Did you hear the one about the restaurant who posted a picture of a non-paying family online, so everyone could mock them? You may have actually, because it happened over Christmas, but it is news to us.

In Cardiff, Burger & Lobster’s new place had a family who did a bunk without paying their bill. And so, to get their own back, the eaterie decided to shame them on their Facebook page.

burger lobster family 500x332 Restaurant shames customers who didnt pay their bill on Facebook

The post said: “To this family that walked out tonight without paying their bill, we are sure this was just a ‘mistake’ and you completely forgot, so out of the goodness of your heart please call the restaurant tomorrow to pay the bill. Thanks.”

While we think it is funny, it seems that a lot of the people who stumbled across it on Facebook weren’t. Soft gets. One disgruntled person dribbled: “People make mistakes like this all the time, especially if there is a few of them. I’ve had to go back and pay after leaving and realising. Not a very professional approach by this food chain if these customers have left in error! I don’t like the way in which you operate and puts me off ever coming into your establishment! Disgusting!”

And the hysterical shrieking wasn’t done there either. Another person left a comment saying; “Genuinely a disgrace posting this on a social media platform.”

Disgusting and disgraceful there, completely in-keeping the severity of what’s happened. Of course, a load of people thought it was funny as well, so that’s something.

Oh, and if you care at all, the family in question returned to the restaurant and paid their bill in full, which means the Facebook post worked. However, Burger & Lobster will probably go out of business now, thanks to the three people who howled in anguish at the company’s actions. A stern warning to us all.

ITUNES 300x168 Apple changes terms to allow 14 day refund window on iTunes and AppStoreWe’ve all done it, been drunk in charge of a smart device pre-loaded with payment details that has enabled us to make an ill-considered iTunes purchase. However, unless we are compos mentis enough to realise what we have done within a relatively short period of time, when purchasing digital content, our deranged purchases remain stuck with us for ever.

However, now Apple have made a change to their terms and conditions for iTunes and the AppStore which allows users to return digital content within a 14 day period to comply with the EU Consumer Rights Directive enacted earlier this year.

Apple’s terms now state: “Right of cancellation: If you choose to cancel your order, you may do so within 14 days from when you received your receipt without giving any reason, except iTunes Gifts which cannot be refunded once you have redeemed the code” which suggests that you can get a refund within 14 days of the emailed receipt whether or not you have downloaded the content. However, conflicting reports suggest that refunds will only be permitted  where you haven’t actively downloaded the content yourself- although automatic downloads could be OK. While this would cover a drunken or child-instigated purchase in error, that wouldn’t help you if you downloaded the wrong song, or the wrong version of a song for example, when you only realised your mistake after downloading. And surely “without any reason” means you may merely have changed your mind, something covered by the Consumer Rights Directive.

Also, it seems the refund process might not be completely automated, requiring you to ‘report a problem’ or make a written statement in order to start the process. Apple states it will refund users within two weeks of being notified of the order being cancelled/ the product deleted.

Google Play Music already offers EU customers a 14 day refund period over the seven day period offered to customers elsewhere in the world. Apple terms on refunds do not apply outside the EU.

Childcare costs wipe out the average wage

December 30th, 2014 1 Comment By Ian Wade

child money 300x224 Childcare costs wipe out the average wageOne in ten families have at least one earner’s wages blown on childcare and commuting, according to some research by Aviva.

4% of the women surveyed said they were paying to work, because their costs were greater than their earnings.

Understandably, this is quite a frustrating affair for anyone with nippers.

This echoes an earlier CBI suggestion that the government should give a bit more of a shit about, and extend childcare support for those with children around the one and two mark. The CBI employers’ organisation said that this, and raising the threshold for National Insurance, would help raise family incomes and get more adults into work.

43% of the parents surveyed, who had children aged up to five, said they used childcare to enable them to go back to work.

According to The Family and Childcare Trust, the cost of childcare in the UK was £11,700 for an average family with one child in full-time nursery and one child in an afterschool club. Further to Avuva’s survey of 2,000 parents with kids aged up to five, saw that the lower earner’s wage was left with £243 a month, once they’d shelled out for childcare, commuting and all that sort of thing.

Louise Colley, protection director at Aviva, said: “[Our] findings paint a picture of a nation of parents struggling to keep their heads, and careers, above water in the face of rising childcare costs,”

The government claims – between thinking about legalising fox-hunting and shoving luxury flats everywhere – that it is doing more than its predecessors to tackle the cost of childcare.

But a recent report by the Pre-school Learning Alliance shaded this claim, and said that the government’s free childcare scheme was facing “chronic underfunding”.

electricity meter 300x187 Energy customers should be given a debt holidayCitizens Advice Bureau have said that ten million householders who use pre-payment energy meters should be given a debt “holiday”.

Unlike other customers, those with pre-payment meters cannot spread their payments throughout the year, which is well arse. Therefore they end up spending way more than those who don’t do the meters.

Scottish Power have stepped up and said it had already introduced such a scheme last year, but the CAB reckons it should be a thing throughout the industry.

“A debt holiday would be a Christmas bonus for pre-pay customers,” said Gillian Guy, the chief executive of Citizens Advice. ”Delaying payments for debts will mean those people struggling to afford heat and light don’t have to make severe cut-backs,” she said.

The Citizens Advice have said that during 2014 there was a 66% increase in the number of people seeking online help for paying their bills.

And according to figures from the regulator, Ofgem, shows that 80% of households having payment meters installed are already in debt. Don’t hold your breath waiting for an energy company to do something nice though…

yodel UK parcel 300x224 Yodel: Delays in deliveries essentially customers faultThe modern world has proven to have been a bit crap this Christmas, as Yodel have added their voice to the sound of hopeless delivery services by having to apologise for delays.

They claim it’s due to a backlog of a spike in demand in online shopping last week.

It’s not hard to really think “Oh, shall we get some extra staff in?” in these matters, and not be seen as cheap and unreliable. But hey.

Of course, it’s not THEIR fault, as executive chairman Dick Stead said some delays are inevitable for reasons such as poor packaging and inaccessible properties.

“Unfortunately delays on some parcels are inevitable for a number of reasons, whatever the time of year, regardless of carrier or service they are sent on,” he said.

Deliveries will continue today and resume on 27 December, Mr Stead added, saying parcels are “flowing through our sorting offices and out for delivery”.

Delays could be caused by a number of different reasons, he added, ranging from address queries to traffic accidents and dogs eating homework. People with deliveries pending are advised to track their parcels on the website myyodel.co.uk.

2014 High street sales to reach all time high

December 24th, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

British high street 300x180 2014 High street sales to reach all time highIt’s been quite the year on the British high street, as the retail sector are projecting an all time high for sales in 2014. Hurrah.

The forecast from the Office of National Statistics shows that sales for the year are expected to reach £342bn – a £48bn increase since 2010.

“Thanks” to the likes of Black Friday and that, pre-Christmas sales are up by 5.2% compared with last year.

The Government have muscled in on it and reckons the High Street is fighting back with successes not limited to online retailers and big hitters. Even the smaller shops have had a bumper 2014, with £72bn in turnover.

Commenting on the retail figures, Business Minister Matthew Hancock said: “The return of the high street is fantastic news and goes to show that we are on course for prosperity.”

However the Labour party reckon we should be cautious. In a statement, the party said: “Britain’s retail sector leads the world in innovation, supports thousands of jobs and we want to see it go from strength to strength… but sadly under the Tory-led government, across the board growth has been patchy, unbalanced and unsustainable, benefiting only those at the top.”

While there is truth in that, let’s just be grateful that things are getting marginally better. LOOK TO THE FUTURE NOW, IT’S ONLY JUST BEGUN.

TripAdvisor 300x256 TripAdvisor fined €500,000 for publishing misleading informationThat empty space between Christmas and New Year is traditionally the time when people look around at the grey nothingness and decide to book a holiday. And when booking a holiday, why not check out the reviews on TripAdvisor? At least that way you know whether the deal you’re getting on your accommodation is worth it.

Assuming of course that Trip Advisor reviews are worth the paper they (aren’t) printed on…

Italy’s antitrust authority has fined the travel planning website TripAdvisor €500,000 (£392,000) following complaints of improper business practices

In a statement, the authority stated that TripAdvisor had failed to adopt controls to prevent false reviews, while at the same time promoting the site’s content as “authentic and genuine”.

A UK regulator has previously said that TripAdvisor needs to stop claiming that all the reviews on its British site were written by independent travellers and therefore reliable.

Tripadvisor and its Italian arm have been given 90 days to present a remedy and should stop “publishing misleading information about the sources of its reviews”, a practice started in September 2011. The Federalberghi federation of hoteliers welcomed the decision, citing the numerous examples of “defamatory” reviews that have appeared on the site.

TripAdvisor said, in a statement, that it would appeal the findings and believed its processes, including a team to detect fraudsters as well as automated tools and algorithms, were “extremely effective in protecting consumers from the small minority of people who try to cheat our system”.

“We firmly believe that TripAdvisor is a force for good — both for consumers and the hospitality industry,” added a completely independent traveller who had visited Trip Advisor in August 2013.

Of course, there are two issues with ‘misleading’ reviews- either poor accommodation is being touted as higher quality, or decent accommodation is being slated, possibly by competitors, for personal gain, and it is this latter point that has forced the Italian authority to take action. The US company said it disagreed with the decision and would appeal.

Father Christmas 300x187 Sainsbury’s and Waitrose cancel hundreds of Christmas ordersThe customers of Sainsbury’s and Waitrose will be having a nice time, as the supermarkets have cancelled hundreds of Christmas shopping deliveries thanks to their websites having a nervous breakdown in the run-up to the festives.

Sainsbury’s cancelled a load of orders by accident thanks to a stuttering computer system, with customers being offered new delivery dates which came after Christmas Day. Waitrose saw their site having kittens with a host of failed deliveries last night and today.

A customer with a very Sainsbury’s name, Jenny Grasham-Whalley, was offered a new delivery date for her order, of 27 December. She told the BBC that she was offered a £50 voucher as apology but added: “That date is as much use as a chocolate teapot.”

You could eat a chocolate teapot though, so not entirely useless. We’d be more impressed if she said it was as much use as a house made from steam or as much use as a dildo made from a vague sense of remorse.

Waitrose said all the Christmas orders will be fulfilled and that there’ll be some cases where customers will pick their orders up from their local shop, rather than getting it delivered. ”The temporary IT problem yesterday was swiftly and successfully fixed,” said a spokesperson. “We have been in touch with any customers who might have a slight delay to their order to apologise and to arrange a delivery time to suit them.”

Sainsbury’s said: “We experienced a brief technical issue with our website last night, which has now been fixed. Some customers experienced difficulties with booking or amending their delivery slot. We’re very sorry for the inconvenience caused. We would like to reassure customers who did not experience issues on the website last night that their confirmed orders will be delivered as expected.”

Both mouthed the words: ‘please, for the love of god, don’t desert us for Marks & Spencers…’.

Job ad confirms Apple Pay is on its way

December 19th, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

apple pay 300x169 Job ad confirms Apple Pay is on its wayApple have effectively let the cat out of the bag as regards Apple Pay coming to Europe.

An advert on the company’s website, which has now been taken down, said that the company was seeking a London-based intern to “drive out the roll-out” of Apple Pay across Europe, the Middle East, India and Africa.

It said: “Apple Pay is a new and exciting area in Apple that is set to expand across Europe, Middle East, India and Africa.”

“Apple Pay will change the way consumers pay with breakthrough contactless payment technology and unique security features built right into their iPhone 6 or Apple Watch to pay in an easy, secure, and private way.”

Apple Pay is two services that need close links between Apple and the banks.

The first is an in-app payment tool, which developers can implement to allow customers to make purchases without entering credit card details. In apps such as Uber, users will instead be able to pay by simply tapping the touch ID sensor of an iPhone 6, iPad Air 2 or iPad mini 3.

The other allows users to buy items in stores using their NFC-enabled iPhone 6, or their Apple Watch – which is yet to go on sale.

Over in the states, Apple have been making sure that retailers have the sufficient hardware handy. Whereas in Europe, we’re a bit ahead technology wise, and it’s expected to less hassle to launch.

Oh, the future is more trouble than it’s worth.

ebay Middle aged men quite selfish on eBay after ChristmasMiddle-aged men don’t give a shit about anyone. That’s essentially the dimensions of a report released by eBay.

In January 2013, men between the ages of 45-54 Last January were behind 3.8 million searches for luxury items, the highest volume of consumer inquiries across the gender and age ranges.

Possibly rewarding themselves for managing to survive Christmas.

It also found that January and March both registered highs of self-gifting. Which is, frankly, a phrase that can be shot into space.

Phuong Nguyen, director of eBay Advertising UK, said: “Our latest Indulgence Barometer shows that high-end purchases aren’t restricted to Christmas; there are year-round opportunities for luxury brands to engage, and January presents a huge opportunity to grow share of wallet as shoppers stop buying for other people, and get ready to treat themselves.”

“Marketers need to make sure that they don’t blow the budget in December; ring-fencing spend for January, and adapting campaign messages to reflect the shift in shopper mind-set is key to cashing in on the January opportunity.”

An Indulgence Barometer! Have you heard such twaddle?!

Shoppers happy to buy wonky looking fruit

December 18th, 2014 2 Comments By Ian Wade

funny shaped vegetables Shoppers happy to buy wonky looking fruitWhat do you think of wonky fruit? No need to tell us because we’ve got some figures to share!

Mintel’s Fruit and Vegetables UK 2014 report (very exciting) found 48% of shoppers who bought fruit and veg, would be totally into buying disfigured root vegetables that resemble genitalia and moody looking fruit, if they looked edible enough.

56% of the researched believe that retailers should do a bit more to reduce the amount of food they waste, with 28% voicing concerns about the amount of fruit and veg that ends up scrapped.

Kiti Soininen, head of UK food, drink & foodservice Research at Mintel, said: “It is clear that consumers are open to ‘ugly’ produce, but where oddly shaped fruit and veg sits with mainstream offerings, it is at risk of going unchosen, even if subconsciously.”

“The fact half of consumers would buy good quality oddly shaped fruit and veg, and the recent focus on food waste and the grocers’ role in curbing it showed there was scope to actively use the non-standard quality of produce as a selling point”

“Prices come across as a real consideration for many and by positioning ‘ugly’ fruit and vegetables as a tasty, low-cost option should help the grocers to reach this group.”

So, don’t turn that carrot away because it doesn’t conform to conditioned pre-conceptions of what beauty is, right? Yeah.

amazoninstant Being chased for full payment after 1p Amazon cock up?You heard about the 1p cock-up at Amazon? Well, some people got themselves a bargain before Amazon corrected the glitch.

Well, turns out some companies aren’t happy about this and have sent messages to customers, saying they want the rest of the money.

One avid BW reader told us that they were sent an email by a company called PremiumBrands4Less. The order has been fulfilled by Amazon and dispatched.

The email reads: “Dear Customer, firstly, I’d like to apologise for the disruption this email may cause. We experienced a problem with Amazon UK yesterday at about 18:00GMT and worked to fix the original issue by 20:00GMT.”

“We continued to work over the following few hours in conjunction with Amazon to revert any incorrect prices to their original prices, caused via the Amazon system. We have received communication that Amazon will not penalise sellers for this error, but have requested we contact buyers and ask them to create a return request to return the stock back to amazon.”

“We are continuing to work to identify how this problem occurred and to put measures in place to ensure that it does not happen again. We’ve been in business for over 4 years and we’ve always taken pride in the levels of service we provide, so everyone here is devastated and disappointed we experienced this problem. Unfortunately, our inventory lost over 10000 units within a space of 2 hours, which couldn’t be prevented. This will result in PremiumBrands4Less entering liquidation as a result of this pricing error by amazon.”

“We understand that you think you may have grabbed a great bargain, but we have instructed amazon to revert the prices to our usual prices and recharge your card with the correct amount owed. We would like to offer customers a grace period of 7 days to create a return request and return any stock incorrect priced and dispatched. If this action isn’t carried out, we will seek to recover sums owed”

“1. By recharging your credit/debit card
2. If funds are not available, passing to a debt collection agency
3. Informing experian and getting your address added to the mail order black list”

“We would like to urge customers to be honourable and honest during this Christmas period and not take advantage of a small business, who cannot afford to give away its £100,000 inventory for under £100. This will create a number of job losses in the run up to Christmas, due to the behaviour of a select number of customer.”

“I again reiterate, the products were not Amazon Inc, products, but were PremiumBrands4Less owned products dispatched on our behalf by Amazon Inc.

Yours sincerely

PremiumBrands4Less”

What do you make of that then? Would you laugh at them and think ‘hard cheese! I’ve done nothing wrong and you can whistle!’ or would you be guilt-tripped into helping out a small business?

**UPDATE** When queried, Amazon responded. Have a look in the comments.

facebook 300x300 Facebook catching up as a search tool for Christmas ideasWhen Facebook aren’t recreating HAL, who will try and kill us all through the power of dead-eyed nagging, they’re apparently a portal for shopping research for Christmas consumers.

It seems that, according to research, nearly a quarter of UK shoppers researched festive gifts on Facebook. This is according to some lot called Searchmetrics, who said that 23% waltzed around Facebook looking for ideal presents.

This isn’t quite as much as Google’s 50% search share, but creeping up fast.

Of course, Amazon is still the daddy in this instance, taking the top slot with 61% of shoppers finding the answers to their gift solutions on there.

The chief technology officer and founder of Searchmetrics, Marcus Tober, reckoned: “One of the benefits of looking for product ideas on social networks is that you get to see feedback and preferences from other consumers, as well as participate in online discussions about products with a range of people, including your own friends and followers. And of course purchase recommendations from other shoppers – especially friends – can be very powerful,”

This news will gladden the heart of Mark Zuckerberg, as apparently he’s been eyeing up Facebook to become more searchy, and hopes to enhance that further.

Lower down the findings, both Pinterest and Twitter had 7% of shoppers sifting through them for ideas for gifts.

Tober has advised retailers on increasing their internet presence for Christmas: “They should be trying to increase their visibility in Google searches, as well as building a strong presence on social networks such as Facebook. And even if they are not present on marketplaces such as Amazon and eBay, they need to be checking these sites to see what their competitors are doing.”

We await the figures from the report that tells us all about people going into shops, holding something in their hand for 40 seconds and thinking “it’ll do.”

Britain’s first ‘social supermarket’ is here

December 15th, 2014 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

supermarket sweep b 300x225 Britains first social supermarket is hereWhen we first heard the phrase ‘social supermarket’, we assumed it would be some awful social media experiment selling cheeses called ‘LOL’ and toilet roll with hashtags on it.

Mercifully, it is much nicer and more useful than that, as it is a supermarket that sells items at a fraction of the price for people who are struggling financially. The Community Shop is a cooperative that want to help those stuck in food poverty and will sell goods that are deemed surplus food, donated from the big supermarkets.

Tesco, Asda, Morrisons, the Cooperative, Ocado and Marks and Spencer are all on-board.

Each of these social shops will operate through a membership scheme, so try and make sure it is solely available to those who are skint. It won’t stop some people trying to pull a fast one. For the latter, we advised swift retribution, concerning the seat of someone’s pants and a foot.

At the shops, there’ll also be advice on how to make wholesome, cheap food and help in how to find work. The first official store has opened in London’s Lambeth and a national roll-out is planned after a successful pilot in Goldthorpe in Yorkshire.

John Marren, chairman of Company ShopGroup, who run the scheme, said: “Members can shop for good food at great prices, which eases pressure on their family budgets, and they will also access tailored, professional development programmes, to kick-start positive change in their own lives.”

So with ‘news’ that only a quarter of us trust our energy supplier, just how bad are the energy suppliers at looking after customer? And are the smaller, friendlier firms actually any better than the big bad Big Six?

One way that commitment to existing customers (over scrabbling for new ones) can be measured is the resources spent on customer care over sales- using the time taken to answer a customer service call over a sales call. Helpfully, the good eggs over at Which!!! have already done this for us and have compiled a table of the best and worst offenders in the length of time to answer a customer service call stakes.

Taking half an hour to answer call, the scrapings at the bottom of the barrel belong to Big 6 Scottish Power, who blamed a new IT system and a need for more staff for their shocking performance, which didn’t stop them answering a sales call in just 49 seconds, which earns them a second top prize for the worst customer service:sales call ratio. However, the second longest customer service call waiting time was found at the door of friendly smaller company First Utility at a little under 19 minutes, who recently came out as having finalised their faster switching service earlier than required- perhaps they should have employed those resources on looking after the people who had already switched first.

which energy calls 454x500 The best and worst energy firms for customer service  is smaller necessarily better?

The shortest call times were found at Ebico, which has managed to answer calls in less than 30 seconds on average in all four of Which!!!’s  investigations so far, proving it can be done. It was also one of only five companies who prioritise existing customers over new ones, evidenced by a shorter call waiting time for customer service. The other four were Good Energy, Utility Warehouse, Sainsbury’s Energy and Spark.

But Which!!!’s investigation does not show that the Big 6 are necessarily the worst for customer service- nPower in particular has vastly improved its call answering times, down from a shocking 19 minutes in earlier years. But nor are the smaller ones necessarily any better.

OVO energy prides itself on offering 3% interest on credit balances to customers who pay by advance direct debit. The idea being that even if you do overpay, you’re getting compensated for the fact that they have your money instead of you. And 3% isn’t a bad rate. However it seems that OVO are less keen on actually giving you your money back, particularly at a time when you might need it, like before Christmas. Despite the fact that their own terms and conditions say that refunds requested will normally be paid within seven days, anyone requesting a refund is currently being told they might have to wait for fourteen working days (so 18 actual days) for their own money. Amazing in a time of two hour transfers. We did ask OVO for an official response but they declined to comment.

But it is worth pointing out that OVO, and a number of other energy firms don’t only allow customer service contact by telephone- customers can often get an immediate response by webchat, and OVO complaints (for example) are handled within one day even on a Saturday.

So, who is your energy provider and would you rate them as good or bad for customer service? And is the standard of customer service the main reason for investigating a switch?