train1 297x300 Consumers feel theres no point complaining about trainsWe’ve told you how to claim compensation and how to get refunds for train delays and cancellations before, and which things entitle you to money, but it seems many of you don’t see the point.

Figures released by the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) show that commuters feel that it is pretty futile complaining about train operators. The report shows that, despite having the most cancellations and late-running services, Southern received a fraction of the average complaints that Virgin got.

Virgin received around 24 times more complaints per passenger journey than Southern, with the pair being the most complained about. It seems that this is a particular problem in London, with the five operators getting the fewest complaints, despite the performance of the services suggesting otherwise.

David Sidebottom, passenger director of Transport Focus, said: “The weary commuter doesn’t complain any more, sadly, because the train is perpetually delayed or you can’t ever get a seat, and has given up on the system.”

Sidebottom added that longer-distance operators tend to pick up more complaints, thanks to the nature of the travel: “The impact and value of that particular journey is of a different magnitude; but the long-distance operators encourage people to complain when things go wrong – it’s what a good business does. It builds up trust. They don’t want disgruntled customers.”

“With commuter trains, these are harder things to work out and to get sorted, but you end up with the kind of things we’re seeing in the south-east at the moment. We do want commuter train operators to do more.”

How to switch off Auto Renew on Apple Music

July 2nd, 2015 1 Comment By Mof Gimmers

Bitterwallet Apple Event on September 1st 300x237 How to switch off Auto Renew on Apple MusicYou might be having a play around with Apple Music, but it looks like it’ll autorenew, and end up taking money from your account once the trial is over.

The Beats 1 Radio will be free for the foreseeable future, but if you signed up for Apple’s music streaming service, you’ll end up getting charged for it and, obviously, Apple already has your credit card details. Remember? When you set up your iTunes account, you put your details in there? So even if you’re not using it, or don’t like it, you could end up seeing charges on your bank account.

So what happens if you don’t want to pay for it?

Well, you can disable auto-renewal of your Apple Music subscription, so you don’t get any nasty surprises. If you’re on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch, here is what you have to do.

Open up the Music app, and then hit the icon that looks like a person, in the top-left of the screen. Sign-in and all that. Then, hit View Apple ID (you might have to put your password in again) and then, under the Subscriptions bit, press the Manage button. There, you’ll see a thing that says Renew Options. In there, you’ll be able to switch Automatic Renewal to off.

Hey presto!

adobe Update your Flash now, or the hackers will get you!There’s been a really bad security issue around Flash, which hackers were piling in on. Adobe issued a patch to shore up the problem, but if you haven’t sorted yours out, you need to get on it, stat!

As well as being exploited by a Chinese hacker crew, it has now been added to the Magnitude exploit kit, which enables amateur malware authors to build all manner of software which could make your life difficult. There’s already been some attempts to install ransomware on some computers.

Adobe have confirmed that the flaw is being jumped on by hackers, especially those using Internet Explorer on Windows 7 and Firefox on Windows XP. Even if you aren’t using these things, you should still sort your life out and update your Flash.

If you prefer, you can just get rid of Flash. As most computers come with it built-in, even though it isn’t the crucial thing it once was, this means hackers are always tempted to attack it.

If you’re using Chrome, your browser updates it automatically. If not, click here to see if you have the latest version of Flash and, if you don’t, update it now.

Click here to get the latest version of Adobe’s Flash.

All you need to know about Apple Music

July 1st, 2015 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

apple All you need to know about Apple MusicSo, Apple Music has arrived and the tech company continue in the quest to push things further by getting forward thinking tech-lovers to… erm… wear watches and listen to the radio.

Now it is here, what do you need to know about it? If you said ‘nothing’, then feel free to stop reading this article and watch a video of people doing idiotic things instead. If you do want to know what’s going on, here’s the lowdown.

What is it?

Well, Apple Music is like Spotify. There’s a load of tunes on a service and you can listen to them and it is all very straightforward. However, one slight difference is that Apple Music has a thing called Beats 1, which is a radio station with some famous DJs on it like Zane Lowe who used to be on Radio 1 and Ebro from NYC’s Hot 97.

How much?

It’ll cost you £9.99 per month. There’s no free version like Spotify. There is a 3 month trial which is free. There’ll also be a family plan, which allows six people to use Apple Music for £15 a month. Spotify have exactly the same family plan.

What’s so special about it?

Well, some people will like it because it looks and feels so Apple-y. They’ve also managed to negotiate with Taylor Swift and have permission to stream her new album ’1989′. If you don’t like Apple or Taylor Swift, these aren’t going to draw you in. However, if Apple can get exclusives that say, Spotify can’t, that could sway some music nuts.

When is it available?

Update your iPhone or iPad and it is available, right now. Later in the year, it’ll be available on Android too. You’ll also have to wait for it to become available on OS X.

What else do I need to know?

Nothing. That’s basically it. It is a streaming service like the other streaming services.

athens greece1 300x200 What you need to know if youre holidaying in GreeceAre you going on holiday to Greece? Have you been watching the news and getting jumpy about it all? Well, here’s what you need to know.

Today, the 29th June 2015, the currency of Greece is still the Euro. It is advised that you take other forms of payment with you, as well as cash. Make sure you’ve got your debit card and/or credit card. However, there’s a possibility that Greek banking services (including service of ATMs and the processing of credit card payments) could become limited at short notice.

You need to make sure you have enough in Euros to cover any emergencies.

There’s also a lot of strike action going on over there, so there can be disruption to public transport in and out of Greece. There’s also a lot of demonstrations going down, especially in Athens. The government have a dedicated page regarding planned major strikes and demos, which you can see here.

More worryingly, there’s a ‘general threat’ of terrorism and acts of political violence, and again, there’s a dedicated page where you can keep informed about all that, here.

If you’re in Greece and you need to call the emergency services, the number is 112. If you have your UK mobile with you, you can dial 999 and it will automatically put you through to the Greek emergency services.

music piracy Swindled out of concert tickets? Heres how to get your money backGig-goers have been done out of a load of money, with some of them complaining to fraud experts after they bought tickets from Circle Tickets, which failed to turn up.

The site isn’t online any more, at it looks like their tickets won’t ever be showing up.

Action Fraud have received 228 reports of ticket fraud relating to the company, which has subsequently been passed onto the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau. Obviously, best to give anything relating to this company a wide berth for the foreseeable.

It doesn’t look like you’ll be able to get your hands on your tickets, which is a kick in the teeth, but you might be able to get your money back.

Like most dodgy transactions, if you paid for goods with your credit card and spent over £100, you should be able to get your cash back under the Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act. You need to contact the people you have your credit card with for that.

If you spent less, or paid by direct debit or debit card, you can ask the people you have your card with to use chargeback in order to get you your money back.

Also, if you think you’ve been done out of money fraudulently, then you should be a good sport and report any dodgy companies to Action Fraud.

How to fix your iMessage

June 24th, 2015 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

sad apple logo How to fix your iMessageHave you been having trouble with your iPhone? Don’t all shout at once. It seems like there’s a number of problems with Apple devices, and the latest one sees iPhone users complaining that the iMessage system went down.

Not everyone has been affected by this and will be wondering what everyone is moaning about, however, others have moaned that their messages are sending slowly or not sending images. It is all a bit of a mess, especially when some iPhone users have noted that their phones keep randomly switching themselves off.

Well, we’ve had a look into it and it seems that, if you want to get things working again, there’s a rather unsophisticated way of fixing this.

If you haven’t, trying restarting your phone. This has been a successful fix for a number of iPhone users. If that doesn’t work, then you should try turning iMessage off and then on again in the Settings. Again, this isn’t the most fancy way of getting it working again, but it seems to have worked for a number of people with this problem.

Apple haven’t said anything about the problem, even though it has been trending on Twitter.

This follows some outages for Apple’s iCloud, which bothered a number of people earlier this month. Anyway, feel free to add your own ‘just works’ comments below.

How to… change your mobile provider

June 23rd, 2015 1 Comment By Mof Gimmers

mobile apps How to... change your mobile providerAre you cheesed off with your current mobile provider? Have they whacked their prices up unexpectedly and you want out? Well, you might be wondering where to start in a bid to change provider, so here’s some useful information for you.

If you want to keep your number when you change companies, the first thing you do is ring your current provider and tell them you want to leave. They will try and guilt-trip you and woo you into staying, but if you’re adamant you want to go elsewhere, keep refusing their offers.

Tell your current provider that you want to take your number with you when you change companies, and ask for a Porting Authorisation Code or PAC. By law, your provider must issue you with this immediately over the phone, or within two hours by text.

Your PAC is basically a nine digit code (maybe more) and will be valid for 30 days. Don’t worry too much if it runs out, as you can ring your mobile provider again, and request a new PAC. With your PAC, ring up the people you’d like to take your business too, and give them this code.

Once your new provider has it and notifies your existing provider of the port request, your number will transferred the next working day. If you’re not bothered about keeping your number, then skip all this and just ditch your current provider and shop around.

Now, the sticking points – it is better to do this at the end of your contract, so ring your current provider up just before it finishes. If you’ve still got a number of months left on your contract, you will invariably face charges to buy yourself out of your current deal. Some mobile phone providers may charge you a fee to move your number too.

There are some exceptional circumstances which means you won’t have to pay out. If you are within the first 14 days of your contract (the ‘cooling off period’), then you’re golden. If your provider increases the price of your contract mid-term, then you can leave without charge. Or, if you’re not receiving satisfactory coverage or customer service, your network might let you negotiate with them.

The numbers to call, to get things under way are:

Three: 0333 300 3333
O2: 0844 809 0202
EE: 07953 966250
Tesco Mobile: 0845 301 4455
Virgin Mobile: 0845 6000 789
Vodafone: 08080 044 423

And that is basically it. Before doing anything, find out when your contract is ending and weigh-up any potential costs involved. If you have 6 months left, then you might want to wait until that period is nearly up to switch to someone else, as you could end up paying for something you’re not using, which is daft.

Aside from the networks trying to retain you as a customer, the whole process is rather easy, so don’t stick around with a provider that is making you miserable.

Banking text scams are on the rise

June 11th, 2015 1 Comment By Mof Gimmers

scam Banking text scams are on the rise

Careful on your phone, now! Why? Criminals are sending people text messages that look like they’re from your bank – but they’re not! And of course, they’re after you juicy bank details so they can steal your pennies.

So what’s the skinny? Well, the texts claim that there has been fraudulent activity in your account or, in a more sly move, that your account details need to be updated. A phone number and website are provided, saying that the matter is very urgent.

Of course, the number and website is controlled by scammers, and Financial Fraud Action UK, have warned that this type of hoodwinkery is on the rise, with a spike in the last couple of weeks.

To make the texts seem authentic, fraudsters use specialist software which alters the sender ID on a message so that it appears with the name of a bank as the sender. This can mean that the text becomes included within an existing text message thread on the recipient’s phone.

Katy Worobec, director of Financial Fraud Action UK, said: “These text messages can look very authentic, so it’s important to be alert. Always be wary if you receive a message out of the blue asking you for any personal or financial details. If you’re ever at all suspicious, call your bank on a number that you know. Remember, fraudsters are after your security details – don’t reveal anything unless you are absolutely sure who you are dealing with.”

Of course, what normally happens when there’s fraud, is that your bank will ring you up and tell you what’s going on. There, you’ll go through security and other means to put your mind at ease. If your bank texts you, ever, it is usually to sell you something, so be aware. However, some fraudsters will send a text to say you’ll be receiving a call from your bank’s fraud department, which makes the whole thing more complicated.

Things to look out for

If you get a text, asking you for your personal details and sensitive information, chances are, it is a scam. A bank will never ask for your full password.

If you’re asked to call the number given in the text message, it’d be worth entering the number online, as it is likely to come up as a scam number. If you’re unsure, get a number you trust, like one included on your statement or one from your bank’s official website.

Your bank will never ask you to update your personal details via a link in a text, or tell you how to respond to a text message to confirm a transaction. They will also never ask you to transfer money into another account, ever. So if you get a whiff of anything that sounds dodgy, don’t do it.

Delayed train compensation to turn into cash

June 11th, 2015 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

fast train 300x199 Delayed train compensation to turn into cashWhen your train is delayed, and you want compensation, you usually get vouchers from the company that have done you wrong. However, that’s all about to change as we’ll all be able to get our paws on actual cash.

We’ve spoken about the ways you can get your compensation for late and cancelled trains, but now, there’s filthy lucre involved. It is an improvement on a system that saw passengers being given vouchers that could only be spent at stations, where tickets are more expensive than online. It was a system that didn’t work.

This change in policy is set to come into play during summer.

A spokesman for the Rail Delivery Group, representing train operators and Network Rail, said: “Planned changes to the National Rail Conditions of Carriage will enable passengers to claim their compensation in cash, instead of rail vouchers. This will be a welcome move for passengers.”

Executive director of Which!!! Richard Lloyd, is rather happy about it, saying: “Our latest train survey showed that people are dissatisfied with the service provided by many of the operators, and it’s little wonder when three in ten people suffered a delay when they last travelled. As ticket prices continue to rocket, train operators must do more to improve levels of satisfaction and to inform people of their right to a refund as a result of delays.”

Our how to guide to get compensation for late and cancelled trains

Lloyds Banking Group 001 300x180 Lloyds set to be slapped with record PPI fineLloyds are all set to be hit with a massive, record fine for their role in the PPI scandal. This particular penalty is for mis-handling complaints, and it is thought that this will be somewhere in advance of £100m.

They’ve already coughed-up billions to settle the mis-selling nonsense they got involved in and, worse still, this could all see a load of old cases being reopened.

The Financial Conduct Authority is preparing their fine, and they’re responsible for the previous record fine handed to Clydesdale Bank in April. Lloyds have set aside over £21 billion for PPI-related costs.

How Do I Claim Back PPI?

If you’ve been mis-sold PPI, don’t use a dodgy company to find out about it – you can do it all yourself. First thing you should do, is contact your lender. If you have the original contract or terms, that’ll make it so much easier. However, if you don’t, you can still get in touch as all they should need is your name and address.

Once you start speaking to your lender, you can ask them to send you paperwork, which will make all future correspondence much simpler. Be sure to ask them to ensure that the terms and conditions date back to the time of your agreement, so they don’t try and pull a fast one.

Check your lender’s website – some have a dedicated section for dealing with these claims.

Need help with free childcare?

June 4th, 2015 2 Comments By Mof Gimmers

 Need help with free childcare?You may be aware of the Government’s plans to give parents 30 hours of free childcare per week from 2017. Currently, parents who have three-to-four year olds are eligible to 15 hours of free child care, funded by local authorities. However, the plans have hit a few hurdles, with one report saying the whole thing is in ‘meltdown‘.

A lot of parents are struggling with childcare costs, so it is worth looking into the whole thing, and seeing if you’re eligible for childcare tax credits.

First thing you should do, is to see if you’re entitled to the Childcare Element of Working Tax Credit, which isn’t the same as Child Tax Credit. Start by looking here. It isn’t open to everyone, but definitely worth investigating. If you’re a single parent who works over 16 hours per week, or a couple who work over 16 hours per week, and your combined household income is under £46,000, then it is definitely worth a look.

As for the new tax-free childcare scheme that’s coming in, act sharpish. If you’re a single parent who works, or a couple who are both in work, earning under £150,000, for every 80p you pay, 20p will be added to pay for childcare for under-12s.

The most you can get from the scheme is £55 per week, per year, per parent. Or, you might be better off with childcare vouchers, and again, you want to act quickly on this – start here.

To find out about the offers in your local area, click here. You should also check the Family and Childcare Trust website for information about the childcare providers you can use.

See what is available to you and good luck!

Bitterwallet new Sony playstation phone 300x300 Are you still paying for a BT handset for no reason?Way back when, before phones were readily available to buy from the shops, people used to rent their landline handsets from BT. How quaint, right? Well, the thing is, some people are still being charged for them!

Now, obviously, this is only likely to be an issue for older people, so this is a case of checking if an older relative is getting rinsed or, indeed, if you’re an older person yourself, there’s ways of reducing this needless charge.

At MSE, they’ve heard about someone who has been paying BT for phone rental for 25 years! That’s £4 per quarter for over two decades. That all adds up, especially when you can buy a landline phone for peanuts these days.

BT offer 18 month contracts on these phones, however, if customers don’t call to cancel, they roll over. If this is something that is a problem for older customers, BT really should be getting in touch with them when the 18 months are nearly up.

How can you find out if nana is paying for phone rental? Well, on the bill, it will say ”equipment rental”, followed by the model number for the handset. It might say ‘BT relate 80 rental’, ‘Entry level corded phone’ and ‘Basic Dial Phone Hard Wire Reduced’.

If you want to complain to BT and try and get a refund, get yourself over to their contact page for the numbers to call. If you think BT are being unfair, then phone the ombudsman at 0845 050 1614 where you’ll get an independent review.

Need a refund from Alton Towers?

June 3rd, 2015 1 Comment By Mof Gimmers

alton towers 300x300 Need a refund from Alton Towers?After the awful accident at Alton Towers yesterday, you may have had tickets booked today, only to find out that the theme park is closed. Bosses at Alton Towers aren’t saying when it’ll be open again.

The park will stay closed while investigators look into the cause of the incident.

If you have tickets for today, then you’d be wise to avoid the confusing maze that is the Alton Towers website. If you’re in no rush, you can contact them through a form on the website, here.

However, if you’d like to ring them and speak to a human, then you can ring them at 0871 222 3330. If you’d like a cheaper alternative number, then call the direct number 01538 703344, which bypasses the expensive 0871 numbers.

Another alternative to try is 0843 903 3269. You must provide reasonable proof of purchase.

If you have a ticket and want to write, contact: Refunds Department, Kingshouse Travel, Balquhidder, Lochearnhead, Perthshire, FK19 8NY enclosing your ticket and an explanation as to why you could not use it.

How To… post gifs on Facebook

June 3rd, 2015 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

facebook 300x300 How To... post gifs on FacebookYou may have noticed that, recently, your Facebook News Feed has had a number of animated gifs on it. That’s exciting, for those who like to embed a reaction shot to every single bloody thing they ever say.

“We built support for animated GIFs to help people express themselves in fun new ways on Facebook. Like many features that we release on Facebook, we want to ensure that this drives a great experience for people first before rolling it out more widely. While Pages cannot currently post GIFs, we are exploring ways to enable this in the future,” said Facebook in a statement.

However, not everyone knows how to do it and have been scratching their heads about it all. Well, we’re here to help.

To post animated GIFs to the News Feed, you need to paste a link to one in the status update box, rather than upload it like a photograph. It looks like it doesn’t work through the mobile app properly, so for the time being, it’ll be a desktop-only affair.

If you’ve turned off your Auto-play settings, then you might not see them in action, but if they are on, they’ll play automatically.

Go to Settings, hit Videos, then Auto-Play Videos. If you’re on mobile, then go to Settings, then Videos and Photos, and you’ll know what to do from there.

So, in short, upload a link to gif – like you’re uploading a YouTube video – in your status box, and you should be away. If you want to make your own gif from a YouTube video, then GifMaker is a good site to use.

We suspect that, at some point, Facebook will get around to sorting it out, so that you can upload gifs like photos, but until then, this is what you need to do.