Did you sign up to The Sun’s Dream Team last summer when the football season started? Well, while you were dreaming about topping your work’s fantasy league and gloating in the office, you may have missed something.
You may recall that, as part of the sign-up, you were obliged to take a trial for The Sun+ membership, which was free for two months.
Chances are, you forgot all about it, but The Sun didn’t. And now they want money.
According to one avid Bitterwallet reader: “I cancelled back in August and I’ve been charged today. Having looked over Twitter… there is plenty of people being charged after cancellation. So, if you cancelled your Sun+ membership either in the last few weeks or right back in August, check your bank statements either now or in the next few days.”
They also signed off with “Robbin’ b******s!”
And indeed, there’s a number of complaints on social media, with one Twitter user saying: “how do i cancel my sun Plus membership? I wasn’t even expecting the money to come out… Won’t be playing dreamteam again!!” and another adding “Thankyou to @TheSunNewspaper for luring me into a Sun Plus membership just for signing up for Dream team. No food for me next week. #sad”
If you signed-up to play Dream Team, you’d be advised to check your bank account, because there’s a good chance there’s going to be £7.99 missing from your account.
We’ll look into the best ways of cancelling your Sun+ account, but in the meantime, contact your bank and make sure the payments stop and, if you’re in the mood, call The Sun and give them what for at 020 7782 4000. Or, you can find their complaints page here to email them.
The current supermarket price war is leaving consumers a little bemused. While the supermarkets scrap about it amongst themselves, customers slip quietly in behind their backs and buy our jammie dodgers and toilet duck for 4p less than we did last week. But now it seems the supermarkets are morphing into each other, with Aldi the latest, and perhaps most surprising supermarket to announce that it’s gone all Waitrose.
That’s right, to reflect their changing customer base, Aldi bosses have decided that Aldi is going to be the new go-to place for trendies and hipsters to get their organic food, with shoppers looking at a 25% saving on current supermarket organic prices.
The new vegetable range will include potatoes, cauliflower, broccoli, carrots and onions and the supermarket will also introduce new fresh meat ranges, convenience foods and drinks, expanding their total product ranges by 11%.
Aldi Corporate Buying MD Tony Baines said “We know our shoppers want to buy more organic products, but price is often the reason why it’s not a regular purchase. This is why we’ve launched a 100% British organic range at an affordable everyday low price.”
And that’s not all. This year you can also get a totes posh Christmas at Aldi, with a range of ‘aspirational’ products going on sale, including lobster, goose and, at £9.99 for 20g, caviar. That’s proper snooty that.
So if Aldi is turning into Waitrose, and Sainsbury’s is turning into Asda (although why they would give the good news of lower prices before the bad news of decimating the Nectar card is anyone’s guess), have the German discounters completed a successful coup in the aisles? After all, if you’ve been lured in, why would you ever think to leave and shop somewhere else now…?
According to findings, 65% of shoppers prefer to check out a thing in a shop before pressing ‘buy’ online.
The report by Geometry Global, called The Connected Shopper study, interviewed 9,486 people across 12 countries, and found there is a continued reliance on physical stores with 88% of shoppers who visit a physical store first citing seeing the product in real life as the primary reason for visiting.
Of the 12 countries studied, China topped the list in number of online purchases (5.88) with European countries trailing significantly; the countries making the least purchases online were France (2.40) and Spain (2.17).
Checking prices (65%) is the second reason why shoppers visit physical stores.
Actual online shopping only grew by 5% in 2011 to 7% in 2014. Which isn’t all that really.
The elegantly named Cesar Montes, EMEA CSO of Geometry Global, said: “Our findings confirm that we haven’t yet witnessed the complete online shopping revolution some had predicted. There are a number of reasons for this: the high street still occupies a central and vital function in the consumer’s journey to purchase.
“In addition, there remain a number of obstacles to consumers fully accepting online shopping, such as security concerns, payment methods and unwillingness to engage with brands via social media.”
The study also noticed that 63% of users really are not going to ‘friend’ brands online. So stop trying to engage, you big bad corporates. However 70% liked ads tailored to them. Little wonder when some companies deliveries are so poor.
Or so that’s what a new survey claims, as it discovered that 18-34 year olds were twice as likely to dislike food stored in the freezer than those codgers over 35.
These fascinating findings come from IGD ShoperVista, who surveyed over 4,000 UK adults about their food storage solutions.
It transpires that many of the younger age group only used the freezer to store meat with a close use-by date and “unwanted food gifts”. Many considered food in their freezer an “insurance policy” for when no better options are available, and keep fun stuff like poppers and six-box of Magnums in their freezer instead.
Despite not being fans of frozen food, a quarter of 18-34-year-olds feel they have insufficient room in the freezer. Only 14% of over-35s also felt this to be an issue. Over half of those questioned in both age groups, said that they used their freezer for frozen food rather than freezing home cooked leftovers.
Yet it seems for the younger group, which represented only those who live away from home and do not have children, whatever is in their freezer is gash. Also: defrosting is a bit of a drag.
It all may sound a bit bleedin’ pointless, but this information comes as part of the IGD’s ‘Working On Waste’ campaign, which is trying to tackle these issues and change modern attitudes to leftovers and leaving something in the freezer for the best part of five years.
IGD chief executive, Joanne Denney-Finch says: “In its first year, Working on Waste will reach around 650,000 employees in one month through meal planning advice, top tips, what to do with leftovers and much more,”
“As an industry, we employ 3.6 million people and it is these employees that will form the bedrock of our campaign, taking learnings from their company into their households. A lot of progress has been made already by companies across the industry to help consumers reduce household food waste. However, seven million tonnes of food and drink is still being thrown away by UK homes every year.”
Most people don’t get paid to have afternoon tea, but for four lucky Which!!! experts, that’s exactly what happened*. Which!!!’s latest service to the UK consumer population is a test on the best teabags- with price not necessarily equalling quality in the tea stakes, as some of the cheapest teas proved most popular with the panel.
The panel of four experts blind tasted the teas in different orders, with and without milk. Each tea was scored on appearance, aroma, taste, body/strength and aftertaste. Standard bags were brewed for three minutes and all teas had exactly the same amount of milk and water added. They tested 19 English breakfast and 17 Earl Grey teas, so if you don’t drink either of those teas you are stuffed. Nevertheless Which!!! found that:
Top of the teas in the English Breakfast league were two supermarket own-brand ranges, with Morrisons M English Breakfast and Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference English Breakfast (Fairtrade) being awarded the joint highest score of 80%. Both teas were praised by the tea experts for their classic full-bodied flavour even despite their bottom-dollar cost of 2p and 3p a bag respectively. The cheapest teas all came in at around 2p per bag, but Morrisons was the runaway leader at this price point.
Posh cuppa Whittard English Breakfast Tag & Envelope came bottom of the English Breakfast standard tea bags, with a measly score of 50%, despite being joint most expensive English breakfast tea (with Fortnum and Mason) at 15p per bag . One expert described the tea as tasting “like old cabbage”. Well we all could have done that.
For the snooty Earl Grey tea drinkers, they might be surprised to learn that Aldi Diplomat topped the taste test for Earl Grey standard tea bags with a score of 78%, for its well-balanced, warm, citrus flavour, another bargain at only 2p per bag. Duchy Originals from Waitrose had the lowest score of 38%, and costs 8p per bag. Aldi bags were the cheapest and Whittard and Fortnum and Mason were again the most expensive, scoring 63% and 58% respectively.
Separately, Which!!! also tested premium mesh pyramid tea bags for both English breakfast and Earl Grey. However, these bags are considerably more expensive at around 30p per bag and the best performing ones did only slightly better than the other teas we tested. So we haven’t bothered with those results.
Which!!! newcomer, the inscrutable Richard Headland, said: “Our taste test revealed a big difference in the quality of English Breakfast and Earl Grey teas. With some of the best teas costing just a few pence per bag, and supermarket own-brands beating luxury brands, it shows you don’t need to spend a lot to get a great cup of tea.” Unless you are buying it from an over-priced coffee house, one assumes…
*we don’t actually know that they got paid. But we bet they did. How do you become a tea expert in a land of dedicated tea-drinkers anyway?
The trouble at Tesco simply won’t go away, with reports that the retailers sales are falling at the quickest rate in the grocery industry. As we all know, Aldi and Lidl’s successes are taking a huge toll on the supermarket.
Tesco sales fell by 3.6% in the 12 weeks to October 12th, reducing their market share from 30.1% a year ago to 28.8%, according to Kantar Worldpanel. It might not seem like a lot from the outside, but in the industry, this is bleak news. Or great news if you’re a rival.
In simple terms, to turn this around, analysts at HSBC reckon that it will cost Tesco £3bn to get things sorted in the UK. The good news for customers is that this should mean a drop in prices on goods by 5 or 6%. It would also mean 20% more staff and an improvement in the quality of their food.
Sainsbury’s are struggling too, with their sales down by 3.1% in 12 weeks, with Morrisons’ sales down by 1.8%. Asda, who have been quietly getting on with business as usual of late, have seen their sales increase by 1%. These figures are all knocked into a cocked-hat though, as Aldi’s sales have shot up by 27.3% and Lidl’s by 18.1%.
According to a detailed new survey of shoppers, Tesco’s brand in the UK is “severely compromised” thanks to a general and widespread disillusionment from customers with Tesco’s service. Research from the firm Lazarus shows that Tesco currently have the lowest overall customer satisfaction metrics in the grocery industry. As a brand, it has been labelled as “tarnished”.
Amazon plan to get in an extra 13,000 people to help at their eight distribution centres, as well as looking to employ another 1,000 permanent staff.
The Royal Mail is scoping for 19,000 Christmas workers to help with the additional onslaught that this time of year brings, with contracts from November to January.
Amazon reckon that on their busiest day last Christmas, they had orders for over 4.1 million items – working out at roughly 47 things per second. So yes. Some extra staff might be quite helpful there.
John Tagawa, director of UK operations at the Amazon, said: “The thousands of seasonal associates who join us at this time of year play an integral role in helping us deliver an exceptional experience for our customers during this incredibly busy time.”
“We’re excited to be creating 13,000 seasonal jobs, hundreds of which will lead to permanent, full-time positions.”
“We have created more than 2,000 new permanent roles at our fulfilment centres in the last two years, taking our total permanent fulfilment and customer service centre workforce to over 6,000 employees.”
‘Seasonal associates’. Honestly.
People often like to have a bit of fun with their online orders. Someone asked for their shopping to be delivered by someone in a penguin suit (and they obliged) while others have given dinosaurs with orders.
Well, one hungry redditor ordered a couple of pizzas with some caveats.
As you can see, the customer asked for a crispier than normal pizza crust with the note of “if that’s not vague enough – make it like you’re taking revenge on a cheating boyfriend BUT you still want to reconcile in the not too distant future.” As for the delivery guy, he was told to keep an eye out for a spider called Frank.
There’s three potential responses to this:
1. Urgh! Arseholes! Why won’t they let people just do their jobs without being so bloody wacky and trying to get internet famous all the time! I hope they spat on their pizzas!
2. Aw! How funny! Adding a little humour to the mundane! How fantastic!
3. $20 for two pizzas? Sign me up!
You can decide which category you fall in for yourself.
Many consumers have had bother when receiving their online deliveries. Parcels can be late, go missing entirely, contain damaged goods or in some cases, thrown on a roof for you to fetch.
According to Which!!!, 60% of us prefer to shop online for the convenience, even though 26% of us have had trouble with the delivery process. Seems like a gamble we’re willing to take because we’re all fantastically bone idle.
The biggest problem is late deliveries and not being able to choose a delivery time.
However, not all companies are bad. Some are in fact, rather good. According to a Which!!! poll, the best in the business are WexPhotographic.com, JohnLewis.com, LizEarle.com and RicherSounds.com.
Which!!!’s Richard Lloyd, said: “One of the attractions of shopping online is the convenience of having your items delivered but we’ve found the experience can be anything but convenient. We want shops to do more to ensure that the service is first class, first time. Retailers need to respond to consumers’ demands and stamp out dodgy deliveries.”
So with that, let us look at the best and worst companies when it comes to delivering your purchases.
Ten Best Online Shops
The Worst Online Shops
90. Shop.BT.com (BT Shop )
99. DIY.com (B&Q)
In fantastically shocking news that absolutely no-one was more than well aware of, price comparison sites have been accused for hiding the best deals because they’d rather promote the ones that serve them better. It’s almost like this hasn’t been going on for years!
The Big Deal website have started throwing accusations around (so lawyers, if you’d like to go to them instead of us, that’d be lovely) saying that five of Britain’s biggest price comparison sites are being deceitful.
Well, they’ve said that uSwitch never showed the cheapest deal over the Big Deal’s 13 week investigation, as well as regularly hiding three of the top five cheapest deals.
The sites use mechanisms to “hide deals where they ask users if they want to see deals they can switch to ‘today’ or ‘now’”, according to a statement from The Big Deal. By clicking ’yes’ to this option, the websites remove deals which don’t earn the price comparison sites a commission from the energy companies. Those just happen to be the cheapest deals. The Big Deal says that Money Supermarket and Confused automatically tick the ‘yes’ option.
They also say that Compare the Market and Go Compare automatically show users these results without asking the user, adding that “you have to go through several screens to ‘filter your results’ to see the cheapest deals.”
The bad news for these sites is that hiding deals could well be in breach of EU and UK law.
“Price comparison sites are worth hundreds of millions of pounds, make huge profits and with over 5 million people switching a year are a major part of the energy market,” said The Big Deal co-founders Henry de Zoete and Will Hodson in an open letter to the major price comparison sites. ”Yet there is no transparency to how they make their money or how much they charge. Polling by Populus found that 43% of people did not even realise that the sites charge energy companies a commission.”
uSwitch aren’t having it though, saying: “We are fully accredited under the Ofgem Confidence Code, meaning that our results tables are always ordered by the savings a customer can make in a fair, independent and unbiased way.”
“We are fully supportive of Ofgem’s decision to strengthen the code to ensure that all price comparison websites operate to the same high standard.”
Either way, if this is news to you, make sure you tinker with the settings on any price comparison site of any sort in a bid to make sure it is working for you, rather than the middle man.
The frozen food giant is going to offering a cooked whole lobster for a fiver as part of the Christmas line-up.
Coming ‘atcha from November 5th, it’s the first time the prawn-ring and 89p pizza vendor has offered whole lobster.
Lobster has been on sale in the past at Waitrose (for a sinister £6.66), Tesco and Ocado, but this is the cheapest the high street has seen.
Iceland will also be offering what it reckons is the “best value turkey dinner in Britain”, whose chief component is a turkey crown for 12 priced at £14.
Iceland proudly claim a family of eight could buy a full turkey dinner, with starter and pudding, for £29.39, or £3.67 per head.
Iceland themselves aren’t doing too badly either, seeing as they’ve essentially been doing the cost-cutting thing for years, that Aldi and Lidl are now being praised for. Hurrah!
Winter isn’t too far away, which means we’re going to get some cold, bleak weather. Ignore what the Christmas cards say, showing people smiling with rosy cheeks – there’s nothing romantic about trembling in your living room wearing eight jumpers and chattering your teeth down to nubs.
Of course, it doesn’t have to be like that if you have central heating. All hail the magic of controlled temperatures!
Research shows that around 60% of people haven’t the foggiest when it comes to their heating, even when most think they do.
However, a lot of people are using their thermostats incorrectly, so we’ve got some tips to help you use them more wisely and save some money while you’re at it.
Choose the best temperature
This might seem like teaching nana how to suck eggs, but by turning your heating down by 1°C can save you around £55 per year. One good tip is to set your room thermostat to 18°C and then turn it up by one degree every day until you find the optimum warmth. For your thermostat to work well, they need a free flow of air to sense the temperature accurately, so make sure they’re not covered by curtains or hidden away behind furniture.
Turn the thermostat up
According to the Energy Savings Trust, over half of us whack the thermostat up when it is cold outside. They shouldn’t, because a thermostat is designed to maintain the desired temperature, whatever the weather. Greg Shreeve, energy expert at the Energy Saving Trust, says that, if you do turn up your thermostat, you’ll “find it’s a bit too hot” and you’ll have wasted energy and cash in the process.
Leaving the heat on low
Some leave the heat on constantly on a low setting, when they should be using a programmer which means your house is warmer when you’re in, rather than making rooms cosy when you’re at work. It might seem obvious, but according to statistics, around a third of Britons do this.
If you’re serious about saving money, you could install more than one thermostat, which means each room is controllable. So if you have a room you never go in, what’s the point in heating it? Setting lower temps for bits of the house you hardly go in, or at certain times of the day, will save you cash in the long run.
Thermostat to max
Do you turn the thermostat to max when you get in from work, in a bid to heat the house up more quickly? Noticed how you can’t get it back to a comfortable temperature in good time? 35% of Brits do this. ”People think it’s like pressing your foot down on the accelerator in a car, and the further you press your foot down, the faster you get to the speed you want,” Shreeve explains. ”But actually, a thermostat doesn’t control the speed at which your house heats up – it just controls the final temperatures.”
Keeping the water on all day
Are you one of the third of Brits who keeps the water on all-day so you don’t run out of water? Well, you shouldn’t. It’ll be costing you loads of money and it is unnecessary. If you have a well insulated hot water tank, then if you’ve heated it in the morning, it should still be warm by lunchtime. Set a timer so that the water comes on half an hour before you get up or come home from work and that should do you.
Keeping the electric storage heaters on
62% of you don’t know how storage heaters work. If you own one, know this – electric storage heaters are designed to work by using cheaper, off-peak electricity to rev up through the night and then release heat during the day. Leaving them on all the time will cost you money. The Energy Savings Trust have a guide, which says: “A standard electric storage heater has two controls, an Output setting and an Input setting. The Output setting will control how much heat the heater gives out (as long as there is stored heat available). The Input control determines how much electricity the heater will take from the grid during the coming night, and hence how much stored heat will be available the following day.”
“So you need to set the Output dial according to how much heat you want now, and the Input dial according to how much heat you think you will need tomorrow. If a heater runs out of heat in the evening while you still need it, or if the weather gets colder, you may need to turn the Input dial up. If the weather gets warmer, or the heater never runs out of heat in the evening, you can probably save money without getting cold by turning the Input dial down. Turn the Output dial to zero before you go to bed or go out, so you’re not wasting energy overheating empty rooms. You can probably do this quite early, maybe an hour before you go to bed, as it will take a while for the heater and the room to cool down.
“And when summer comes and you don’t need the heaters any more, turn them off at the wall, not just by turning the dials to zero. Remember you will need to turn them on again the day before you need the heating to come back on.”
Sounds good doesn’t it?
Pensions minister, Steve Webb said he wants to help those tied to poor-value annuities: ”I know many people who have locked into an annuity are feeling rather bitter that they came just the wrong side of the line.”
“It’s been gnawing away at me and I want to say to those affected: I know how you feel. If it were possible for people who would rather have a capital sum than a regular income, in principle I would like to be able to help, and this is something the next government should have a look at.”
The government have pledged that, as of next April, savers who are about to retire will be given full discretion as to how they use the funds from their pension. If you’re over 55, you will be allowed to treat your pension like a normal bank account. Don’t spend it all at once though eh?
However, there’s a problem with those who have already bought annuities because they’ll be excluded from this rule as it stands. Webb continued: “If we accept the annuity market was broken, we also must accept it was so 10 years ago.”
The thing here is that Webb’s views haven’t turned into proper policies yet, so if you’re a codger, don’t get out the celebratory vodka just yet.
There’s also talk of policing the pension sector to ensure that savers get a fair deal and that something needs to be done about the high charges that chip away at funds during retirement.
Ever get the feeling that the government might ‘fix’ all this by simply putting the retirement age up to 230, so no-one has to worry about it?