It turns out that one in five of us missed an important bill payment last year, and one in 10 have received a court summons as a result. This cheering news comes from research commissioned by Moneysupermarket.com for their far-too-jauntily named ‘Bill Barometer’, which showed that we’ve missed a total of 15 million bill payments.
And when you examine our monthly outgoings compared to our piffling and paltry wages, you’ll see why we’re ‘accidentally’ losing that gas bill down the back of the sofa. The average household spends £1360 on essential bills like rent, mortgages and utilities.
So what are we neglecting to pay? Well, we’re most frequently failing to pay credit cards, loan repayments, and often childcare costs. And even more worryingly, one in five people say that their outgoings would only have to rise by £50 a month to make them completely unmanageable.
‘Many households are precariously juggling their bill payments, choosing which to pay and which to ignore.’ Says Claire Francis from Moneysupermarket. ‘It’s a balancing act that can’t continue long-term without significant implications. Given interest rates are likely to start rising next year, leading to increases in the cost of borrowing, it is a real concern that many people won’t be able to cope.’
Excuse me, Mr Osborne – before the Bank of England puts up interest rates – please can we have some more?
It seems new things aren’t always the best. A new poll rating banks on their customer service has placed one of the UK newest banks, TSB, squarely at the bottom of the pile.
TSB, which was carved out of Lloyds last year, has been named the worst bank for customer service in a poll of almost 9,000 people. Only 37% of customers rated its service as “great”, and 20% described it as “poor” in the survey by MoneySavingExpert.com.
In response, TSB chief executive Paul Pester said that “any customer who feels unhappy with TSB is one too many for me” but that he was “not surprised” that so many of the 4.6 million TSB customers were upset and had rated the bank badly.
“Given what we had to put our customers through last year to create TSB, and given the well-publicised failure in Lloyds Banking Group’s systems which affected our customers I’m not surprised some customers are upset: I would be”, he said.
However, he stressed that the bank was prioritising customer service and that they “won’t rest until 100% of our customers score us 10 out of 10.” Lloyds itself fared slightly better scoring 45% for ‘great’ customer service.
The full breakdown of the rankings are as follows:
The single horse in the one-horse-race First Direct was yet again ranked top, with massive 92% of its customers ratings its customer service as “great”. First Direct has won every single MoneySavingExpert customer service poll since they began in 2008.
But the biggest improver is Spanish bank Santander, which was bottom five years ago, and has now reached the lofty heights of second place with its popular cashback 123 current account, and fifth overall. Despite various scandals, Co-operative Bank came in third place, down a place on the last survey. Keeping TSB company at the bottom were RBS and Natwest, who have also been plagued with computer problems in recent times.
It’s hard to imagine that it’s just over a year since we first found out that beefburgers weren’t, and trust levels in consumers are still down on those polled before the scandal- an One Poll survey a year ago found that trust in foodstuffs fell from 69% to 35% . A new YouGov survey for the National Farmers’ Union shows the level of trust is now back up to 52% , but apparently trusting British is the way to go.
NFU President Peter Kendall said that the results of the YouGov survey showed that “79 per cent of British people think British supermarkets should sell more food produced on British farms.”
“This survey shows very clearly that consumers want more British food, so I hope they will take this on board and act on it,” he concluded.
The NFU comments come as farmers, particularly in the South, have faced terrible weather conditions and waterlogged land, that will likely impact on their produce and livelihood.Not to mention denting the supply, and presumably, increasing costs. Mr Kendall wants retailers, like the giant supermarket brands, to “commit to stocking more British food” and to “develop committed, fair and beneficial relationships” with farmers.
Of course, it is no surprise that a British farmers’ union would advocate buying British rather than buying cheap foreign muck -“We’re not saying that supermarkets should not stock any foreign produce. But we would urge the retailers to listen to what consumers are saying.” However, do consumers really want British food, or is cost still king? With renewed reports that incomes are not keeping pace with the rising cost of living, and record numbers of families taking in lodgers, would you steadfastly buy British, or would you rather have enough to eat, regardless of where it came from?
Despite the fact that payday loans are instruments of the devil, there’s been a huge rise in people desperately applying for payday loans at INFINITY APR. That’s according to debt charity Step Change, who are dealing with an 82% rise in tearful people coming to them after getting into a mess with their Wonga.
At the moment, their average client has a staggering THREE payday loans, with an average debt of around £1700. And on average, they’re struggling to pay them back on a wage of £1,381 a month. Some people have only started out with small debts, which have ballooned because of the ridiculous interest rates. One man only borrowed £200, and now owes almost £2000.
The widespread harm and misery caused by payday loans continue unabated.’ said Mike O’Connor from Step Change.
‘The industry has failed to address the problems causing untold misery and damage to financially vulnerable consumers across the UK.’
In April the FCA is taking over the payday loans industry, and Step Change has suggested running real-time credit checks so that customers can’t borrow multiple loans, as well as a ‘debt escalation cap’ which will limit the amount of charges they can pile onto beleaguered borrowers.
Leaving a train of devastation in their wake, payday loans really are the worst thing to happen to Britain since Jim Davidson.
The RBS, after announcing an £8.2bn mega loss, has decided to turn into a nice, cosy, manageable British bank, ‘with the needs of its customers at its core.’
While you may be excused for approaching this new way of thinking with the same skepticism you might apply to the Big Bad Wolf dressed up as granny, the question is – what will RBS’ proposed changes mean for us?
For borrowers, RBS propose to cut 0% balance transfer deals on credit cards to stop the current practice of people borrowing from elsewhere and then moving their debts around from bank to bank. Instead they’re offering a range of credit card deals with initial interest free periods, including a platinum card which is interest free for the first 28 months.
Hmm, ok. Except, according to financial expert Andrew Hagger: ‘People are quite happy to shop around for these deals, they don’t necessarily take a credit card from the bank their current account is with, so if they want a 0% deal they will look elsewhere.”
They’re also going to stop offering online customers different interest rates, giving savers a less confusing range of products. But unfortunately the rates aren’t very competitive.
The problem is, other banks are also scrapping 0% balance transfer deals and simplifying their range of savings accounts, too. Got anything else up your sleeve, RBS? Well, their final promise is to improve customer service, but we’ll believe THAT when we see it.
So why would you trust RBS? Perhaps they need to offer something more exciting. Like free biscuits? Offer me some free biscuits, and we’ll talk.
Adidas’ new range of crap sexist World Cup t-shirts have offended the Brazilian government, who say they portray an overtly sexualized image of Brazil and could encourage sex tourism.
The shirts – one which screams ‘I love Brazil’ but instead of a heart, there’s an arse with a thong – and one which says ‘Lookin’ To Score in Brazil’ with a stylized image of a lady in a bikini – apparently go against the country’s official marketing guidelines, which state that there should be no ‘links between national icons and images with sex appeal.’ (Which explains Pele.)
There’s already a huge problem with underage prostitution in Brazil, and the government is concerned that gangs will infiltrate World Cup host cities to provide tourists with even more underage girls. The Brazilian president, Dilma Rouseff, even went onto Twitter to say she wasn’t having any of it.
So Adidas have agreed to stop selling the limited edition shirts, which were really horrible in the first place anyway. HURRAY.
Another day, another dodgy advert that treats women like sex dolls, this time for VIP e-cigarettes. E-cig advertising is controversial anyway, without making an ad featuring a quite angry looking and aroused woman saying ‘I want to see it. Feel it, hold it. Put it in my mouth.’ HAHA, she’s talking about e-cigarettes, but it’s hilarious because you – yes, you, the saddo on the sofa with the joggies that smell of rotten vegetables – you think she’s talking about your knob!
The classy folks at VIP did a male version (for, you know, balance) with him very helpfully asking: ‘Do you want to see it? I can get it out if you’d like. You can feel it hold it, put it in your mouth and see how great it tastes.’
THEN, the piece de resistance of awfulness was the tagline – ‘if you wanna vape, then vape with VIP’. Geddit? We’re assuming ‘vape’ refers to ‘vapours’ but hey, ‘Vape’ also rhymes with RAPE. HAHA, clever, eh? Someone find that copywriter and give him (let’s hope it’s a him) a huge congratulatory kick in the balls for that one.
Anyway, there have been 1,159 completely justified complaints to the ASA due to the overtly sexualized nature of the ad, which was broadcast in the ad breaks between ‘I’m A Celebrity’ last year.
Clearcast originally cleared the ad to appear after the 9pm watershed, and said that they didn’t think it was demeaning or sexist, it was just suggestive. While the ASA haven’t banned it outright, it can only be broadcast after 11pm.
How about just throwing it in a landfill with all the e-cigarettes?
The Xbox One is getting beat down by the PlayStation 4 in terms of sales, which has seen many shouting about what a failure the Microsoft console is. The fact that the next-gen console is getting a price cut hasn’t helped to squash those calls.
The good news is that there are cheap(er) Xbox One consoles knocking about, so no-one should care too much. However, a price drop 3 months after the debut of the Xbox One is of remark, despite pretty decent sales.
You can now get your hands on an Xbox One for £399, which should improve sales and, with some big releases due to drop soon, things are clearly not going badly for Microsoft’s console.
Either way, Microsoft officials have had to talk about the cut in cost and have said that they’re not at all desperate to shift some units.
Microsoft’s UK marketing director Harvey Eagle said: “No, I don’t think so. For us this is about giving UK gamers the best value that we can. We think that that starts with the announcement of this new price point, at 399. It continues with the inclusion of the hottest game of this new generation, in Titanfall, which is now included in the box at no additional cost.”
“And I would also say that this has been our most successful Xbox launch ever in the UK. I think that we can already see that both platforms are commercially successful, that’s great for the industry, but we’re only a few months into a generation that is going to last for many years to come.”
Seems that Microsoft know the PS4 is doing better right now, but this is a long game as there won’t be a new console out for some time, now could well be a good time to buy the new Xbox.
If you’ve been near a TV in the past month or so, you might have seen a Red Tractor advert featuring the very punchable face of ‘celebrity’ farmer Jimmy Doherty, friend of Jamie Oliver, telling you to ‘give a fork’ about where your meat comes from.
Despite the fact that we would all gladly spear Jamie’s Dorset Cereal eating, checked shirted Mumfordy mates with a fork in the gonads and roast them in hell, Jimmy is now the new poster boy for the food industry, which has decided to carry Red Tractor labels on ready meals containing meat.
After Horsemeatgate, it’s an attempt to reassure consumers that ready meals – usually made in a factory by dribbling, hungover lads called Dave with undiagnosed Hepatitis C – are safe and definitely don’t contain any (perfectly safe) horsemeat.
While we already see Red Tractor labels on meat products, it’s the first time that the Red Tractor logo has appeared on ready meals. Asda will be the first supermarket to unveil the logo on their beef ready meals later in the month, and it’s thought that others will follow suit.
Having said that, if you’re the kind of person who regularly scarfs down Asda beefy ready meals, chances are you probably don’t give a fork about food full stop.
It turns out customer service really is king, no matter what industry you’re in. A London man has lodged a trading standards complaint with Harrow Council, after a prostitute refused to have sex with him. He probably reckoned he wasn’t getting the product as advertised.
In an all-seriousness complaint, the unnamed man filled in the relevant council complaint form “pretty seriously”, and gave his full contact details. He was aggrieved after travelling in to Harrow from a neighbouring borough, and wanted redress for the valuable time he had wasted on the fruitless trip. Both the lady in question and her employer were named in the complaint.
Unfortunately, the poor man was left unsatisfied (again) after council workers were unable to help the man with his complaint, as the services he required are not covered by Trading Standards regulations.
Harrow Council leader Susan Hall, told GetWestLondon: “Prostitution may be the oldest profession in the world, but a complaint of this sort is a new one on us. The trading standards manual doesn’t really cover it.”
“I would like the gentleman involved to visit Harrow again, but perhaps this time he could enjoy some of our more wholesome pursuits – like our wonderful open parks, leisure centres and historic churches.”
Anyone wishing to try their own luck and see whether they come up to this lady’s exacting standards may be disappointed- the brothel where she worked is now being closed down. There’s always one who has to ruin it for everyone…
Had an accident? Want someone to pay you compensation? Better call a no-win-no-fee firm.
If you have had a car accident in the past few years, and received a personal injury like whiplash, chances are you probably haven’t had to call one of these firms, as often they miraculously conjure your number from thin air. Anyone who has been in this position probably believed that it was your naughty old insurer passing on your details (a practice that has now been stopped) but it seems there may be foul play afoot.
One of the country’s largest insurers, Aviva, has recently announced a ‘data security breach’ and is pursuing criminal charges against two employees for selling customer data to claims companies. They are writing to customers they think may have been affected, but assuring them that no medical or financial details had been stolen. Although it is difficult to see how Aviva can be sure of this when they apparently do not know the exact scale of the theft or when the data started being sold, which is the subject of a police investigation. They estimate tens of thousands of motorists have been affected.
Aviva have now released a statement confirming that they were looking at what they need to do to prevent this happening again, the overall gist of the statement that it is all the fault of the nasty old claims companies leading their employees astray, rather than any need on their part to protect customers’ data. The statement to BBC’s Moneybox said “We are of course sorry for the inconvenience this has caused… This was illegal activity. We identified it and immediately reported it to the police and the relevant financial authorities, and we are contacting affected customers.”
“It is sadly the case that financial services are being targeted by unscrupulous claims management companies, who are very keen to acquire customer contact details so they can encourage compensation claims – for which they expect a percentage of any damages.”
“Aviva has long called for stricter regulation of these firms and prosecution for any unlawful activity.”
City of London Police says two men have been arrested and released on bail on suspicion of fraud by abuse of position.
So have you been hounded by random callers after an accident? Both Aviva customers and people involved in car accidents where the other party was insured by Aviva could be affected. Let us know if you’ve had an accident that has nothing to do with Aviva, and still received multiple calls, or vice versa.
Want your hands to feel as soft as your face? Well, walk away from the sink and go and buy some budget dishwasher tablets, because they’re better than most of the expensive brands.
It’s yet another triumph for Lidl and Aldi, whose own brand dishwasher tablets came second and third in blind test by Which! After being put through their paces with dried on egg and milk, the results were a no brainer. The best of the best was Fairy Platinum, the flashy Mazerati/Rolex/James Bond of the dishwashing world. But that costs a plate-smashing 40p a wash – four times as much as the budget ones – so sod that.
Which! tested 13 brands, including Lidl’s All In One dishwasher tablets and Aldi Magnum All in One tablets. They scored 80 and 77 out of 100 respectively, putting them in the Best Buy category. The complete wash outs were Morrisons and Asda own brands, which were slammed with a ‘DON’T BUY’ sticker. (Boo hiss).
Also, Which! pointed out that if you swap your fancy Fairy Platinum for Aldi or Lidl’s brands, you could save £100 a year. Which could go towards treating yourself to something nice – like hiring a naked butler to empty the dishwasher.
British Airways have been named the UK’s favourite brand, leaving Apple, Kellogg’s and Andrex in their dust, according to a survey from Superbrands. Obviously, this isn’t made up of British brands, before you start.
The airline beat-off over 1,500 companies to claim the top spot, ranked by brand strength on these shores. One of the reasons BA did so well was “residual goodwill” from their presence at the 2012 Olympics and Paralympics.
This is bad news for Rolex – last year’s leaders – who now lie in second place. Worse news for Apple who went from second place to 14th. Facebook, meanwhile, went from 14th to dropping out of the top 20 altogether. Everyone hates Facebook, clearly, which isn’t surprising seeing as they do things like buy WhatsApp and then break it the first weekend they have the keys for it.
Coca-Cola, Google, Marks & Spencer, Boots, Cadbury’s and Amazon all appeared in the top 20, also.
Superbrands council chairman Stephen Cheliotis said: “British Airways has always performed well in the survey but over the last two years its reputation has climbed to new heights, partly through the cementing of its successful ‘To Fly, To Serve’ positioning and the residual goodwill from its effective 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games association.”
“On the flip side, Apple and the other tech giants have suffered, with Apple particularly struggling to meet arguably unrealistic high expectations. It is increasingly clear that in the short-term at least Apple is struggling to maintain its enviable innovation record in the eyes of consumers while failing to inspire individuals without its hugely influential leader, the late Steve Jobs.”
As every frog with a hand up his back knows, while it isn’t easy being green, if there is a financial incentive to being more energy efficient, people are more likely to join in. But what happens when energy (and cost) saving claims are
made-up exaggerated not quite accurate?
The Energy Savings Trust has now turned it’s suspicious attention on manufacturers of white goods, claiming that 20% of products do not live up to their energy efficiency claims. This is in addition to an EU investigation that found one in five products were not compliant with energy standards, including items being incorrectly labelled as regards their energy efficiency.
As a result, the Energy Saving Trust will now be independently purchasing and testing energy-using products across Europe to verify the energy saving claims made by manufacturers. This is part of a product surveillance programme, known as MarketWatch, to make sure consumers are getting the best deal through fully compliant energy-using products that match their energy saving claims in real-life situations.
Over three years, the scheme will see over 300 inspections in shops and 300 in online stores, checking a total of 25,000 products to see if they are properly labelled. Additional laboratory tests will also be employed to verify the true energy efficiency of products against the performance claimed.
Philip Sellwood, chief executive at the Energy Saving Trust, said: “Consumers are wising up to the monetary savings of using the best and most efficient products – they’re trying to do the right thing but need to be rewarded properly through the savings stated being realised.”
“That’s why we aim to be the eyes and ears for UK consumers to ensure energy efficiency claims by product manufacturers are true and will save them money on their energy bills. We need to address the fact that consumers across Europe are not maximising the energy saving benefits stated by millions of products.”
Energy rating on white goods is big business, with the likes of Which! and John Lewis publishing details of the ‘true’ cost of buying a new appliance once energy running-cost savings are also imputed. Energy Saving Trust figures indicate that the UK alone could save nearly £1.3 billion a year on electricity bills by switching to more energy efficient products. This includes fridges, freezers, tumble dryers, washing machines and dishwashers. But only if the appliances achieve the energy savings stated on the tin.