When you pay online you always have to have your card details to hand – unless you pay through Paypal – but from today, Visa are launching V.me, a payment service that lets you buy online using just a password and a username. Also, you can attach your V.me account to several credit cards, so you’ll never have to input those boring long numbers again.
Ok, so ‘V.me’ sounds like a filthy proposition, and it’s not available everywhere just yet, but it’s hoped that thousands of retailers will take it on. And it does sound like a more convenient way to blow all your wages on meaningless crap off the internet.
Visa have called it a ‘digital wallet’ and it’s now live in Europe, with 1400 online retailers on board – while Nationwide are the first financial organization to support it in Britain. Steve Perry from Visa Europe said:
‘V.me by Visa gives merchants and issuers an acceptance mark that will work across Europe. Mobile phones, tablets and the use of digital payments have changed the nature of commerce: consumers want to be able to buy from the merchant of their choice via any device without sharing their card details.’
By January, 4000 new retailers are expected to start using it, and there’ll be a full, bells and whistles commercial launch of the service next year, when everyone will be saying ‘Hey, just V.me’ and ‘Yeah, I V.me’d it.’
Nah, they won’t. It’s a terrible name.
In Britain, it’s more expensive to run a car than anywhere else in the world. Yes, your little Honda Jazz costs more to run than Justin Beiber’s pimp mobile, or Bret Michaels’ souped up RV full of dirty ladies.
On average we pay £3453 a year to stay on the road, which is a grand more than the Americans and the French, and £2000 less than the Chinese, who are scooting about on the cheap and living it up.
Webuyanycar.com took motoring costs from 21 countries and found that we shell out 27p a mile on average – paying more for fuel, tax and insurance. And of course, the thing we’re spending the most on is petrol. A whopping £2256 a year goes on filling the damn thing up.
Only Denmark and Switzerland came close to our prohibitive car costs. But the cheapest place to run a car is Saudi Arabia, where it costs the princely sum of £237.32 a year to own a car. But of course, they do have all the oil. And women aren’t allowed to drive, so that cuts costs for the oppressed ladies straight away.
Do you want a depressing table of costs? Thought so. Happy motoring!
1. UK £3,453.66
2. Netherlands £3,370.42
3. Switzerland £3,321.80
4. Italy £2,966.69
5. Portugal £2,914.63
6. Germany £2,856.04
7. France £2,538.82
8. USA £2,425.36
9. Spain £2,421.87
10. New Zealand £2,387.20
11. Australia £2,128.24
12. Canada £1,828.65
13. India £1,805.94
14. Russia £1,727.82
15. Japan £1,628.38
16. China £1,315.12
17. South Africa £1,280.18
18. UAE 672.01
19. Qatar £527
20. Argentina £269.92
21. Saudi Arabia £237.22
There’s a lot of concern regarding a company called Alpine Electronics. Not to be confused with the Alpine who make car accessories, but rather, a site people have spotted some bargains that appeared to be too good to be true. And, it appears they were indeed not to be believed.
The company, trading via alpineelectronicsltd.co.uk had offers on cheap consoles. After taking numerous orders, the site is now down and it appears that all orders have gone with it.
BW staff contacted the numbers that were on the site before it went down, and there’s no answer. After finding the address of the company, we called the company next door and found that Alpine Electronics had upped sticks and moved on. The person we spoke to admitted that they’d taken numerous calls regarding this matter.
Looking at scamvoid/alpineelectronicsltd, it seems this was a very new company, which makes it difficult to assume that this is anything but a scam.
Over on HUKD, there’s a lot of discussion about the company, with one user noting too many indescrepencies (see here), and lots of comments about emails going unanswered and phone calls which were vague about the company’s history. Many customers have said that they’ve received fake DHL emails about delivery.
Amazon customers have also been talking about Alpine Electronics, with many feeling they’ve been duped. Some customers have already contacted the police about the matter.
WHAT TO DO IF YOU HAVE AN ALPINE ELECTRONICS ORDER?
To be safe, it is worth getting in touch with your credit/debit card company or call Action Fraud on 0300 1232040. When contacting Action Fraud, be sure to let them know that the company has vacated their premises, which means they won’t instruct you to send a Breach Of Contract letter to Alpine. Your bank should stand the cost of the transaction, but you’ll need to contact them for more details.
Should your bank prove difficult, remind them that you are in fact protected by Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act whenever you make a purchase for goods or services worth between £100 and £30,000 using your credit card. Section 75 states that you and your credit card provider are “jointly and severally liable” for your purchase. That means, if you’re scammed, your card provider must refund you if the retailer won’t.
Most debit card providers offer protection also. A scheme called Chargeback offers protection on purchases made using Visa, Visa Electron, Mastercard and Maestro debit cards. This makes it possible for you to claim a refund if your transaction is unsatisfactory (goods not being delivered, multiple billing, fraud). Claims must be made within 120 days of when your goods should have been delivered and ask your bank to initiate the Chargeback process and a dispute will be opened by your bank.
If Chargeback fails, take your claim to the Financial Ombudsman Service.
Ok, so it’s not a very catchy title for a Christmas song, but online sales are forecast to hit a jingle janglin’ £5bn this year, says Deloitte, while overall, we’ll be spending £40 billion on Furby Booms and comedy reindeer onesies. And it seems that all we want for Christmas is quick, flexible delivery or click and collect.
Considering we’re all supposed to be arduously climbing out of the recession like an overweight old man out of a swimming pool, these festive projections sound pretty healthy. Indeed, Ian Geddes of Deloitte sounded positively cheery.
‘The forecast will provide some Christmas cheer for retailers. Shoppers are expected to loosen purse strings off the back of rising consumer confidence and improving economic conditions. After last year’s click-and-collect Christmas, consumers’ expectations around flexible delivery over the coming festive period are higher than ever before.’ he said, wearing a Noddy Holder glittery top hat.
With Black Friday and Super Stupid Saturday just around the corner, shoppers are all set to click and collect themselves senseless this weekend. Royal Mail is predicting that Saturday will be the busiest day of the year for online sales.
In marketing, what goes down well in the office ideas pod might actually be a teensy bit dodgy in real life. Like this alleged campaign by Intelligent Marketing Solutions (the clue is in the name), who are apparently paying people to pose as shoppers and demand that Typhoo is stocked in more stores. By generating a fake demand for it, they obviously hope that sales will increase.
But, er, isn’t this all a bit dodgy? Take for example, the email from IMS to its secret shoppers:
‘We have been asked by our client to contact Sainsbury’s by the following methods [email, Facebook etc] to ask why they no longer stock Typhoo tea in a specific store (the stores will be listed) and to ask if this product can be restocked. Rates of pay are £1.50 per call, with the exception of the letter and telephone assignment, which are paid at £2.50.’
The online ‘assignment’ involved stores all around the country, and shoppers were asked not to identify themselves as marketing lackeys. But the plan is now apparently on hold after the media got wind of the email.
It’s still not clear whether IMS is working for Typhoo, or on behalf of some crazy tea head who is willing to pay thousands to see their favourite brew back on the shelves. What’s the betting it IS Typhoo? After all, it tastes like pond water, and the only person who ever buys it is your gran.
Has your recently privatised postie been looking depressed and demoralised lately? Well, Ofcom have told the Royal Mail to pull its socks up after it failed to reach delivery targets – and there could be fines if they don’t improve.
One key target states that 93% of all first class letters should be delivered the next day, but they only managed to reach 91.7%. And regardless of whether you’re in an office in London or a croft in John O’Groats, there’s a target of 91.5% for next day first class delivery across all UK postcodes. But Royal Mail only managed to reach that target in 62% of UK postcodes areas last year.
However, things aren’t THAT bad. They did manage to deliver 98.5% of second class post within three days! And sometimes they delivered parcels on time, sometimes they didn’t – what do you want? BLOOD?
Ofcom is coming down tough on the Royal Mail, and said:
‘Ofcom is concerned about Royal Mail’s failure to meet certain service targets, and has made clear to the company that it must take all necessary steps to meet these in future.’
Bitterwallet readers are, on the whole, a savvy bunch who like to shop around and know all the tricks of the trade when getting the best deal. So what of the theory that you can get cheaper prices on hotel rooms if you book directly with the hotel, rather than through a booking site?
But special offers aside (like this morning’s De Vere £10 deals that saw thousands queueing for up to an hour just to get on the website), are hotel websites actually cheaper, or can the power of the multiple booking lend comparison sites some extra weight and earn a few pounds off the room rate? Some seem to think so.
A new comparison engine that links to the major booking engines (Hotels.com, Booking.com, Laterooms.com, Expedia.co.uk etc) has done some research and claims that consumers could save 15% by not booking directly.
They quote such examples as a night’s stay at The Cleveland in Torquay which cost £55 through Booking.com and Hotels.com, as compared with £110 when booking directly, saving £56 or 51%.
Or one night at the Cotswold House Hotel in Oxford, which costs £108 through Booking.com instead of £200 directly, saving 46%.
Finally, a night’s stay at the Savoy Hotel in London costs a pricey £774 booking direct, but is still pricey at £400 through online travel agents Expedia and Lastminute.com, saving 48%.
Overall, they claim that out of 100 hotels randomly selected, a one night stay in a double room on 7 December 2013 was cheaper booking through an intermediary site in 71% of cases. That’s quite compelling evidence.
However, all the best research is replicable, and in our completely non-scientific test, we also checked room prices on a double room stay on 7 December in 4 different UK cities. Unfortunately, 100% of our sample fell within the 29% of hotels who are not actually cheaper through an intermediary, but are, in fact, exactly the same price. Either that or this particular new site
completely made up their figures tried very hard to locate the examples that might have been cheaper in order to get some free publicity. Which is why we aren’t giving them any.
Telling savvy consumers like you to shop around for the best price is akin to introducing a maternal ancestor to the pleasures of not chewing ova, so just keep doing what you are probably already doing. Our advice? See which website (hotel or intermediary) pays the most back in terms of cashback or loyalty scheme benefits and go for that.
McDonalds have had to apologise to customers and a Welsh branch played a track that featured sexually explicit lyrics at 9.30am in the morning. And we’re not talking about a sly f-bomb here – this is full on explicit.
Customers in the Haverfordwest McDonalds were eyeing up a sausage and egg McMuffin while the speakers blasted out ’Only 17′ by US rapper Rucka Rucka Ali, which talks about underage sex, being raped in prison and more.
Steve Davidson, spoke to a Metro hack (who was probably trying to not laugh) who said he’d heard the song while with his 20-month-old grandson. He said: ”The lyrics are disgusting, they are very explicit – not just a bit risqué or a bit of swearing. It’s not what you want while you’re having your breakfast. You have to be over 18 to download it, for them to be playing it somewhere that attracts children is obviously a concern.”
McDonalds blamed all this on a nightshift worker who had left his MP3 player in the system and said: “The vast majority of our restaurants, including Haverfordwest, have external music providers dedicated to creating playlists that have been thoroughly screened for appropriateness of language and content. We apologise to Mr Davidson for this isolated lapse in our rigorous standards.”
Of course, you want to listen to the track. Be warned, it is massively NSFW and, frankly, it is dreadful. So bad is the song that the member of staff responsible should be sacked so owning it. Anyway, click here to listen.
Rucka Rucka Ali meanwhile, was rather pleased with the exposure and tweeted: “Tomorrow, there will be youtube videos of Nuckas playing “Only 17” at McDonalds… we’re fighting back!!! #FreeRucka.”
Christmas ain’t Christmas without the dubious pleasures of mincemeat. So assuming you’re not making your own mincemeat from scratch with home grown fruit and organic suet, which shop- bought pies are best to shovel into your mouth while watching the Strictly Christmas special?
Who better to ask, of course, than Which!, who have very helpfully compiled a list of the best and worst. Top of the pops are from everybody’s favourite budget no-brand shop Aldi, whose luxury £1.69 mince pies predictably scored better than everyone else. And at the bottom of the list was…Fortnum and Mason, whose mince pies cost £12.95 and apparently taste like poo.
In second place were Lidl’s amusingly named Snowy Lodge mince pies, which fared well with the judges, who included baker Dan Lepard and artisan breadmaker Patrick Moore (who may or may not have a monocle).
But does this sort of result surprise us any more? Budget supermarkets are beating luxury brands so regularly that these blind taste tests are as tediously inevitable as kissing your Aunty Sheila under the miseltoe.
Is there any reason to shop anywhere else? Why don’t we just close down all the other supermarkets and have ‘I Heart Aldi’ tattooed across our bottoms?
X Factor alumness, James Arthur, has been embroiled in an internet row all week, after he called someone “queer”. Arthur, with a face longer than Morrissey’s, has been trying to brush it all off like he’s too hard to care. However, after a scrap with fellow X Factorite, Lucy Spraggan, things have really got heated online.
For the low-down on the scrap, HolyMoly have the best round-up (treating the whole thing with the contempt it frankly deserves). However, one interesting thing has happened – it seems you can now get refunds on albums if you don’t like something the artist has said.
The screengrab below shows what Michelle from iTunes said to a customer.
So, with that, it seems that you can spend your money on albums, maybe films and TV shows and, should anyone involved in the project say something out of turn, you can ask for your money back.
That could be interesting, especially if you’re into hip hop or metal, where artists say all manner of stuff to get themselves heard or in a bid to pointedly shock. Same goes for horror directors or actors defending Roman Polanski and the like. If James Arthur has done little for the world, it seems his big mouth has ushered in a new type of refund.
As technology gets smarter, the people behind it get sneakier. Take for example, the LG Smart televisions which, it turns out, are able to log viewing information in order to serve targeted ads to its customers.
New research from IT consultant Jason Huntley showed that his new LG Smart TV was targeting adverts at him on his Smart landing screen because they’d slyly been collecting his data. You may think that it is pretty obvious that smart technology would store some data about a user, but there’s a catch.
“There is an option in the system settings called ‘Collection of watching info’ which is set ON by default,” he wrote. “I decided to do some traffic analysis to see what was being sent. It turns out that viewing information appears to be being sent regardless of whether this option is set to ‘on’ or ‘off’.”
Huntley found that the Smart TV recognises when you’re changing channel and logs what you’re watching. This data is sent unencrypted to LG’s servers. On top of that, filenames from an external hard drive attached to the TV also get sent off to LG.
Now, in LG’s defence, there was a corporate video on their website aimed at advertisers which said: “LG Smart Ad analyses user’s favourite programs, online behaviour, search keywords and other information to offer relevant ads to target audiences.” However, LG have removed that from their website, which is a bit suspicious. Either way, this customer profiling is something customers agree to in T&Cs. However, LG are going to look into it.
“Customer privacy is a top priority at LG Electronics and as such, we take this issue very seriously,” said a spokesman. “We are looking into reports that certain viewing information on LG Smart TVs was shared without consent.”
If data is being collected without consent, LG could be found to be breaking the law. Should you want to stop this from happening on your TV, visit DoctorBeet – Huntley’s blog – where he gives advice on ways to shore up you telly.
Reports state that roughly 19% of mortgage holders are overpaying every month, according to Santander Mortgages. 6% overpay once a year, while another 9% pay more than they need to on an ad hoc basis.
It seems people are taking advantage of low interest rates as this is a rather recent trend among homeowners.
CML chief economist Bob Pannell said: “Housing activity is set to strengthen further in the short-term, and to contribute materially to overall economic growth. Combined with the Bank of England’s recent optimism about the economy, this has led some commentators to speculate that an early rate rise may be on the cards. We do not currently share this view.”
Why overpay on your mortgage?
If you overpay on your mortgage, you’ll end up paying less interest overall. It seems that, if you have some cash to spare, it is better to pay more toward your mortgage rather than paying into savings, seeing as the rates on the latter aren’t great at the moment.
Mortgage rates have been steadily falling throughout 2013 which has allowed people to get cheaper mortgage deals, be it for a new buy or a remortgage. They can opt to use some of the savings they would have made to overpay on their usual monthly payments, thereby reducing the loan. You could reduce your mortgage term and save thousands.
According to one repayment calculator, if you overpay £181 per month on a £200,000 mortgage at 3.5%, you’d end up saving £24,118 over the mortgage lifetime, reducing the mortgage term by over five years. So if you have any spare cash, this is certainly worth thinking about.
Ever noticed how much more a tablet costs when you get one with extra memory? Sometimes, it costs more than 1,200% than it costs to buy for the market value and Which!!! have noticed that a 32GB Apple iPad Air costs £80 more than the 16GB version, even though it only costs £5.85 to include the extra 16GB.
Google also charge an extra £70 for a 32GB Nexus 10 compared the 16GB device, which, in English, is a 1,000% chalk-up.
Which!!! have said the whole thing is ‘scandalous’ and said their report revealed ‘shocking levels of profiteering by manufacturers over something as simple as a chunk of extra memory’. Which ed. Richard Headland, said: “With tablets in demand this Christmas, buyers will be shocked to discover what a raw deal they’re getting on built-in memory.”
Furthermore, a lot of tablets don’t have the storage capacity that they claim in advertising. The 16GB Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 only has 10GB up for grabs thanks to the OS and built-in apps.
So what are the options if you don’t want to get ripped off? Well, if you buy a tablet with an SD or microSD slot, then you can add your own memory for a much more reasonable price. The Microsoft Surface RT, for example, allows you to do that.
Of course, this is another case of new technology’s propensity to annoy us with sealed-in design, which makes tinkering and upgrading nigh-on impossible for anyone who isn’t an expert in such matters.
Supermarkets are always looking for the most effective way to shove their shady offers in your face at exactly the right time, and now a shopping research organisation, in conjunction with the University of Bangor, has come up with a high tech solution- using an MRI scanner.
Yes, we know these expensive pieces of equipment are normally used for checking for cancer and brain diseases and the suchlike, but surely shopping is equally as important? Test shoppers will be asked to simulate a ‘normal’ weekly shop (spending around £40) and the MRI will elucidate which areas of the brain are used at which part of the shopping journey, and illustrate what effect yet another BOGOF has on the brain.
Preliminary research has found that:
After around 23 minutes of shopping, emotional responses take over from cognitive thought. This means you really have to buy that chocolate bar, regardless of whether it is good value or not.
After 40 minutes (average time for a shop) the cognitive functions of the brain shut down completely, “ceasing to form rational thoughts.” Explains all that bad trolley driving/parking then.
SBXL research also found that 20% of people will put a special offer into their trolley even if it is actually poor value for money and that nearly half of BOGOFs are incomplete- with shoppers only picking up one item.
Dr Paul Mullins, Senior Lecturer at the University of Bangor said: “In particular, we are interested in how factors we may be unconsciously aware of can override what might be considered the optimal choice based on conscious judgements.”
SBXL MD Philip Adcock was confident his company could help supermarkets fleece us even further maximise profits: “We estimate that supermarkets and brands consistently give away 23% more margin than they need to.”
So the moral of the story is- do your shopping in under 23 minutes.
In McDonald’s, they dole out tomato sauce differently. No longer do you get a sealed tub, but rather, you serve yourself from a dispenser into a little paper cup.
So far, so obvious. However, it turns out we’ve all been doing it wrong. If you’re just sticking sauce into a cup, then you’re missing out on a world of slightly more ketchup.
Turns out that they’re built to be fanned out, allowing you a greater dunking surface area. Watch.
Now you can dunk your burger as well as your fries! This is magnificent news for all concerned. Of course, there will be people who already knew this and kept it to themselves like dreadful arses, but now the information is out there for all of us!
This is a human progression up their with penicillin and the combustion engine.