The payday lender, Cash Genie, has been ordered to pay £20m to people they’ve ripped off. The lender was told by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to dole out the money to more than 92,000 customers.
Turns out that they’re been ripping off customers in a number of ways, with Cash Genie charging fees which they were not entitled to, according to customer contracts. In some cases, they charged people who weren’t able to repay their loans £50 to transfer them to their own debt collection firm, Twyford Developments.
Basically, they were taking money needlessly from people who were already struggling with debt.
It transpires that Cash Genie were also rolling over and refinancing loans without customers’ consent, which of course, all means that people in financial hardship were being hit with extra interest and additional costs.
Cash Genie also traded as the online brands txtmecash and paydayiseveryday, with customers advised to go to these websites on the promise of a fresh loan. Then, when customers went to these sites, they were used to harvest banking information so they could take payments from existing loans without permission.
So, Cash Genie will reimburse some people and write-off the debts of others.
Linda Woodall of the FCA said: “We expect all firms to notify us of any unacceptable past or current practices and provide appropriate redress to anyone affected.”
What Do I Do Next If I Was A Cash Genie Customer?
For the time being, if you’ve been swindled by Cash Genie, you don’t need to do anything. Cash Genie is going to contact affected customers by 18th September.
For the time being, sit tight and wait for Cash Genie to get in touch with you. Do not appoint a claims management company to sort this out either, as they’ll charge you for a service that you won’t need.
If you feel that it is important to talk to someone, you can contact the Cash Genie Customer Service team on 0333 366 0023, or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org or by letter at Cash Genie, 2 Reavell Place, Ipswich, Suffolk IP2 0ET.
If you’d prefer, you can get in touch with the FCA by calling 0800 111 6768 or 0300 500 8082, or email them at email@example.com.
We told you recently about the government shutting down 91 ‘surplus’ courts, and it looks like there’s more legal bother afoot, as barristers are going on strike in a protest against cuts to legal aid.
Criminal barristers are going to start refusing to take on Crown Court cases, as they show solidarity with criminal defence solicitors, who are looking at cuts in their fees of 8.75%. Solicitors have already been striking since the start of July, refusing all new work in Magistrates and Crown Courts.
These cuts will make it harder for small high street law firms to stay in business, which of course, creates the kind of scenario that gives advantage to people with more money.
Jonathan Black, president of the London Criminal Court Solicitors Association, said: “Hundreds of solicitors’ firms around the country will close down, developing instead into mass justice warehouses, legal aid warehouses, where cases will be packed high and sold cheap.”
“High street firms that ordinary people know how to access will be decimated.”
The past two governments have been taking money from the legal aid system, which sees lawyers paid from public money, so that people who can’t afford representation can get the help they need.
So, while criminal defence barristers aren’t actually affected by these cuts, they’re showing solidarity with the legal profession, with the majority going on strike. Joanne Cecil, a barrister at Garden Court Chambers, said that criminal justice is “on its knees and broken” thanks to the measures brought in by the government: “this is really not about our fees, it’s about the wider impact on society.”
“The impact of these cuts to legal aid is not just to defendants, but also victims of crime and witnesses, who have to deal with what is a creaking justice system.”
Regarding the data corruption, Apple have put out a firmware update to fix the laptop’s flash storage component. It is the 15″ mid-range 2015 Retina model that has shown signs of corruption.
This follows a lot of complaints about MacBooks that have knackered screens. Marks, or ‘stains’ are appearing on the laptops in such volumes that someone bothered to set up a website dedicated to the problem. It is called staingate.org, and shows a number of botched screens.
Just shy of 3,000 people (and counting) have joined a Facebook group about this issue too.
Obviously, one of the big concerns is that they’re going to be rinsed with expensive service fees that they’ll have to fork out for once the warranties or protection plans expire.
Considering that the MacBooks are considerably more expensive than the rest of the market, you can see why people have the hump.
Apple haven’t confirmed whether there’s an issue or not (there clearly is) and it seems to be models from 2013 that are causing the most grief for people.
EasyJet have been accused of selling tickets for seats on flights, that don’t exist. On top of that, those that buy these tickets end up on roundabout routes which take ages to get to your destination.
Feel free to insert a joke about being dropped off approximately 50 miles from your destination, in the sentence above.
The airline has been accused of overselling thousands of peak-season flights, which has seen some families being broken up while travelling. And it isn’t just EasyJet, as similar accusations have been thrown at British Airways and Virgin Atlantic.
If this is true, then some airlines are clearly in breach of European rules on overbooking. Regulations state that airlines must get passengers to their destination ‘at the earliest opportunity’.
There were problems with tennis player Annabel Croft, who tweeted: “Have arrived Portugal minus our daughter. Not a great start to our family holiday – no idea buying a ticket didn’t guarantee a seat. I asked easyJet if I could stay with her and they said yes, but we will charge you £60. Unbelievable.”
So what do EasyJet have to say for themselves? A spokesman said: “A flight will only be overbooked after reviewing the no-show rate for the last three months. On average, across our flights we will only overbook by one or two passengers per flight.”
If you wanted to leave Virgin and didn’t want to wait until the end of your contract, this is good news, as you can now ditch them without a charge. You’ll have until 31st August to hand your notice in.
For new customers, who aren’t phased by all that, there’s a bunch of codes floating around where you can get up to £50 off on online orders. You can see those here.
That said, Virgin have form with this, and have been warned about mid-term price increases by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), concerning some broadband and phone deals. Basically, the ASA found that Virgin could raise the price above what they had already promoted their services for, which is a breach of the regulator’s rules.
Concerning the latter, the ASA said that even though the contracts that have been complained about were variable, consumers were still mislead over the notion that they were being offered fixed-prices during the minimum term of the contract.
The ASA ruling said: “We considered that the monthly price of a contract was likely to be material to consumers when deciding on a telecommunications package, and that they might not choose a particular package if they knew that the monthly cost could increase beyond the amounts stated in the ad, during the minimum term. Therefore, we considered that the price claim should have been immediately qualified to explain to consumers that it was not fixed throughout the minimum term, and that the contract was a variable one in which the price could rise.”
“Because subsequent price rises meant the advertised price claims for the packages did not represent the prices that consumers would pay throughout the minimum term of the contract, across both the promotional and standard periods, and because it was not made clear that the contract was a variable one in which prices could increase, we concluded that the ad was misleading.”
Virgin’s wrists might get slapped over these new TV prices too, if they’re not careful.
Npower are pretty hopeless. And that’s putting it kindly. They’ve been so dire when it comes to handling complaints, Ofgem have ordered them to give free energy to customers whose complaints have not been resolved in good time.
The regulator said those that had an Ombudsman ruling, that is outstanding against npower (for more than 28 days) should benefit from this and have their debts written off. Of course, npower are still shruggling, wobbling their bottom lips and saying that it is all the fault of a new billing system they brought in.
They’ve been using that excuse for ages now. So long, that they’ve confessed that they’ve had problems with the bills of 700,000 households. Useless. Absolutely useless.
And this investigation was kicked off by Ofgem over a year ago, and they’re not finished yet, doling out fines as they go along, such is the magnitude of npowers haplessness.
With all this in mind, npower said: “For these 1,000 customers, npower will write off any debt on their account and also provide free energy until the ombudsman’s rulings have been applied in full. This measure has been agreed with Ofgem and the Ombudsman. If there are any customers similarly affected after today, 21 July, we will review on a case-by-case approach in line with the Ombudsman’s current policy and also provide free energy where the remedy has not been completed due to our process or system.”
“Npower continues to make steps to improve its service, including halving overall complaints and reducing Ombudsman complaints by nearly 10% since the beginning of this year, but sometimes a delay in finally resolving a complaint can occur, for which we apologise.”
They revealed: “You can order from the ‘Secret Menu’. Just like with any of our sandwiches, you can add, remove or change ingredients by special request. These are called ‘grill orders’.”
So what does this mean? Well, instead of ordering a Big Mac through habit, you can get stuck into a number of these other things, featured below. The staff might not know them by name, but you can certainly ask them to assemble them for you.
The Monster Mac
A Big Mac for the greedy – eight beef patties on one thing!
The Neapolitan Shake
If you ask, you can have all three flavours of McDonald’s milkshakes in one cup.
The Land, Sea and Air
Add a Fillet-o-Fish to a Big Mac, and then stick a chicken burger in it as well. It is a Noah’s Ark of meals!
You can get a McChicken sandwich placed inside a double cheeseburger. Dreadful name, mind you.
Big Mac Sauce Fries
Get some fries and then ask them to put some of that special Big Mac sauce with them, instead of tomato sauce. If you prefer, you can try and make your own Big Mac sauce, like we told you to ages ago.
The Marty McFry
Combine a Big Mac with a a McChicken sandwich. Stick a load of fries in it as well, if you’re feeling brave.
The Reddit AMA is here, if you’re interested about the ins-and-outs of a McDonalds.
The Competition and Markets Authority have found that supermarkets are misleading shoppers with their confusing promotions. CAN YOU BELIEVE IT? The CMA said that supermarket prices and promotions “have the potential to confuse or mislead consumers and which could be in breach of consumer law”.
Tesco, Asda, Sainsburys, Morrisons – are you listening? The CMA would like to see an end to ‘was/now’ promotions, where the cheaper price is advertised as a promotion for longer than the higher price was ever shown for, okay?
The CMA want the government to get involved as well, so we can trust new standards about ‘unit prices’, so we can see what the price of a single item is within a multipack.
And will the supermarkets be running scared? Well, it is worth pointing out that the CMA actually came up a little short of launching an actual full-on investigation on this and really, they’re just shouting into the wind really and the supermarkets are invariably going to ignore them. Asking the government to get involved is like talking to a pug – they’re only going to look at you with that gormless face of theirs.
Nisha Arora, CMA honcho said: “We have found that, whilst supermarkets want to comply with the law and shoppers enjoy a wide range of choices, with an estimated 40pc of grocery spending being on items on promotion, there are still areas of poor practice that could confuse or mislead shoppers.”
“So we are recommending further action to improve compliance and ensure that shoppers have clear, accurate information.”
Junk food is bad for you. Who knew? Well, doctors (who cares which ones?) would like to see a 20% tax on sugary drinks, as they think it would be a “useful first step” towards reducing obesity. It is thought that a third of the UK will be obese by 2030, so the British Medical Association (BMA) think this tax might put the scuppers on that.
Maybe if someone thought of a way of making other food more tasty than sugar, that might help first.
The BMA report, Food For Thought, warned that bad diet costs the NHS somewhere in the region of £6bn a year, so a 20% tax on all non-alcoholic water based beverages with added sugar (a gobful in itself), including energy drinks, fruit drinks, fizzy pop and all that, could subsidise the sale of fruit and veg.
They also have a pop at the Government for putting far too much emphasis on industry involvement when it comes to developing food and nutrition policy in the UK, thanks to their reliance on public-private partnerships. The BMA reckon that this arrangement provides a platform for companies to promote and enhance their own wares, which is clearly problematic.
The report’s author, Professor Sheila Hollins, said: “While sugar-sweetened drinks are very high in calories they are of limited nutritional value and when people in the UK are already consuming far too much sugar, we are increasingly concerned about how they contribute towards conditions like diabetes.”
“We know from experiences in other countries that taxation on unhealthy food and drinks can improve health outcomes, and the strongest evidence of effectiveness is for a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages. If a tax of at least 20% is introduced, it could reduce the prevalence of obesity in the UK by around 180,000 people.”
“We know that the majority of the UK population, particularly low income households, are not consuming enough fruit and vegetables, so financial measures should also be considered to subsidise their price, which has risen by 30% since 2008.
“This is an important way to help redress the imbalance highlighted previously between the cost of healthy and unhealthy products, which particularly impacts on individuals and families affected by food poverty.”
Sometimes bureaucracy is annoying; sometimes it’s plain silly and sometimes it’s downright ridiculous. Despite generally encouraging energy efficiency and green measures, a new VAT ruling from the European Court of Justice will mean that UK householders will have to spend 15% more on energy-saving home improvements.
Government and tax officials have, perhaps unusually, joined with green campaigners to oppose the ruling from Brussels that could add £1,500 to a set of rooftop solar panels and £70 to cavity wall insulation in a semi-detached house. The problem the EU have with the measures is to do with VAT.
Currently, energy saving expenditure on things like insulation and a new boiler, as well as on renewable devices like solar panels and wind turbines, qualifies for reduced VAT rates of 5%, just a quarter of the standard 20% rate of VAT. However, the ECJ has ruled that Britain’s favourable tax treatement on energy-saving materials breaks EU law, even though the policy was introduced in 2000 to help meet EU targets to eliminate energy waste by 2020.
In its binding (ie compulsory) decision, the European court said that reduced rates of VAT are only allowed on energy-saving materials installed in social houses or if it forms “part of a social policy.” The court rejected appeals from Britain that reducing the cost of energy-saving materials is socially beneficial and should therefore qualify. It also seems to contradict binding EU rules that oblige member states to “adopt policies which encourage…using efficient heating and cooling systems.”
“In these straitened economic times additional costs really could make the difference between installing and not installing,” Jenny Holland, of the Association for the Conservation of Energy, which represents the energy conservation industry told the Telegraph. “It’s completely illogical with the general thrust of EU policy making.”
It will cost £116 extra to insulate a semi-detached house with cavity wall insulation and radiator valves under the higher rates, which costs £808 today but would increase to £923, according to the Association’s calculations.
Treasury and HMRC officials are now working with the industry and campaigners to see whether they can find an alternative route, or a loophole to circumvent the decision, as otherwise the higher rate of VAT will come into force next year. No one who has pre-ordered or prepaid for these items will be affected, an HMRC spokesperson said.
You heard about the doll that taught a child how to say “f*** it”, and now, to a Minion toy that you get with a Happy Meal from McDonald’s, which apparently has a potty mouth.
Parents having been getting their chinos in a twist, after hearing what they think, is a Minion saying “What the f***?”
In a statement, McDonald’s blames coincidence: “Minions speak ‘Minionese’ which is a random combination of many languages and nonsense words and sounds. Minionese has no translation to, or meaning in any recognised language. Any perceived similarities to words used within the English language is purely coincidental.”
Obviously, you want to decide for yourself about all this. Bitterwallet has had a listen and we can’t hear swear words at all (we like our potty mouths to enunciate properly, obviously).
Well, here’s a video you can watch. See if you can hear swearing coming out of this irritating little toy.
If you’ve shopped at a Co-op recently, it might be worth checking your bank statement. That’s because hundreds of thousands of Co-op customers may have been charged twice, thanks to a cock-up involving consumers using their cards in the retailer’s food shops or petrol stations.
A spokesman for the Co-operative said the error occurred on Tuesday, and that it wasn’t possible to say how many people this mess had affected.
Either way, those that have been affected will have their money credited directly back to their accounts within the next 24 hours, he said.
If there are any incurred overdraft fees or what have you, the Co-operative has also promised to reimburse you, which is decent of them.
A spokesman for the Co-op said the mistake was down to a “processing error”.
According to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), there’s been a rise in spam calls and texts, with more than 180,000 complaints made about these nuisances in the last year alone. That’s a 12% rise, compared with the year before.
The watchdog also said that they’d issued five fines relating to all this, totalling £386,000, alongside eight enforcement notices, with another 31 firms being “monitored”.
The said: “Most concerns related to accident claims, green energy deals, payday loans and lifestyle surveys. Live calls generate significantly more concerns than automated calls and spam texts.”
One of the reasons there’s been a spike, is that this year, the law was changed, to make it easier for companies to be fined for breaching rules regarding nuisance calls and texts. The ICO have also been doing a load of investigations where allegations of personal data being obtained or disclosed illegally. In one case, a Transport for London employee was prosecuted for illegally accessing Oyster card records.
Launching the report, the information commissioner, Christopher Graham, said: “We’ve seen real developments in the laws we regulate during that time, particularly over the past year. Just look at the EU court of justice ruling on Google search results, a case that could never have been envisaged when the data protection law was established.”
The executive director of Which!!!, Richard Lloyd, said that this was jst “tip of the iceberg”, adding: “This is why regulators, government and industry must work harder to cut off unwanted calls and texts that annoy millions of us every day. The ICO must use its new powers to full effect and hit hard any company breaking cold-calling rules. We also want to see senior executives personally held to account if their company makes unlawful calls.”
Figures released by the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) show that commuters feel that it is pretty futile complaining about train operators. The report shows that, despite having the most cancellations and late-running services, Southern received a fraction of the average complaints that Virgin got.
Virgin received around 24 times more complaints per passenger journey than Southern, with the pair being the most complained about. It seems that this is a particular problem in London, with the five operators getting the fewest complaints, despite the performance of the services suggesting otherwise.
David Sidebottom, passenger director of Transport Focus, said: “The weary commuter doesn’t complain any more, sadly, because the train is perpetually delayed or you can’t ever get a seat, and has given up on the system.”
Sidebottom added that longer-distance operators tend to pick up more complaints, thanks to the nature of the travel: “The impact and value of that particular journey is of a different magnitude; but the long-distance operators encourage people to complain when things go wrong – it’s what a good business does. It builds up trust. They don’t want disgruntled customers.”
“With commuter trains, these are harder things to work out and to get sorted, but you end up with the kind of things we’re seeing in the south-east at the moment. We do want commuter train operators to do more.”
The largest operator of mobiles in the UK has been slapped senseless with a £1m fine from Ofcom, for breaching rules on handling customer complaints. It has transpired that, from 2011 to 2014, EE didn’t provide customers with full information about their right to take complaints to an independent body.
It is worth noting that you can always take your complaints to an independent body, like the Ombudsman, with any business.
EE should have told their customers in writing about this, but didn’t. This was discovered during the regulator’s broad look at complaint handling in the telecom sector.
Customers of EE have the right to take complaints that can’t be resolved to an independent body, up to two months after they first made the complaint. However, between 22 July 2011 and 8 April 2014, Ofcom found that a host of people who had requested a “deadlock letter”, which would have been the precursor to getting their complaint looked at by someone independent, never received any correspondence.
It turned out that EE hadn’t been notifying customers on their paper bills about the fact that they could take any complaint to this body, free of charge.
“It’s vital that customers can access all the information they need when they’re pursuing a complaint,” said Ofcom’s Claudio Pollack. ”Ofcom imposes strict rules on how providers must handle complaints and treats any breach of these rules very seriously. The fine imposed against EE takes account of the serious failings that occurred in the company’s complaints handling, and the extended period over which these took place.”
In the case of EE, if you want to escalate a complaint to an independent body, then you get in touch with CISAS. You can get in touch with them, here.
Not only that, EE are charging almost twice as much as their rivals for calling non-geographic numbers. This comes from Ofcom’s efforts to force operators to be clear about what they’re earning from numbers that start with 084, 087, 09, or 118. They’re charging 44p per minute for these calls.