It was only late last year that Comet had some advertisements banned by the ASA (Advertising Standards Authority) for misleading customers over alleged discounts and in particular listing retail prices which were not genuine.

So, less than a year on, what have Comet learnt? Well, nothing, it would seem. Just under a week ago they listed the Asus Nexus 7 on their site at the price of £199.99 which appears to be the current price for this new release. However, this item on the Comet website was listed as being part of their “Price Crash” promotion and it also informed potential customers that this product was previously on sale for £449.99 between 24/02/2012 and 16/05/2012. Paying particular attention here to the fact that the item was released in mid-July and £449.99 is almost double what many retailers are charging for this product.

Contact was made with Comet to ask why was there such a misleading price reduction and errors in their information. Their reply was simply:

Dear Sir/Madam
Thank you for your e-mail, having checked the link you have provided I can confirm that we are selling this item at present for £199.99. I’m sorry if you have found the price and our site not to your satisfaction.
Kind Regards
************
Customer Care Advisor

So it seems that they didn’t feel the need to respond to the points raised in the email but they did find the time to remove the misleading information from the product page.

By not responding with an apology and blaming it on an “admin error” (as many retailers do with price glitches and data entry mistakes) makes me wonder whether it is time for the ASA to take another look at their advertising activity.

Comet 500x392 Comet are at it again with misleading price reductions...

167472 191062284244057 120212224662397 826226 5915030 n 266x300 Are KGB the new Groupon when it comes to unfair dealing?Groupon became notorious last year for the vast number of run-ins that it had with the Advertising Standards Authority, but it looks like KGB Deals have taken over the mantle in 2012, with no less than 18 adjudications upheld against them so far in 2012.

They include a kitesurfing course offer which only sold at the bargain price of £99 for weekdays, and had hidden extra charges for weekend courses. Then there was a two-night hotel break for two, priced at £129 with the RRP quoted by KGB as £348, a figure which was disputed by Vale Of Glamorgan Trading Standards, who found the maximum price on the hotel’s website for two nights was £212.50.

So far in 2012, the ASA has received 80 complaints in total about 79 KGB Deals ads. By contrast there have been 28 complaints about 28 LivingSocial ads and 24 complaints about 23 Wowcher ads.

But perhaps Groupon are still the kings of sub-standard daily deals – the ASA has received 211 complaints about 211 ads since January, but most of these have been bumped straight up to the OFT, who are keeping a close but separate eye on the company.

Do YOU use daily deal sites? Or do you feel as though you can’t trust what you’re being told, given their reputation for sometimes massaging the facts. Maybe you just don’t want to be vajazzled any more. TELL US.

Farepak warehouse 008 300x180 Farepak savers about to get 50% of the money they lostThe Farepak saga has been around even longer than Bitterwallet, and it looks like it might finally be drawing to a fairly satisfactory conclusion.

The liquidators of the company, which collapsed in 2006 with 114,000 creditors, most of whom were savers, have said that those unlucky savers will be getting 32p for every pound that they had pumped into Farepak.

There will also be an £8m ex-gratia payment to customers and agents courtesy of Lloyds Banking Group, which will be sent out in August. That will take the final payout to 50p in the pound.

Suzy Hall, the national campaign co-ordinator of victim group Unfairpak, is happy with the final payout, saying: “This is a much better outcome than we expected – to get 50p overall when we started with nothing in the pot, and then [were offered] just 4p for every £1. I’m extremely happy.”

If you think you might be a Farepak creditor but haven’t yet registered, you’ve still got 21 days to come forward, and you can find out more at Unfairpak’s site…

Poor Yodel. They made it through to the semi-finals of our Worst Company In Britain awards last year, and it seems that the public haven’t warmed to them any more since then.

In fact, lots of their customers have been tweeting about their less-than-perfect experiences and Yodel have brought in the lawyers, demanding that Twitter withdraw dozens of tweets that they claim are defamatory and “constitute a serious libel”.

Yodel have also demanded that a parody account @NotYodel and one in their former name, @HDNL be taken down, and Twitter seems to have complied with this. Courtesy of The Wall, here’s some of the tweets that have survived the attempted airbrushing by Yodel…

yodeltweet1 499x209 Yodel take action against libellous tweets...

yodeltweet2 499x173 Yodel take action against libellous tweets...

yodeltweet3 499x220 Yodel take action against libellous tweets...

telephone operator Shady companies swerving TPS cold calling rules...The fact that 17.5 million people in the UK have signed up to the Telephone Preference Service suggests that cold-calling isn’t a particularly popular or effective marketing method. But it seems that for some companies, it’s as popular as ever.

In fact, for the occupants of some call centres, the rules and regs of the TPS don’t really exist and are something that is best ignored while they continue trying to make a quick buck with their dubious services.

One such company is Central Claims Group, who tell potential customers that they’ve received their contact details from the ‘Industrial Workers’ Register’, an organisation which, believe it or not, doesn’t exist.

Tune into BBC1’s Panorama this evening and you’ll be able to learn all about poor Tony Clark, who has been inundated with calls from Central Claims Group – they keep telling him that he should be suing his employer for compensation relating to his deafness. He’s self-employed though, so that would probably be a fruitless exercise.

You’ll see some nice undercover footage in the programme tonight, followed up by the obligatory apologising and blame-denial from CCC. But none of that is reason not to try and put a stop to nuisance cold calls from companies like them – you can easily register with the Telephone Preference Service here.

Bitterwallet Len Dastard featured4 QUIET...this is a library...that now offers legal advice...Escuche arriba, hermosas personas! It is I, Len Dastard, full time litigation executive and part time pretend lucha libre! I get my kicks from assisting the fearless consumer. There is nothing that Len wouldn’t do for you. Believe that.

Plans are afoot to equip Britains 4,000 libraries with Instant Law video conferencing facilities which will provide legal advice by webcam for free from a legally qualified representative. The information currently available states that the conferencing will be in a “secure location” within the library.  It will be interesting to see whether all 4,000 libraries ensure that the area is secure and all confidential information isn’t discussed publicly.

Instant Law had originally planned to set up these booths in shopping centres but decided, following a discussion with the manager of Europe’s biggest library in Birmingham, that this system was best placed in libraries. If you have recently visited a WH Smiths, you might have noticed that they now have a ‘Quality Solicitor’ kiosk where you can pick up the telephone and be routed to a local solicitor to obtain legal advice. I personally wouldn’t be surprised, based on the amount of these stored nationwide, if that had a bearing on their decision from moving from shopping centres to libraries.

The service will cover family law, employment, debts, wills, landlord and tenant, personal injury and even criminal matters.

Whilst the service is being billed as free, the first 20 minutes will be free of charge for the “initial consultation” and then any subsequent advice will be charged. At the end of this consultation the legal advisor will give an estimate of ongoing costs before you decide whether you wish to instruct them. Instant Law estimates that one in ten users will proceed with their quote.

There will also be designated computers where users can access free general advice and also put together their own legal documents.

At the moment the system is already in place at Birmingham central library, Marylebone and also Westminster.

Would you make a special trip to your library if you were in need of some legal advice or would you rather cut out the hassle and telephone a solicitor’s office to speak with them direct? Not all firms offer a free consultation but many do.

pontins brean 400 300x206 Have YOU had your cheap Pontins holiday cancelled?About three months ago, a very tasty deal appeared on the Pontins website – 7 nights self-catering for four people at their Brean Sands resort for only £33.07. Hard to knock back an offer like that if you’re in the mood for a low-budget break. Not surprisingly, lots of punters went for it.

Now it gets complicated. Fast forward to the present day and it seems that a sizeable bunch of excited holidaymakers have been contacted by Pontins and told that their 7-night stays have been cancelled. Sure there’s the usual apologies as well as some offers of 50% off a holiday at a later date, but in short, that’s some pretty unacceptable behaviour from Pontins.

We don’t know whether they’ve originally oversold the £33.07 holidays or whether it was a misprice that has just come to light, but for Pontins to cancel three months after taking the bookings, when customers are just a few weeks away from their holiday is scandalous.

Over at HotUKDeals, there’s around 20 people who have been affected by the actions of Pontins – we expect that there’ll be many more out there as well. If you’re one of them, contact HUKD here – they’re currently talking to some major media outlets who are keen to fight their corner.

data tng 246x300 Goverment scrap Consumer Focus and hand all the work to Citizens Advice

An average consumer, yesterday

In what can only be seen as an act of stupidity, the government are abolishing the taxpayer-funded watchdog Consumer Focus, and dumping its responsibilities on Citizens Advice, which, lest we forget, is a charity, and one which has had funding slashed under the aforementioned governement.

Citizens Advice will be handed the responsibility of dealing with consumer gripes in those areas which aren’t regulated, while a new National Trading Standards Board will target rogue traders. Apparently, it’ll all ‘help streamline the consumer landscape” and “ensure a powerful consumer voice” to business, government and regulators. So that’s okay then. In short, consumers will be even more screwed than they are now.

Our good friends across the road at Which! have come out against the proposals, with Lord Sir Peter Vicary-Smith being particularly vociferous, saying that, “Giving Office of Fair Trading responsibilities to local Trading Standards officers and the Citizens Advice is like asking GPs to carry out heart surgery. The government knows that failing to enforce consumer law already costs the British public over £6bn a year, but they seem determined to abandon consumers to increasingly sophisticated rip-offs despite the harm this does to the economy.”

But did Consumer Focus even DO anything? Do you lot reckon it’ll make things any better or do the government genuinely not give a toss about consumers?

rotten apple 243x300 Aussie consumer watchdog slams Apple over 4G claimIf Apple had advertised their new iPad as having ‘Wi-fi and the ability to cure infertility’ even though it wasn’t capable of curing infertility, we’d all be slightly vexed wouldn’t we? So why has there been so little fuss about the new tablet being advertised as having ‘Wi-fi and 4G’ over here in the UK when it won’t actually work with our forthcoming 4G networks? Dunno – it’s baffling.

Over on the other side of the world, the Australians have been a little bit less forgiving. Their consumer watchdog, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) have kicked right off with the Cupertino gadget-pimps, saying that Apple have misled punters with the 4G description.

In a statement, the ACCC said that Apple have “represented to Australian consumers that the product ‘iPad with WiFi + 4G’ can, with a SIM card, connect to a 4G mobile data network in Australia, when this is not the case”. They’re also taking Apple to court, alleging its advertising broke four sections of Australian consumer law.

As a result of the brouhaha, Apple are offering refunds to any customers who bought a new iPad, believing that it would work on the Aussie 4G network. No such problem here in the UK, as we barely have a 4G network for it not to work on yet.

game logo GAME: where do consumers stand post administration?As reported earlier, Game Group have today gone into administration. The following statement has been issued by the administrators and if you’re a regular Game or Gamestation customer, this could well affect you. Read on…

Dear GAME customers,

Here’s some important news about us. GAME Group plc (the parent company of GAME in the UK) is now in administration. We want you to know that the Administrators aim at this time is to continue trading while they seek to find a new owner for the business.

In the meantime, we’ve had to make some changes. We’ve summarised them below. Some of them are temporary, some are permanent.

1.Online Sales: We expect some disruption to our online services over the next few days while we make some changes. We apologise for the inconvenience this causes.

2.Refunds and Exchanges: Until further notice, we will not be able to offer refunds or exchanges for products purchased either before the administration or for products purchased from the date of the administration.

3.Pre-Orders: No new pre-orders can be taken until further notice. No refunds can be given for any pre-order deposits which have been paid. We are reviewing this over the next week.

4.GAME Reward card: We have had to suspended use of GAME Reward Cards. This means that points can be earned but NOT redeemed until further notice.

5.Gift cards: We have also had to suspend GAME gift cards. The value on these cards cannot be redeemed. If this changes, we will let you know. We apologise for the inconvenience this causes.

6.GAMEWallet: the value stored in GAMEwallet accounts will be suspended until further notice following the appointment of administrators.

7.Pre-owned Software: You can still buy pre owned products at great prices in your local store or online. If you trade in a pre-owned software item then you will still be able to accrue reward points and use your trade in to exchange for another item. You will not be able to trade in pre-owned software for cash. If this changes, we will let you know. We apologise for the inconvenience this causes.

8.Pre-owned Hardware: We have had to suspend trade in for pre-owned hardware at this time. If this changes, we will let you know. We apologise for the inconvenience this causes.

9.Click and Collect titles: We have had to suspend this service. We apologise for any inconvenience this causes.

MJA Jervis and SD Maddison have been appointed as Joint Administrators of The GAME Group plc, Game Stores Group Limited, Gameplay (GB) Limited, Game (Stores) Limited, Games Station Limited, Game (Retail) Limited and Gamestation Limited on 26 March 2012 to manage their affairs, business and property as their agents and without personal liability. MJA Jervis and SD Maddison are licensed in the United Kingdom to act as insolvency practitioners by the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales.

If you have any questions please feel free to email us at: customerservices@game.co.uk

Bitterwallet Len Dastard featured4 Your consumer guide to buying goods and servicesBuenos días to you, my sacos vacíos de la felicidad. It is I, Len Dastard, full time litigation executive and masked consumer champion back to fight for you. Consider this to be as triumphant a return as El Rumble Clásico in ‘79. Where have I been? I cannot tell you where I have been but I can assure you that the streets of Tijuana have never been so crime free. Silencio, we need to begin…

Buying goods and the Sale of Goods Act 1979 (SoGA)

Key points:

When you buy goods from a shop the law (SoGA) says that the goods must be:

• S14 (2) – of satisfactory quality. That is to say that you would expect the item to last for a certain length and time and certainly be free from any defects. If you are aware of defects prior to your purchase, you may not be able to rely on this section.
• S14 (3) – fit for purpose. Consider the main use of the item and then ask whether or not the item is indeed fit for the intended purpose. An exception to this rule may be that your intended use was not in the contemptation of both parties when you entered into the contract.
• S13 (1) – the item should be as described. Description could also be what the trader has told you.

If the goods do not meet these rights, you may be entitled to:

• Refund
• Repair
• Replacement

The above rights only apply to goods purchased from a shop. If buying from a private seller, the only rights that apply are:

• The goods match their description.
• The goods belong to the seller.

Points to note:

Always check the retailers T&Cs. Whilst they cannot exclude your rights in relation to the above, there may be other conditions which you ought to be aware of. Such as the point at which the contract is formed because until you have a contract, you may not necessarily have rights under it.

Always keep proof of purchase – receipt, bank statement etc.

Buying a service and the Sale of Goods and Services Act 1982

Key points:

When you buy a service it should be:

• Undertaken with reasonable care and skill to a good standard. You should therefore expect there to be no faults or flaws.
• At a reasonable cost. Obviously be aware that any communicated quote should be adhered to unless agreed otherwise.
• Within a reasonable time. Obviously reasonable depends on the circumstances. As an expample, you would not expect a mechanic to take 3 days to change a tyre.

Points to note:

Almost request a quote and make sure that is covers exactly what work you need undertaken. Do not agree to work “for the sake of it”. Make sure the work is actually required.

Cancelling an order or changing your mind? – Distance Selling Regulations 2000

When you do not deal “face to face”, the Distance Selling Regulations 2000 allow you to cancel the contract as long as you are within the “cooling-off period”. This is usually within a 7 working day period on which you receive the goods or the service is due to start. However, the trader has to provide the following information before the cooling off period starts:
• Your right to a cooling off period
• How to cancel your order
• Who is responsible for returning goods
• Who has to pay the cost of returning goods if you cancel in the cooling-off period
• Information about any after-sales service
• The address to use for complaints

If the trader doesn’t provide you with this information then your cooling-off period extends up to a maximum of three months and seven working days.

There are of course some exceptions to the cooling-off period. These are:
• Goods made to a personalised specification
• Perishable goods, such as foodstuffs and flowers
• Audio/video recordings or software where the seal has been broken
• Newspapers, magazines or other reading material (not books)
• Gaming, betting, lotteries
Points to note:

Strangely enough, you cannot rely on the Distance Selling Regulations 2000 if you used a public payphone to order the goods/service!

You are usually responsible for the cost of returning the item if you simply change your mind.

viagogo official madonna ticket partner 300x169 Channel 4s ticket reselling investigation nails ViagogoWell, there’ll be some awkward moments in the office at Viagogo this morning after last night’s Dispatches documentary on Channel 4. We all know that the event tickets game is riddled with things that make us all want to vomit everywhere, like booking fees, bewildering fees for tickets that you print at home, touting and getting a seat behind a tall, hat-wearing person.

The ‘fan-to-fan’ reselling websites are pretty disgusting too. We’re talking about the likes of Viagogo, Seatwave and Getmein. That sector got a bit of a shoeing on last night’s documentary, with Viagogo taking the worst of it.

Undercover reporters showed how Viagogo staff snapped up tickets for gigs as they went on sale, using multiple credit cards, before listing them on the site at inflated prices. Additionally, allegations were made that blocks of tickets were sold to Viagogo directly from promoters, with the money being split between both parties. We’ve got a feeling that this won’t be the last we hear of all of this.

If you missed it, the Dispatches programme can now be seen over at the 4OD website. And if you do want to get involved in fan-to-fan ticket reselling, we’d recommend Scarlet Mist, where tickets can be purchased at face value.

2921605 300x200 Either Wowcher or Shamballa isnt dealing in the truth WOWCHER! That’s what we’re all meant to shout all the time, or at least according to the advert for, erm, Wowcher, one of the latest in a rash of online daily deal companies. But when it comes to a recent deal that they plugged with jewellery company Shamballa, avid Bitterwallet reader Emily has been saying ‘WOAH THERE, WHERE’S MY STUFF? Instead.

Emily ordered a Shamballa bracelet through Wowcher (part of DMGT, along with the Daily Mail) before Christmas and has been chasing up its whereabouts ever since. Wowcher have finally offered her a refund along with the postage, saying:

“As you are aware, Shamballa-UK have failed to deliver your bracelet. Despite assurances from the merchant, they have been unable to stock the bracelet as advertised on the Wowcher website.

We are sincerely sorry for the inconvenience and frustration that this must have caused you. Once again, please accept our apologies for this merchant’s failure to meet his obligations.”

logo12 Either Wowcher or Shamballa isnt dealing in the truth Which all seems fair enough, if a bit disappointing. A slap on the wrist for Shamballa then. Or is it? Emily has also been in direct contact with Shamballa and seems to be getting a different story from the horse’s mouth itself. They tell her…

“We are disappointed to inform you that Wowcher have not forwarded Shamballa-UK with your money for your bracelet. Subsequently, we are unable to dispatch your order and therefore your order has been cancelled.

Please note that we have tried our best to fulfil your order.”

So it looks as if someone is telling porky pies, but who? Have any of you had troublesome dealings with either Wowcher or Shamballa? Let us know so that we can decide which of them we trust the least. Perhaps this is one that the lawyers will have to sort out 0ut – we’ll let you know as soon as a winner has been declared.

Oh, and if any of you can make nice bracelets, do you fancy knocking one together and sending it to us so that we can forward it to Emily? THE POOR GIRL’S GOT NOTHING ON HER WRIST FOR CHRIST’S SAKE!

Warranty clean-up coming after OFT probing

February 7th, 2012 3 Comments By Andy Dawson
KimJongIlTeapot 225x300 Warranty clean up coming after OFT probing

An electrical item, yesterday

Some of the UK’s most, ahem, popular retailers have made a solemn promise to smarten up their acts when it comes to offering extended warranties on electrical goods after the Office of Fair Trading wagged its sizeable finger at the them.

The OFT is concerned about unfair competition, amid beliefs that punters aren’t being given full information before being sold warranties, in particular regarding the fact that they can shop around for such a service. At the moment, only a quarter of consumers are shopping around for extended warranties, with the majority being sold at the point of purchase.

Dixons, Comet and Argos have promised to set up a warranty comparison website and offer up more information to warranty-buying fans in their stores and on The Internet. The OFT will now be keeping a close eye on the situation and will decide if they’re satisfied or ready to throw the warranty hot potato to the Competition Commission for more probing.

Picture 27 300x130 Google wants to make your life (and its info gathering) easierGoogle loves you. Google wants to be your friend and make your life so much simpler. As part of all that guff, it’s made some widespread changes to its big, fat, complicated privacy policies. Now you’ll be able to have ‘a better, more intuitive Google experience’ as most of its separate privacy policies have been merged into one big, fat, less complicated one. Isn’t that great?

Of course it means that, if you’ve got a Google account, all of your personal info will be spread across almost all of Google’s services, whether you use them or not

Speaking to TechRadar, Sophos security expert Graham Cluely said:

“(It) means Google will be able to get a fuller picture of you. For instance, it will be able to share what it knows about you from your use of Gmail, with what it knows about what videos you have watched on YouTube, what locations you’ve looked up on Google Maps, and what you’ve searched for on the net.”

“As a result of this change, the potential value of the data Google stores about you has grown enormously. And, of course, the more Google knows about you the easier it will be to target you with advertising. Google has been dragged over the coals by privacy regulators in the past, and chances are that these changes will also be scrutinized by the powers that be.”

Ah yes, regulators. It seems that the Information Commissioner’s Office is already taking a close look at this latest development, and a spokesdude told ZDNet:

“While it can prove useful to some service users, it is important that technology companies, such as Google, are aware of the privacy concerns that exist when behavioural advertising is used to target particular content at individuals,” said the ICO. “Failure to inform users about changes may not only lead to a loss of trust in the company, but could also mean that they are failing to comply with the requirements of the Data Protection Act.”

There’s no opt-out of the new privacy policy – Google’s attitude is that if you don’t like it, go and use something else instead. Oh, and they’ve made a nice video that will explain the new policy for you…