Toys R Us are putting an end to categorising toys into boys and girls categories. This means that they’ll be selling toys and it’ll be up to your child which ones they want. It is a good move, which ultimately won’t change much in the way of shopping habits, but still, it is nice to open all the toys up to children.
This of course, came about after pressure from a group called Let Toys Be Toys and, thanks to them being campaigners, it means that some people will automatically be against whatever it is they’re saying – that’s how humans work. Group A says “CHANGE THINGS!” Group B complain and reply with “LEAVE EVERYTHING ALONE!”
Either way, you’ll now search for toys by age-group, brand, or type of toy, rather than gender. Of course, some parents will think that this is going to make shopping for their children more difficult, but really, buying toys for kids is a nightmare regardless of how it is offered to you.
Obviously, television commercials and marketing won’t be changing the way they do things, which means Toys R Us changing their system won’t mean that girls will stop being ushered toward dolls, and boys toward diggers, but it is something. And of course, parents will influence what they want their children to play with, but all the same, if you shop at Toys R Us, the shelves will no longer categorise things into things for girls, and things for boys.
This fine comes in a week when the Information Commissioners Office (ICO) are throwing fines at all sorts of spam-pests, totalling £250,000. The £80k was served to Birmingham-based UKMS Money Solutions Ltd, and of course, they were dealing in nuisance PPI messages. The company failed to check that the people they were messaging had agreed to receive marketing text messages.
The ICO are getting in touch with 1,000 of these spam-vendors, to ask them what they’re doing to comply with UK laws. If it turns out they’ve failed to go through proper procedures, there’s going to be more fines doing the rounds.
ICO enforcement manager, Andy Curry, said: “UKMS relied on their data suppliers’ word that the people on the lists had agreed to be contacted. That’s simply not good enough. UKMS should have known that the responsibility to ensure they had the right consent to send messages to people rests with them.”
There’s a lot of calls for tougher action against these sorts of companies, because at the moment, they can dodge penalties by simply closing down their business and then re-opening on the same day under a different business name. It really is a farce. One of the things that is being spoken about, is that, instead of fining companies, you fine directors who are responsible.
The ICO would also like to see an increase in the maximum fine possible. Currently it stands at £500,000, which is clearly not enough of a deterrent.
If you were hoping to get a nice little payout apology from Volkswagen over the emissions scandal, don’t hold your breath (unless you’re trying to not breathe in all the gunk pouring out of the back of your VW). The company said that they have ”no plans” to compensate customers in Europe, although, after some official investigations, that could all change.
The company have put aside £4.8bn to cover recall costs, but that doesn’t include compo, because they’re not planning on forking out.
Now, Volkswagen have been compensating drivers in America, and they think that the market circumstances were different. Of course, in the UK, the car’s re-sale value has changed thanks to this cheat-scandal, so this is a bit of a kick in the teeth.
Stateside, drivers have been promised $500, and another $500 in credit vouchers. If you’re in the UK, VW are telling you to go whistle.
In a statement, VW said: “We are putting together an individual package of measures for each market designed to achieve high customer satisfaction in what is currently an unsatisfactory situation for customers.”
So why are Volkswagen treating American drivers differently to those in Europe? Well, it has been suggested elsewhere that VW would like to spoil the Americans, because it is seen as a key area of growth in the market that they would like to develop. Seeing as Europe drives a lot of VW vehicles, it sounds like a case of ‘what are you going to do about it?’
There could well be some official intervention on all this, so things could change, but for the time being, Volkswagen aren’t going to be crossing your palm with silver.
This Friday is Black Friday and there’s nothing you can do about it (unless you’re planning to do absolutely nothing about it, of course). There’s going to be a lot of fuss made over it, and in part, for good reason – last year, there were some outrageously good bargains to be found.
For those who still aren’t exactly sure what the day means, basically, in the UK, retailers have stolen America’s infamous sales day, which falls the day after Thanksgiving. Or the last Friday of November. A lot of the major shops and supermarkets will be involved, although this year, some have decided to scale back their offerings or spread their deals out.
As ever, we’ll be rounding up the best bargains for you, and pointing you in the direction of those that are offering proper deals, rather than those rubbish ones that offer 4% off some perfume you don’t want.
Where are the best places to find a Black Friday bargain? Well, these shops have already put their markers down, with some of them already selling Black Friday deals right now.
Over the last couple of years, John Lewis and Amazon have been the better outlets for grabbing something on the cheap, however, 2015 will see even more retailers getting in on the action, so we’ll have to wait and see. Amazon, of course, have offers on all day and have become known for their Lightning Deals, which means limited time-windows to buy certain products.
Very.co.uk have also been hot on Black Friday, and Curry’s/PC World are keen on the day too. Concerning the latter, some Bitterwallet readers got some £150 Beats headphones for £40, which isn’t to be sniffed at.
So keep your eyes peeled. You can get loads of bargains without actually going down the shops if you get everything online, presuming you want to avoid a bareknuckle brawl in a supermarket.
It seems that, same as last year, it is Sainsbury’s who have challenged John Lewis’ seemingly unassailable Christmas tearjerker ad crown, and (arguably) as last year, it seems Sainsbury’s may have come out on top again. While the man on the moon has so far racked up more shares than Mog the cat, considering the feline’s debut was a week later, that is perhaps understandable. Sainsbury’s do take the (cat) biscuit if you look at shares per day, coming in at over 30,000 shares per day more than John Lewis.
And it’s had a knock on effect. While John Lewis were not far-sighted enough to come up with an easily merchandisable ad (unless they are planning on selling a lot of telescopes), Sainsbury’s cute plush Mog was all the rage in stores at a readily affordable £10. So readily affordable, in fact, that they have sold out of Mogs just ten days after the ad was launched. Some forecaster somewhere will be having a very miserable Christmas.
But never fear, as ever enterprising sorts have taken to eBay to sell their surplus Mogs. Prices start from around twice the RRP, but some forward thinking sorts are setting their sights a little higher, with prices as high as £90 or even £100. Sainsburys are said to be “disappointed” that people are choosing to make extra money for themselves when the store-bought Mogs make a donation towards Save the Children literacy projects. Disappointed but probably not surprised.
But there is hope for humanity yet. If you haven’t seen it on Facebook yet, the ad coming in at number three on the most-shared ads is not boosted by the appearance of crumpet munching muppets, or light sabre wielding batteries. Instead it’s a heartwarming tale advertising the Spanish Lottery. and you want to be similarly moved, you can catch it, in all its glory, here.
Home insurance is one of those necessary evil type things, but sometimes getting a quote isn’t all the information you need. Our friends over at Which!!! have undertaken an investigative foray into the sneaky admin charges some insurers levy on your policy after you’ve signed on the dotted line.
Which!!! analysed the sneaky fees of 36 major insurers and found that half charge an ‘adjustment fee’ for making changes to your policy, such as updating your address. The smallest of these fees (where charged) was £8.48 with Aviva and went up to £25 with Castle Cover and Rias.
Which!!! gave each insurer marks out of 100, and two companies actually got full marks- both Barclays and Lloyds Banking Group don’t charge any fees and also pay generous switching fees – an amount a provider pays towards any charges you face for switching to it before your current policy ends- and neither levy an interest charge for paying by monthly instalments.
Endsleigh came bottom with a score of 43%, and Admiral followed closely with 44%. Both these insurers charge hefty fees- Endsleigh charges 39.7& APR for monthly payments and £20 for practically everything else- the highest fee for a duplicate document. Admiral is one of only four insurers who charge a fee if you pay for your insurance by credit card; consumer rights regulations state that these fees must be no more than it costs the company to process that payment type, but at a flat rate of £5.95, Which!!! think this is unlikely to be reflective of Admiral’s costs.
Which!!! also found it’s not always easy to check what fees you might be charged in advance. Most insurers include their fees in the policy documents on their websites or in a FAQs section, but Bradford & Bingley, Endsleigh, Nationwide, the Post Office and Prudential all required a full quote before setting out their fees. Which seems a little more than sneaky to us.
The top and bottom ten insurers, as rated by Which!!! are as follows:
3 Age UK
6 M&S Bank
7 NFU Mutual
10 Insure 4 Retirement
5 Bradford and Bingley
6 Co-operative Insurance
8 The AA
9 Post Office Insurance
10 Esure/Sheila’s Wheels
How much do you think Christmas dinner costs to make for eight people? £40? £50? In fact figures from the Good Housekeeping Institute reckons all eleven essential ingredients of Christmas fare can be obtained for as little as £20.26.
That means that this year’s grub is almost five percent cheaper than last year’s. However, the savings may be eaten into by the additional cost of shoe leather, as the bottom price quoted above involves shopping around in a number of different supermarkets in order to secure the lowest prices. For example, you’d need to get your bird from Lidl, where a turkey weighing between 2.8 and four kilograms costs you £8.99. Morrisons are cheapest for your Maris Piper potatoes and your carrots and Sainsbury’s had the best deal on mince pies. Stuffing can be purchased from a number of retailers for just 30p but you need to go to your local co-op if you’d rather not spend a fortune on sprouts- two 450g bags will set you back just 98p.
But what if you really can’t be bothered to visit all those different stores, or if there isn’t a full selection of them near you? Fortunately the cheapest one-stop shop isn’t too much more at a still-reasonable £24.81 from Iceland. Unsurprisingly perhaps the most expensive place to do all your shopping is Waitrose, where the shop cost £47.84, which still isn’t too bad when you consider how much you spend on everything else. In fact, Tesco came in at second cheapest at £25.77, with the German discounters languishing mid-table. Sainsburys is the dearest of the main supermarkets at £34.14, before the large jump up to M&S and Waitrose.
Good Housekeeping’s consumer director, Caroline Bloor, said: “Thanks to low inflation and fierce competition between the supermarkets, budget conscious consumers will find plenty of festive food bargains this Christmas.
“While there’s a big variation in price on key items like Christmas pud and turkey, you can get the basics, like carrots and parsnips, pretty cheaply at most.”
All prices are subject to change.
You might be thinking that, if you’ve paid someone to access the internet, then you should be allowed to do whatever you like with your connection. Not so, according to Sky, who are looking at imposing fines for customers who download illegal and dirty content.
In a letter to customers, Sky have warned everyone that they should prepare themselves for letters being sent to them regarding illegal downloads. They said: “We need to let you know about a court order made against Sky earlier this year that requires us to provide your name and address to another company.”
“A company called Golden Eye International, which owns rights to several copyrighted films, has claimed that a number of Sky Broadband customers engaged in unlawful file sharing of some of its films.”
“In support of this claims Golden Eye International says it has gathered evidence of individual broadband accounts (identified online by unique numbers called IP addresses) from which it claims the file sharing took place.”
A court order means that Sky had to hand-over customer information which corresponds to the anonymous IP addresses which were caught downloading porn illegally.
Golden Eye International themselves, say on their website: “Golden Eye International, the holder of numerous film copyrights, has long taken the stance that the unlawful distribution of copyright material is detrimental to the film and creative industries. The continued use of peer-to-peer file sharing networks has grown to such proportions that we are left with no other alternative but to pursue those who infringe our copyrights and to seek financial retribution, for our losses, through their unlawful activities. While every attempt will be made to seek a settlement out of court we will not hesitate to enter into court proceeding with those who fail to acknowledge our intellectual rights.”
“We use the latest technology to identify those IP addresses from which our films and content are being uploaded to peer-to-peer networks and through rigorous and legal means contact the offenders notifying them of our intent to get them to cease any similar activities in the future as well as negotiate an equitable settlement for the losses caused by their unlawful practises.”
One of the people behind this company is Ben Dover, who has previous in this area – in 2013, he went after people on the O2 network, over downloads they’d obtained.
If you get hit with a letter about this, then the Citizen’s Advice Bureau have some helpful information about ‘speculative invoicing and Pay Up Or Else schemes regarding copyrighted material. You can have a look at that here.
After the carnage that was last year’s Black Friday, Tesco are going to delay their opening times for the bigger supermarkets. Initially, Tesco were going to fling their doors open at midnight, but now they’re going to give their staff a chance to prepare at the 250 Extra stores on 27th November, by opening at 5am.
Will it make any difference? Probably not, but Tesco are reacting to a police warning, that said supermarkets needed to make sure they were sufficiently prepared in terms of security and generally maintaining some order.
The supermarket said that they have individually assessed each store, and will be making sure there’s extra support with more security guards and barriers to make queuing safer.
“This change will allow us to provide the best possible service to help our customers,” a spokesman said.
As you know, Asda are not going headlong into Black Friday this year, and have decided to tone down their involvement. Rather than offer all their discounts on one day, they’re going to run promotions over a number of weeks, in the lead up to Christmas.
Either way, if you’re up for punching someone’s lights out over a barbecue set and a console system, you can now get some shut-eye instead of waiting up ’til midnight. You’ll be fresh as a daisy and ready to rumble.
While many might think that Black Friday is a gold rush for retailers in the UK, there are drawbacks. First off, you’ve got the bad press that comes with people punching each other over tellies in your aisles – and then you’ve got people returning goods they’ve bought on the day.
A report says that UK retailers could be hit with costs of £180m, after consumers snag products on Black Friday, but end up returning their goods. Either way, predictions say that this could be the first year where internet sales pass £1bn thanks to Black Friday 2015.
Thanks to those a bit too keen to fill their baskets, retailers could lose money on returns, if you take lost margins, oversupply of stock, cleaning and storage costs, and the lost value of future custom into account.
“What retailers must remember is a sale is only a sale when a customer decides to keep an item – and the promise of a Black Friday discount alone might not be enough to close the expectation gap and secure a ‘keep’,” said Vicky Brock, founder and chief executive of Clear Returns. ”While on the surface, Black Friday is deemed to be a successful key trading day, but it’s a gloomier picture once returns are factored in.”
Clear Returns say that, by December, £600m worth of stock bought between Black Friday and early December is going to tied-up in the returns system, which means the shops won’t be able to get the products back on the shelves in time for the Christmas rush. This will result in ‘Out Of Stock Saturday’ on December 12th, apparently.
Obviously, shoppers should keep their wits about them during the Black Friday hysteria, and not be swayed into purchases that feel like ‘now or never’, when in fact, they’re not very good.
Keep your head screwed on, keep checking Bitterwallet for the good bargains, and only go for stuff you really want, or that is genuinely a good price. There’s also a dedicated Black Friday section with our pals at HUKD which you should definitely keep an eye on.
We don’t expect Viagogo to care too much about all of this considering they’ve been on the Advertising Standards Agency of non-compliant advertisers since 1st October 2014.
364 tickets for Rod Stewart’s latest UK tour were for sale on Stubhub the day before pre-sale had even begun. Viagogo had been selling Benedict Cumberbatch tickets for £1,500 with a £62.50 resale value despite the Barbican venue having a really strict policy on ticket reselling and also the need for photographic ID.
Consumer rights laws state that ticket buyers should be notified of any restrictions on the tickets and his should include seating details plus the original face value of tickets should be stated.
Richard Lloyd of Which? said:
People get rightly frustrated losing out on popular tickets, particularly when they end up on sale at the same time on secondary sites at higher prices.
We need the government review to crack down on those who resell tickets at inflated prices on an industrial scale.
At the moment it is far too easy for these ticket marketplaces to place the emphasis on the sellers and shift any blame for people making huge sums of money at the expense of those just wanting to catch a show.
Not being quick off the mark for a particular event is probably your own fault but if tickets aren’t available because
assholes scalpers are able to get in before presale, well that certainly does need looking at and we’d be all for that.
The Public and Commercial Services Union which represents around 1,600 Driving and Vehicle Standards Agency staff are planning a two day strike over new working patterns. These new working patterns will mean longer shifts.
Driving and Vehicle Standards Agency chief executive, Paul Satoor, said:
Staff signed up to a new standard employment contract in April 2014 in exchange for a lump-sum payment and a three year pay deal. This was agreed with the trade unions, and included transitional payments which came to an end on 1 November 2015.
We have also recently offered operational staff a number of flexible working options to enable us to provide even more convenient and flexible services to our customers.
It is disappointing that the trade unions have now chosen to oppose some aspects of the contract and the more flexible working options. We are doing everything we can to minimise any disruption to customers.
So if you’ve got any kind of vehicle test booked through DVSA, you might want to get in touch and see if they can offer any further assistance should the strike go ahead.
Bad news for any thirsty Ugg boot wearers knocking around Shoreditch…if you want to pop in to Brick Lane Coffee you’ll need to leave your slag wellies at the door.
Some people were OUTRAGED as they too often are these days.
A spokeswoman said:
Our sign does not mention women; Uggs are unisex. Making a “sexist” issue out of it is over the top when there are much more important things to be outraged about. This criticism is a lot less than the support we get. Our shop is full of happy customers. All this kind of faux outrage does is give us further publicity.
Ever since we were all made to pay 5p for a carrier bag there has been absolute uproar. We’ve seen people doing at least 14 trips to their car to save 15p and many outright refusing to use their free bag for life out of principle.
One Tesco store in London has recently been giving out brown paper bags as they obviously wouldn’t attract the 5p charge. Great for the consumer but maybe not so great for some of the charities receiving a cut of the 5p charge. They need not worry though, this was only done as a one off in a single store and there has been no suggestion so far that this could be a long term thing or rolled out to other stores.
For Tesco, they used to reward “green shoppers” by awarding a Clubcard point for every bag of your own you used but they scrapped this when the 5p charge was introduced.
So the initiative is now save 5p per bag and at the same time save a leatherback sea turtle from mistaking your carrier bag for a bit of food.
Online takeaway service JUST-EAT have today issued an email letting their subscribers know that there is currently a scam email circulating purporting to be offering £10 takeaway credit when the recipient completes a quick survey.
To be fair, the emails do look pretty genuine until you get to the part asking you to confirm your personal credentials.
JUST-EAT have said:
Dear JUST EAT Customer,
The online security of our customers is really important to JUST EAT.
We will never ask you to enter your JUST EAT account details or any personal information via email. And we don’t store payment information or card details anywhere in our systems.
Some customers are receiving particularly sophisticated scam emails. These emails look like they come from JUST EAT and ask you to enter personal and JUST EAT account details.
Unfortunately, email scams are all too common on the internet. We encourage you to remain vigilant online, frequently change your passwords and make sure your passwords are robust.
If you have any questions you can contact JUST-EAT at email@example.com.