google wallet All I want for Christmas is to be able to pay for it via a digital wallet claim shoppersQuite a few shoppers would have liked to have used near-field communications (NFC) solutions to pay for things this Christmas.

This is according to a new survey from Skrill who have nothing better to do and added that over a third of 2,000 consumers responded, saying that they’d be well into it.

As an eye-opening insight into consumer habits, 40% said that when they have a budget, they stick to it.

59% believed a prepaid card with a set limit would minimise the risk of going mental, while 8% admit to using a digital wallet. The perverts.

36% reckon using credit cards online was the most likely way of overspending, however 90% said they’d purchase at least one thing online this season, with 26% making between one and five.

Spiros Theodossiou, vice president of product strategy at Skrill threw some insight into these findings: “New technology such as prepaid cards and digital wallets are an ideal way to curb expenditure, as you can set a limit and then cut your cloth accordingly. Spending with new technology like this can help people to enjoy their Christmas and a debt-free January too.”

Mobile wallets are rapidly becoming a thing, with the Apple Pay solution linking up with several retailers when it was launched in September.

£6,300 refund from Northern Rock anyone?

December 10th, 2014 40 Comments By Mof Gimmers

money graphics 2007 883810a 300x300 £6,300 refund from Northern Rock anyone?Roll up, roll up as thousands of borrowers are all set to get a very nice bonus from Northern Rock after the High Court in London ruled against them.

Over 40,000 loan applicants are looking refunds after a legal test case questioned the wording in past loan documents, which means that there’s going be be a payout in excess of £258m.

In English, 41,000 customers are going to get £6,300 each and, better yet, the court ruling is going to be applied to the wording and documents of other loans, so this might not be over for a while yet for the lenders.

At the moment, if you think you’re entitled to a refund, you don’t need to act. There’s further legal action to be taken which is going to hold things up, but those that will be getting money will be contacted by letter, with advice of what happens next.

The loans in question related to “Together” mortgages, which were offered by Northern Rock and permitted unsecured loans of up to £30,000 alongside your mortgage, repayable at the same rate.

Many took up the offer and took out unsecured loans of between £25,000 and £30,000 between 1999 and 2008, and it is those customers that will be paid back interest and fees.

We’ll be keeping an eye on this one, and seeing which other companies come a cropper of the new ruling.

Vodafone ‘Black Friday’ LG mess

December 10th, 2014 1 Comment By Mof Gimmers

BLACK FRIDAY1 300x300 Vodafone Black Friday LG messBlack Friday hasn’t quite gone away, thanks to the administrative mess that has been left behind. Tesco have been having woe with their Click & Collect service and now, Vodafone have their knickers in a twist as well.

You may recall that you could get a LG G2 from Vodafone for £150, which people were very excited about. There were a load of orders and, it looks like Vodafone may have overreached and now there’s a number of complaints about it all.

There’s been delays on sending out the handsets and it appears, from the outside looking in, that Vodafone took orders far in excess of the stock they actually had. Customers have seen money taken from their accounts, but as yet, no mobile has been delivered.

Most customers have received numerous texts since the Black Friday sale, all saying “we’ll update you in 10 days time”, which isn’t exactly instilling confidence into those who have parted with their cash.

One said: “I wanted to give them the chance to deliver within the original 1-2 week time frame. I have severe doubts that this will happen now as they have extended the response window beyond that. If it turns out I don’t get the phone I won’t be that bothered about the phone, I can just buy another somewhere else. What I will be complaining about is the circus that everyone has been put through.”

It all looks like a bit of shambles.

Vodafone have also been telling puzzled customers by saying that they’ve been waiting for the manufacturers to hurry up and that “service request closed”, which, from what we can glean, can ostensibly be ignored by anyone who has already ordered the LG G2. This message, sent out in a scattergun fashion, seems to be aimed at those who are trying to order the device from this point onward.

The worry there is that Vodafone have run out of these phones, which means further waiting for customers. We spoke to Vodafone, and their representative said that the company have “received the stock of new orders lately”, which suggests strongly that they didn’t have the stock for the amount of orders they took. Customers who have received confusing texts from Vodafone, and who don’t mind waiting for their order, can basically ignore correspondence.

However, if you’re in a rush because you bought this phone to use now, or as a Christmas present for someone, then things are trickier. The way to get this sorted is to speak to the online orders team, but we found that, when we rang, we were passed around from the online orders team, to the refund team, back to online orders, then back to the refund lot, then back to the online crew again. With a phone not delivered for 12 days, with little explanation, the whole thing is immensely frustrating.

Some have noted phonecalls that have lasted for 2 hours, so there’s no quick fix to be found… yet.

We’ll continue looking into this, and of course, if any of the readers stumble across a way around this, leave a comment or contact us on one of the social media channels and we’ll share your wisdom.

It’s not like Vodafone to get on everyone’s nerves is it?

financial ombudsman You don’t have to pay to make a financial complaintThe Financial Ombudsman service is a (currently) free service that allows consumers to escalate unresolved complaints on financial matters, normally against banks, insurers and finance firms. As with other ombudsman services, their aim is to listen to the case impartially, and to decide what redress, if any is appropriate.

However, some businesses are looking to make the service fee-paying in order to discourage complaints. Which would be nice. For them.

The ombudsman reports that they regularly get ‘suggestions’ from businesses under their remit that those wishing to make a complaint should have to pay an upfront fee, or face the case charges if their complaint is unsuccessful, for example with “ a nominal £50 or £100 fee”. While understanding the perspective of smaller businesses who might feel victimised by spurious or speculative claims, the Financial Ombudsman office is “very unlikely” to change its views on charging the public, given its free service “underpins confidence in financial services” and “recognises that some of the people most in need of help might not be in a position to pay for it.”

In fact, the ombudsman is actually showing itself to be something of  consumer champion, saying in its latest newsletter that, the current economic climate has meant it has received many more complaints from people who are claiming out of a dire financial need, rather than to uphold their own rights as consumers. The ombudsman points out that for “someone missing or making only minimum payments on high-interest debt, a £50 fee is clearly far from nominal.” The Financial Ombudsman also thinks that £50 is higher than many direct debit payments and money transfers, and would be a fairly hefty charge for any other financial services, and that’s why it’s having none of it.

The crucial point being championed by the ombudsman service here is that channels of complaint should be available to anyone who has been disadvantaged, treated unfairly or missold- not just those who can afford to make a claim. Indeed, it is the very people who cannot afford a claim who are the ones who are most in need of having their consumer rights protected.

The ombudsman is clear that it is trying to avoid situations where the ‘nominal’ fee makes it economically- insane to complain- if your bank has overcharged you by £30, but it will cost you £50 and lots of time to try and get it back, what is the actual point? The Financial Ombudsman is also protecting its “free for all” service, noting that charging a fee would mean some people could not afford to complain- people who “don’t have £50 to cover the basics of everyday life, let alone to cover a complaining fee”. As they put it, if these people “had £50 to spare, they might not have a problem in the first place.”

The Financial Ombudsman’s office therefore wins our Consumer Champion of the Day award. Thanks guys.

GearBest’s customers are not happy

December 9th, 2014 3 Comments By Mof Gimmers

gearbest GearBests customers are not happyYou may have seen GearBest knocking around, selling video games, gadgets, clothes and all that, but it looks like there’s a lot of people that are desperately unhappy with them.

One reader got in touch with us and said: “Ordered from Gearbest 4 items the promised 3-5 days when nothing came I emailed them they gave me a false tracking number… thanks to this scam £186 taken from my account”, adding: “they said payment was made into their paypal account £186 inc insurance, I am so mad and gutted for my kids, i doubt i get my money back they have lied in emails (at least 20!)”

So we decided to look into it a little further and it seems like problems aren’t uncommon with GearBest. There’s been complaints of issues with shipping and money being taken multiple times.

Elsewhere, people who have shopped with GearBest have said: “I FEEL CHEATED! Deducted 3 times from credit card for cancelled item!” which no confirmation emails for products and featuring items that are out of stock, taking the money for them and leaving customers in limbo. On top of that, customers have said that GearBest aren’t exactly forthcoming with information when they’ve been sent queries.

One customer, unsatisfied with the slow return on emailing with problems noted that the helpline requires you to call long-distance, saying that the whole thing was the “worst experience of my life.”

Another complaint said: “Ordered tablets from this website, they’re now asking for pictures of debit card and passport, this is completely unacceptable this is my private information, I have never heard of a website asking for this type of information before, unless a scam.”

We should point out that GearBest is a legitimate business and not a scam site and that there are some positive comments floating around about them. However, at best, GearBest sound like a hassle and at worst, it looks like they may have taken money from customers without fulfilling orders with subsequent and frustrating chasing.

One to avoid if you’re Christmas shopping (and beyond).

ipod classic Sell your iPod Classic now as it is worth a small fortune!Since their final demise was confirmed in September, iPod Classics are – typically – now going for small fortunes.

Ruthless types who racked up a selection of devices merely because they had an Apple logo on them, are now selling iPod Classics on eBay, who reckon they’ve seen 3,000 sold on the online car boot sale since October.

Naturally, some buyers have complained that the condition of the resold ones aren’t quite what the seller was claiming, with something that looks like it’s been stuck up a dog’s arse arriving in a jiffy bag through their letter box.

Collectors editions of the iPods are going for even more. A set of boxed U2 iPods sold for £50,000 on eBay in October, and another rare edition sold for £7,995. An old prototype also sold for £641.33. Demented.

However the main basic non-fancy 80GB and 160GB ones are going for around £100-200.

The iPod Classic was quietly put out to pasture back in September due to Apple claiming they couldn’t get the parts. Which seeing as Apple invented it, surely the whole ‘parts’ issue shouldn’t have been a thing. Perhaps the ‘parts’ excuse was simply them saying “We haven’t given a shit about updates for these things since we went iPhone crazy”.

And it’s all about the cloud these days, as Apple have been shrinking their hard drives, expecting everyone to throw their content in the air like they just don’t care.

Anyway. Cheerio iPod Classic. If you’ve got a couple stuffed away in the back of a drawer, get it on eBay now!

People are hapless with their passwords

December 8th, 2014 2 Comments By Ian Wade

password 300x225 People are hapless with their passwordsOver 40% of the UK reckon their passwords will never be guessed by a hacker. According to a survey of 1,000 British people, 63% use the same password on a variety of accounts.

The nosin’ around was part of research done by Redcentric, who also declared that 21% of the 1,000 questioned would only change their password when they were prompted.

A third of the respondees admitted that their passwords contained their names or birth date. The clots. 17% of the 1,000 also said that they kept password details on their phone or computer.

A Redcentric spokesperson said: “Online security is paramount in this day and age, especially as people are able to carry out more day-to-day tasks online such as shopping, banking and running businesses.

“There are obvious concerns when people are using the same passwords over different accounts, especially if those accounts hold personal or financial information. We recommend that you change your password every month or so depending on the kind of account it is, rather than just doing it when prompted.”

You could update your password every month, but which conventional normal human actually does?

Do you have a dangerous Russell Hobbs iron?

December 8th, 2014 21 Comments By Thewlis

Russell Hobbs 300x300 Do you have a dangerous Russell Hobbs iron?Ironing is never fun, but it’s rarely dangerous, yet now household thrill seekers can take their life in their hands (almost) by using a Russell Hobbs iron to make their clothes crease-free. Thousands of Russell Hobbs irons have now been recalled after reports that some burst into flames and injured customers.

Of course, you would hope that any responsible manufacturer would advise customers of a potential risk to their health as soon as possible. In Russell Hobbs case, however, it is suggested that they may have known about the problem- which affects 15 different models that were made using a specific flex cord- over  a year ago, and the product recall coincidentally happened just after the problem was featured on a BBC Watchdog exposé.

The Russell Hobbs website product recall page understates the issue saying  “as part of our ongoing quality monitoring program, we’ve identified an issue with a small number of our irons, that may carry a risk that the flex may fail. If you do have an affected iron, please stop using it immediately.” Bursting into flames and scorching people with electrical burns is a fairly major fail in our book. There’s even a video of just what this mild-looking household applicance can do to your hand. Not pleasant.

Russell Hobbs managing director Tim Wright claimed that, when the fault was discovered the company began “working with Trading Standards to monitor the situation”  and now offers his apologies to those who have been injured by one of the faulty irons.

“This absolutely was not our intention and we work very hard as a brand to ensure that we bring products to market that are fit for purpose,” he said.

“We take our responsibilities as a manufacturer very seriously and customer safety is always our first priority, and it is because of these factors that we decided to issue the product recall.” Of course it is Tim.

If you think you might have an affected iron, which normally come is suitably girly colours like pink and purple, there are two pieces of information you need- the model number and the batch code.

russellhobbs Do you have a dangerous Russell Hobbs iron?

The affected model numbers are: 15081, 18651, 18720, 18741, 18742, 18743, 19220, 19221, 19222, 19400, 19840, 20260, 20280, 20550-10 and 20560-10.

The batch code needs to end with either 12 or 13. If the first three digits are from 045 through to 365 , the last two should be 12 or if the batch code starts with 001 through to 195 the last two digits should be 13. If you match all five numbers, you have won a faulty iron and you need to call Russell Hobbs customer service for your prize of “a refund or a replacement”.

Affected customers can complete a webform on the website, or are advised to call 0800 307 7616 or 0333 103 9663 from a mobile. Unfortunately, despite only “a small number” of irons being affected, there are so many people trying to call customer services that you can currently only listen to a recorded message advising you that  they are “experiencing a very high number of calls at the moment” and telling you to call back another time. Perhaps when you have actually burned yourself on the iron. If you do call from a mobile, however, the company will text you back and assure you they will call you back as soon as they can, although, this does not appear to be the same day- we called this morning and have not yet been called back.

So, many consumers are left with an iron they are told not to use in case it burns them, with no way of contacting the company for a replacement (however long that would take to arrive), and with no details of what proof you need in order to claim a refund (because everyone keeps receipts for over 18 months), meaning they can’t go out and buy another one. Good job Russell Hobbs.

Greeting cards seller Clinton Cards have apologised for, and withdrawn, for an offensive Christmas card listing on their website.

The £2 card, ’10 reasons why Santa Claus must live on a council estate’, lists the actual reasons inside, offering up unpleasantness such as “he only works once a year” and “drinks alcohol during working hours”.

Let’s see the thing, yeah?

clintons 500x408 Clinton Cards pull offensive council estate card

Well done everyone. Really.

Following criticism on social media the firm said the card had been withdrawn. Clinton said “It is in no way reflective of our views and we apologise without reservation.”

In a statement on its website, Clintons said: “We are investigating how this offensive card got through our quality control procedures, which we will review and tighten as a result of this incident. This was a mistake and we deeply regret the upset that this has clearly caused.”

Marks & Spencer offering refund on loans?

December 8th, 2014 2 Comments By Mof Gimmers

marks and spencer Marks & Spencer offering refund on loans?Something is afoot at Marks & Spencer’s loan department as customers having been getting money put into their accounts without much explanation.

After a little digging, we found that M&S have broken the law because they didn’t write to customers to inform them that they could pay their balance off early if they wanted to and that customers were also permitted to pay off any amount they wanted, at any time.

Legally, they are required to do that, so those who haven’t received such correspondence have been finding seemingly random amounts of money coming to them, which is a nice early Christmas present, you have to say.

There have been some letters of apology sent out, but not to all customers, and some have received hundreds of pounds. In one instance, a customer was given £600, which is not to be sniffed at. Another customer received a BACS transfer for £1,467, which is thought to be the interest paid on the loan from when the loan was first taken out to the present day.

If you have a loan with M&S and think you might be in with a shout of a loan, then you can either trust them to sort it out for you (good luck with that) or, you can give them a ring to see what the score is.

Call the M&S Personal Loan number, which is 0800 363 400 and hopefully, you’ll be having a festive period that is much more suave than you anticipated. Let us know how you get on.

Google to go child-friendly

December 4th, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

google Google to go child friendlyGoogle are launching a range of child-friendly versions of its most popular products.

The idea is to make Google fun and safe for children, according to the company’s vice president of engineering, Pavni Diwanji

The Google looks like it will create more child-friendly versions of their services, such as YouTube and Chrome, and will be aimed at the nippers below the age of 12.

According to USA Today, there’s no specific date or timeline for the rollout, but you know: BE AWARE.

Diwanji said: “We want to be thoughtful about what we do, giving parents the right tools to oversee their kids’ use of our products”.

Google haven’t said much more than that, but have confirmed that this move is happening.

Obviously, this is good news for concerned parents who don’t want their kiddiewinks looking at sex and violence, but naturally, this all means absolutely nothing to actual children who are all so computer savvy that they’ll know how to circumnavigate anything thrown at them, and they’ll be watching beheading videos and such in no time at all.

Tesco in Click & Collect debacle

December 4th, 2014 1 Comment By Ian Wade

tesco 1 300x200 Tesco in Click & Collect debacleTesco, currently living in the ‘Can’t Do Anything Right’ file, have suffered another bout of palaver.

Their non-food website has buckled under the weight of Christmas orders, and have now had to put a hold on their ‘next day’ service.

Oh and they’ve also had to issue a warning to customers that it could be more like three days. Oh Christ.

According to a post on their website: “We are really sorry, but due to unprecedented demand we are currently unable to provide next day Click & Collect,”

“We are doing our very best to provide you with the best possible service, but Click & Collect orders will be delayed by two days. For example, if you order on Monday before 5pm, it will not be available for collection before 3pm on Thursday.”

This comes just days after the Tesco Direct site went down due to the chain’s Black Friday bargains. Tesco said the move would not impact on the deliveries of third party sellers advertised on its online marketplace.

Oh you just want to give them a bloody good slap now.

New Twitter tools to report abuse

December 3rd, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

Twitter Logo1 New Twitter tools to report abuseTwitter are bringing out a new set of tools to crack down on abuse. They mostly consist of hammers.

Actually they don’t, but they have launched a new way of reporting problem tweets and internal ways to deal with them more quickly.

The new widgets will allow Twitter’s users to flag up anything they thing is a bit awry or unpleasant. It will also allow anyone witnessing abuse going on to another user to report it as well.

The company also reckons it has upgraded various facets of its internal processes to speed up the suitable course of action required.

They also claim that it won’t alter the rules around harassment and abuse, but will make problem tweets easier for users and the company to respond to.

The changes also give users the option to see all blocked accounts, as well as stopping users from viewing profiles of those that have blocked them and these changes will be happening over the next few weeks.

Said Twitter in a blog post: “We are nowhere near being done making changes in this area. In the coming months, you can expect to see additional user controls, further improvements to reporting and new enforcement procedures for abusive accounts.”

“We’ll continue to work hard on these changes in order to improve the experience of people who encounter abuse on Twitter.”

About time. We’ve had it up to here with death threats round these parts.

Britain: spending money again

December 3rd, 2014 1 Comment By Ian Wade

uk money Britain: spending money againPeople are spending the most since the wretched Coalition was formed, according to new figures from the Office for National Statistics.

Average household spending increased to £517.30 a week in 2013, an increase of £16.30 from 2012.

This figure has been bolstered by people buying tellies and cars and doing things like holidays and getting fancy dan theatre tickets. Wooh! Up YOURS austerity.

However the ONS said there was a time-lag between changes in pay and consumption, meaning that after inflation, families are still spending less than the pre-shit/fan interface of £539.80 back in 2006.

Strong consumer spending – you only just have to look at people going crackers on Black Friday for a TV made by an in-car radio manufacturer to acknowledge that – drove UK growth in the third quarter, as business investment contracted against an increasingly uncertain global backdrop.

While spending has slumped overall since the giddy days of 2006, it’s starting to rebound slightly, with disposable household income, after inflation, growing a teeny bit from £612 to £614 a week last year, down from the 2008 peak of £676.

The ONS report said: “The economy has witnessed signs of economic recovery, despite consumers remaining price conscious. There is evidence that consumer confidence is increasing slowly, increases in household expenditure are largely focused on items such as housing. However, the results have also seen an increase in expenditure on big ticket items, such as new cars in 2013, indicating that pent-up demand is being realised.”

“Expenditure on items such as TV, video, computers and recreational activities has held up over time, showing the high priority placed on these goods and services by many households, regardless of economic circumstances,” the report said. Families spent an average of £5.10 a week on such items last year.

However, it’s not all good news, as spending on drink, drugs and tobacco dropped to record lows, down £1.30 in a year to £12 a week, compared with £18.20 a week a decade previously. People dunno how to party these days, that’s their problem.

And get your Class War t-shirts on, as the divide between rich and poor is ever clearer, with the lowest-earning 10% of households spending an average of £189.80 a week. This compared with an average of £1,119.50 a week for the 10% of highest-earning households.

What to do if the DVLA have lost your letter

December 3rd, 2014 5 Comments By Mof Gimmers

dvla.jpg 300x300 What to do if the DVLA have lost your letterBack in 2010, we wrote about the problems with the DVLA (where do you start, right?) and how, if you send them a letter and they lose it, they’ll blame you. Their off-road notification system was described back then as “a shambles” and “legally unenforceable” and in “administrative chaos”, and it looks like nothing much has changed.

There’s have been court cases which have shown the DVLA had been acting unlawfully concerning drivers who have failed to notify them when they’ve taken their vehicle off the road (SORN) and judges have agreed that it isn’t the driver’s fault that the DVLA or the Royal Mail have lost letters.

Drivers, judges have said, shouldn’t have to pay for recorded deliveries every time they send a letter and, indeed, they shouldn’t have to ring to confirm letters have been received by the DVLA either. Imagine a scenario where everyone has to send everything by recorded delivery AND ring up to make sure letters have been received by companies. That way, madness lies.

A spokesman for the DVLA said: “The DVLA does not impose any requirements for customers to obtain proof of posting or use recorded delivery in their dealings with us. However, and this is a key point, the onus is on the customer to ensure their off-road notification is delivered to DVLA.”

“With reference to non-receipt of acknowledgement letters by customers, there is no legal obligation on the customer to contact DVLA if they do not receive their acknowledgement letter. However, and another key point, we do advise customers to contact us if this happens so that we can confirm if their notification has been delivered to us or advise them otherwise how to comply”.

However, the DVLA will still send bailiffs and threaten drivers and we’ve had people getting in touch with us about more trouble with this absolute shower. To add insult to injury, they’ve also been selling everyone’s personal details and pocketed £25 million in the bargain.

After 4 years and judges deciding in favour of the drivers, the DVLA are still losing drivers’ log-books and letters and then sending threatening letters and asking for hundreds of pounds. One of our readers got in touch to say that the DVLA had “lost identity documents of both my kids!” and if you look at these comments, you’ll see that things are a mess.

So what can you do?

Well, if your case goes to court, or indeed, you want to tell the DVLA on the phone how the law works, you can say that you have indeed sent your letter and, according to the law of the land, the Interpretation Act 1978 Section 7 says: “Where an Act authorises or requires any document to be served by post (whether the expression “serve” or the expression “give” or “send” or any other expression is used) then, unless the contrary intention appears, the service is deemed to be effected by properly addressing, pre-paying and posting a letter containing the document and, unless the contrary is proved, to have been effected at the time at which the letter would be delivered in the ordinary course of post.”

In English, if you say you’ve sent a letter, then it is assumed that it was received the next working day (if sent first class). Unless the DVLA can prove they DIDN’T receive it, then by law, it is accepted that it was delivered to them.

If you’d like to make a complaint about the DVLA, then ironically, you have to do it in writing. You should give your full name and address, your date of birth or driver number, the vehicle registration, make and model (if the case is about a vehicle) and your phone number and send your complaint to: Customer Services Manager, DVLA, Swansea SA7 0EE.

You’re right not to trust them with a letter, so you can complain online and fill in the form here. The DVLA aim to answer complaints within two weeks. In all complaints, you can always ask to be referred to an independent complaints assessor or get your MP to refer your complaint to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman.

We’ll keep tabs on this and remember: don’t let the DVLA shove you around. It is mostly empty threats and they will try to get you to pay a smaller fine by threatening you with a larger one. If you have fulfilled your side of the bargain, don’t budge.