We’ve told you how to get a refund from train companies, but what about Transport for London? If your DLR or London Underground tube train left you unsatisfied, you can get compensation, and here’s how.
If your Tube or DLR service was delayed by 15 minutes or more, or your London Overground service was delayed by 30 minutes or more, TfL will refund you the single fare for the journey you were delayed on.
Of course, they’ll only refund you if the service is delayed by something that they deem to be in their hands. They won’t cough-up if the journey has been held up by planned service changes and engineering work.
They won’t pay out if there’s a security alert, or ‘a customer incident’. There’s the old chestnut of ‘averse weather conditions’ too. Also, if you’re enjoying free travel concessions, you can’t get a refund on that.
How To Apply For A Refund
Okay, if you made your journey with an Oyster card, a paper ticket, key card or c2c smartcard, here’s how you apply for a refund. You have to apply within 14 days of your delayed journey. You’ll need your Oyster card to do it – then, click here, and start the refund process.
Sign-in online and hit the ’My Refunds’ tab, hit ’service delay refund’ and follow the instructions there.
There’s a ‘paper ticket’ option, which allows you to claim back for other types of journey. Or, if you travelled with a contactless payment card, you’ll have to sign-in to your TfL online account and then click on the contactless payment card you travelled with and in the ‘card details’ bit, hit the ‘claim for service delay’ option.
And you can watch this video too.
Of course, having a brew is the very thing that stops us all from going postal or rioting constantly. A cuppa is the very glue that bonds society together. With that, it is important that we get to the bottom of the foul smells that have been blighting British brews.
A load of people have been complaining about a nasty chemical stink emanating from new kettles and some have said that their cups of tea taste like they’ve been made with water from the swimming baths. Others have noted that kettles are making their water smell like rotten eggs. Some have gone as far as naming this whole thing ‘smelly kettle syndrome’.
So what’s the deal? Well, it looks like there’s a bunch of kettles which aren’t helping. One culprit seems to be a Russell Hobbs model (the Ebony 15076), as well as models from Breville, Phillips, De’Longhi, Morphy Richards, Dualit and Bosch. While Russell Hobbs say that they’re looking into it (we all know how that’ll end up), we need answers now!
It seems that your kettle might be defective – if there’s a sulphurous pong, then that’s probably due to the burning of the rubber parts of your kettle. Check the cable and heating element.
If it isn’t that, then see if it is your water source. The easiest thing to do is to buy a massive bottle of water from the shops and boil that. If the problem goes away, then ring up your water board and see what they’ll do about it. If you have a new kettle that’s giving you grief, then it might be something to do with the lubricant used in the manufacturing of your kettle. Give the inside a thorough rinse and see if that helps.
You might also want to give your kettle a clean. The trusty white vinegar should do the trick or, if you prefer, you can use baking soda and lemon. Most people never clean the inside of their kettles, so now might be the time to start.
How To Clean Your Kettle
Put 1 dessert spoon of white vinegar or lemon juice, or 1 teaspoon of baking soda, into a kettle of water and boil it. Empty it out and then repeat the process a couple of times.
If you have limescale, which can make your brews taste grim, put in 2 teaspoons of bicarbonate of soda to a full kettle of water, boil it, pour the water out and then rinse your kettle.
If you use lemon to clean your kettle, that should also kill of any horrible smells too, which is nice.
The smell might be particularly persistent, so you might need to go hardcore on it. One thing you can do, if you’re determined to keep your kettle rather than just throw it away and buy a new one, is to mix some white vinegar with water in the kettle, bring it to the boil then, take it off the heat, throw in a handful or two of dry rice and stir it up. The rice should absorb the stink.
Well, it seems that people have been missing out on billions in compensation for delayed flights, as airline companies defer payouts to passengers who have been held up.
This is according to Sky News, who learned that data is showing 3.27 million passengers travelling to and from UK airports each year might have a potential claim on their hands. And the amount of cash floating around is quite something.
After the European Commission introduced the compensation laws a decade ago, an average claim is around £320, which means, according to Sky’s figures, that €1.4bn a year in compensation might be up for grabs for those who have had flights delayed by 3 or more hours. However, it seems that this has only just come to light thanks to landmark court rulings that have established a clear precedent.
Coby Benson, an aviation lawyer with Bott & Co, said: “The intention of the European Commission is that lawyers should never have been involved in this the first place. It was supposed to be a very easy system for passengers to gain compensation themselves when their flights are cancelled or delayed or they have been denied boarding.”
“It’s just unfortunate that the airlines more often than not make it extremely difficult for passengers to claim compensation and put obstacles in their way.”
In a way similar to getting compensation for train journeys, if your flight isn’t delayed by ”extraordinary circumstances” like really bad weather, terrorism and acts of vandalism, you should be able to claim compensation. According to figures, around 1.5% of flights in-and-out of the UK are delayed for longer than three hours.
How To Get A Refund
There’s an app to help you get a refund or compensation for delayed flights, which outlines your rights and whatnot. You can have a look at that by downloading it here. If you want to write a letter of complaint to an airline, then Which!!! have a template you can use.
We spoken about train compensation before on Bitterwallet, but the whole thing is still far too tricky. As the UK has a variety of different companies, that means a dizzying variation on the rules they have in place. If you’re wanting reimbursement or compo from them, any help is worthwhile.
One useful thing is that National Rail has underlying guidelines for those travelling by train. Basically, the National Rail Conditions of Carriage are the underlying conditions for all train travel and they set what compensation you’re entitled to.
If your train is delayed or late, then you’re entitled to a minimum of 20% of your single ticket or, 10% of your return. Regarding the latter, you’re entitled to 20% if both legs of your journey was late. Crucially, your train has be more than an hour late.
A lot of the train companies have different compensatory rules on this, so it is worth checking them first, as they’re likely to be more generous with payouts. Generally, train companies will pay out 50% of your ticket if your train is more than 30 minutes late. Don’t be surprised if you get vouchers, rather than money. If you’d rather have the cash, be sure to state this clearly when making your complaint.
If you’re getting a refunds for season ticket, then your compensation will be based on a calculation of the cost of your daily travel.
Your Rights in a Smartphone App
One thing you should know about is that the European Commission have an app for passengers’rights, should you need to make a complaint. If you want that, click here.
Of course, there’s exceptions. If you have a delay, a cancellation or poor service that is deemed to be outside the train’s control, then they could well tell you to sling it. What are these things? They include gas leaks, acts of terrorism, fires, things done by vandals, suicides, riots, industrial action, lines that have been closed at the request of the emergency services and… here we go… exceptionally severe weather conditions.
Now, if there’s bad weather and you want compensation, Network Rail and the train companies have to be in agreement that the weather is, indeed, exceptionally severe. Basically, that means that, if other types of transport have been affected by the weather – if they have, you don’t get any compensation. However, if other types of transport are fine, then it is worth a punt.
One trick is, if severe weather has made your train over 1 hour late, then don’t get on your train at all and claim a refund, rather than go for compensation.
Duty of Care if you’re Stranded
If you end up stranded because of your train company, you’re in business. Basically, your train company should either get you to your destination or, if that’s not possible, they should give you overnight accommodation. If they don’t, you should raise hell.
A lot of people don’t like the power Google have online, and this won’t help the internet giant any further.
If you have an Android phone and a Google account, then you might have been tracked without you knowing. Now, this’ll be old news to some, but it seems like there’s a good number of people out there who still have no idea.
Not to worry though – you can stop being tracked really easily
First off, watch this short video which tells you about how you’re being tracked and how you can see where you’ve been – provided you had your phone in your pocket – via a section on Google Maps.
As you can see, you can go back in time and see where you’ve been on a Google Map, which may well give you the willies, but it is easy enough to fix.
First off, you should switch your location services off on your mobile. You’ll find that in your settings. Some apps ask you to turn your location on, but you don’t have to. Twitter doesn’t need to know where you are and if you’re using something like Tinder which requires your location to show you who wants to hump nearby, then only switch your location on when it is needed.
As the video shows, it is really easy to delete your location history, and you can find out more on that, here.
There’s a solar eclipse in the UK tomorrow and, as most of you will know, the air quality is so lousy that we won’t really be able to see it. Not to mention the fact that, for most of the country, it’ll be a partial eclipse.
That said, it is still reasonably exciting as these things don’t happen all that often.
However, you won’t want to stare directly at the sun because that’s a fool’s errand – a fool with magnificently sore eyeballs.
So where can you get some special solar eclipse glasses from then? Well, if you can get Amazon to deliver for tomorrow morning with your Prime account, then click here and order them fast. However, you might not trust the postal system to get them to you on time.
One sure fire way of getting them in your hand is to get down the magazine racks and pick up a copy of the Sky at Night magazine, where you can get some for free (unless they’ve all been nicked already). If you’re a welder, you don’t have to bother with all this and you can just gawp at the sun in your welding mask.
The last eclipse in 1999 saw petrol stations, newsagents and supermarkets selling the special glasses, so you might be in luck there.
It is worth remembering though, that any glasses you buy should be CE approved, unless you’re not too bothered about the wellbeing of your eyeballs.
If you prefer, you can make a pinhole camera to view the partial eclipse, with the help of this video below.
The state pension is something that most people in the UK take for granted. Everyone gets it, so if you’ve not been saving up, then at least you’ll be able to fall back on that, and maybe sell a few of your organs if you’re stuck… right?
Well, around 6.1 million people aged 40-65 could actually miss out of getting a full state pension because they haven’t made enough contributions, says a new study.
Thanks to needing to be in full-time work for 30 years, that means that 39% of women and 14% of men in this age group will fall short, and, seeing as the minimum number of years rising from 30 to 35 years next year, that could mean even more people missing out.
Provided you’ve made enough National Insurance contributions, there’ll be a new flat rate pension. This is bad news for certain regions, as the table shows below.
The study suggests that those who took time out from work to raise children are likely to be hit hardest, as well as people who have had long term illnesses. According to figures, 10% of people stopped working to look after a family member, while 11% took time out to retrain or study. It seems unfair that they should be penalised for those things.
Andrew Megson of Partnership, who conducted the study, said: “When people plan their retirement finances, many assume that they will be eligible for the full state pension. However, almost a third have not worked for the 30 years required and if they have not taken any action to ensure they either make voluntary contributions or receive the relevant credits they may well face a nasty shock in retirement.”
“Others who opted out of the state second pension may also find that the support that they receive from the Government is less than they hoped. Therefore, it is vital when planning your retirement finances to ensure that you not only understand how much you will receive as part of the state pension but consider making up the shortfall if at all possible.”
What Can You Do?
If you’re concerned about this, then you can make voluntarily payments to the National Insurance. You can find out more about this, here. There’s also a state pension calculator which will help. You can also get National Insurance credits if you’re unemployed or receiving benefits.
Or, if you prefer, you can get yourself a state pension forecast by calling 0345 3000168, go to gov.uk/state-pension-statement, or writing to The Pension Service 9, Mail Handling Site A, Wolverhampton, WV98 1LU,
You heard about Lenovo installing something that was annoying at best and intrusive at worst, with a thing called Superfish. One of our readers impishly pointed out it should’ve been called ‘SuperPhish’, arf!
Well, the company got in touch and wanted to clear some things up, so you can stop chewing your nails in worry.
They say that Superfish was “previously included on some consumer notebook products shipped in a short window between September and December to help customers potentially discover interesting products while shopping. However, user feedback was not positive, and we responded quickly and decisively.”
And so, this is where we’re at, according to Lenovo:
“1) Superfish has completely disabled server side interactions (since January) on all Lenovo products so that the product is no longer active. This disables Superfish for all products in market.
2) Lenovo stopped preloading the software in January.
3) We will not preload this software in the future.”
So there. The company assure customers that there’s no need to fret about the security of your computer.
They continue: “We have thoroughly investigated this technology and do not find any evidence to substantiate security concerns. But we know that users reacted to this issue with concern, and so we have taken direct action to stop shipping any products with this software. We will continue to review what we do and how we do it in order to ensure we put our user needs, experience and priorities first.”
“To be clear, Superfish technology is purely based on contextual/image and not behavioural. It does not profile nor monitor user behaviour. It does not record user information. It does not know who the user is. Users are not tracked nor re-targeted. Every session is independent. Users are given a choice whether or not to use the product. The relationship with Superfish is not financially significant; our goal was to enhance the experience for users. We recognize that the software did not meet that goal and have acted quickly and decisively.”
Would you believe it! Adobe’s Photoshop is now 25 years old! In all that time, it has changed the way we view things – some tasteful, some awful, some so funny you wish you could Photoshop the urine from your trousers from laughing at a model with three limbs.
Anyway, Photoshop isn’t cheap to those who want to play around with photo editing software now and again, rather than spend their time using it like a pro. Of course, there’s people who will swear by it, but if you’re looking for a free alternative, then there’s a number of programmes you can try.
Whether you’re looking de-wrinkling yourself or just cropping photos and making a collage of something, there’s a load of options you can get stuck into.
Naturally, if you know how to get cracked products from torrents, then this might not be the best list for you. Indeed, there are other round-ups of alternatives available online for paid-for products, but for the best free PS alternatives, these could be just the trick for you.
Seven Best Free Photoshop Alternatives
This open-source programme is a good all-rounder and available for OS X, Windows and Linux. It takes a little while to get your head around it, but once you do, you can manage all manner of things with it. Very good indeed and
A capable, solid image editor with resizing and touch-up tools for you to use. This one is liked because it is more straightforward than some others, so won’t batter your brains with impenetrable jargon.
Pixlr has a decent tool for everything you’re likely to want to do to an image unless you’re a graphic designer. However, some of Pixlr’s advanced apps ask you for an annual subscription.
PicMonkey is free, browser-based image editor with a solid feature set for simple photo touchups, adding text to images and adding frames. Images can be taken from a computer or various cloud services, including Dropbox and Flickr. A paid-for upgrade removes the ads and gives access to more fonts and effects.
tor is a free image editor that’s available on just about any platform either in app or web app from. It has a good selection of tools, each with an easy-to-use sliding scale of effect. Batch editing is a bonus, as are the filter tools.
Easy to use and great for simple cropping and photo manipulation. You can’t do gigantic amounts with it, but if you want something simple to sort out some pictures, this freebie is the job for you.
A browser equivalent of Photoshop is a decent photo editor. Again, some of the more advanced features will cost you, but if you want to resize something, crop it or another basic edit, then this is worth checking out.
Lenovo have been accused of something pretty grim, and if true, they’ll have some tough questions to answer. Users on the Lenovo forum have been talking about a bit of adware which goes by the name of ‘Superfish’. It seems that this adware has been hijacking browsers to place third-party adverts on Google searches and websites without the permission of the users.
That’s pretty bad, but the accusations get worse.
This apparently happens by utilising self-signed certificates to trick browsers into showing them on your computer and one person has claimed that the program intercepted a connection to their bank, which means that Superfish could well be collecting data without authorisation.
A number of posts prompted Lenovo employee Mark Hopkins to try and set the record straight. He said that Lenovo has removed Superfish from laptops and that the company have requested that the developer publishes a patch to plug the security gap. He said: ”Due to some issues (browser pop up behaviour for example), with the Superfish Visual Discovery browser add-on, we have temporarily removed Superfish from our consumer systems until such time as Superfish is able to provide a software build that addresses these issues.
“As for units already in market, we have requested that Superfish auto-update a fix that addresses these issues.”
Lenovo have stopped preloading Superfish into new consumer laptops as of January 2015, and they’re investigating what is happening with the systems that are already out there.
HOW TO REMOVE SUPERFISH FROM YOUR COMPUTER
First, hit Start/Windows and open Control Panel. Hit ‘Select Uninstall a program’ or ‘Add or Remove Programs’ and then select ‘WindowsShopper’ and press ‘Remove’ or right-click to select ‘Uninstall’.
There are associated programs that come with Superfish, such as Yontoo – remove that in the same manner as above.
If you’re using Windows 8, select ‘Control Panel’ from the Charm bar settings and click ‘Uninstall a program’ and remove the unwanted application from there.
To remove it from your browser, do as follows.
Google Chrome: Hit the 3-bar icon, top right of the window. Select ‘Tools’ then ‘Extensions’ before selecting the ‘Superfish WindowShopper’ extension and click the bin icon to get rid of it.
If you’re on Internet Explorer, in the browser, go to ‘Tools’, ‘Manage Add-ons’, ‘Enable or Disable Add-ons’ and disable the unwanted app. With Firefox, again, go to ‘Tools’, then ‘Add-ons’ and the ‘Extensions’ and select ‘Windows Shopper’ and remove it.
Any other troubles, employ a Spyware removal tool to get rid of it.
The owner of British Gas, Centrica, have said that they’ve had a big fall in profits thanks to nice weather and the drop in oil prices. Seeing as they stuck our bills up, seemingly needlessly for so long, it’d be funny if they expected anyone to feel sorry for them.
Centrica’s full-year operating profits fell by 35% to £1.75bn, which means that British Gas profits from residential business fell by 23% to £439m. Isn’t it awful when you’re still making a profit, but not as much as you normally do?.
Giving everyone the doe-eyes, Centrica said the price of oil and gas had forced them to write off £1.4bn from their balance sheet and that they were going to have to put off capital investment in the North Sea. They added: ”Other companies are doing the same thing. It’s difficult, but it is what we have to do to position the company sustainably.”
Oh, BOO HOO.
On Radio 4, Centrica honcho Iain Conn, said that “2014 was not the year we had planned it to be”, adding that his company continued “to face a number of challenges as we enter 2015, particularly the significant further reductions in wholesale oil and gas prices since the middle of December”.
Quick reminder. The company still have £1.75bn in profit, so when they’re complaining about people’s bills being £10 lower than they were 2014, like it’s our fault, don’t feel too bad. It seems, as a nation, we don’t, as for the last couple of years, British Gas have been losing a lot of customers, with 368,000 leaving them in 2014. The reason customers left? British Gas whacking everyone’s bills up.
So there you have it. British Gas’ owners want you to feel bad for them. If you want to kick them while they’re ‘down’, then here’s how to switch your energy account and get with a company that’s less emo.
A couple of days ago, we pointed out that there’s a lot of people losing money because The Big Six energy companies are ripping you off. Well, according to the Competition and Markets Authority, over 95% of households in the UK are indeed paying too much.
They’ve said that everyone could save £234 a year by switching their supply of gas and electricity.
As ever, the ones being hammered hardest are the poor and old, because they either think switching is impossible, or that it’ll be too difficult to do or they haven’t even considered it at all. With the Big Six charging the highest prices and not likely to help you out, then people are being stung via their ‘standard tariffs’.
The watchdog is going to continue to look into this in a bid to find out why people don’t shop around and whether or not the Big Sixers are actively trying to keep everyone “disengaged so as to retain them on high tariffs”.
The CMA are also looking at the possibility that the energy companies are ‘discriminating’ against loyal customers (or indeed, those disengaged) and weighing-up whether the businesses might “exploit and influence” the behaviour of their customers to their own advantage.
With more than 90% of UK households signed-up with the Big Six firms – British Gas, SSE, ScottishPower, E.On, EDF Energy and Npower – this is of course, a big problem. Many customers are with this shower after companies inherited them after the energy market was privatised over a decade ago.
How To Switch
If you want to switch accounts, then you can use an Ofgem-approved price comparison site. Find out about those by starting here. Before doing that, get in touch with your current supplier and ask for an ‘annual summary’, so you’ll have all the info you’ll need to get a better deal. You can also call the Energy Saving Advice Service on 0300 123 1234.
Basically, when their 30-day free trial ended, they were faced with the regular £79-per-year subscription. Naturally, in the small print of the T&Cs, it says that, once your free trial period ends, you’ll be switched to the yearly rate.
Problematic TV personality Giles Coren found out about all this and wasn’t happy, taking to Twitter to vent some spleen. He said: “You bastards Amazon! I can’t believe you’ve been screwing me for £79 a year for Prime! I had no idea.”
“I mean, Amazon offer a free trial in 2012, then quietly start charging £79 and never tell me. That’s what sicko porn sites do! I’ve heard…” He added: “I apologise for all these retweets re @amazon scam, I know it’s losing me followers. But this cynical corporate rape is too scummy to ignore”
The problem is, the service was £49 per year, but then it was increased to £79 last year, which no-one seemed to know about.
If you think you’ve signed up for an Amazon Prime content and are in your free period and don’t want to end up paying for the service, here’s what you should do.
Go to Amazon and hit ‘My Account’ at the top right corner of the page and, in there, go to ‘Settings’ and then hit ‘Account Settings’. There’ll be a column called ‘Manage Prime Membership’. You want to be hitting that, obviously.
Once you’ve done that, a new page will pop-up, which will tell you whether or not you’ve signed up to Amazon Prime, how long you’ve been a member for and who is paying for it.
Here, you’ll see a button to stop your Amazon Prime membership. Importantly, if you think you’ve been incorrectly charged for the service, you can apply for a refund on the customer services page.
It is official too. An Amazon spokesperson said: “Customers who sign up to a free trial of Prime receive an email informing them of the duration of the free trial and how to avoid continuing to paid Prime Membership.”
“Customers who become full Prime members can cancel their membership at any time and we will refund the full membership if the customer has not made any eligible purchases or used any Prime benefits. So as long as you haven’t used the free delivery, downloaded or streamed any videos through the service, or borrowed a Kindle book, you can simply cancel the membership and reclaim the subscription.”
The Big Six energy companies are a pain in everyone’s backside, despite the fact they’ve lowered everyone’s bills by a small amount.
However, there’s more they could do, as it looks like somewhere in advance of 13 million homes are losing £200 per year because they’re on variable rate energy tariffs. That’s billions per year, when you tot it up.
With these deals, people are paying out more than they need to. If they switched to a fixed rate deal or changed to a smaller energy company, you could be saving as much as £250 per year.
These figures are coming to light as the inquiry by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) continues, due to be published soon. It won’t surprise a soul when we all find out that the Big Six are continually not passing on savings to their customers.
This estimate comes from the Department of Energy and Climate Change, which is being referred to as the £2.7billion rip-off. Today, they’re launching the ’Power to Switch’ campaign, in a bid to get people to move away from tariffs that are needlessly expensive.
Of course, one of the simplest ways of switching is to use a price comparison site (preferably one that has been approved by Ofgem) and you can be saving money with half a dozen clicks. Before you do that though, you’ll need your ’annual summary’, which you can request from your energy supplier.
That means, when you go to the comparison site, you’ll have all the correct information about things like annual usage, your tariff and all that, so it can work out which new deal would be best for you and highlight the amount you could be saving. Or, if you prefer, you can phone the Energy Saving Advice Service on 0300 123 1234. If you’re doing it online, then start here.
If you have a Facebook account, chances are, you’ve got a load of important photos on there. Your graduation day might be on there. That night out you had with pals you haven’t seen for a decade. That time your mate shot themselves through the foot when you went clay pigeon shooting. Cherish memories.
Well, you might want to back those photos up because a security researcher has just discovered that he can delete all your Facebook memories with four lines of code.
Someone called Laxman Muthiyah was mucking around with Facebook’s Graph API. On their blog, after musing about whether or not they could delete other people’s photos, they wrote: “I decided to try it with Facebook for mobile access token because we can see delete option for all photo albums in Facebook mobile application isn’t it? Yeah and also it uses the same Graph API. so took a album id & Facebook for android access token of mine and tried it.”
Of course, a good chunk of that is impenetrable techspeak to most people, but basically, what this means that, Facebook access tokens is the line of characters that allows an app to gain access to your profile. Laxman used such a token for the Android app and a random photo album ID and, lo and behold, it transpired you could get in and start mucking around with people’s stuff.
For those who like to get under the hood of things, click here to see Laxman’s workings-out. Or, if you prefer, you can watch a video of it instead of reading all that pesky text.
Now, Laxman has reported this to Facebook and they promptly fixed the bug. However, that’s not to say that they’re aren’t other flaws in the security of social networks.
So, with that, it is advised that you back your photos up if you don’t want them vanishing off the internet. There’s a number of cloud services like Google Drive and the iCloud to store your photos, but as we know, they’re not guaranteeing your stuff is locked-down either, what with the recent Fappening occurrence.
The best bet, if you have a load of photos, is to store them on your hard-drive or buy an external drive to keep them in. A bit of a faff, sure, but if you’re determined to keep hold of those photos from when you ran through a field covered in brightly coloured powder for charity, then you’ll need to do something about it.