If you’re the kind of person who doesn’t see the point of Easter Eggs and would rather buy a large bar of chocolate for less money, you know what you can do instead of reading this article about Easters Eggs? Go and buy a massive bar of chocolate and quit your whining.
For you chocolate egg devourers and religious people who know the story about Jesus laying giant eggs in Spring (or whatever it is), you’ll be glad to know that the supermarkets are going toe-to-toe.
The Grocer has been looking at things and found that the average price across the big four supermarkets (Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons) has dropped by 9.7%, from £4.40 last year to £3.97 this year.
Leading the way is Morrisons who have cut the price of Easter Eggs to as little as £1. If you’re into branded eggs, then they’ve dropped by as much as 7.3%.
The Grocer said: “Britons are paying less than last year for some of the most popular Easter eggs as the industry ramps up promotional activity.” They noted that retailers have done away with money-off deals and the like: ”Half price deals have been virtually abandoned, accounting for just 2% of all deals compared with 13% a year ago.”
It’s almost Spring, and actually things are looking good. Interest rates are still low, as is inflation, fuelled by lower petrol prices as well as supermarket price wars, meaning that many of us are enjoying greater spending power than we are used to. However, that doesn’t mean that thrifty habits learned during the leaner times can’t set us in good stead and keep us saving money. In fact, those who switched to supermarket own-brand products could be saving over £1,200 a year.
New research from vouchercodespro found that switching from branded goods to supermarket own-brand goods delivered weekly savings of £23.45 on average, which adds up to a not-to-be-sniffed at annual saving of £1,219.40. In fact, over 60% of the 1,782 UK adults surveyed had decided to make the switch supermarkets’ own-brand products, while 28% stuck with their branded goods. A savvy 11% of respondents said they had always bought the retailer’s own-brand products, and have therefore been saving since day 1.
But remember, it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Despite claims that branded essentials are now “few and far between”, almost half of people who made the switch often still buy a good number of branded products. Around a third (34%) of own-brand shoppers said that they buy five branded products each week, with another 14% chucking more than 10 branded goods in their trollies each week. Only 9 per cent said they do not buy any branded products.
So if you want to switch, but haven’t dared take the plunge, or if you want to know where else to trim your shopping budget, where can you make the biggest savings by turning to own brands? According to the research, shoppers said that they saved most money on frozen food (19%) canned goods(16%), dairy products (13%), cleaning products (11%) and cereal (8%).
Well, that’s been questioned after one PS4 owner had some problems.
A Reddit user named Kadjer had their account hacked, with $600 worth of content bought through his account. In addition to all that, their console had been unlinked from their PSN account and replaced with a different one.
What was PlayStation’s solution? Well, depressingly, they apparently have a maximum refund policy of a paltry $150, which is offered as PSN credit, rather than cash in the bank.
Have you spotted the problem with this? Seeing as the customer is locked out of their account, they can’t even use the PSN credit. It doesn’t stop there either – if they decide to challenge the illicit purchases with his bank, Sony has stated that they will ban his PSN account and erase his licenses, which means he’ll lose everything, forever.
“As the transactions came in, one-by-one, it became immediately clear that my account had been hacked. I immediately logged into PSN and removed my card from the account, changed my email and password, and simultaneously launched support chats with both Sony and my bank,” Kadjer explains.
“My account will not be able to activate a new system for six months, per Sony policy. I’m completely locked out of my own account until that date. I then asked about what would happen if I got my bank to reverse the charges, and he informed me that it would result in a banned account. I asked if there would be any way to restore my purchases, and he told me that there would not be.”
“Absolutely furious. Change your passwords, everyone. Better yet, don’t have your credit card on file with Sony – if something were to happen, you won’t be taken care of.”
Sony, dropping the ball again.
We all have to eat. And while it is heating costs, rather than culinary charges that make the headlines when energy bills soar, the appliances you use in your kitchen also contribute to your energy use, and, for example, selecting an AAA rated appliance over a G rated appliance for energy consumption could make a dent in your annual bill. But what about the appliances you already have? Could you just use them more effectively? It seems that, for the best energy report, microwaves and slow cookers are the way to eat hot food, for less.
Jennipher Marshall-Jenkinson, president of the Microwave Association, recently spoke on BBC Radio 4 about her love of the device that is totally unrelated to her current job, but instead of just banging on about speed and efficiency, she claimed that using a microwave can actually be cheaper than cooking on a hob to the tune of £5 a month. For the 83% of us who own a microwave, that adds up to a tidy saving.
She calculated that having four saucepans on a stove cooking broccoli, cabbage, carrots and any other vegetable will cost 28p. The vegetables will take 15-20 minutes to cook and will “lose 85% of their nutrients while cooking”, she said. By comparison, cooking the same vegetables in one dish in the microwave will cost 7p, and the food will retain its nutrients because the vegetables cook in their own steam.
But can her claims be substantiated? The Telegraph asked some experts what they thought of the numbers. According to the Energy Saving Trust, it’s not easy to directly compare the cost of using a microwave or a hob for cooking, but five minutes usage of a typical microwave (800W, category E) will use about 0.09kWh of electricity, which costs around 1.3p, compared with the typical gas consumption each time a gas hob is used of 0.9kWh, costing around 3.8p.
“These figures aren’t directly comparable, since the ‘typical use’ of a gas hob isn’t necessarily equivalent to five minutes’ microwave use, but it does provide a basic comparison,” a spokesman said. “Obviously, energy usage varies depending on different factors, such as whether you have the lids on each pan, an individual’s cooking style, and so on.”
Comparison site uSwitch said that a microwave is the most energy-efficient way to cook food, followed by a hob and then an oven. “To keep your energy bills down, it’s a good idea to buy a microwave oven if you don’t already have one, and to use it for as much cooking as possible,” a spokesman said. “But remember to switch off your microwave at the wall when you’re not using it, so it isn’t left using electricity to power its clock.
However, uSwitch threw another contender into the ring- slow cookers. “Slow cookers can also be an energy-efficient option – they use just a little more energy than a traditional light bulb, and you can leave your food to cook slowly while you get on with other things.”
Sales of slow cookers have boomed over the past two years, and are very practical for busy workers, but is it worth the average £20 outlay in savings on oven use?
The answer is most likely, yes. Most sources agree that electric ovens are the least energy efficient way to cook. The Centre for Sustainable Energy estimates the average electricity usage of an electric oven between 2-2.2kWh, while a microwave uses between 0.6-1.5kWh. A slow cooker uses approximately 0.7kWh over the eight hours. Money-saving website goodtoknow.co.uk calculated that using an electric oven for an hour each day will cost £2.46 a week, or £127.92 over a year.
So there you have it. You don’t need a cooker, just a microwave and slow cooker. With spare cash saved on your energy bills left over for takeaways…
Good news bargain hunters! The price war between the supermarkets is getting really intense, which means that grocery costs are dropping at a record rate/faster than a flasher’s trousers. Have you noticed?
According to the latest figures from Kantar Worldpanel, annual prices fell to a new low of -1.6% for the 12 weeks to 1st March. This new low has been down to a “combination of lower general inflation and the grocery price war” which means that “shoppers had saved a combined £400m over the 12 weeks.”
Inflation has dipped too, thanks to the drop in oil prices. And of course, with Aldi and Lidl frightening the bejesus out of the big guns, they’re also duking it out on price, which means we all benefit.
That said, the supermarkets themselves won’t quite know what to think about it all. While Tesco had a small improvement in sales (up 1.1%), Sainsbury’s, Asda and Morrisons saw sales fall by 2.1%, 0.5% and 0.4% respectively.
Fraser McKevitt, head of retail and consumer insight at Kantar Worldpanel, said: “All of the major supermarkets are cutting prices to win shoppers, especially within everyday staples such as eggs, vegetables and milk. Retailers are focusing their efforts on simple price cuts rather than complicated ‘multibuy’ deals.”
“Among the big four supermarkets Tesco has been the standout retailer …increasing sales have helped Tesco arrest its falling market share, which is down just 0.1 percentage point compared with last year. This resurgence has impacted Asda which competes for many of the same shoppers as Tesco.”
“Asda’s sales are down by 2.1%, taking its market share to 17.0%. Morrisons and Sainsbury’s both grew behind the market average with sales falling by 0.4% and 0.5% respectively.”
Richard Bootman, 25, thought he was about to have a lovely time horsing crisps into his mouth after he’d been shopping in the Brandon store of Aldi.
Presumably, he was thinking of all that lovely, delicious grease going into his face and patting his stomach in glee when it was all done… however, something odd happened.
He said: “I opened the packet of crisps and noticed there wasn’t the usual crunchy sound you get. I tipped the packet upside-down and this oily potato just fell out onto my desk.”
We would have been livid because this is tantamount to getting sabotaged with something healthy when you thought you were about to have a gloriously disgusting party in your mouth. It feels like someone ‘surprising’ you with alcohol-free beer.
However, Richard Bootman is twice the person we are and he thought it was funny: “We all just laughed when we saw it, then I said to a friend, “Maybe you are expected to cook your own crisps these days?”
The ultimate in artisan, DIY, next-level Salt ‘n’ Shake crisps. These would be a perfect blag for a crisps company wanting to sell to health conscious hipsters with loads of money and free time.
Anyway, Richard showed his pictures to Aldi via Twitter and they offered him a refund. An Aldi spokesperson said: “Aldi is aware of this incident and is happy to offer the customer a full refund.”
Secondary ticketing can be a minefield. If you aren’t lucky enough to get tickets first time round, from the official retailer, being able to find tickets that people can no longer use- or when people just want to make a profit on their tickets- is a valuable service to consumers. However, the whole secondary ticket market has been subject to a Competition and Markets Authority (CMA, the new OFT) as they were concerned that consumers were shopping without full information, preventing them from making an informed purchasing decision. Now, 4 of the largest UK secondary ticket platforms – GET ME IN!, Seatwave, StubHub and viagogo – have promised to pull their collective socks up and provide improved information to buyers about the tickets listed on their sites- including original face value.
While no-one is saying that ticket resellers can’t charge more than face value for tickets, particularly those hot tickets that sold out in nine seconds, the CMA want the face value to be clearly stated so that those buying them are explicitly aware of the premium they are paying. Other undertakings adopted by the resellers include information on restricted entry conditions (eg for children) and restricted view, whether or not multiple seats that are listed together are located together and whether there are any additional charges not included in the listed ticket price. They will also all provide a contact email address for buyers to use if something goes wrong.
But the CMA isn’t stopping there. They are also writing to other major ticket resellers and businesses to inform them of the CMA’s “expectations about their conduct and their obligations under consumer law”. They have also produced a handy guide for consumers so you know what to look for when buying tickets from a reseller.
Nisha Arora, CMA Senior Director, said:
“A well-functioning secondary ticket market benefits fans by helping them to get tickets for events they want to see and by helping them when they can no longer make use of their tickets. As a result of the CMA’s action, and the constructive response of the major secondary ticket platforms, buyers will now have more of the key information they need before buying.”
“Businesses that do not provide secondary ticket consumers with information they need to help them know what they are buying may find themselves subject to action under consumer protection law, including possible financial penalties from Trading Standards Services to drive future compliance.”
Shahriar Coupal (Advertising Standards Authority) said:
“Hiding or omitting information about charges that consumers have to pay is not only misleading it’s simply unfair. In tandem with the CMA, we’ve been working closely with the secondary ticket sector to help make sure it’s clear and upfront about costs so that consumers get a fair deal and businesses play by the same rules.”
Potholes are the blight of anyone who uses the roads in the UK. According to a survey, 7 in 10 drivers have had problems with them, yet, only two-thirds of cars that have been damaged by them have successfully claimed some compensation.
Which!!! did some research and found that 4 out of every 10 drivers who had hit a pothole didn’t bother claiming because they didn’t know how to, while some said that they didn’t bother because it wasn’t worth the hassle.
However, 55% of satisfactorily resolved claims got some money, paying out an average of £188, which means drivers are missing out and should be submitting claims to the Highway Agency or local authority.
According to the research, successful claims usually depend on whether or not a pothole has already been reported. Local authorities have a statutory defence thanks to Section 58 of the Highways Act 1980, which basically says that, if an authority can show that reasonable care was taken to make the road safe and that it wasn’t dangerous to drivers, they’re covered. However, if a local authority knows about a pothole and hasn’t repaired it, drivers could put a claim in.
Which!!! big cheese Richard Lloyd, said: “With so many drivers hitting potholes and damaging their cars it’s important that people know their rights. Our research shows it’s worthwhile making a claim. If you do need to make a claim, our advice is to find out if the pothole has been reported, collect photographic evidence and get receipts of any work to fix the damage.”
If you want to put a claim in, then Which!!! have a step-by-step guide you can follow and guidance about the whole thing for both drivers and cyclists. Click here to have a look.
Good old Co-Operative Food. You know, the one founded on ethical principles? Well, it seems they are as ready to swindle consumers as any less ethical supermarket, by making false claims on their products, and then attempting to charge almost ten times as much for the hyped-up product.
If you have a headache, you might want to buy some painkillers. Ibuprofen is a popular choice. In Co-operative Food stores, you can find both standard ibuprofen tablets and ‘Long Lasting’ ibuprofen tablets side by side on the shelf. If you are a busy person, you might think you’d better purchase the ‘long lasting’ tablets to make sure your pain does not impinge on your day any more than absolutely necessary.
As you can see, the standard and long-lasting tablets are in very similar packaging. So similar, and so closely nestled together that it almost might be possible to mistakenly pick up the wrong packet- which would be an expensive mistake to make given than the ‘Long Lasting’ ibuprofen tablets cost £1.95 for 8 tablets (24.4p each)and the standard ibuprofen tablets cost 45p for 16 tablets (2.8p each). Now, almost ten times more expensive is a fairly hefty premium to pay for a ‘long lasting’ effect so we checked the ingredients of the tablets to see what gave the long lasting tablets their endurance. Guess what we found? That’s right. Nothing.
You see the 2.8p tablets and the 24.4p tablets are identical in terms of active ingredients. Both contain 200mg ibuprofen. So we were confused. Surely the Co-op with their “ethical values” that include “openness” and “honesty” were not merely trying to sell consumers ibuprofen with added snake oil just to make a hefty profit?
So we asked them. And they said “there is a difference,” but didn’t actually get round to explaining what the difference was, or responding to our query as to whether they thought they were deliberately misleading customers by selling products that are chemically identical under another name. Funny that. Looks like the “Co-operative value” of “self responsibility- we take responsibility for, and answer to our actions” might be something else that is actually a load of old codswallop…
Co-op have now come back to tell us why the “Long Lasting” tablets are worth so much more. The answer is that “the Long Lasting ibuprofen are made up of beads which allow the ibuprofen to release slowly as opposed to the tablet which is immediate.” They also feel that swindle is too strong a word.
So it’s up to you as to whether you would rather take two long lasting tablets, delivering you 400mg of pain relief over 12 hours for a total cost of 48.8p, or whether you’d rather take two tablets every four hours and get 1200mg of pain relief at a cost of 16.8p. A third of the pain relieving ingredient for (almost) three times the cost. Seems perfectly reasonable…
We reported a while ago, that the EU was all set to abolish roaming charges. However, that may not be the case now, as they’re going to be here for another 3 years.
The pointless and outdated charges were to come into play this summer, but now, roaming charges are going to stay until the end of 2018. And only then, the situation will be reviewed. With the average Brit spending £120 on these charges, this is a bit of a kick in the pants.
The telecoms industry aren’t happy about this either, as they say that this will affect their revenues, presumably because holidaymakers will prefer to switch their phones off while abroad, rather than use them. That said, they’ll happily take the money of those who do use their phones, so they won’t be too annoyed at all this.
A number of consumer groups across Europe, who have joined forces at the BEUC, have called this u-turn ‘outrageous’ and that ‘roaming is not justifiable in a single market.’
Only last year, the UK was planning on getting together with other European countries to sort out a fairer system which would abolish roaming charges, whereas now, everyone’s going to have to work out a common position with the European Parliament and Commission before any changes come to the fore.
“EU member states should hang their heads in shame,” said Belgian MEP and Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe group leader Guy Verhofstadt.
Scottish Power have been slapped with a sales ban after they failed to meet Ofgem’s customer service targets. The energy provider was told to clear all their outstanding Energy Ombudsman decisions regarding customer complaints, but they didn’t.
They were asked to answer customers’ calls more quickly, reduce a backlog of bills and sort out outstanding ombudsman rulings. As such, the 12-day sales ban means the company can’t engage in “proactive sales” from today.
The energy company said that they are “committed to delivering the best service possible and treating our customers fairly”.
Sarah Harrison, Ofgem’s senior partner in charge of enforcement, said: “A sales ban illustrates the difficulties Scottish Power is having in delivering the levels of service customers deserve. While Ofgem’s targets have driven significant improvements in Scottish Power’s performance, we remain very concerned about how customers are being treated.”
Scottish Power say: ”We have successfully delivered two of the targets. In relation to the target of having zero ombudsman remedies over 28 days, we cleared 2,575 cases during November and, at 1 December, the Ombudsman confirmed that we have achieved the zero target.”
“However, subsequently it was identified that 30 cases had been closed incorrectly. We sincerely apologise to these customers for these errors. The cases were immediately fixed on discovery. In line with our original voluntary commitment and with the agreement of Ofgem, we will now stop outbound selling from 4 March until 15 March.”
There was a fair bit of hubbub surrounding Amazon’s Prime and how it changed from a free trial to a paid-for service.
The Advertising Standards Authority have banned one of Amazon’s adverts, which was a direct mailing advert, which offered a “free trial” of the Prime delivery service, saying that it misled consumers on the now infamous subscription fees.
So what’s the beef?
Well, the ASA’s ruling came about after their were complaints about a card that crowed about a “30-day free trial”, which wasn’t prominent or clear enough when pointing out that a paid subscription would kick-in automatically if the service wasn’t cancelled during the trial period.
In addition to that, the regulator noted that the ad for the instant video element of Prime also didn’t point out the cost of a subscription.
The letter itself said: “Dear [name], I’m sending you this letter because I want you to know that you are eligible for a free trial of Amazon Prime … Start your 30-day free trial today and watch as much as you want … That’s all there is to it …”
It did say; “Paid subscription starts automatically after free trial unless cancelled,” in the small print, and Amazon pointed out that the advert repeatedly said the “free” element was time-limited. The company also pointed out that in all occasions bar one, the word “free” was preceded by “30-day”.
The ASA weren’t having it and said: ”We did not consider that it was sufficient to include the information about the automatic paid subscription in the small print of the ad only and therefore did not consider that that information was sufficiently prominent to make clear the extent of the commitment consumers must make to take advantage of the offer.”
“We concluded the ad was likely to mislead.”
The Advertising Standards Authority concluded that this particular advert for Amazon Prime was misleading and it mustn’t appear again in its current form.
How much easier would it be if, whichever retailer you were shopping with, shops actually had to tell you if a competitor was offering an identical product at a better price? Well that is actually what happened in a civil Court of Appeal case last week, the decision in which has had retailers scrambling to determine if the ruling is binding on them, and would cause them to fall foul of EU consumer protection laws.
The case in question concerned whether a company was required to notify consumers that the services it offered for a charge could be obtained by the consumers acting directly for free. PLT Anti-Marketing Limited (PLT) offered to register consumers’ names and contact details with the Telephone Preference Service (TPS) and the Mail Preference Service (MPS) in return for £4 monthly subscription, but neglected to tell consumers that they can register with the TPS and MPS for free.
In its ruling, the Court of Appeal considered to what extent businesses would need to disclose information about the availability, quality and price of rival products and services to consumers to comply with EU consumer protection laws, saying that the disclosure of such information “will be necessary in some situations” to ensure businesses are not considered to be making ‘misleading omissions’ when selling their own goods or services to consumers.
However, Lord Justice Briggs did refer to the need to recognise the ‘average consumer’ and whether or not the average consumer can be relied upon to “shop around” for such information, therefore removing the disclosure obligations from traders. In his decision, the judge found that a reasonable consumer would indeed shop around, so that this was an acceptable starting point for retailers.
“Generally, inward-facing information is likely to be available only from the trader in question, because it is information about that trader, or its goods or services. By contrast, information about alternative or competing products may generally be supposed to be available in the marketplace, to the extent that a particular consumer wishes to obtain it before deciding whether to make a purchase from the trader in question. In short, shopping around for information about alternative products (whether goods or services) is characteristic of the reasonably well-informed, observant and circumspect consumer,” said LJ Briggs in making his decision.
So will this decision have any effect when you next visit an electrical retailer to buy a new fridge, for example? Commercial contracts expert Rami Labib of Pinsent Masons thinks not.
“Although it remains to be seen how the principles established by the Court of Appeal will be applied in future cases, our interpretation is that businesses will only need to notify consumers about the availability of alternative products and services on the market in exceptional cases,” Labib said. “For most businesses, the ruling will not demand a change to marketing materials or business practices.”
So while this ruling might be a further way to clamp down on so-called ‘copycat’ websites, where websites pop up to charge consumers for a service that is normally available for free or at a nominal charge, it seems Currys don’t have to tell you if your fridge would be cheaper if you bought it from Apollo2000. Never mind.