businesses.”
“Insurers want to continue to offer riot cover as a standard part of property insurance, but such drastic change could significantly impact on premiums, lead to the incorporation of excesses for riot into business insurance policies, or the exclusion of riot from insurance cover in certain areas.”
Meanwhile, a Home Office spokeswoman piped up with: “Small and medium-sized businesses are at the heart of their communities and it is right that the Government supports them when they suffer unexpected loss or damages.
“The Riot Damages Act is over 125 years old and needs updating. Its purpose is to provide a safety net for businesses and individuals – our recent consultation provided an opportunity to ensure it meets the needs of any future compensation claims.
“Interested parties, including the Association of British Insurers, were invited to comment and provide data to inform the consultation.
“No final decisions have been taken on changes to the Act. We will now consider responses to the consultation and will decide which proposals to take forward in due course.”
What a mess, eh reader?