And so, to Lucy Burnford who bought a car, which ended up having a catalogue of problems, which then saw her coming up with something to help other drivers from having the same problems as her.
She’s come up with Automyze, which is being referred to as an online ‘personal assistant for your car’. The AA liked the idea so much that they snapped it up. The idea is that the MOT history of a car is more important than the service history. Instead of knowing what necessary work has been done on a vehicle, instead, you can find out all the maintenance work it has had.
Lucy says: “I developed the idea but not from a tech or auto background but I, and everyone I spoke to, thought it had legs. A full service history is basically a book with a couple of stamps – it does not tell you if the car has had bigger bits of maintenance done. I asked the guy selling my car and he said it had all been done but you have to take someone’s word for it. You can buy service books from eBay and sell them on yourself.”
And so, wanting all the documents for a car in one place, she hit on an idea: “I really wanted to create a digital hub and a portal where you could see if the car has had any major things go wrong and been serviced correctly.”
Lucy and her team came up with Motoriety, which eventually became Automyze. Drivers set up an account, and then you can call up information on MOT, tax, vehicle servicing, repairs, insurance, and all that stuff. Within the next 12 months, it is predicted that there’ll be half a million cars registered on the service.
Even though this is a joint venture with The AA, you don’t have to be a member to use it. If you want to have a look at it, click here.
We told you about Vauxhall Zafiras catching fire, and there’s been another incident in Swansea.
Jason Williams was driving with his three-year-old daughter, when he smelled burning. Alarmingly, Jason and his child couldn’t get out of the car, because the fire burned his electrics, which caused the central locking to freeze. He had to smash his window to get out.
That’s a picture of Jason’s car on the right.
Speaking to BBC Watchdog, Vauxhall said they’re looking into the problems with a number of Vauxhall Zafira B models.
Williams said: “I pulled up… and took the seat belts off my daughter and tried to get her out. The doors were basically locked and I couldn’t get her out at all. I was punching at the glass to try and break the window. I had hold of my daughter’s hand because at one point the smoke was quite thick in the car.”
“There’s a release button on the dashboard which opens the central locking. Obviously because of the fire, electrics burning, it wasn’t working…terrifying, really petrifying.”
Again, Vauxhall don’t seem to have any urgency in this matter, and there’s been a lot of complaints about huge delays in trying to get their vehicles inspected. Vauxhall, when contacted by Bitterwallet, posing as a customer, said that a recall would happen “when appropriate.” We suspect people’s cars setting on fire is as appropriate as you can get, Vauxhall.
What to do?
If you’re worried, and want to find out whether or not you have one of the cars that might be affected by this, you need to find out if you have a Zafira B model, made between 2005 and 2014. It has to be the one that has manual air conditioning (not Electronic Climate Control). Vauxhall have images of what to look for on your dashboard. If it has an ‘AUTO’ button, then you don’t need to worry.
If you have concerns about using your car, because there’s unusual activity with the heating and ventilation, or a squeaking noise coming from the dash, or if your fan doesn’t work in positions 1, 2, and 3, then you should have your car inspected. Until then, put your fan at position zero, and if you need to demist the inside of your car, whack it on level 4.
Vauxhall will inspect your vehicle free of charge, but as we’ve said, there’s long waits while the company get their finger’s out. Find your nearest dealer by clicking here, and contact them accordingly.
More than 220,000 Vauxhall Zafira B models are now being recalled following reports of fire
As we mentioned earlier, the potential issue only relates to vehicles with manual or no air-conditioning and those models built between 2005 and 2014- the Mk2 Zafira, known as Zafira B.
The first generation and the current Zafira Tourer model aren’t affected by the recall; nor are Mk2 Zafiras with “AUTO” air-con.
Vauxhall will writing to relevant owners next week. If you own one of the vehicles affected can also contact the Vauxhall Recall helpline on 0800 026 0034 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
According to the Citizens Advice, complaints about toys, gadgets and DVDs, all rocket around January, and to mark National Consumer Week, they’re urging people to find out about their rights, so they don’t end up having a load of admin to sort out after Christmas.
They’ve developed a ‘Know Your Rights’ guide, which explains the changes in consumer law that were brought into place in October.
If you don’t know, if you bought a defective product, or found something you’d purchased was poor quality, you can now return it within 30 days for a full refund. This applies to anything you’ve bought online, including downloads.
Here’s what you need to be familiar with.
WHEN DID YOU BUY IT? The new rules only apply to things bought after 1st October 2015. Check the date on your receipt.
I WANT MY MONEY BACK! The law now says that you can get a full refund within 30 days of purchasing if the product is faulty or of poor quality. Shops might try to make you exchange the product or give you a credit note. You can flatly refuse if you want, and now ask for your money back.
THEY DIDN’T TELL ME THAT! If a salesperson doesn’t explain something to you, or doesn’t make something clear that would have affected your decision in buying a product, this changes your rights. If you feel that you weren’t told about cancellation fines, delivery charges or feel misled about return policies, then this could extend a right to cancel from 14 days and, in some cases, up to a year.
WHAT’S THIS SMALL PRINT ALL ABOUT? Likewise, if the small print is frying your brain, the law says that important terms and conditions must be made more prominent, and easier to understand.
HOW CAN I SORT THIS OUT WHEN THE RETAILER WON’T HELP? If a shop or company isn’t being helpful and your dispute is not getting sorted, it is now easier to get things fixed. No longer do you have to fork out money to take businesses to a small claims court, but rather, you can now go to Alternative Dispute Resolution, which will offer free alternatives. Have a look at that here.
I’M STILL STUCK! If you have a problem, you can contact the Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 03454 04 05 06. If you’d rather not talk on the phone, then get yourself over to www.citizensadvice.org.uk.
Check Your Charger & Socket
This is an obvious one, but make sure your charger is working. If you haven’t got a spare charger from an old Android phone, then someone else will have one. They’re universal, so anyone with an Android phone can let you use theirs to check.
Make sure you use an official one if you’re buying a new one. There’s a load of dodgy cheap ones on the market which can wreck your phone, or just not work so you’re wasting your money.
Also, try different sockets in your house. If you always leave your charger plugged into the same socket next to your bed or whatever, try it somewhere else to see if the socket is the problem. Also, take the USB lead from the charger and try charging your phone through a computer or whatever.
Check The Charging Port
Have you got a bit of biscuit stuck in the slot on your phone, so your charger isn’t connecting properly? Has some lint from your pocket or bag got in there? Have a look and try and get it out with some tweezers or a pin. Be gentle though. Or, you can buy compressed air in cans, and blow all the nonsense out of there.
Fix The Port Yourself
Just through use, sometimes the port can need a little repair as the metallic surfaces inside the USB port and the microUSB charger aren’t contacting properly. You can have a go at fixing that pretty easily.
First, turn your phone off and remove the battery. Then, get something small and sturdy (a toothpick should do it) and get a little leverage on the little tab inside the USB port. Be very careful and gentle, and then pop your battery back in, and see if it starts charging when you plug it in. Most of the time, this should solve the problem.
Sometimes, a software update can be the cause of the bother. If that’s the case, you can restore your phone to a previous version of Android when everything worked. This isn’t an ideal fix, as manufacturers are keen for you to have the latest versions, as they’re more secure. That said, the difference is usually negligible.
If you want to do this, have a read of Android Central’s how to guide.
Contact Your Provider
Here’s the most obvious one – get in touch with the people you got your phone from and tell them it doesn’t work properly. They should be able to provide you with a solution. If you’re not confident tinkering around with your phone, then this is your best bet. Again, it isn’t exactly ideal, but this is the safest option.
Crib notes from it, or cut-and-paste the whole thing. Of course, they might try it on and aim to fine you for leaving your account early, but if you’re willing to stick at it, they should let you go.
Send your letter to: Customer Relations Department, TalkTalk Group, PO Box 346, Southampton, SO30 2PW
You’ll be giving them 14 days to reply and sort this out, which is the law. If they don’t, you can cancel your direct debit with them as they’re in breach of contract and indicate that they’re acceptance of your terms within the letter.
Give ‘em hell!
Letter Template To Cancel TalkTalk Account After Data Breach
Dear Sir or Madam,
Account number: [account number here]
It is clear that you, TalkTalk, are in material breach of these clauses and, with the hack in October 2015 being the third on TalkTalk’s systems within a year, this represents a clear failure to secure my details. You have failed to take the agreed safeguards and have failed to secure my, the customer, personal details, which has resulted in my personal information being exposed to third parties who do not have consent from myself.
As a result, I want you to terminate my contract without any penalty. I will insist that you send written confirmation to me that will allow me to move to a new provider, without cost, within 14 days of receiving this letter.
After the 14 day period, you will receive no more payments from me, and should you proceed to harm my credit over non-payments, I will be forced to take further legal action over any costs accrued.
[print name here]
[write account number again]
Apple have been all manner of problems lately, making a real pig’s ear of the whole ‘just works’ mandate that is often trundled out by fanboyz. And there’s another one too, as iPhone updates are disabling people’s alarms, meaning they’re sleeping in.
On the new versions of iOS 9, you can install updates overnight, so you can kip through it instead of impatiently gawping at your handset. However, this service seems to switch your alarms off, which means you might end up being late for work and looking like a massive liar to your boss.
Obviously, if you fancy a lie-in this week, this would be a good ruse to use, and link them to this article. Bosses are too self important and won’t read this far into the piece anyway.
If you want to avoid this, here’s what you do: when your iPhone or iPad downloads a software update, you get the option to install it there and then, or wait ’til later. The latter option is the one that is causing the bother, so make sure you have a back-up alarm or install it immediately.
Apple are always releasing minor updates for iOS, so this will probably get ironed out at some point, so don’t worry yourself unduly, okay? Good.
One in 10 people surveyed by Which!!! said that they’d got more than 20 unwanted calls within the space of a month, with 72% of people saying that they think these calls are on the rise.
So what can you do if your phone is getting too many nuisance calls and texts? Well, for starters, you can register your mobile with the Telephone Preference Service (TPS), just like you can with a landline. Now, the system isn’t perfect, but if you’re feeling bothered by these calls, it is something you should do, as it will reduce the volume.
Which!!! have partnered with TPS, and you can register your mobile with the TPS for free by texting OPTOUT to 80057. From there, Which!!! will send details of what to do to stop nuisance calls. It is a free service.
The watchdog’s executive cheese, Richard Lloyd, said: “With the number of nuisance calls to mobile phones on the rise, it’s vital people register their phone if they want to help protect themselves from this everyday menace. The Government, regulators and business need to continue to work together to tackle nuisance calls, with further action to cut them off at source and make senior executives accountable if their company is caught flouting the rules.”
You can check out the TPS site by clicking here, and see what steps you can make yourself.
As for troublesome texts, the best thing to do is to delete them and ignore them. Don’t reply with ‘STOP’ or anything like that, as this is most likely to alert the scamsters that the number is active, and they’ll pester you even more. If you believe that you’ve been sent a number that is costing you money, then check to see if the number that sent you the message is a four, five or six-digit number. They’re the only ones that can make premium charges to your phone. If think this is the case, then contact your operator. You can also them to the regulator, PhonepayPlus
You can contact your customer service team at your phone operator by the usual numbers, or use one of these numbers:
Orange, O2, T-Mobile and Three: Forward the SMS to 7726
Vodafone: Forward the SMS to VSPAM (87726)
You can also report any numbers to the ICO, but be sure to make a note of the time and date you received the text, what the message said and the number it came from. Make your complaints here: http://www.ico.org.uk/complaints/privacy_and_electronic_communications.aspx.
The Ministry of Justice has a Claims Regulations team, and they can be found here: https://www.claimsregulation.gov.uk/index.aspx. You can email them at email@example.com or by phone on 0845 450 6858 or 01283 233 309 (avoid using the 0845 number from your mobile as it’ll cost you).
This scam involves council tax, where people are getting cold-called about the chance that you might be in the wrong band for council tax and that the company ringing you, will sort it out for you, for a price. Naturally, if you need a refund on your council tax, you can query it for free yourself, and your local authority should sort the rest out.
The scam asks for your bank details, and £65 to cover admin costs and the processing of the refund itself. This is a nonsense and you should tell these companies where they can stick it. Once you’ve hung up on them, you should then report the company to Action Fraud, which you can do by clicking here. Or, if you’d prefer to ring someone, call 0300 123 2040.
If you do have a problem with your council tax band, and want to make a challenge, then you can do it completely free of charge by getting in touch with your local Valuation Office Agency (VOA). The website can be found here, or you can ring 03000 501501 (England) or 03000 505505 (Wales).
Of course, the version over here isn’t nearly as good as the American one where people get insane bargains, but the more this happens, the more retailers will commit to it, and give out better price drops and bargains.
Now, if you’ve missed the last couple, which have been heavily featured on Bitterwallet (and we’ll be doing it again this year), and don’t know what the bloody hell the whole thing is about, save for some people punching each other over tellies, let us explain.
What the bloody hell is Black Friday?
Black Friday is a day, along with Cyber Monday, where retailers, shops and what have you, flog a load of stuff on the cheap. They drip feed it out to create a bit of tension. Sometimes, that tension turns into people wrestling each other in the supermarket aisles. Anyone who has actually ventured down the shops on Black Friday will know that, for the most part, it is very civilised, despite what the news and comment sections tell you.
It originates in North America, where they basically have a big sale after Thanksgiving.
And when exactly is Black Friday?
This year, Black Friday will be Friday 27th November. It kicks off at midnight, or whenever the shops open. Everyone does different things, so you have to keep an eye out for stuff. We’ll be covering it all, to let you know. Amazon do flash sales every 10 or so minutes, and other shops have internet-only specials scheduled throughout the day.
So what do I need to do on Black Friday?
We advise sticking to internet shopping. Like we’ve said, we’ll be doing a rolling round-up of the best bargains, or indeed, we’ll be pointing you in the direction of the shops that are partaking. There’s a hell of a lot of crap to wade through, especially on Amazon and eBay, but if you don’t mind scavenging, you might come up trumps.
John Lewis are particularly good on Black Friday, and Tesco and Asda have some half decent offers too. There’ll be limited flash sales on consoles, fridges, TV sets and all that. This year, the shops are going to be even more competitive with each other, so we reckon 2015′s is going to be considerably better than last years.
Do I have to join in with Black Friday?
Of course you don’t. What are you – a massive baby? You can dip in-and-out of it, if you like, to chance your arm on your dinner hour at work or whatever. No-one is making you queue up and fight a man for a trampoline for your garden. That said, if you’re hoping for a significant price drop on something expensive, then it is definitely worth hanging on until November 27th, in case it appears.
The weekend is upon us, which is nice. Unless you’re working tonight and all weekend, in which case, godspeed. Anyway, with some days off, you might want to watch a load of films for free. Sounds good right?
Well, there’s no catch, because Paramount Studios has launched their own YouTube channel and stuck up loads of films up, which you can watch for nothing. Hundreds of them!
Paramount say they are offering… “a collection of Paramount full-length films and clips including selections that range from black-and-white to colour, comedy to horror, and everything in between.”
Now, it is only available to Americans at the moment, so you’ll either have to wait or, we’re sure you can work the internet well enough to use a VPN or whatever, to get at all that lovely stuff.
We suggest having a look at CyberGhost (which you can get for free) or PrivateInternetAccess which will cost you, but well worth it if you’re going to be wanting to use it a lot (and it has won a load of awards and don’t mistreat your information as well). Anyway, have fun.
Short answer to both of these questions is that, no, Sony haven’t done anything of the sort.
That thing you can see on your PS4 is just an advert, so don’t sweat it. Obviously, Sony aren’t going to be giving games away for free, and you can assume that they understand how jumpy gamers are, so they wouldn’t want to anger them by making them have a game they didn’t want or have the memory space for.
Basically, in that horizontal information bar, Sony have whacked an advert for Destiny in it, which might annoy you if you’re anti-adverts, but you can opt-out of those too if you want.
If you don’t like these ads – which Sony have been mercifully tasteful with thus far – you go to your PlayStation 4 Settings, click System, then Automatic Downloads, and there, you should untick the Featured Content box. That means no more ads, which are uniformly ‘opt-in’ as standard.
There’s a similar thing with Microsoft’s Xbox One, which has a ‘What’s New’ section. Either way, if the appearance of Destiny on your PS4 has bugged you, you now know what you need to do, to get rid.
If you’ve upgraded to Apple’s iOS 9, and found that a load of stuff you want to look at online is suddenly blocked (hey, we’re not here to judge you, okay?), there’s a really easy way of getting around it, so you can fill you boots with whatever you like.
Apple’s content blockers are enabled or disabled through the Safari section of Settings, as you’d imagine, but if you only want to do it temporarily, and quickly while looking at something you wouldn’t normally get stuck into, then there’s a nice shortcut you can employ.
If you tap and hold on the reload button in Safari, it will give you an option to ‘Reload Without Content Blockers’, which means you can quickly look at a page as the developers of the page intended. With this method, there’s also an option to look at the desktop version of the site, if that’s your thing (you might want to hit a ‘submit’ button on Tumblr, which isn’t available on the mobile app, or whatever).
Either way, it is as easy as that. If you want to turn off content blocking completely, then go into your settings and mess around in there.
Train passengers will be automatically refunded if their train is delayed by (at least) half an hour, thanks to a new scheme called the Automatic Delay Repay (ADR). The service is being launched by Virgin Trains, but the government are looking at getting all the operators to use it.
So what’s the score? If you buy an advance ticket through an operators website or app, you’ll get money back if your train is sufficiently late. The money would be with you within three days, and you won’t have to claim for it as it’ll be automatic.
Journeys with multiple connections across different operators are not eligible under this new scheme, so if you want refunds, you’ll have to do it the old fashioned way. You can see our guide to getting compensation for a train journey, here.
Virgin are giving themselves a kick in the pants about this, as they’re the joint-second worst performing operator in England and Wales, with around 5% of their trains either late (by more than 30 minutes), cancelled or failing to make a scheduled stop in the past 12 months. As such, Virgin Trains think that they’ll be paying out an extra £2.8m under the new scheme, which in part, will be thanks to people getting refunds who previously couldn’t be bothered to do it as it all seems like a massive faff.
Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin says: “Virgin Trains are making the most of modern technology to improve the service customers get. Our plan is to make sure passengers across the country benefit from schemes like this and we are encouraging other operators to roll out similar schemes nationwide.”
So, here’s the things that will get you a refund for the trains:
- Delays of 30-59 mins will see you getting 50% of the cost of a single ticket or the relevant portion of a return ticket.
- Delays of 60-119 mins will see you getting 100% of the cost of a single ticket or the relevant portion of a return ticket.
- Delays of 120 mins or over will see you getting 100% of the cost of a single or both portions of a return ticket.
However, if you’d like to deal with them through the official channels and stop cold-callers from mithering you all the time, we decided to put some tips together. This comes after the solar energy company who were hit with a record fine for their complete disregard for the rules.
Why Are They Ringing Me?
Call-centres have huge collections of numbers and ring everyone up. They’re a pain, but for the most part, at least they’re indiscriminate.
What’s The Law Regarding Cold Callers?
Since April, if you tell the ICO (Information Commissioner’s Office) that spam calls have caused ”substantial damage or substantial distress”, then the company responsible can be slapped around with a fine. They can be fined up to £500,000.
How Do I Avoid These Nuisance Calls?
When you sign up for anything, if you tick a box that allows a company to send marketing things to you, and share your details with ‘trusted’ pals of theirs, you could end up being spammed by people down the phone. There’s a lot of money made by companies selling on your details to third parties.
You can also register with the free Telephone Preference Service, which aims to prevents companies from contacting you. It isn’t going to stop everyone, but it will stop many. To put your number on the list, phone 0845 070 0707 or go to tpsonline.org.uk. If a persistent caller is hassling you, you can make an official complaint to the ICO. Make notes on how often a company is calling and what time of day they’re doing it, as that’ll help the ICO officers. Click here to do that.
And If They Are Still Getting Through After All That?
Find the offices of the company who are pestering you and defecate through their letterbox. It won’t stop the calls, but it might make you feel better. We will not bail you out if you get arrested for doing this.