If you live in That London and have kids who are under 11, then they’ll be able to travel for free on all services, according to Transport for London.
From January 2nd 2015, they will no longer have to cough-up money to travel on National Rail services. That’s alright isn’t it? Unless you’re the majority of children who live outside of London, clearly.
Under the current arrangements, the kids only get complimentary travel on TfL buses and trams, as well as on the Tube, DLR and London Overground when they travel with a fare-paying adult.
However, from next year, this free travel will be extended to trains after TfL said that they are committed to paying £500,000 a year to the train-operating companies to cover the cost. Great news for parents and their children – terrible news for people who hate the very sight of these little oiks and their Lynx deodorant.
If you’re still a TalkTalk customer after that hack (and didn’t bother with this letter of cancellation), then you will be able to pick from a bunch of freebies by way of apology from the company.
Over 150,000 customers and around 16,000 bank account numbers will be getting an upgrade from the 1st December, which means you can add one of the following to their existing services: TV content including movies, kids entertainment and sports; a mobile SIM with a monthly allowance of free texts, data and calls; unlimited UK landline and mobile calls; or a broadband health check. Very few will be choosing the latter, we suspect.
TalkTalk’s chief executive Dido Harding, said: ‘TalkTalk takes the security of customers’ data extremely seriously and we are taking significant further steps to ensure our systems are protected, as well as writing to all our customers outlining what we are doing to keep their data safe.”
“In recognition of the unavoidable uncertainty, and because we know that doing what is right for our customers will ensure the best possible outcome for the company over the longer term, we are today announcing the offer of a choice of free upgraded services to all our customers.”
Seeing as fewer people were affected by the hack than first thought, TalkTalk will be relieved, and now all their customer-facing sales and service channels are back in full swing. However, there’s still no hiding from the fact that the company has been hacked three times within the last 12 months, which is dreadful form.
There’s still going to be a parliamentary committee investigation into the whole thing, which will be kicking off later this month, and the hack has reportedly seen 200,000 customers jumping ship.
More on the upgrade over at this TalkTalk page.
We absolutely love a freebie here at BW. Especially edible freebies. Fancy some free dough balls? Just pop to your nearest Pizza Express today and say “Free Snowball Dough Balls, please”
In terms of money, you only have to look at the Daily Mail to see how having no paywall can work – they’ve been getting 13.4m unique users per day, while The Sun was attracting 1.1m. Guess which of the two papers was raking in the most money? Exactly.
News UK chief executive Rebekah Brooks said in an email to staff: “I recently shared with you the future priorities for the company and am excited today to tell you more about our plans for the first of these: growing The Sun’s audience. This will mean setting The Sun predominantly free in the digital world from November 30. By happy coincidence, this is also Cyber Monday, one of the best-performing days of the year for online retail.”
“Recent months have been filled with experimentation at The Sun. The standalone political site SunNation won plaudits at election time, we increased the number of shareable stories on social media, we entered platform partnerships with Apple News and we will be a major player in Facebook Instant Articles.”
“The biggest recent success story has been Dream Team. We have a record 1.25m customers signing up to be managers and our content has reached 276m people on social media. Normally, we see interest drop off as the season progresses. This year, it’s going the other way thanks to Harry Burt and Harry Haydon’s clever use of engaging editorial content.”
“Entering this new chapter for The Sun, we are in a strong position thanks to the many learnings we bring from the paid-for era. We know more about our readers than ever before. Our recent acquisition of Unruly, and our ongoing collaboration with colleagues at Storyful, further bolsters our position and will play a big role in how we supercharge our digital advertising capabilities.”
“When all of this is added to our new blended revenue model of advertising, premium content and revenue streams such as Dream Team and other exciting opportunities on the horizon, I have every confidence that this digital evolution will ensure that the unique space The Sun occupies in British culture will be preserved – and enhanced.”
“We believe taking this step will further our prospects for long-term growth, drive larger audiences for our valuable content in the UK and Ireland, and help preserve our ability to create great journalism for our readers for years to come.”
“As of November 1, Sun+ customers will no longer be billed for reading The Sun’s digital content and we will be transitioning to a largely free world by the end of the month. Successful paid-for products such as Club Dream Team and the pdf tablet app will be retained.”
Cue: ‘Free access to The Sun online? Still a bloody rip-off!’ comments
Have you heard about the Government Electricity Rebate (GER)? Well, in their own words, “it is a £12 government contribution to help lower the impacts of these Government environmental and social policy costs on consumer energy bills. It is part of a wider package of measures which will reduce household energy bills by an average of around £50 per year in 2014 and 2015.”
Got that? No? Well, no rush, because in due time, you’ll get the Government Electricity Rebate directly from your electricity supplier. It is rolling out over Autumn, and most households won’t need to do anything to get the rebate as it’ll happen automatically.
Some people, for example those living in park homes, aren’t eligible for this rebate, but everyone else is. If you get your electricity through a pre-payment meter, you may need to actively redeem the rebate yourself. Your supplier will inform you and you’ll probably get a voucher which you can swap for credit, or your supplier might send an automatic rebate to your electronic credit, which will hit when you top up.
If you think you should be getting a rebate, but haven’t, then you need to contact your supplier and see what they’re playing at.
Marks & Spencer are going to reward their regular customers with access to all manner of things, like money off vouchers, food masterclasses and trips to vineyards, under a new thing called the Sparks members club.
Seeing as a lot of the people who go to M&S look like they’re prone to the golf club or the Masons, they’ll be well up for a bit of exclusivity eh?
Apart from that, this is because M&S have done some research, and they found that people are sick to death of being swamped in vague discounts and generic deals. People want offers and rewards that are specific to them, and all that.
So now, 2 million “brand ambassadors” (or, if you prefer, people who have a credit card with M&S, or are a shareholder) will be asked if they’d like to apply for one of these cards from today. It’ll then be launched nationwide on 22nd October, for all the riff raff to pile-in on.
This is different from the existing points-based loyalty scheme for M&S customers. With this new thing, you not only get points for shopping, but you can generate points for writing product reviews, or taking in unwanted clothes that will end up going to charity. With that, you’ll also tell M&S about your hobbies and interests, when you sign up, so they can tailor the offers and treats to your tastes.
Patrick Bousquet-Chavanne, executive director of marketing at M&S, says: “Customers tell us they want to ‘be part of something special’ and that’s exactly why Sparks is a club. As a member, you are more than a customer and you’ll get the most from M&S – with tailor-made offers, priority access and invites to exclusive events. It’s a two-way relationship: members tell us what they enjoy, select their own tailored offers and are rewarded for sharing their views.”
We’ve written about the new ZX SPectrum – the Vega – before, and in principle, it does make Bitterwallet a bit giddy (Saboteur – what a game!). Well, Sir Clive Sinclair is giving away 12 golden ZX Vegas in a campaign that is Willy Wonka-esque, for sure.
Retro Computers Ltd, who are the company behind the Sinclair ZX Spectrum Vega console, will be giving away the consoles in each of the 12 weeks of… wait for it… ‘Clivemas’. We would have called it ‘Glitchmas’, after the noise a Spectrum made when you loaded a game, but there you go.
In each of these weeks, 11 golden tickets will be placed randomly into the boxes of those who buy a Vega. You can keep the golden one and give the normal one away if you win. Or keep both. Or sell one to a collector. Do what you want – we’re not your real dad.
As for the 12th ticket, one of the people who backed the Indiegogo campaign to get the thing built in the first place will get it. Very nice.
Those who are jammy enough to win will also be invited to see the Vegas being made at the UK factory of SMS Electronics Ltd, where they’ll be presented with their super rare console.
And if you’re thinking you might just sit it out and buy one of these golden Vega machines, think again – they’re never going to go on sale. Ever! Anyway, here’s a video if you want in. The music is ace on it.
So what do you do? Or what do you need to do if it is a member of your family or a friend who wants in on this service?
What To Do
First, dial 195 and ask for the registration department. If you prefer, you can just dial 0800 587 0195. Then, a form will be sent out to you, to fill in.
This is likely to need confirmation from your doctor, nurse or consultant, just so you can confirm that you have problems accessing information through the usual channels.
Once everything has been okayed, you’ll be issued with a PIN card and once you have that, you can use it within a couple of days of it being issued.
Then, to actually use the service, dial 195, where you’ll be asked for your PIN and your name. Once that is confirmed, you can use directory enquiries for free.
The millions of people who have a Tesco credit cards have some bad news this morning – Tesco have halved the value of the ClubCard points they get. This is thanks to new laws that have forced a number of high street lenders to pull back on their cashback offers.
Regarding Tesco, around 2.8m make savings with Clubcard points if they use their Tesco credit card, which can be redeemed at a host of places and businesses.
However, as of November, Tesco Bank will halve the earnings that customers make on shopping they’ve bought outside of Tesco. The company said that this new ruling was “disappointing” but they had to do it thanks to an EU cap on the amount card providers earn from shops.
With Tesco being a big player, it is obvious that if they reduce their deals, other businesses will follow.
A number of banks have dropped their incentives too, such as RBS and NatWest, with the closure of the ‘YourPoints’ scheme that paid 1p per £2 on purchases. They’ll also be getting rid of the Cashback Plus credit card bonuses at the end of the month.
This could well mean that Sainsbury’s Nectar points will be affected, as well as the cashback paid on Santander’s 123 Credit Card.
Credit card issuers earn money from each customer thanks to these incentives. A Tesco spokesperson said: ”We use that income to fund the Clubcard benefits we give back to our customers. As a result, we’ve had to make some changes to the amount of points our customers earn.”
“We are disappointed that the industry changes have resulted in the need to reduce the Clubcard earn rate on our cards when they are used outside of Tesco.”
Well, Sony have unveiled a new service called Vote to Play, where you can vote for the games you’d like to be able to get for free. The game with the most votes will be free on PlayStation Plus, and two other games will be discounted in the process.
If you are thinking that you don’t want to read this any more and get straight at Vote To Play, and get a good look at it, switch your console on and have a look at the ‘What’s New’ section, okay?
John Koller VP of Platforms Marketing at SCEA, said: “I’m thrilled to announce a new PlayStation Plus promotion that literally puts the choice in your hands – Vote to Play.”
Granted, that isn’t a fascinating insight from Koller, but it is proof that it is happening and that we’re not making things up. Whether or not the games will be any good, is another matter entirely.
This feature will be available to both PS4 and PS3 owners, and according to Sony, it will “take place at regular intervals throughout the year.” So it isn’t likely to be a monthly occurrence.
Nothing has been said about when the first votes will take place, and if you’re thinking that this is just the thing to entice you into buying a PS+ account, remember this – you stop getting access to the games if you stop paying for PlayStation Plus, so often, it is worth looking to buy the game on the cheap elsewhere.
To celebrate the second birthday of Chromecast, there’s free rental on a bunch of films, so how do you get at them? Well, open up Chrome on your desktop and through the Chromecast extension (install it if you haven’t), visit this website and ‘redeem all offers’.
You’ll then need to click the Google Play offer in the top corner of the page, and boom! You’ll have a rental voucher for free. It can be applied when you checkout any film on the Play Store.
Now, it doesn’t work in all countries, but seeing as it is such a simple process, you may as well see if it works for you. It might tell you that you’ve “redeemed the maximum number of free rentals”, so it seems there’s a limit on the offer too. It has worked for some UK-dwellers.
HD movies are available too, so knock yourself out with some free films.
Sky are offering Sky Fibre broadband, which would cost you £10 a month usually, free for 12 months. Is there a catch? Course there is. However, if you were thinking about switching to Sky, then this is worth a gander.
This offer is extended to anyone who is switching to Sky Fibre when they take Sky line rental. Sky say that there is no obligation beyond the one-year contract. The line rental is £16.40 per month.
Of course, with this deal, there’s a 25GB download limit to contend with too. That means you can stream around 4 or 5 films in HD and that’s your lot. It might not be enough if you’ve got a family who are all using the internet all the time.
However, if you have basic needs for your internet usage, then this isn’t a bad introductory deal and worth having a look at if you want to save a tenner a month.
That said, it is worth shopping around because, for just shy of £20 per month, there might be a host of other, more preferable contracts that will tickle your pickle.
We’re about a month away from Microsoft doling out Windows 10, and for the most part, they’re giving it away for free, which seems awfully nice of them.
That said, there’s always a fair amount of trepidation when there’s a new Windows knocking about, because some releases have been so very, very abysmal. This new one is going to be used across all Microsoft devices, so they need to get it right. That includes the Xbox, and no-one wants to make gamers mad because some of them have a lot of time on their hands and a unique ability to take things personally.
The new OS will not be like previous releases, as this will be one that you get regular updates for, so you’ll always have the latest system, for no additional cost.
The Start Menu is back, and it’ll have something like the live tiles from Windows 8. There’ll also be a new browser called Microsoft Edge, which will be integrated with Microsoft’s personal assistant Cortana (imagine if that old Windows animated paper clip if it could talk and flirt with Clean Bandit on the telly).
In an attempt to get this working well from the off, Microsoft developed this with the ’Insider’ programme, which basically gave Windows fanboys the chance to give the company feedback before it was unleashed on the general public.
The Windows Insider had a huge amount of numbers mucking around with Windows 10, to spot bugs and provide reports on which bits of the new operating system were frustrating or made no sense (something they’ve not done too well on in recent years). 4.4 million people signed-up to get the chance to play with Windows 10 over the last 9 months. Mercifully, it was a mixture of techie sorts as well as people ordinary folk who use computers in an every day way.
Those who helped the testing of Windows 10 used a feedback app to offer their thoughts, which Microsoft have decided to keep in the version that gets released next month, so you can tell them what does and doesn’t work.
If you want in, have a look on your toolbar and you’ll see a little Windows logo – hit that and you’ll be able to bagsy your place in the queue to get Windows 10 for free.
There’s so many apps out there, that you can mince your brain trying to find any useful ones. Well, Google is going to try and help, by pointing at their favourite free apps, so you can get all manner of things to clog up the memory on your Android phone.
Of course, there’s been a host of clunky, cumbersome free giveaways in the past, especially when the developer was offering a paid-app, for free, for a limited period.
Well, according to Android Police: “The offer isn’t immediately apparent when you first open the Play Store. A banner advertising “New Family Fun” appears at the bottom of the screen. Clicking that will take you over to the family section, where you should see another banner advertising a free app of the week from PBS Kids. The banner doesn’t tell you specifically which app is up for grabs, which is kind of awkward. When you click to get more information, the purchase prompt pops up instead.”
There, you’ll see that the pop-up will show you which app is being given away for. You might not want what is being offered, but it is worth checking, in case you do, as it won’t cost you anything.
So go to your Play Store page now, and have a look and obviously, keep checking back in.