We haven’t had a tale of a mobile phone exploding for a while, but this latest one is a corker, thanks to the man in question being so descriptive of his injuries.
The iPhone that (allegedly) blew-up in a man’s pocket was hot searingly hot that he claimed that people around him said that they could ‘smell his body burning’.
Erik Johnson was at a party when he heard a pop in his pocket, then some fizzing and smoke, before his leg started to burn. The heat was so extreme that it melted his trouser pocket closed.
“I was literally jumping up and down trying to get the phone out of my pocket, but I think the phone melted my pockets shut so I couldn’t get into it and I had to rip my pants off and throw the pants to the side,” he told ABC.
“A couple of people actually said they could smell my body burning,”
Erik was forced to go to hospital and spend 10 days there after suffering third degree burns. Of course, this isn’t the first time time iPhones have been said to explode, with one teenager saying his went off like a rocket, and another student with a molten mobile. We’d like to see this becoming fashionable again.
How much easier would it be if, whichever retailer you were shopping with, shops actually had to tell you if a competitor was offering an identical product at a better price? Well that is actually what happened in a civil Court of Appeal case last week, the decision in which has had retailers scrambling to determine if the ruling is binding on them, and would cause them to fall foul of EU consumer protection laws.
The case in question concerned whether a company was required to notify consumers that the services it offered for a charge could be obtained by the consumers acting directly for free. PLT Anti-Marketing Limited (PLT) offered to register consumers’ names and contact details with the Telephone Preference Service (TPS) and the Mail Preference Service (MPS) in return for £4 monthly subscription, but neglected to tell consumers that they can register with the TPS and MPS for free.
In its ruling, the Court of Appeal considered to what extent businesses would need to disclose information about the availability, quality and price of rival products and services to consumers to comply with EU consumer protection laws, saying that the disclosure of such information “will be necessary in some situations” to ensure businesses are not considered to be making ‘misleading omissions’ when selling their own goods or services to consumers.
However, Lord Justice Briggs did refer to the need to recognise the ‘average consumer’ and whether or not the average consumer can be relied upon to “shop around” for such information, therefore removing the disclosure obligations from traders. In his decision, the judge found that a reasonable consumer would indeed shop around, so that this was an acceptable starting point for retailers.
“Generally, inward-facing information is likely to be available only from the trader in question, because it is information about that trader, or its goods or services. By contrast, information about alternative or competing products may generally be supposed to be available in the marketplace, to the extent that a particular consumer wishes to obtain it before deciding whether to make a purchase from the trader in question. In short, shopping around for information about alternative products (whether goods or services) is characteristic of the reasonably well-informed, observant and circumspect consumer,” said LJ Briggs in making his decision.
So will this decision have any effect when you next visit an electrical retailer to buy a new fridge, for example? Commercial contracts expert Rami Labib of Pinsent Masons thinks not.
“Although it remains to be seen how the principles established by the Court of Appeal will be applied in future cases, our interpretation is that businesses will only need to notify consumers about the availability of alternative products and services on the market in exceptional cases,” Labib said. “For most businesses, the ruling will not demand a change to marketing materials or business practices.”
So while this ruling might be a further way to clamp down on so-called ‘copycat’ websites, where websites pop up to charge consumers for a service that is normally available for free or at a nominal charge, it seems Currys don’t have to tell you if your fridge would be cheaper if you bought it from Apollo2000. Never mind.
For the second year on the bounce, British Airways have come out on top and falling out of the chart are Heinz, Cadbury, Amazon.co.uk, Sony, Shell and Marks & Spencer. Looks like we don’t love them like we used to.
Stephen Cheliotis, Superbrands’ council chairman, said: “Younger brands, such as the social media giants, are sitting on the sidelines making little impact as a huge battle takes place among trusted, traditional brands seeking to remain relevant and retain their positions among the brand elite.”
This ranking is calculated from a shortlist of over 1,500 brands and scored by the Superbrands council of 33 people from the marketing industry and an online panel of 2,500 British adults. Makes it all sound a bit arbitrary doesn’t it?
Either way, British Airways will be pleased, while Facebook, who were in the top 20 in 2013, will be wondering what they’ve done wrong (ahem, personal privacy, ahem) and Twitter will be thinking about what they have to do to feature at all!
Superbrands Top 20 UK consumer brand rankings 2015
1 British Airways
6 John Lewis
20 Virgin Atlantic
In some places – we’re looking at you, craft beer nerds – you won’t get much change from a fiver when buying yourself a pint. Of course, there’s pubs out there that’ll charge you a couple of quid for some booze, but across the country, prices are going up.
So someone’s peered into the future to see how much a pint will cost in 25 years’ time. Experts at Lloyds bank reckon we’ll be shelling out £11.50 for a pint of beer, which seems preposterous. Still, at least we’ll have autonomous cars by then to drive us home when we’re leathered.
That’s not all Lloyds have been working out. They also reckon that the cost of a loaf of bread in 2040 will be £4.20 and a dozen eggs is going to set you back £6.02.
Our wages will have gone up by 6p in that time, no doubt.
A spokesperson for Lloyds burped: “The average price of a pint has grown a staggering 294 times over the past 100 years, from an average of just 1p.”
Imagine that. 1p a pint. You’d have showers in booze. Anyway, this data was gathered by comparing the price of stuff in 1914, compared to the present day. You can only imagine how much our household bills will be by then, as the Big Six join forces to charge everyone for use of the sun to heat up our solar panels.
You’ve had a nice meal and you order some nice cheese and biscuits to finish things off with. You’re in the mood for something else, but you don’t want a sweet pudding.
You know how it is.
Well, Diane Murray did exactly that, but her order wasn’t at all what she was expecting. She got cheese. She got biscuits. The problem, however, was the type of biscuit.
That’s right! Instead of a nice savoury biscuit and some crackers, Diane ended up with some bourbons and custard creams with her cheeses. And whatever those knock-off Jammy Dodgers with cream in the middle of them are called.
Mercifully, she thought it was funny and said that she’d reveal the place that served up this unusual treat in return for a Comic Relief donation, which is nice.
She tweeted: “@stephkerr: Cheese and biscuits – if anyone pledges to comic relief I’ll tell them which hotel they can get this in”, with the above photo attached.
We’d go for a custard cream with some brie on it. You know it makes sense.
MPs have said that it is hard to justify the TV licence fee as it stands, and it turns out that the BBC agree, with boss Tony Hall saying the Auntie is at “a crossroads”, with the licence fee in need of being updated.
The people of the Commons Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee said that, instead of a licence that you have to buy and renew, there should be a universal household levy, which means that everyone pays for the BBC whether they watch TV or not. That’ll be controversial.
Hall says: ”We’ve always said that the licence fee should be updated to reflect changing times. I welcome the committee’s endorsement of our proposal to make people pay the licence fee even if they only watch catch-up television.”
“The committee has suggested another route to modernising the licence fee – a universal household levy. Both proposals have the same goal in mind: adapting the licence fee for the internet age. This is vital. Because I believe we need and we will need what the licence fee – in whatever form – makes happen more than ever.”
The MPs report said that the licence fee needs to include the fact that iPlayer exists, which you don’t need a licence for. It said: “The German model of a broadcasting levy on all households is our preferred alternative to the TV licence. Such a levy on all households would obviate the need to identify evaders and would be a fairer way of ensuring those people who use only BBC radio and online services contribute to their costs.”
“A broadcasting levy which applied to all households regardless of whether or not householders watched live television would help support the use of a small proportion of the revenue raised for funding public service content and services by others, enhancing plurality.”
So for those who resent paying the licence fee at all, would now possibly have it taken straight from their wages. Presumably, they’d prefer a subscription based model, as seen in North America with cable channels and the like.
If the licence fee is changing, it looks like it is going to become mandatory, whether you like it or not.
From 30th March, the prices for first and second class stamps is going up by 1p to 63p and 54p respectively. If you’re sending a large letter, that’ll go up by 2p to 95p for first class and by 1p to 74p for second class.
There are some price drops though. Royal Mail said that they’re going to cut the price of sending a second-class medium parcel. They’re going to simplify the process too, whatever that means. For a small second-class parcel, the price is frozen.
They say that they’ve thought very carefully about all this and that they recognise the impact on customers during a tough economic time. They’ve stuck the prices up in response to their continuing complaint about the costs of their Universal Service Obligation, which is an agreement which sees the Royal Mail obligated to deliver to every UK home for the price of a stamp.
Of course, rivals are moving in on their turf and they have no such worries about having to deliver everywhere, meaning the Royal Mail are annoyed that some companies have cherry-picked certain cities, making life difficult for them. Alas, the postage regulator isn’t going to be looking into it and are basically telling the Royal Mail to shut up with their whining.
Well, before you go throwing yourself arms-first into a wood chipper or something, you might want to go on Facebook first. No, not to ask everyone’s opinion or leave a really impersonal suicide note, but rather, the social network might be able to stop you from doing it.
FB is getting some new features where they’ll be offering increased support to those feeling suicidal.
You may not know this, but Facebook has previous with this, and in 2011 launched their service where you could talk to a suicide prevention specialist. They also enabled users to report a link or update if someone was concerning them.
Facebook say: ”Currently, if you flag a post or account from someone whom you believe may be suicidal, Facebook will take over the process from there. If you’re considering killing yourself, ”we now also give them the option of reaching out to a friend, and provide tips and advice on how they can work through these feelings.”
Now, anyone reporting someone will also be offered more assistance: “We’re also providing new resources and support to the person who flagged the troubling post, including options for them to call or message their distressed friend letting them know they care, or reaching out to another friend or a trained professional at a suicide hotline for support.”
Facebook are working with a number of charities and mental health organisations, and asked the advice of FB users who have tried to harm themselves in a bid to come up with a way of helping. However, only US citizens are worth saving, so if you’re outside of America, you’ll have to wait for a roll-out or ignore Facebook entirely and phone the Samaritans.
Have a look at Facebook’s thoughts on all this, here.
Another day, another hack and this time, customers of TalkTalk are being warned after a load of account numbers, names and personal details were stolen from them. Be on the lookout for people trying to scam you, basically.
In an email sent to all TalkTalk customers, the company said that ne’er-do-wells were using the swiped details to try and trick people into handing over their bank details. If you received the email, you’ll find a special phone line to call if you’ve been targeted.
The number is 0800 083 2710.
This scam was discovered after TalkTalk found that there was a very sudden spike in people complaining to them about scam calls at the end of last year. A spokesperson said: ”We have now concluded a thorough investigation working with an external security company, and we have become aware that some limited non-sensitive information may have been illegally accessed in violation of our security procedure.”
It seems that the hack came about via a third-party who also had access to TalkTalk’s network and, as a result, the company will be taking legal action against the aforementioned third-party.
“We are aware of a small, but nonetheless significant, number of customers who have been directly targeted by these criminals and we have been supporting them directly,” said a statement from TalkTalk.
The scam in question involves customers getting called up and, with the stolen details, the scammers are trying to convince you that they’re a legitimate TalkTalk representative who tries to sell them security software. So, if you’re a customer and someone from TalkTalk rings you up and asks for your bank details, tell ‘em where to sling it.
Do you… erm… like to feel pleased a lot of the time? Do you spend your downtime by… umm… beating up the wookie? Well, if that sounds like you, there’s a gadget that could help you save the planet while you throw yourself into an onanistic fever.
Those scamps at PornHub have made a video about some wearable technology called the ‘Wankband’, which basically sits on your wrist and, with the movement of your wrist, creates energy.
With this thing, you can ‘love the planet, by loving yourself’.
You work, create the energy and then plug your phone, tablet or whatever, into the wrist band and, hey presto, you’re charging your device with the power of love.
Of course, the product is unisex and apparently, you can sign-up as a beta tester for the thing, which you sign-up for over at the smut vendor’s site. Might be best to not access that if you’re at work, unless you have a great game face and are able to tell your superiors that, yes, you’re accessing a dirty site at work, but you’re doing it to help reduce their electricity bills.
The power is in your hands.
Ever used TripAdvisor to check a hotel or restaurant? Checked out your plumber on Checkatrade? Read a blog that reviewed the latest gizmo? All of the above are the subject of a new consultation by the Competition and Markets Authority on how information in online reviews and endorsements is used.
The CMA (which took over the things previously looked at by the Office of Fair Trading) is asking consumers, businesses and other interested parties to come forward with their views. In simple terms, the CMA, which is “committed to looking at evolving online markets”, has realised that “large numbers” of consumers read and rely upon online reviews when making purchasing decisions. These include sites like TripAdvisor and Checkatrade which do so formally, and blogs that have less formal reviews.
Both TripAdvisor and Checkatrade have been accused of having misleading or downright fake reviews, with stories of hotels offering sweeteners to guests who offer good reviews on the site-as well as tales of customers trying to hold hoteliers over a barrel with the threat of a poor review. The CMA is “aware of a number of potential concerns about the trustworthiness or impartiality of information in some reviews and endorsements that is being provided to consumers” and wants to investigate if there is anything it ought to be doing something about. It is also mindful of the effect negative reviews can have on businesses, and that is why those affected by review sites are also being asked to comment.
To be honest, the CMA isn’t sure what exactly it will do if it finds Things To Be Concerned About, but possible action includes: launching a market study covering this sector, or a part of it; initiating consumer enforcement action; advocating legislative change to government; providing guidance to industry or consumers, or both; and /or seeking voluntary action from the industry. Or doing absolutely nothing.
Nisha Arora, CMA Senior Director, Consumer, said:
The information contained in online reviews and endorsements can be a powerful force in the hands of consumers. Informed consumers make better decisions, driving competition on price and quality. Businesses have always known that ‘word of mouth’ is one of the most important factors for potential customers; what online reviews and blogs do is to provide a greatly amplified version of this. However, for this sector to work well it is important that this information is genuine, relevant and trustworthy.”
More detail is available on the call for information page, and the deadline for responses to the call for information is 25 March 2015.
Are you one of those people who just can’t work out the lyrics to things and forever singing stupid stuff on night’s out, much to the amusement of your friends? Have you been singing “if I gotta love Eda, honey!” to ‘In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida’? Have you been thinking The Beatles were singing about taking a chicken for a ride?
Well, help is at hand as Spotify are adding a new thing into their desktop app in the shape of a button where you can get all the lyrics to your favourite songs!
This is because Spotify have now integrated the Musixmatch service, who reckon that they’re the world’s largest lyrics catalogue.
The feature will be extra handy to those of you who have heard a song on the radio or in a club, and can remember the refrain, but didn’t catch the song title as you’ll be able to search for songs with the lyrics. When you don’t have time or battery to whip Shazam out, this could be priceless. Although, Google’s search engine does exist too.
Nice that Spotify are doing something new with the desktop app, as they’ve been largely focused on getting people to use the mobile app mostly. And now, you’ll never have to sing the wrong words again!
Did you eat some chicken for your lunch from a supermarket? Well, bad news for your insides as reports say that contamination of our feathered friends is up. Not only that – it might be getting worse, according to shrieking scientists who are worried about you getting food poisoning.
The Food Standards Agency (FSA) say that the proportion of fresh roasting chickens you can get in the supermarket that are carrying campylobacter is up 72.9%. The number of those that are considered to be highly contaminated is also up to 18.9%.
They also discovered that 1 in 14 packs are contaminated on the outside.
So, it goes without saying that there’s going to be some sore stomachs this year and there’s all set to be an estimated 280,000 people getting sick because of campylobacter in 2015. So, that all told, the FSA reckon that, in lost work through being ill and the cost NHS treatment, these dirty chickens are costing the country £900 million. Like all illnesses, there’s a chance it could grow stronger and turn into a superbug, thwarting any antibiotics you might take.
The FSA say that Asda is the worst place to buy chicken from and that they came out worst on pretty much every contamination test. The best places, it seems, are Marks & Spencer, the Co-op and Waitrose.
The FSA Director of Policy, Steve Wearne, said that the shops need to up their game in a bid to fix the problem. While they have no power to do anything about this, they can keep publishing these reports and helping customers to make an informed decision and vote with their feet. While M&S pay their farmers extra to keep their chickens free of bugs, it looks like other supermarkets need to start doing the same.
It’s still February, it’s still grey and it’s still cold. Why not book a sneaky ski trip, or plan something for sunnier shores to cheer yourself up, always remembering to also book yourself some travel insurance to go with that.
But before you buy, why not take a look at Which!!!’s top five tips for making sure you have the best chance of a successful claim when something goes wrong on your jollies.
Which isn’t pessimistic at all…
1. The best policy isn’t always the cheapest
Which!!! advise you to check you have the cover you actually need. In the same way that cheaper car insurance policies might not offer extras such as courtesy cars or legal protection, make sure the cover you pick does actually cover what you want to do. Sometimes going for specialist winter sports policies, for example, might be cheaper than adding winter sports cover to a cheaper policy.
Also, if you go away frequently, check whether it would work our cheaper in the long run to buy an annual policy rather than a number of shorter trip plans. Finally, travel insurance is included as a perk with some bank accounts- if that cover does the job, you don’t have to pay anything extra at all.
2. Check the terms and conditions
We’ve all heard the tales of obscure terms and conditions that compel you to offer your first born child or something, but terms are really important in travel insurance. Sometimes, certain countries or activities are excluded, so you need to know this before you buy. Which!!! highlight the need for disclosing any pre-existing medical conditions, and not being able to make such a disclosure in an online system is no excuse – you’ll have to give them a call. Non-disclosure of a condition could render the whole policy invalid, even if any claim has nothing to do with that condition.
Getting medical cover as part of your travel insurance after a serious illness like cancer can be difficult, or prohibitively expensive, but if you talk to the insurer, they can often arrange cover that simply excludes that particular condition- which is better than nothing and would still cover you if you broke your leg in an accident or something.
3. Don’t delay, file quickly
Which!!! say that, in the case of a claim, you should file claims as quickly as you can and make sure you send any supporting documents within the given time frames (a month is usual). Keep any receipts relating to your claim, and if you’re claiming for a broken possession, keep the broken item as you might need it as proof.
4. Rejected claims
Which!!! research found that 6% of claims were rejected over the past two years, with the biggest problem areas including holidays being cancelled or cut short, exclusions based on alcohol consumption; lost, damaged or delayed luggage and lost or stolen possessions.
Which advise you to complain in writing – by post or email – to your insurer if you feel your claim has been rejected unfairly. Insurance companies then have up to eight weeks to look into your case. If you speak to anyone on the phone, make sure to keep a note of the date, time and full name of the person you spoke with.
5. Go all the way…
If after eight weeks you feel your provider hasn’t handled your claim fairly, you can refer your complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service, which will look into the case for you.
More than half (53%) of travel insurance complaints, which is more than any other type of major insurance, are upheld by the ombudsman, so it’s likely to be worth your while to go further with your claim.