Spotify have been shaking things up, now that Tidal is coming after them, with the announcement that they’ll be providing original video content and more.
As previously mentioned, the music-streamers are also teaming up with Strabucks, turning everyone in the stores into DJs – but how will it all work? Well, Starbucks are going to use Spotify as a way to turn its loyalty program into a source of revenue.
The baristas will soon be able to create custom playlists through Spotify in their outlets, which hopefully means more interesting tunes while you drink your joe – coffee chains have the most awful corporate playlists imaginable, so anything is a bonus really.
If you’re drinking your coffee and hate the selections made by staff, then no fear – you can use your Starbucks points to get your songs played on the Spotify playlist. We await people asking for profanity laden hip hop and 20 minute prog tracks, for the japes.
We wouldn’t be surprised if Mansun’s ‘Taxloss’ and Johnny Cash’s ‘After Taxes’ get a sudden spike in interest.
Of course, this is all good corporate sense, as Spotify gets access to Starbucks reward program and the chance to try and woo the huge amount of customers that Starbucks have, while Starbucks can now open up their loyalty points to all manner of things outside of their own coffee shops. It’ll also encourage people to sign-up for the loyalty schemes too. Looks like a win-win from here, if people are keen.
This Spotify/Starbucks tagteam will kick off in the USA, before launching in Canada and then the UK.
As predicted, Google have announced that they’re giving everyone a new way of paying for things, called Android Pay. Like all the other apps, it allows you to pay for things by wafting your phone at a machine and will be introduced down the shops in due time.
All the tech and financial big guns are getting in on the action, despite the fact most people have never even seen someone complete a payment with a phone’s near-field technology, let alone used it themselves. Most people are still cooing at contactless payments on their cards like they’re in a science fiction film, set in Japan 4729AD.
Anyway, undeterred, Android Pay is getting cosy with over 700,000 shops in That America and then they’ll be rolling it out across the world. There’s no mention of a UK release date, so it looks like Android are doing the same as Apple and getting out in the States to iron out all the bugs first.
If you’re uninitiated in all this, basically, to use Android Pay, you’d unlock your phone as you normally would, and then, you hold your device over the machine in the shop, they wirelessly talk to each other, some of your data gets gobbled up and, hey presto, you’ve made a payment. You’ll be glad to know that retailers won’t store your account number, which is something.
In addition to this, Android Pay will work with other apps, so you can hit the payment button while looking at things in, say, Groupon.
If you don’t like reading words, here’s a video with the usual musical hipster drivel, telling you all about it. Beware – there’s a lot of irritating people in this.
The adage ‘the customer is always right’ is often wide of the mark. Some customers are almost always wrong and, not only are they wrong, but they act like arseholes in the process.
So with that, we look at the latest spat between an establishment and a customer, both venting spleen on TripAdvisor.
Steve Bothwell, who is the owner of Café 52 in Aberdeen, decided to reply to a review from a disgruntled customer, in a bid to set the record straight. We’re going to let you decide who is right.
To us, it looks like we’re dealing with the kind of customer who could’ve dealt with the situation at the establishment, but decided they’d rather be an internet snitch on something that is, to all intents and purposes, an incredibly unremarkable event.
A waitress dropping a glass isn’t anything new and of course, no-one has yet found a system where service staff can control physics to stop something from breaking or to stop glass from flying through the air after the impact of a drop. Still, the customer wanted the owner, Steve, to offer “recompense”.
Anyway, you’ve read the accusation and the response, so you’ve probably made your mind up. We checked Café 52 and, it looks like it is well thought of in the area. Seeing as that area is Aberdeen, you can make your own jokes up about whether or not that’s a good or bad thing.
We’ve spoken about PlayStation’s digital refund policy in the past, which isn’t up to much at all. Tonight (Thursday May 28th, 8pm), BBC’s Watchdog are going to be looking into it after receiving a number of complaints about the service.
They’ll be looking at the case of a PS4 owner who was refused a refund after a fraudulent purchase was made on his PSN account.
Of course, this isn’t a new complaint, but one that persists.
One of Sony’s loopholes is that they refuse reimbursement unless you can prove that the game you bought was defective in some way.
PlayStation looked into it and told the BBC: “Our investigation concluded that the serial number of the console on which these transactions were made does not match the serial number of the console you provided to us on your original call. Regrettably, as stated in the PlayStation Network Terms of Service, we are unable to offer a refund for purchases made on PlayStation Store unless the content is found to be defective.”
PlayStation have a dedicated page, which looks at refunds which you can see here. They look at purchases that your child might have done without your knowledge, automatically renewing subscriptions and people being charged of PlayStation products without actually owning a console.
The line seems to be that, regardless of your complaint, they’ll ‘investigate further’, but don’t clearly state that refunds are available. Will Sony provide a solution with pressure from a big-gun like the BBC? We’ll have to wait and see.
As you have probably heard by now, O2 had a bit of a problem on Bank Holiday Monday, with thousands of customers losing all signal for up to eight whole hours. It’s just too painful to imagine. But to rub salt in the wound of already irate customers, O2 have announced that customers will not be getting a blanket compensation payment, but that anyone looking for redress will have to apply to the telecom company who will look at claims on a “case by case basis”.
After a previous outage, in 2012, pay-as-you-go customers were given a 10% boost to their next top-up and every customer was given a £10 voucher. This time, however, O2 says that even pay monthly customers will have to make a claim directly to O2. The difference, according to O2 is that the previous outage (which affected 7 million customers and took 20 hours to fix) was “quite exceptional” and that the same or similar compensation would not be offered again.
So far, the mobile service provider has no idea why this latest outage happened but said service had returned to normal by 11.35pm. A spokesman said: “This [outage] was on nowhere near the same scale, so we will only be offering compensation on a case-by-case basis.
“We will now begin a full investigation to understand the cause, and apologise for the inconvenience caused.”
However, just because there is no blanket compensation doesn’t mean that you can’t make a claim. O2 already has rules on customers who suffer from mobile phone “blackspots” where they regularly lose signal. However, it is quite (deliberately) difficult to actually get compensation under this scheme as monthly customers have to prove they have suffered intermittent signal and internet for three months, as well as showing they had lost signal or internet connection seven times in a given day – the “seven times” rule. O2 have so far refused to confirm if customers affected by yesterday’s blackout would need to adhere to the “seven times” rule, or whether they would be given a payout equal to one day’s contract fee.
Frustrated O2 users took to Twitter to ponder at what point the network is in breach of its contractual obligation to provide customers with a mobile telecommunications.service. We think providing no service is fairly clearly not providing a mobile telecommunications service
So what can you do? Well, you can try taking O2 to regulator Ofcom, who say that you may be entitled to compensation “if you believe you’ve been poorly treated by your phone company.” Let’s see if O2 decide to address their disgruntled customers before facing several thousand Ofcom complaints…
We all know that trains can be a royal pain in the hole, but one is coming under intense scrutiny after being accused of having ‘flea infested seats’.
Greater Anglia are coughing up £30 million to fix problems after furious customers complained about the state of the trains that connect London to the south-east of England.
A Twitter page called @Delayed_Again deals with commuters’ complaints about the service, and shares a wide range of negative views. Ian Edwards, who runs the account, told the Mirror that the train carriages are like ‘filthy skips’. He added: ”The carriages have not had a proper clean since the Olympics in 2012. During the Olympics the trains ran brilliantly and were really clean, but it just hasn’t carried on.”
“We’ve got photos of people with flea bites from the seats and the dust that comes up. The toilets are an absolute disgrace – they’re always blocked. I expect a reliably run, air conditioned, clean train and I get none of the above. Instead, I’ve got a 1980s skip that is falling to pieces without air conditioning.”
As you can see from the pictures, the carriages look like they’re in a state of disrepair and could do with more than just a clean.
Abellio Greater Anglia defended themselves by saying that they’ve invested more than £30 million to upgrade their service, including 40 extra cleaners.
A spokesman for Abellio Greater Anglia said: “We are investing more than £30m to improve our train fleet, customer service and train performance and cleanliness. We have recently recruited 40 extra cleaners to bring our train presentation staff to 300 across our company.”
“We have increased the frequency of deep cleans and undertaken more extensive cleaning on trains throughout the day. Our train cleaners are working very hard to improve standards and we welcome customers’ co-operation to keep our trains clean and tidy.”
The annual Which!!! retailer survey results are in, and specialist toiletries and cosmetics retailer Lush is the best shop for a second year in a row, with a customer score of an impressive 80%. However, bottom of the shops was EE (previously Orange or T Mobile shops),with a less impressive 52% customer score.
Which!!! surveyed 9,409 members of the public in February 2015 about the shops they have used in the last six months, and ranked them out of 100. The overall customer score is based on its customers’ satisfaction and how likely they are to recommend it to a friend. Satisfaction levels include the range and quality of products available, customer service, what the store is like to shop in and its pricing.
Top of the shops, Lush, was lauded for its product range, quality and customer service. It also gained credit for its environmental credentials, with shoppers praising its “cruelty free” products. And its smells. Nice mostly. Lush’s score of 80% just pipped that other perennial favourite John Lewis to the top spot, the department store scoring just less on 79%. The rest of the top ten is as follows:
2. John Lewis
3. Independent stores (DIY and decorating)
4. Richer Sounds
8. Independent stores (furnishings and homeware)
Independent Stores (Electricals)
Which!!! editor Richard Headland said: ”If retailers can get their products right, along with excellent customer service and a great shopping environment, customers will keep coming back through their doors.”
However, despite 40% of consumers saying price was their top consideration, the Which!!! survey bods said that “although great prices might tempt customers through the doors, our research and analysis found that, once inside, the range and quality of products are the most important things in determining whether shoppers have a good experience – and whether they give it a high customer score.”
In line with these findings, independent shops were this year’s dark horses, with three different types making the top 10, on account of their customer service
Headland added: “With independent stores on the up in our annual survey, it shows a big name isn’t everything as consumers look for quality in both products and service.”
By contrast, the bottom places were packed full of bignames, and at the other end, phone shop EE came bottom, earning the joint accolade of worst phone shop and worst electrical retailer. WHSmith crawled off the bottom spot this year, but customers still find it ‘cluttered’. And Tesco’s woes continue with a poor 90th place (out of 100) showing in the survey.
94. Sports Direct
So what do you think? Are the results about right, or have Which!!! got it totally wrong?
Southern Rail are a PR disaster at the moment. A director at the train company admitted that their trains being on time were ‘few and far between’, while one fella hates them so deeply, that they got a tattoo announcing as such, with some rather colourful language to boot.
And now, they’re only making themselves look worse as they’ve fined a bunch of customers who were forced to stand-up because the train was too crowded.
Commuters heading to London found themselves on a train that was so packed that they had to stand-up in the first class section, because their wasn’t room anywhere else. Did anyone make provisions or stop this from happening? Of course not. Southern Rail ticket inspectors were too busy doling out fines because customers didn’t have the right ticket.
Add all this to being one of the least punctual train companies in the country, coupled with some of the highest fares, and you’ll see why people think they’re a laughing stock.
Peter Boyland wrote to his MPs - Crispin Blunt and Sam Gyimah – to complain about all this, saying: ”The train was so packed in fact that the ‘revenue officers’ were unable to pass through to me to check my ticket, despite my clear proximity to them. This is a fine example of the attitude of Southern, who only seem concerned about protecting their revenue, and less about providing an acceptable level of service.”
A Southern Rail spokesperson said that these fines are just dandy, and with a straight-face, said that passengers would have been fined either £20 or twice the price of a single fare – they choose the fine by going for whichever of the two amounts is greater.
“In this instance, passengers who were issued with penalty fares were sitting in first class accommodation whilst holding standard class tickets. First class accommodation is not declassified automatically if the train is busy, but Conductors can use their discretion to declassify if it is deemed necessary,” the spokesperson told The Independent.
Refund and Compensation
If you think you’re entitled to a refund or some compensation, have a look at our guide to getting your money back. While the train wasn’t late enough to get reimbursed, the fact remains that Southern didn’t provide an adequate service and it is worth trying to dispute the fines and asking for the price of your ticket back.
Let us know how you get on.
Soon enough, when you’re shopping for a new pair of shoes or wanting to buy some movies, when you search in Google, you might have the option to buy it directly through them, rather than messing about pressing buttons to get to Amazon or eBay and wasting your valuable minutes on this planet.
That’s right – the search behemoth is apparently looking to rollout a ‘Buy’ button on its Shopping tab. Google say they won’t get any commission on this and they’re thinking about doing it to help you out. They’re selfless like that, clearly.
That, or they’re going mine all that lovely data and sell it on for a wad of money from someone.
Anyway, according to various reports and mutterings, these buttons will appear alongside paid search results in the ‘Shop on Google’ section.
Seeing as Google have Google Wallet, you’d think that they’ll store your payment details in that, so you don’t need to enter your payment details all the time. That means you might have to be signed-in with Google all the time, which again, works in their favour massively and will no doubt annoy people who don’t have a Google account.
If you’ve made arrangements to take a train somewhere this Bank Holiday, you might want to start arranging a back up plan.
Members of the RMT Union have announced that they are planning to take industrial action on, yep, you guessed it, Bank Holiday Monday 25th May and also Tuesday 26th May.
Talks are supposedly ongoing this week between Network Rail and the Trade Unions so there still might be a possibility that the strike will be called off with a resolution to their dispute being reached.
Should the strike go ahead, train companies have put in place special ticketing arrangements and these are shown below. Do remember to check any existing travel restrictions on your tickets.
Anytime, Off-Peak or Super Off-Peak ticket valid for travel on either the Monday 25 or Tuesday 26 May can be used on Sunday 24 May or Wednesday 27 May instead.
Advance ticket for travel on Monday 25 or Tuesday 26 May can also be used on Sunday 24 May or Wednesday 27 May instead. However, if you travel on either of these two alternative days, you must use the same train service that you would have used on the 25 or 26 May, or the services immediately before or after this service.
As soon as we hear more news we’ll let you know.
So how does it work? Well, go to your pharmacy and ask for the minor ailments scheme form, and fill out your order, and you could get your meds through your NHS contributions.
This scheme is meant only for baby and children’s medication, and is there to alleviate the burden on the NHS. If you don’t need to go to your GP, you don’t have to.
If you want more information on this, the NHS have a page about it all, which is helpful.
There’s a search engine about the minor ailments scheme, which you can check out by clicking here. Not all pharmacies run a minor ailment service, sadly. If you have a Boots nearby, they’re on-board with the scheme. You can check out their information on it all, here.
Basically, if you just need some Calpol or nappy rash cream, you can avoid the wait at the GP’s and get it for free at participating pharmacies. This scheme has been around for a while, but it seems there’s a lot of people out there who still aren’t aware of it, so have a look into it and make the most of this very useful service for new parents which will save you time, as well as money.
If you’re an adult picking up a prescription, there’s also a thing where you can save money. In some cases, picking up a private prescription is significantly cheaper than doing it through the NHS. Have a look here for more details on that.
Whether it be an electrical item or something edible, you expect something you purchase to be completely without defect. Unfortunately however that is not always the case and from time to time you see those big product recall notices plastered in the newspaper, in a window at your local store or most frequently these days a post shared by your friends on social media. Of course the bigger businesses will often find themselves in the national press too.
Manufacturers and retailers in the UK are legally obligated to communicate product recalls to the product owners. For big household items it is worth registering your ownership of the product with the company as they can locate you should your product be subject to a recall.
If you find yourself with a product subject to a recall, the notice should give you all the information explaining what you need to do next. If it doesn’t, you can contact the retailer/manufacturer or the Citizens Advice.
For any product bought from a company based inside the EU, European law will protect you. For this you’ll need to contact the UK European Consumer Centre for more information. It is worth noting that if you bought a product from a company outside the EU it is unlikely that UK or UE law will be able to assist you.
If you are concerned about the safety of a product and you’ve done all you can to check whether it has appeared on a recall notice, it is best to stop using it and make your concern known to the retailer, manufacturer or, if not known, your local Trading Standards office.
Official Recall Websites
Retailer Recall Pages
BitterWallet Recall Articles
You can find our dedicated section to product recalls by clicking here.
The hack sees ne’er-do-wells able to take funds from customer credit cards, bank accounts and PayPal accounts. You see, the app is linked to an online payment service and hackers have found a way in, so they can take advantage of the cash auto-reload function and online gift cards that a lot of people use.
Basically, they can transfer money to themselves.
So what’s the deal? Well, Starbucks say that they know there’s a problem, but rather than this being their fault, they say this is an issue with weak passwords. While they’re seemingly not willing to do anything about this security flaw, they are saying that customers won’t be held responsible for any charges that someone else is responsible for.
Starbucks said in a statement: “If a customer believes their account has been subject to fraudulent activity, they are encouraged to contact both Starbucks and their financial institution immediately.”
“Customers are not responsible for charges or transfers they did not make. If a customer’s Starbucks Card is registered, their account balance is protected.”
If you’re worried about this, change your password and disable the auto-reload feature, and you should be fine.
With this, comes a big safety issue. If you’ve bought a princess dress for a couple of quid or what have you, then chances are, it hasn’t gone through the same safety tests as proper, adult clothes. This legal loophole means a lot of fancy dress outfits are incredibly flammable.
This follows TV presenter Claudia Winkleman, who bought her daughter a witch costume in a local supermarket for “five quid”. The costume caught fire while trick-or-treating. Winkleman said: “I was talking to somebody, and then I just heard her scream,” Winkleman said. ”She just screamed ‘Mummy’ and I turned round and that was that, she was just on fire.”
TV show, Watchdog, looked at the flammability of children’s costumes and the results were pretty shocking. In one instance, a princess dress was very much aflame within 10 seconds of catching light from a small flame from a tealight.
It is obvious that children’s fancy dress clothing needs to be reclassified, in a bid to make them more safe to be worn. One thing suggested is that fancy dress costumes be put through a more rigorous test, such as the one done on children’s nightclothes.
A report has been submitted to the government, which we’ll report on when they’ve responded. Until then, it’d be worth thinking twice before buying any fancy dress outfits for the kids.
If you want to see Watchdog’s flammability tests, click here.