old man on phone 199x300 Insurance firm fined £10,000 for nuisance calls as Ofcom launches consultationNo-one likes insurance companies. Not even their mothers. So how can insurance companies make themselves even more odious? By engaging in the severely-frowned-upon practice of making abandoned or ‘ghost’ calls to older adults, that’s how.

Specialist over-50s* insurer Ageas was investigated by telecoms regulator OfCom who found that they made 148 abandoned calls over three separate days during a seven-week period of investigation. This breached the maximum of 3% of all calls made and the company was fined £10,000 for their misdemeanors. That’s almost £70 per wasted call.

Nevertheless, Ofcom considers this to be a small fine, as it considered the “degree of seriousness and harm to consumers was at the lower end of the scale.” Ageas was found to have been in breach of legislation relating to “persistent misuse of a telephone network or service.” The fine also reflects the company’s offer of a £10 shopping voucher to affected consumers and the steps it has taken to bring itself into compliance. Presumably by ceasing and desisting.

Claudio Pollack, Ofcom’s Consumer and Content Group Director, said: “The law is there to protect consumers from suffering annoyance, inconvenience or anxiety, including from abandoned calls.”

“Organisations using call centres must comply with the law or face the consequences. Where we find breaches, even at the lower end of the scale, we can take action” he finished.

However, Ofcom itself is not finished, as it has also announced a review of its ‘persistent misuse’ policy.

The existing policy identifies silent and abandoned calls as two examples of misuse, although we are sure that Bitterwallet readers could come up with many more examples. Ofcom’s policy also describes steps organisations can take to avoid making them and how to reduce consumer harm where they do occur.

However, Ofcom want to know if this could be better and is asking for initial views on what, if any, changes could be made to:

help make enforcement more efficient and effective;

reflect technological developments or other changes in the call centre industry; or

clarify the policy to make it easier for companies to understand and follow. We don’t think “stop bothering people” is particularly hard to understand, but perhaps you have some simple suggestions on how to reinforce this message. To idiots.

Responses need to be submitted to Ofcom by 7 November 2014.

*that’s older than I am

Wonga to pay out £10million over fake law firms

October 1st, 2014 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

wonga ladies 300x282 Wonga to pay out £10million over fake law firmsRemember when Wonga sent out a load of threatening letters from fake law firms?

Well, they were soon told off and it was estimated that the payday loan company would have to cough-up £2.6m in fines.

Well, turns out that it is a bit more than that, with the lender now being asked for the princely sum of £10 MILLION.

That means that Wonga’s annual profits have dipped by 53% to £39.7million.

All in all, this debacle has cost Wonga nearly £19million, which serves ‘em right for being underhand, the shithouses.

There’s been an estimated £2.6million in payouts to 45,000 customers too, which were agreed with the people at the Financial Conduct Authority.

Maybe Wonga’s puppet nanas will get the sack now and they’ll have to see if there’s any jobs going at the Gran Factory where they knit everyone’s Shreddies.

o2logo mediacentre 300x224 O2 adds your iTunes purchases to bill if you wantO2 users will now be able to purchase iTunes codes that will be charged to their bill!

The UK mobile solutions operator will now allow customers to purchase iTunes Codes that can be charged directly to their monthly bill.

Using O2′s “Charge to Mobile” payments service, customers can now buy iTunes Codes, which will be charged straight to their monthly phone bill or from their pay as you go credit.

The codes are available from o2vouchers.co.uk, and are available from £10-£30. To celebrate the launch, O2 is offering customers who buy iTunes Codes a voucher worth £25 for £20.

The codes can be used to purchase all sorts, be it music, films, apps and books and the charges will be shown on the monthly bills as “O2 iTunes”.

O2′s Commerce Sales head Danny Barclay said, “We look forward to making our customers’ lives easier by offering them a fast, easy and safe alternative method of payment to purchase iTunes credit.”

A similar service is already available for Windows Phone users, allowing them to charge apps bought on their smartphones to their O2 bills.

We eagerly await the papers running a story about how someone’s child has racked up a gigantic bill buying One Direction and Little Mix remixes without permission.

Sainsbury’s drop a shop window clanger

September 30th, 2014 3 Comments By Mof Gimmers

Window displays can be works of art, but mostly, they’re a load of cobblers. However, Sainsbury’s have taken it next level thanks to whacking a poster that was clearly meant for staff only in the front of one of their stores.

Where a nice offer or charity drive should be, instead, some berk has put a poster up which says ‘Hey! Staff! Lets try and rinse people for a bit more money! Right guys? Right!

Byt7 gMCYAA6qhs 500x375 Sainsburys drop a shop window clanger

The poster, as you can see, regards the Fifty pence challenge (no, not a thing where you place a 50p between your buttocks and try and drop the coin in a glass) where the staff have been challenged.

“Let’s encourage every customer to spend an additional 50p during each shopping trip between now and the year-end,” says the poster THAT THEY HAVE STUCK IN THE FRONT WINDOW.

[via twitter]

Spending still a bit squeezy

September 29th, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

clothes shop 300x225 Spending still a bit squeezyThe British consumer looks like they have another three years of spending squeezes.

The annual wage growth is likely to remain well below the 4.5%-to-5% rises seen before the financial crisis struck in 2008, according to a EY Item Club survey.

Median pay in real-terms is forecast to fall from £18,852 in 2008 to £17,827 by 2017, the survey suggests.

The Item club, a non-governmental forecaster that uses HM Treasury’s model of the UK economy, believes that record numbers of people in work – currently 30.6 million – will act as a brake on wage rises.

Their report expects the gradual pace of consumer spending to be around 2% in the next two years, as opposed to the 3.7% it was last decade, pre-all the hassle.

Martin Beck, the EY Item Club’s senior economic adviser said “Total household incomes have strengthened because more people are in work, but individuals do not have extra money in their pockets,”

“Real wages are being held back by strong growth in the supply of workers and the fact that firms are facing increased non-wage costs, such as new pension schemes,” he added.

Mr Beck also believes the so-called “squeezed middle” – the charming name awarded to households containing neither highly-skilled nor low paid workers – will continue to see limited growth in disposable income as pay rises remain below the rate of inflation – currently 1.5% – and competition for jobs remains strong.

Osborne announces pension changes

September 29th, 2014 2 Comments By Ian Wade

pensions 300x187 Osborne announces pension changesGeorge Osborne is to announce plans where he will abolish ‘death tax’.

The new move will allow thousands of pensioners to leave more money to their families, or cat homes.

Next April, coincidentally a month before the election, the Chancellor will scrap the “punitive” 55% on drawdown pension funds due when the holder dies.

More than 400,000 have drawdown pensions, which are invested in the stock market. When they retire, they draw an annual income.

Drawdown pensions are seen as more attractive than annuities, which lock people into a fixed annual income.

The move is to be announced at the Tory Party conference this week, which is jizzing all over Birmingham.

It is hoped that elderly people will take more advantage of these measures, which is pretty much designed with driving them to vote Conservative at the next election. George Osborne blahed out that these moves will help those who “worked and saved all their lives will be able to pass on their hard-earned pensions to their families tax free”.

That bloody ‘hard-earned’

Currently pension pots are taxed at 55% when someone aged 75 or over dies. But they are taxed at the marginal rate in the case of those who die aged under 75. In future, when someone older than 75 dies, their relations will have to pay income tax at only the marginal rate — normally 20%. No tax will apply to the relations of people who die aged under 75.

Him again: “Freedom for people’s pensions, a pension tax abolished, passing on your pension tax free. Not a promise for the next Conservative government, but put in place by Conservatives in Government now.”

No iPhone refunds from Phones4u

September 29th, 2014 2 Comments By Mof Gimmers

pr374 No iPhone refunds from Phones4uInitially, Phones4u said that they would be offering a refund to any customer who had pre-ordered an iPhone 6. However, they’ve gone back on that claim saying that it is very unlikely that you’ll see your money again.

We Deathwatched Phones4u as they vanished into an administration hole, which of course, led to thousands of staff losing their jobs and over 500 stores closing.

The phone vendor originally said: “Any orders that have not already been dispatched will be cancelled and any payments refunded to customers.” Now, administrators PwC said that they don’t have any phones to give out and that they have contacted over 130 people to tell them that they “cannot process a refund.”

“Customers who have paid using credit cards should contact their credit card company to try and seek resolution to this matter,” they concluded. While your credit card may reimburse you, this is a swift kick in the balls to customers who have paid over £600 for their new iPhone. If you’re unsure of what to do, get in touch with your credit card supplier and if they are being difficult, tell them you have protection under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act.

PwC continued: “If you are unable to obtain a refund through your credit card company and wish to register a claim, your claim (to the extent you have one) will rank as an unsecured claim in the Administration. Please note, given the level of secured liabilities, if there is a dividend to unsecured creditors, any payment if made at all, would not be for many months and is likely to be negligible.”

If you’d like to know about Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act, click here.

The bar for pregnant women

September 29th, 2014 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

Ever wondered why there wasn’t a bar that was ideal for pregnant women? Well, someone in New York had the same thought and went and set the thing up and called it ‘Gestations’.

Now you’ll be able to breathe out your beer gut because it won’t look nearly as large next to a women who is resting a craft ale on her 7 month pregnancy belly.

Gestations at Fifth Street and Avenue A proclaims: “All you mothers-to-be should come check out our trimester specials and our 9-month happy hour because now you’re drinking for two!”

gestations 2 500x185 The bar for pregnant women

On Gestations Facebook page, the bar claims that expectant mums are perfect patrons because they can fit more booze in: “The bigger the belly, the more you can drink. True for men and pregnant women #gestationsny.”

The bar even got a billboard up in Times Sqaure.

gestations 500x272 The bar for pregnant women

Of course, not many are happy about this.

One disgruntled sort said on the bar’s FB page: “this is really sick, a real disparate, how would you entice a pregnant woman to drink alcohol which will take effects on the unborn, this is really ridiculous. I would call on the Dept of Health, to close this stupid peoples door business that are endangering the health of the unborn. umbelievable ..!!!!!!

That comment may have been made under the influence – we just don’t know. Another said: “It’s insane . . . I think it portrays a poor image.”

The bar also said online: “#gestationsny will have free pregnancy test kits when you buy a pitcher. Check out our profile on #BARTRENDr to see what else we’ll carry.”

However, the bar haven’t actually applied for a liquor licence, so this might be some sort of Earth Mother’s Juice Bar or something, who just have some novelty adverts to drum up attention.

Sainsbury’s to compete with Asda prices

September 26th, 2014 No Comments By Thewlis

sainsburys 300x192 Sainsburys to compete with Asda pricesWith the grocery market stagnant, competition between supermarkets is hotting up in the quest for shoppers’ cash. Now, Sainsbury’s has made a big announcement that it is overhauling its pricing strategy and is permanently lowering prices. Sounds good.

Sainbury’s says it wants to simplify the customer experience by removing “confusing” price mechanics like fractions and percentages and consistently using round pound pricing for more products. The new strategy is designed to make it easier for shoppers to buy “what they like, when they like” without having to wait for specific products to go on offer.

However, Sainsbury’s claim the strategy- which has been 18 months in the making- was actually nothing to do with deepening the price war with competitors, but was instead designed to help consumers feel confident that they were not buying products on offer based on “fanciful” regular prices. Nevertheless, the supermarket claims it will continue to run as many promotions as before.

Sainsbury’s marketing director Sarah Warby said: “Customers tell us they find supermarket prices and promotions confusing and don’t always know who to trust when it comes to getting good value. So we’ve taken this feedback on board and we’re making it easier for customers to buy the products they love whenever they like, safe in the knowledge that they can get good value all the time on all products, without having to wait for promotions.”

She added :”We will continue to run as many promotions as before and they will be just as competitive, but customers now have the added reassurance that prices will always be great value at Sainsbury’s, both on and off promotion.”

So Sainsbury’s seems to have adopted the Asda ‘rollback’ style of pricing, and their revamped Brand Match will now specifically match Asda prices, even when on offer in Asda stores. Some commentators are even suggesting that Sainsbury’s might start using green on their signage in recognition of the association of green with lower prices.

Fraser McKevitt, head of retail and consumer insight at Kantar Worldpanel, commented that it was “interesting” that Sainsbury’s was referencing Asda, where previously Tesco might have been the competitor to beat. He went on to say: “What remains to be seen is if Sainsbury’s is really going to lower prices to the extent that customers notice. They say they are going to lower their prices while running as many promotions as before. That’s quite a commitment to do both.”

“We won’t know how big this is until we see the actual prices,” he added. While we will have to wait until 2 October to see just how amazing the new prices are, this healthy competition can only be good news for consumers.

Grocery market growth not really happening

September 25th, 2014 2 Comments By Ian Wade

trollies 300x200 Grocery market growth not really happeningThe grocery market is at a record low.

According to the latest Kantar Worldpanel figures, the market growth slowed to a low of just 0.3% in the three months leading up to 14 September.

Aldi and Lidl were alright though, Aldi increased sales by 29.1%, compared with last year and Lidl increased sales by 17.7%. At the other end of the grocery chain, Waitrose grew its sales by 4.5% bringing its market share back up to 5.1%.

Asda was the only ‘big four’ supermarket to increase its market share by 0.8% to 17.4%

Meanwhile, nobody wants to kick a supermarket while it’s down, but Tesco’s market share slid 4.5% to 28.8%, and Sainsbury’s dipped by 1.8%, down to 16.2%.

Grocery inflation has seen its twelfth successive fall and now stands at 0.0% for the period.

Fraser McKevitt, head of retail and consumer insight at Kantar Worldpanel is on hand with a quote about this, and has said: “For the first time ever we’ve seen the average basket of everyday goods bought today costing exactly the same as it did a year ago.”

Thanks for that Fraser.

You know how it is. You’re an eager young upstart graduate looking to make your mark in the cut throat world of marketing and advertising. Marketing 101 tells you to use current events as a hook to make your marketing materials more appealing. What Marketing 101 does not tell you, however, is that some things are just not suitable to be shoe horned into a marketing email. Like a man’s untimely death…

Unfortunately that is exactly what some bright spark at an airport parking company in the US did (no, we’re not going to name them and reward insensitivity with increased exposure), by emailing customers suggesting that the stress of checking in might have killed the man, in Chicago. The company, which operates at more than 85 airports in the US and Canada, sent out an email on Monday headed “Can on-airport parking kill?” and offered potential croakers parkers a cheery $5 off voucher, joking: “Don’t be late and end up in a crate.” Hilarious.

The marketing email stopped short of claiming that using their service could have prevented the death but did ponder whether the stress of the airport experience had killed the unidentified man “There could be many reasons for the cause of this man’s death, but based on the story one possible reason could be stress. The process of arriving to the airport, getting through security, and boarding the plane can be very stressful.”

airport parking 3048610c Airport parking firm use mans death in marketing email

Unsurprisingly, email recipients were less than impressed with the email, and the company was forced to apologise for causing “frustration and grief”, describing the email as an “unfortunate event”. Not as unfortunate as the poor man they thoughtlessly used though, eh?

“We would like to sincerely apologise for the last marketing email sent that has caused frustration and grief for our customers. We strive to provide our customers with the utmost service and respect; however, we fell short on this commitment,” the company said.

“There is no excuse for the topic of the recent email sent to our customers, and we can only extend our deepest apologies to those disrespected by it.

“We have ensured that any marketing or communication sent from our company will not contain any sensitive or offensive content of that nature. We appreciate your continued business with us and apologize once again for this unfortunate event.”

Asos in bother with brands

September 24th, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

bw asos 300x168 Asos in bother with brandsAsos seem to be annoying their third party brands.

The online retailer’s’ heavy discounting and regular price promotions have made some companies question their future with them.

One unnamed retailer, who blabbed to the The Telegraph, reckon that Asos’ stategy is damaging to their brand, and this particular retailer is considering leaving the site for good.

Alongside Asos’ own brand, there’s a number of high street and designer partners including New Look, Birkenstock, French Connection, and River Island.

The online user base has increased by 25% over the past year, and now has 8.8 million active users.

Sales over the year increased 27%, leading CEO Nick Robertson to state that that the company was focussed on reaching £2.5bn in sales as its next target.

However, Asos themselves have refused to comment on its relationship with third-party brands.

It isn’t a good time for the company, seeing as they’re currently on Deathwatch after posting two profit warnings this year and a warehouse fire that dented the company for £30 million in lost sales alone. Shares have been falling and Asos said: “In the new financial year we’ll make significant investments in our international pricing and proposition, as well as in our logistical infrastructure and technology platform. As a result, we expected profit before tax for the year to August 31 to be at a similar level to 2013-14.”

If the third party brands decide they’ve had enough of Asos, they could ‘do a Phones 4u’.

How to fix Apple’s crashtacular iOS 8

September 24th, 2014 9 Comments By Mof Gimmers

sad apple logo How to fix Apples crashtacular iOS 8You may have noticed that there’s been a LOT of complaining about Apple’s new iOS 8, with people pointing out that Apple things don’t ‘just work’.

Apps have been having all manner of issues with the new update and users have been crying over a variety of snags that have made they iPhone and iPad experience the kind of thing that provokes frustrated tears, rather than zen-like calm.

It turns out that iOS 8 crashes more than iOS 7 too, which is no use and, of course, Apple fans have been running to Apple support forums and the App Store to vent their spleen.

One user said on the forums: “After I’ve upgraded to iOS 8, one of my favourite apps no longer works. It opens and then immediately closes. I’ve tried opening it at least 15 times and the same thing happens.” Others have been having issues with iTunes and the Facebook and Dropbox apps.

If you have an older iPhone, you are much more likely to run into trouble, which isn’t a surprise, but it is annoying if you own one.

So what to do next? Here’s some things to try if you want to fix some problems brought about by iOS 8.

Not Enough Space to Install

iOS 8 is a big old update and the download size can be as high as 2GB and needs a minimum of 5GB of free space on your device to update. One way around this is to move all your data on to a computer or to cloud storage (make sure your nudes are safe though, eh?) or, if you prefer, you can use iTunes on a computer to download the update, so the update is stored on the computer rather than your device.

WiFi Issues

Some users have said that they’ve been having bother with their WiFi connectivity after the update. Go to your settings, select Privacy, then Location Services, followed by System Services. There, disable WiFi Networking. This doesn’t switch your WiFi off, all it does is disables the setting that seems to be tripping up your connection speeds.

Battery Drainage

There’s a whole host of reasons why your battery might be dying on its arse after the iOS 8 update. We’d tell you how to fix it, but we can’t do better than the incredibly thorough iPhonehacks guide to save your battery’s power. Click here and see advice on what to switch off and more, to maximise your battery life.

Predictive Text

A lot of users are finding that the predictive text add-ons in the default iOS keyboard are slowing you down. Of course, Android users have had predictive text for years now, but if you’re an Apple user who hates it, then you can switch it off. Go to Settings > General > Keyboard – turn off ‘Predictive’.

Access Pictures From The Camera Roll

The Photos app has been upgraded in iOS 8, however, you may have noticed that there’s no section called ‘Camera Roll’. The section has been removed, but don’t fret, your photos are still on your device. Now, they are all grouped together under the Photos section and to get at your old photos, go to ‘Photos’ and choose to view them as collections, years or moments. Scroll through and you’ll see all your old snaps.

BendiPhone

Have you seen the reports saying that the new iPhone 6 is bending in people’s pockets because it is such a flimsy piece of crap? There’s nothing we can do about that. Maybe wrap the whole thing up in gaffer tape and hope for the best?

eBay phishing scam exposed

September 19th, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

eBay have been having a right old time of it lately.

They’ve now been hit by online badmen who’ve been phishing and rinsing unsuspecting customers for their usernames and passwords, by placing fake item listings and redirecting users to external sites.

According to a BBC report, it was brought to attention by an eBay PowerSeller who thought something was a bit fishy about an iPhone 5 listing that took him to a weird address.

He’s also provided a video about, bless him.

The IT professional told the BBC: “It’s guaranteed – you can bet your bottom dollar that somebody’s going to click on that and be redirected to a third-party site and they’re going to enter their details and be compromised.

“You don’t know how many of the hundreds of thousands of people who use eBay will have done that.”

eBay have removed the listings, but it’s likely to be the tip of a vast iceberg, as it tries to find out how many people had been fooled by it. It’s the last thing eBay need, having had a dozen service crashes this year already.

But anyway. Keep ‘em peeled.