Most of us have thought about a fun memorial that we could choose when he shrug off this mortal coil of ours. Usually, it translates into something funny or sarcastic written on a tombstone.
Well how about having your ashes put in a dildo, so that every time your partner wants to get freaky with themselves, there’s a chance they’ll cry uncontrollably? Or maybe you’d like you ashes in a sex toy, so that you’re always there as a reminder, to make your widow feel guilty when they feel ready to move on?
That could happen thanks to designer Mark Sturkenboom who has created a memory box that includes not only a dildo, but a necklace and an amplifier for playing music that will remind you of the person who has died. Oh, you also get a golden urn and a scent diffuser, too.
Talking about all this, Sturkenboom said: “After a passing, the missing of intimacy with that person is only one aspect of the pain and grief. This forms the base for 21 Grams. The urn offers the possibility to conserve 21 grams of ashes of the deceased and displays an immortal desire.”
“I sometimes help an elderly lady with her groceries and she has an urn standing near the window with the remains of her husband. She always speaks with so much love about him but the jar he was in didn’t reflect that at all.”
“In that same period I read an article about widows, taboos and sex and intimacy and then I thought to myself ‘can I combine these themes and make an object that is about love and missing and intimacy?’”
And so, he came up with 21 Grams, which is ‘the weight of the human soul’. In Sturkenboom’s words: “21 Grams is not only a way to tempt a person to revive an intimate night with her love again but also displays an accusation against the unavoidable passing of life.”
Obviously. Find out more here.
A matter of weeks after Microsoft announced that they’d be slashing the price of the Xbox One, Sony have followed suit.
Sony have dropped the price of a PlayStation 4 in the UK, to £289.99. While that’s good, this is for a limited time only, with the deal finishing tomorrow (April 28th). So if you want to get on that, you’d better hurry yourself up.
There’s a number of high street and online shops that are on board, such as Tesco, GAME, Amazon, Argos, and Very. Some of them have shaved 99p off the price to make it a nice round figure.
The traditional console bundles are not part of this promotional offer as there are no offers on the high street that match the promotion offer.
It looks like Sony are offering standard packages, rather than those nice bundles where you get some games thrown in and the like. We can only hope that in the not-too-distant future, Sony start offering something a little more exciting.
If you miss out because this is the wrong side of payday or whatever, don’t worry as we get all the best prices for a PS4 in our Deals of the Day.
Everyone knows that you have to disclose an accident or motoring conviction when buying car insurance, and if you’ve made a claim, then your insurer is going to know about it anyway. But what about the situation where there has been an ‘incident’ that was not your fault and you haven’t made a claim? Well, not only are you required to tell your insurer, but they might bump up your premium as a consequence…
If you have been at fault in an accident, it is perhaps reasonable to assume that your premiums will go up, although this might depend on any protected no claim bonus arrangements. Some insurers will also penalise you for a no-fault claim- and while this might seem unfair, from the insurer’s point of view you are a higher risk. Admiral, for example, increase premiums after a single no-fault accident, such as someone driving into your parked car. They claim it’s just risk assessment:
“We use many years of claims data from millions of claims in order to accurately calculate the risk of a customer going on to make a claim,’ a spokesperson said.
“Our claims statistics show customers who have had a non-fault claim are more likely to make a claim in the future, compared with customers who have not had a non-fault claim. By having a non-fault claim our customers fall into a category that we see as a higher risk to insure.”
And while a no-fault accident for which you have made a claim might seem fair game, some insurers will also uprate your premium if you don’t even make a claim:
“We rate on the fact an incident has occurred, whether they have claimed or not,” finished Admiral, haughtily.
Insurers argue that someone who has had an accident is more likely to claim again for many reasons. It could reflect on the types of places that they are driving, or it could also say something about where the car is parked. Insurers might also think that it is a reflection of the motorist’s driving habits; perhaps they drive in ways that are more likely to result in an accident even if they didn’t directly cause it.
But if you don’t make a claim, how will your insurer know, right? Wrong. All insurers will state in their terms and conditions that customers must report incidents regardless of whether they make a claim.
The Association of British Insurers admits that this is partly so that insurers can adjust premiums accordingly, but is also to alert your insurer to the possibility that there could be a claim made against you at some point in the future, for example where an injury becomes apparent or symptoms alleged sometime after the original incident. Yeah, right.
All this information is stored on the Claims and Underwriting Exchange (CUE), a massive database containing 32 million claims records that is shared by all insurance companies. And it means that once one insurer knows something, they all do.
But what can you do about it? It sounds simple, but you need to shop around- as not all insurers treat this information in the same way. The financial ombudsman says that “some insurers do rate on notification only incidents where no claim has been made, but it usually won’t increase the premium as much as a non-fault claim, which in turn does not increase it as much as a fault claim would.”
Some examples of insurers that don’t increase premiums for no-fault claims include the Co-operative insurance and Direct Line, but there’s no guarantee this would make them the most competitive, nor that they wouldn’t increase premiums for some other, unconnected reason.
So, what if you do not report a non-fault incident? While this is a very tempting option, if you do not report an incident and your insurer later finds out, they may claim that your policy is invalid and refuse to pay out on future claims.
However, in this situation, it would be up to the insurance company to prove that it would not have covered you, would have charged you more or would have offered a lower level of cover had it known about the incident.
The financial ombudsman (to whom an insurance dispute like this might be referred if you and the insurer can’t agree) also said that “ the way insurers calculate their premiums is their own commercial decision, provided they treat everyone in the same situation in the same way, and if consumers are asked about incidents and losses then they should disclose them whether they’re recorded on the insurance central database or not.” So you have been warned.
Remember the launch of Tidal, where Jay Z said that him and his pals were making history, by offering a slightly expensive music streaming service? Those were the days eh? Our generation’s very own moon-landing moment.
Well, some of you cynics looked at the whole thing and wondered why on Earth you were supposed to feel sorry for a bunch of multimillionaires. The jaded were all ‘what? Shut up, superstars! Stick to making records, alright?’
Initially, Tidal burst into the American iPhone top 20 download chart, which was expected. However, in the fortnight since then, it has dropped out of the top 700. To make matters worse, all this talk has seen an upswing for Tidal’s rivals. Pandora and Spotify have seen a surge in customers.
In fact, since Tidal started tutting at Spotify, it reappeared in the iPad top 40 download chart for the first time in months. By attacking its rivals, Tidal has managed to give Spotify and Pandora a shot in the arm, increasing the public’s awareness of the products. They weren’t the only people profiting from all this - Beats Music has even seen an increase of people downloading their app.
Sadly for Tidal, they’ve shot their mouths off and made their competition even stronger, who have all ridden Tidal’s momentum and are now looking stronger than they were last year.
So well done to all concerned at Tidal.
He reckons that train services are far too chaotic and that commuting on them is like stepping into the Wild West. He is also very unimpressed with suburban rail operators.
Grab the popcorn, Sir Hendy is going in.
He said: “On Southeastern, the trains are like the Wild West. They are shit. Awful. And then every now and then some people who look like the Gestapo get on and fine everyone they can. It doesn’t improve your day, does it?”
He added: “People hate the suburban rail service, they hate it. If you make a mistake on your Oyster card on the Tube, we’ll refund it. On South West Trains, they’ll fine you. That’s a big philosophical difference.”
He wasn’t done by a long chalk. Sir Pete also took aim at the months of disruption that commuters have seen at London Bridge station during the work being undertaken by Network Rail, which is run by former oil honcho Mark Carne.
“I take no pleasure in saying this but Network Rail is under fire. The chief exec is a nice bloke and he has this idea about the digital railway and getting the most out of the railway in the next 30 years – but no one is listening because they can’t fix London Bridge.”
McDonald’s is one of those companies that seems like it’ll never, ever die. It is so huge that they seem invincible and impervious to trends. While there’s cows to chop up, there’s going to be a Maccies to enter, right?
Well, it looks like McDonald’s is having a tough time, worldwide. They’re currently suffering from a slump in sales, which has seen Ronald McDonald having some tough decisions to make, closing 350 restaurants.
Most of these closures are in China and Japan, but Maccy D’s is looking at a global drop in sales. This means they could well start getting rid of some branches in the UK. Of course, one of the biggest problems they have is that 2015′s teenagers are getting healthier – they don’t smoke, there’s no carbs before Marbs and they’d all rather do squats down the gym than horse a Quarter Pounder down their holes.
McDonald’s CEO Steve Easterbrook said in a statement: “As the world’s leading restaurant company, we are evolving to be more responsive to today’s customer. McDonald’s management team is keenly focused on acting more quickly to better address today’s consumer needs, expectations and the competitive marketplace.”
“We are developing a turnaround plan to improve our performance and deliver enduring profitable growth.”
Now, McD’s have started selling salad and bottles of water and the like, but really, we think they’re losing customers because they’re not unhealthy enough. Instead of being all cuddly and concerned, they should take the approach of other junk foods and boast about how filthy their food is.
And bring the McRib back, permanently.
The internet, as you know, is full of adverts. Websites absolutely need them to pay for themselves. However, should you be forced to look at them?
Well, you’ll also know that you can get software that blocks pop-ups and other ads, allowing you to read articles without being shrieked at by a loans company or an eye-melting animating thing telling you that you’ve won a prize.
Over in Germany, a group of media companies took AdBlock Plus to court. They said it was threatening their business and that the whole thing is anti-competitive and, of course, they wanted it to be shut down.
However, much to the dismay of the media outlets, a court ruled in favour of allowing people to continue to block ads.
“Now that the legalities are out of the way, we want to reach out to other publishers and advertisers and content creators and encourage them to work with Adblock Plus rather than against us,” said AdBlock’s project manager, Ben Williams. It makes sense that, instead of spending all their time fighting someone, it’d be more fruitful to work out another way of doing things, right?
Well, this is media and if there’s something that the media hates, it is change. Instead of working with AdBlock, the group immediately put an appeal in and they’ll continue to fight AdBlock. Their business can’t be under threat too much, if they can afford to keep forking out for expensive legal cases.
The group said: “We are still convinced that AdBlock Plus is an illegal and anti-competitive practice.” They added that they feel the blocking of adverts “infringes” on the freedom of the press and will “examine the prospects” of an appeal.
The drink vendors said that they’d identified “some unusual activity” on some customers accounts while they were doing security checks.
A Costa spokesperson said that the number of people affected was in the “low to mid-hundreds”, but were confined to the UK. It will take a couple of days to reset everyone’s passwords and, until they’ve completed this, all online accounts will be suspended.
Mercifully, Costa don’t hold any customers financial data.
“We have already contacted those customers affected and emailed all registered Coffee Club members to make them aware of the situation. Customers can still continue to collect and redeem points as usual,” Costa Coffee said in a statement.
Now, feel free to complain about people spending too much money on coffee in the comments.
Carphone Warehouse have announced that they’re going to launch their own mobile network, which they say is going to offer everyone increased flexibility with their contracts and a better access to free data roaming and “the best value 4G available on the UK market”.
This network is going to be called iD and will launch next month, in May.
The retailer will piggyback on Three’s network, in what is known as a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO). Through it will be a range of capped and controlled plans, so customers won’t get any nasty surprised when they get their bill. There’ll be 12 month contracts on offer too – fancy that!
The first deal on iD will allow you to get a Samsung A3 on a 12-month 4G plan with 300 mins, 5,000 texts and 1 GB data for £19.50.
“People want greater flexibility from their plans and are fed up with the ‘one size fits all’ approach,” said Graham Stapleton, UK CEO at Carphone Warehouse. “We are also a generation obsessed with the mobile internet and accessing data and services on the move – things people are either paying too much for or just aren’t getting. Addressing these challenges forms the basis of the first wave of plans from iD.”
With all this undercutting going on, there could be some really favourable deals going on in the mobile world in the coming months, which naturally, we’re all for. Once we’ve worked out what the various catches are, naturally.
With Google launching their own network – Project Fi – things are hotting up in the normally infuriating world of mobile phone contracts.
The cheapest energy deals can’t be found on suppliers’ websites. Nor on comparison site tables. Despite falling energy prices, the best energy deals are actually being reserved for groupon-style collective switching deals. Power to the people.
Fixed energy tariffs are standing at a ten year low and have dropped below £900 a year –the cheapest deal on the market currently being £899 from GB Energy Supply for an average family usage. However, there are cheaper deals available by signing up to one of the growing number of collective switching programmes, where, a bit like price-drop TV, energy companies compete to offer the lowest tariff to a defined group of committed switchers.
An £876 tariff offer by the Telegraph (newpaper) has just sold out, snapped up by 8,000 people, and today, online comparison service uSwitch has offered a matching tariff with E.On which is available for group switchers until May 23.
The idea is, of course, that the energy companies benefit by instantly getting thousands of new customers without having to woo potential switchers with pricey advertising campaigns. And they’re still making money, as these cheapest deals are actually £419 cheaper than the average energy bill owing to the fact that three quarters of customers are on standard tariffs.
But how likely is it that the lowest collective tariffs are pinching at the profits of the energy giants anyway? Global crude oil prices are less than half what they were in mid-2014 prices, but energy bills are still flying relatively high, resulting in a Government investigation in January into why energy bills were not falling despite a drop in wholesale costs.
The “big six” energy firms claim they buy wholesale gas and oil months in advance, so absolutely totally cannot pass these savings on to consumers straightaway. And we all remember how they didn’t pass on any earlier increases in the wholesale costs as well…
There has been some movement, even in standard tariffs, with “token” price cuts that reduced annual bills by around £35 a year. However, research by our friends over at Which!!!, used hedging models to allow for such short- and long-term forward planning, and they think there is still scope for lower prices, suggesting that gas costs could drop by at least 8.8% and that a standard electricity tariff could fall by 10%
So if you’re looking to switch your energy bills, keep your eye out for a collective bandwagon upon which to jump, and if your fix is finishing soon, watch out for, possibly, even lower prices on the horizon.
Roger Burnley, retail and operations director, said: “These are exceptionally difficult decisions to make and we have not taken them lightly. We set out very clearly last year that we have to reflect the changes in when and how our customers are shopping. These proposals will help us maintain and improve customer service by having more colleagues on hand and well-replenished shelves at all times.”
Of course, this apes the moves made by Asda and Morrisons who offloaded thousands of staff last year. Tesco, in the middle of their most nightmarish period, are also sacking loads of people too.
Sainsbury’s won’t be having a nightshift team anymore, which means that some of that staff will be redeployed, potentially for morning shifts in a bid to change the way and the timing of when products hit the shelves.
Either way, Sainsbury’s main concern should be why customers don’t really want to shop their like they used to. It is all very well saving money on wages, but they need to shake things up in-store if they want people to start opening their wallets and purses to them again.
Drivers may well be coughing up an average of £133 more on fuel, per year, than they thought they were thanks to suggestions that car-makers are misleading everyone by overstating the fuel-economy figures.
According to the report, only three of the 200 models tested across 2013 and 2014 managed to reach the official miles-per-gallon (mpg) figure stated in info from the car’s manufacturer. On average, vehicles with falling short by 13%.
The three cars that managed to live up to claims were the 1.2-litre 5-door manual Skoda Roomster, the 2-litre version of the Mazda 3 Fastback and the 2-litre, five-door, automatic diesel model of the Skoda Yeti. The worst performing vehicle in the Which!!! report was the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV hybrid.
Now, Which!!! want the European Commission to introduce its new testing procedures to make sure figures reflect the reality of what cars can achieve.
Which!!! executive director Richard Lloyd said: “The cost of fuel is one of the biggest concerns for consumers which is why fuel efficiency has become an important selling point for new cars. The new test should be brought in without delay so consumers are no longer misled by fantasy mpg figures.”
The UK’s biggest bookie said that they’d seen a £20m increase in gambling duties thanks to the introduction of Point of Consumption Tax in in December. This new rule means that all bets placed online in Britain are subject to a 15% “point of consumption tax”.
In addition to that, they lost £14m in the third week of January as the majority of football matches went in the favour of punters, who were laughing all the way to the pub after their accumulators came up trumps.
Likewise, Ladbrokes chief executive Jim Mullen was complaining about their own “disappointing” first quarter results. Their operating profits more than halved in just three months, again, thanks to taxes and a load of unfavourable football and horse-racing results (unfavourable in their eyes, not the punters, clearly).
“We don’t want to use that to hide that our financial results are disappointing. Ladbrokes hasn’t grown its recreational customer base – we need more of the customers coming in to put down £5 each way on a horse,” said Mullen. “It’s great to have high-value customers but it does mean we take a bigger hit when we lose.”
Hey! That’s gambling isn’t it? Suck it up.
So what’s the craic? From 1 July 2015, Ofcom is changing the way we’re charged and they’ll be telling everyone about it through a campaign called UK Calling.
From July, the cost of calling these numbers will be split into two parts.
There’ll be an access charge and a service charge. Basically, the cost of connecting your call to the network will be charged in pence per minute, which will be added to the service charge, which is how much the rest of the call will cost you.
One charge is decided by your network, while the other is decided by the organisation you call. Splitting them up helps you to decipher exactly who is trying to rinse you of pennies and pounds when you call them.
Companies have to communicate all this very clearly from July, which means that, if the service charge was 20p a minute, the organisation you are calling might say: “Calls cost 20p a minute, plus your phone company’s access charge”.
Confused? Watch this video, which has the mandatory ‘friendly acoustic guitar music’ which is designed to make you feel at ease.