Royal Mail start Sunday servicing

September 8th, 2014 1 Comment By Ian Wade

Royal Mail Royal Mail start Sunday servicingThe Royal Mail launched their Sunday opening yesterday (which was a Sunday), thereby joining the modern world, which must be making them nauseous with excitement.

They’ve not gone completely wild and reckless though as this is only a pilot scheme which saw 100 or so of its delivery offices across the UK opening on the Sabbath.

It is said that the move was to take advantage of the increase in online shopping. ‘Taking advantage’ in this case, means ‘not being left behind by everyone else who already works on a Sunday’.

Plus, it’s all going to get a bit Christmas soon and having the opportunity of the limited collection period doubled is handy for ‘hard working families’ and all that.

Royal Mail will also begin a trial of Sunday deliveries to addresses within the M25 motorway tomorrow. How very Orbital of them.

Just so you can update your records, the Royal Mail delivery offices which will be taking part will be open between 12pm and 4pm. Plenty of time to rock up with a red slip while you suffer a brutal hangover.

traintrack 300x225 Rail fares are still going up   the North gets hammeredRail fares are going up by 2.5% in January and waxy old George Osborne has capped the ticket prices for the second year running, so it’s slightly better news than the feared 3.5% – 5.5% increases.

He also announced that he was scrapping the ‘flex’ system where train companies could cheekily raise some fares by up to 2% above the permitted average.

It will cost the Government £100 million though, so they’ll claw that back from you elsewhere no doubt.

As if pre-programmed, Mr Osborne trotted out his: “Support for hard-working taxpayers is at the heart of our long-term economic plan.”

“It’s only because we’ve taken difficult decisions on the public finances that we can afford to help families further.”

However, rail passengers in the north of England are not going to be feeling very supported for their hard work and tax payments, as new rules mean that passengers in Greater Manchester and parts of Yorkshire won’t be able to buy off-peak return tickets for travel between 4pm and 6.30pm. That basically means that, because they’ll be buying ‘peak’ or ‘anytime’ tickets, it’ll cost them 40-50% more than off-peak fares.

So, if you’re catching a train from Rochdale to Wigan, it’ll now cost you £11 when it would’ve cost you £4.20.

Martin Abrams of the Campaign for Better Transport isn’t happy: “The DfT’s extension of peak fares on Northern is part of an incoherent strategy to make existing passengers pay more for outdated services instead of investing in better quality rail for the future across the region.”

Google cough up refunds for in-app idiocy

September 5th, 2014 3 Comments By Ian Wade

google play logo1 300x190 Google cough up refunds for in app idiocyGoogle have promised to give kids their money back.

Why? They’re promising to return at least $19 million (£11.6 million) to parents whose kids had racked up in-app purchases.

The kids were able to spree because of the parent’s credit card via Android Play store.

But now, as a result, a minimum $19m will be repaid to those who didn’t actually authorise the payments.

However the FTC found that when Google started its in-app purchasing in 2011, there wasn’t a proper security safeguard to stop them from making immense purchases.

FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez says: “As more Americans embrace mobile technology, it’s vital to remind companies that time-tested consumer protections still apply, including that consumers should not be charged for purchases they did not authorize.”

This follows Apple doing a similar pay-out of $32.5m for the same sort of app sprees.

Once the parents get their refund, they should get it in a bag of coins and whack their children over the head with it, then themselves, to teach everyone a lesson.

top10worst 241x300 Which job title is likely to cost you more in insurance? The answer could surprise you.If you work in the healthcare sector, you are most likely to be ‘at fault’ for a car accident, according to new research. MoneySuperMarket analysis of over 11 million car insurance quotes has worked out the top ten professions in the UK that make both the fewest, and most, ‘at fault’ claims on their car insurance policies.

Skilled and careful, surgeons are the ones to trust with your bypass, so long as it’s not an A road, as they top the list of those most likely to make an at-fault claim, followed by healthcare colleagues GPs, health visitors and hospital consultants. Suggestions are that healthcare is a demanding and stressful job, thereby leading to more accidents outside of work- the only job outside of health care in top ten is that of probation officer, which seems to support this theory.

top10fewest 267x300 Which job title is likely to cost you more in insurance? The answer could surprise you.However, the table of the ten professions least likely to have an ‘at fault’ claim is more varied, but includes a number of positions ending in clerk, suggesting that administrative roles are less likely to stress people out so much that they crash their car. The list includes building society clerks, typists and funfair employees as being the safest drivers in the UK.

Kevin Pratt, car insurance expert at MSM, said: “It is really interesting to see how much one industry dominates the top ten claims table – it seems those who have the responsibility of saving our lives and caring for our health are the most accident prone drivers. There is no doubt that surgeons, GPs and health visitors are all stressful jobs, so lack of time or tiredness could mean that these drivers are more likely to make an ‘at fault’ claim.”

“Being involved in an accident, no matter how minor, whether you’re at fault or not, can be a traumatic and costly experience. Our research shows the average claim value for an ‘at fault’ accident is nearly £3,000 and claiming for either ‘not at fault’ or ‘at fault’ accidents will drive up annual premiums, typically adding around £33 on average.”

But what good is this to you if you are a healthcare worker? Well, a little while ago, we investigated the cost saving benefits of changing your job for car insurance purposes. We weren’t advocating lying, of course, but if your job could genuinely fit between a couple of definitions, why not go for the one that gives you cheaper insurance- like being a nanny instead of a childminder, for example. And if you could legitimately be described as a packer, a picker or a typist , why not see if it’s also safer on your pocket to be one?

Npower are blitzing your complaints

September 4th, 2014 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

npower logo Npower are blitzing your complaintsnpower are now allowed to continue making telesales calls to everyone after they cleared enough late bills, after Ofgem set them a target. The regulator basically said ‘sort that backlog out or we’re taking your mobile off you, and you can have it back at the end of term.’

The company had a backlog of 96,700  late bills at the end of August. Ofgem had ordered them to get below 100,000, as well as launching an investigation into the energy company. The only good thing about this, is that a load of staff might have got some lovely overtime.

While npower are allowed to make telesales calls, Ofgem haven’t called off the investigation. There’s still the issue of the woeful new billing system which initially saw npower getting three times the amount of complaints than the next company.

Now, the energy firm assure everyone that there’s only 62,000 customers awaiting late bills.

Roger Hattam, npower’s domestic retail director, said: “I’m pleased that we have met our commitment made in June to reach our billing performance target. We’re now billing over 98% of customers on time. However, the journey doesn’t stop here as we’re working hard to make even more improvements.”

Sarah Harrison, senior partner in charge of enforcement said: “Ofgem is encouraged to see that npower has met our targets aimed at reducing late bills and we note their progress on reducing complaint numbers. But this is only a first step to turning round their customer service and billing performance. We will monitor their progress and continue our investigation into the reasons why npower’s problems occurred.”

The good, the bad: the Google

September 4th, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

google The good, the bad: the GoogleMixed fortunes for Google in the surveys, having been voted both Most Liked and Least Liked Media Brand in the annual I-MIS industry reputation survey.

According to the findings of 50 media and tech brands in the report, which is compiled by BSB Media, The Vision Network and the International Advertising Association (IAA), it found that many media brands were liked and disliked in equal measure by their industry colleagues.

Also faring similarly after Google is Facebook, although the amount of response the survey had to people not liking Facebook was greater than those who liked it.

The rest of the Top 5 sees LinkedIn, YouTube and BBC World News.

Their survey said that advertisers had strong attitudes towards Google, whereas agencies had the strongest views about Facebook.

Seeing as the report focused mostly on the internet, it showed that in one-to-one working relationships between media owners and clients, 74% of advertisers thought that face-to-face meetings were the most important way of communicating, with email at 54% and telephone calls 53%.

lightswitch 300x225 51% of people havent switched anything in the last yearWe all know that switching is often a valuable pastime. Switching banks, energy providers and insurers is all the rage these days, as everyone knows you only get the best deals by being totally disloyal.

Or perhaps everyone doesn’t know. New research shows that over half of UK adults haven’t switched any of the 10 most common financial products in the last 12 months and that estimated 10 million consumers (21%) have never switched anything.

Gocompare.com surveyed just over 2,000 UK adults, was commissioned by comparison website Gocompare.com, and revealed that in the last 12 months:

“More people switched car insurance (16%) than any other financial product, but 30% have stayed with the same car insurer for over three years

Despite rising energy prices and energy switching being all over the news and the interwebs, only 15% had changed provider to get a better deal, with a massive 60% having had the same energy provider for over three years.

13% had switched their home insurance, but less than ten percent of responders had switched their current account (7%), their credit card (5%) or their mortgage (2%) in the last year.”

It was a similar story for the never-switchers. The charts of never switched products is topped by bank accounts at number one, down to car insurance at number ten. The full list is:

1. Bank accounts (35% never switched)
2. Mortgages (28%)
3. Broadband (25%)
4. ISA/savings  (24%)
5. Landline phone (23%)
5. Mobile phone (23%)
7. Credit card (22%)
8. Energy supplier (16%)
9. Home insurance (14%)
10. Car insurance (12%)

The lack of switching is surprising given the survey also asked whether consumers felt better or worse off than they did a year ago. Almost a third (29%) of UK adults say they feel worse off now compared to a year ago, with 17% admitting that they are seriously worried about the state of their finances. Around half (54%) said things were about the same.

Claire Peate, customer insight manager at Gocompare.com, said: “While many people have become committed comparers, switchers and savers – our research suggests that millions could still be paying more than they need to by sticking with their existing providers.  But, in our experience, a common reward for loyalty is a higher price.  So shop around for the best deals and if your existing provider seems expensive, switch.”

But should we really bother with the people who never have, and in all likelihood, never will switch? Doesn’t that leave better deals for the rest of us who can be bothered to shop around?

Kellogg’s gets discounting

September 3rd, 2014 1 Comment By Ian Wade

58760 kelloggs coco pops 300x239 Kelloggs gets discountingCereal-lovers – Kellogg’s are sniffing around you and trying to woo you. How? They’ve launched an exclusive range of cereals for the discount channels.

The new format bags of Honey Hoopla, Coco Pops Jumbos and Coco Pops Chocos  [someone fire the person who names products at Kellogg's - Ed] will weigh 240g as opposed to 295g, and contain eight servings.

Kellogg’s had originally launched discounted cereal bars in May, but reckon that this new range will expand their reach in the discount market and, as we know, the discount market is where it is really at in 2014.

Nick Dawson, who is a UK customer director of speciality channels (get him) said: “Cereal sales in the discount channel are growing strongly so being able to offer Kellogg’s branded products with a strong value proposition on shelf offers a fantastic platform for growth”

He could’ve discounted or at least reduced half the waffle in that quote, but you get the idea.

All I want for Christmas is no power cuts

September 3rd, 2014 1 Comment By Ian Wade

day2energy bkgd2 660x852 232x300 All I want for Christmas is no power cutsWinter may not be such a wonderland with possible power cuts.

That’s the vibe The National Grid are giving out, as they’ve asked electricity suppliers to indicate how much more spare capacity they have for peak times this Winter.

It wants to be sure that it can muster through each side of Christmas without plunging us all into blackouts.

This scheme has been brought forward by a year, as the Grid have been coping with plant repairs, fires and closures of main power stations.

The idea that the country could face power cuts is going to put the shit up the government, who are already aware that a less-than-fully operational power generation is likely to cause issues.

As part of the greener incentives brought in, new power plants are taking their sweet time to get up to full capacity, while older, more polluting plants become decommissioned.

The jolly sounding Cordi O’Hara, National Grid’s director of UK market operations, reckons: ”At this stage we don’t know if these reserve services will be needed, but they could provide an additional safeguard.”

Power generators would have to prove they’d be available to provide additional electricity between 7am and 9pm from November to February, the months with the highest demand for the likes of lights and heating.

Still, at least bored couples can get off with each other during Christmas powercuts, which means even more September babies, eh?

PPI complaints drop, but don’t let that fool you

September 2nd, 2014 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

ppi 300x202 PPI complaints drop, but dont let that fool youComplaints about PPI (payment protection insurance) have fallen from last year’s figures, which may sound like good news, but according to the Financial Ombudsman Service, it is still at a historically high level.

Basically, this drop isn’t particularly good news as it is akin to saying ‘man only kicked you up the arse 40 times last year, down from the previous year’s 57 buttock assaults.’

The figures are still officially ‘whopping’. The FOS said it took 133,819 PPI complaints in the first six months of the year, compared with 193,054 in the previous six months and these complaints still account for around 70% of the all the cases that the ombudsman receives.

The FOS said: “Around 5,000 people a week are currently asking the ombudsman to look into their PPI complaint. This is down from the highs of 2013 when we were receiving over 12,000 a week, but still significantly more than any other financial product.”

This year, the FOS took on just shy of 400,000 new cases and since 2011, banks have coughed-up £16bn to customers in compensation, and they’re going to be paying out more.

The FOS’s chief ombudsman, Caroline Wayman, said: “Responsibility for sorting out the mass mis-sale of PPI is still the major part of the ombudsman’s workload. We’re seeing more and more people turn to us in frustration where they feel their bank or insurer simply doesn’t understand or really care.”

And get this – complaints are likely to rise even further because the FCA ordered the banks to reopen a further 2.5 million complaints.

All Hail! The Domino’s customer who is rather dim

September 2nd, 2014 2 Comments By Mof Gimmers

The anticipation when ordering fast food is unbearable. You order your food and get hungrier and then realise that, if they bugger your order up, you’ll be so starving by the time it comes that you’ll probably eat it, even if it is a dish of raw chicken thighs.

Well, one scamp ordered a pizza from Domino’s and opened the box and got a nasty surprise!

The surprise for @SadderDre was that he can be prone to bouts of thundering thickness. He thought Domino’s had send him just the base of the pizza, but that wasn’t the case.

BweK19WIUAE1okX 378x500 All Hail! The Dominos customer who is rather dim

 

We can only be thankful to this young fella that he partook in this query in public, just so we could all see and snort with laughter at his daftness.

Marvellous.

Buy more stuff when you recycle

September 1st, 2014 1 Comment By Ian Wade

Recycling Mixed Containers Buy more stuff when you recycleYou can receive shopping vouchers each time you recycle!

A new scheme, based on loyalty rewards and vouchers, is going to reward greener households. those who actually separate stuff and that.

A £5 million fund has been set up to reward the greenest, in a bid to increase recycling rates in England.

Councils that offer weekly bin emptying services, instead of fortnightly, can bid for a share of the cash to increase their recycling rates by providing the incentives to those who recycle.

The scheme was originally piloted back in 2010, and was found to be quite the success with recycling rates increasing by 35%.

Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles, that one off the telly, said: “Rewards for recycling show how working with families can deliver environmental benefits without the draconian approach of punishing people and leaving out smelly rubbish.”

“Councils with fortnightly collections will not receive government funding and are short-changing their residents with an inferior service.”

The closing date for bids is November 7th, and those who’ve been the most successful will be unveiled in January.

Vodafone 4G comes to PAYG

September 1st, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

vodafone 300x216 Vodafone 4G comes to PAYGVodafone have extended their 4G network to Pay As You Go patrons!

This comes 12 months after Vodafone first offered the service.

They have been satisfied enough by the uptake in 4G, as it showed that the pay monthly customers were using three times more data than the past-it 3G customers.

The company have also had a shift around of its PAYG tariffs, bundling them with Sky Sports Mobile TV and Spotify, although Netflix is still only for the pay-monthly set.

It’s also raised data allowances across its Freedom Freebees, with the cheapest now at £20 and including 2GB of data, 500 UK minutes and unlimited UK texts, which must be used within 30 days of purchase.

And the first time a customer buys a 4G Freedom Freebee, they’ll get unlimited data for the first 30 days.

Fancy that!

Save money by buying a new car?

August 29th, 2014 10 Comments By Thewlis

Obviously it costs more to buy a new car than an old one of the same variety. However, if you are thinking of upgrading to a newer model, it could pay to go for the latest model, with new research suggesting that a new car saves 25% on running costs in the first year when compared with the same model five years older.

Moneysupermarket.com looked at five popular vehicles, Nissan Qashqai, Volkswagen Golf, BMW 3 Series, Ford Fiesta and Vauxhall Astra, and compared total running costs- petrol cost, road tax cost, car insurance cost, MOT, servicing and breakdown cover of a brand new model with the costs for a five year old model.

The biggest saving of the five cars was the Volkswagen Golf, where a new car saved £422 on running costs, a 25% saving on the £1689 cost for a five year model. A brand new Ford Fiesta had annual running costs calculated at £1,237 per year, £351 cheaper than a five year old version. Similarly, a five year old Nissan Qashqai costs £1,804 to run per year, £243 more than the new car. In all five cases the cost of insuring the newer car was lower than the older equivalent models.

tablecar 1 Save money by buying a new car?

tablecar 2 Save money by buying a new car?

Dan Plant, consumer finance expert at MoneySuperMarket, said: “For some, buying a brand new car might seem prohibitively costly. However, with the drive from manufacturers to create more fuel efficient and safer models, as well as some ‘free road tax for the first year’ schemes, the cost of running and insuring a new car is often far cheaper than older versions of the same vehicle.”

Ryanair mean business

August 28th, 2014 5 Comments By Ian Wade

Picture 1 Ryanair mean businessRyanair. You know them, the rascals. Well they’re launching a business service.

Stop laughing.

In a bid to try and elevate their image and come across as a bit nicer, they’ve launched the business service in a bid to please the customer’s need for better treatment.

Their “business plus” fares offer customers flexible tickets, more check-in baggage, priority boarding and “premium” seats – in the first five rows for quick boarding, or on exit rows with extra leg-room.

They reckon that business passengers already make up more than a quarter of its customers and that the new fares, starting at £59.99, were designed to get more of them. The rest of you can whistle while you get herded up.

Ryanair have admitted that they’ve been a bit slack, and generally annoying humanity in general and have since been getting their act together.

They’ve introduced allocated seating, relaxed cabin bag restrictions, reduced charges, and loosened booking conditions.

Chief marketing officer, Kenny Jacobs, says that the new tickets would not see larger seats or extra facilities, bar perhaps USB chargers on new planes: ”We won’t be introducing a blue curtain. Customers haven’t asked us for the high business fares and facilities, they just want a bit of flexibility and a better schedule. The schedule is very oriented around business travellers: places like Madrid, Milan and Barcelona have three times daily returns, so they can travel there that morning and come back the same day.”

The company has announced that it will be going to more city-centre airports too, including new routes from Stansted to Cologne, Edinburgh and Glasgow.

[insert joke about new routes from places NEAR Cologne, Glasgow etc]