beach body 300x168 Beach body advert judged not irresponsible or offensiveWe’ve all seen THAT advert. Whether in person around London tube stations or as part of the social media backlash, who’d have thought a golden image of a young lady in full possession of a beach body would constitute such an offensive advert.

Or did it? Owing to the massive number of complaints lodged (a whopping 378), before the ASA even investigated the advert, Protein World were told not to show the ad again. Protein World have always been totally unapologetic about their advert, even baiting Twitter users, and while they couldn’t show the advert anymore, social media users gave them more media exposure than they could possibly have paid for.

Of course, the ad was taken down for causing widespread tutting, but the ASA did undertake a separate investigation to establish whether the ad was actually in breach of the advertising rules on harm, offence and social responsibility.

While all 378 complaints were not identical, the ASA collated issues into two threads, whether:

1. the ad implied that a body shape which differed from the ‘idealised’ one presented was not good enough or in some way inferior and was, therefore, offensive; and

2. the combination of an image of a very slim, toned body and the headline “ARE YOU BEACH BODY READY?” was socially irresponsible in the context of an ad for a slimming product.

Protein World said that the phrase “beach body” was commonly used and understood to mean looking at one’s best and that they did not believe that the ad implied everyone should look like the model or that the text and image were irresponsible.

And the ASA agreed. They felt that “‘beach body’ was a relatively well understood term that for some people had connotations of a toned, athletic physique” but also that some people would understand it to mean “feeling sufficiently comfortable and confident with one’s physical appearance to wear swimwear in a public environment.” While the ASA considered the advert might “prompt readers to think about whether they were in the shape they wanted to be for the summer” they found that the image did not imply that a different body shape to that shown was “not good enough or was inferior” and therefore that the ad and the image were unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence. Of course, the ad did cause serious or widespread offence, but the ASA ruling is that Protein World couldn’t have been expected to anticipate such a furore. The ASA also found that the ad was not ‘irresponsible’ under the CAP code as they “did not consider the image of the model would shame women who had different body shapes into believing they needed to take a slimming supplement to feel confident wearing swimwear in public.”

So there you are, outraged public, you are wrong.

Ryanair set up petition against strikes

July 1st, 2015 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

ryanair 300x225 Ryanair set up petition against strikesWith traffic control unions striking all over the place, Ryanair have decided to launch a petition about it all. Are they supporting the workers, hoping they get better treatment at work? Of course not! This is Ryanair!

Their petition is called Keep Europe’s Skies Open’ and is a protest against further strikes from those pesky union, commie rats! They may not have said ‘commie rats’, but they may have muttered ‘pinkos’ under their breath.

Of course, French air traffic controllers are due to walk out this week, so this is a timely petition. The last time there was one of these strikes, the airlines of Europe had to cancel over 3,600 flights, troubling over 5000,000 travellers.

With online petitions being just the thing in 2015 (look how many people signed the Jeremy Clarkson one), Ryanair hopes they’ll be able to attract one million signatures from people across Europe, which they’ll then present to Brussels and urge the EU Commission and the EU Parliament to finally take action (look how Jeremy Clarkson didn’t get his job back at Top Gear, for more on that).

Ryanair’s chief marketing officer, Kenny Jacobs, said: “It’s unacceptable that Europe’s consumers repeatedly have their holiday and travel plans disrupted or cancelled by the selfish actions of ATC unions every summer, who use strikes as a first weapon rather than a last resort. French ATC unions will again stage three further days of strikes this week, which will impact hundreds of thousands of European consumers.”

“It is particularly reprehensible that these strikes are taking place at the height of the peak summer season, deliberately targeting holidaymakers and families.”

“Today we have launched this keepeuropeskiesopen.com website where consumers can support our online petition calling on the European Commission and European Parliament to either remove the ATC unions’ right to strike, or allow other European ATCs to operate French or Spanish airspace during these repeated strikes.”

“It’s time the Commission and parliament took action to prevent Europe’s families and ordinary air travellers having their hard earned holidays or travel plans regularly disrupted by these ATC unions closing the skies over Europe. If the EU won’t listen to the airlines, perhaps they’ll listen to Europe’s citizens.”

Want to sign it or look at it mockingly? Whatever your angle, click here to see it.

john lewis No more Click & Collect at John Lewis under £30John Lewis is ending click and collect orders under £30, saying that the service is ‘unsustainable’. This will come into play from next month.

Currently, you’re allowed to order items from the John Lewis website and have it delivered to their nearest John Lewis or Waitrose store for free.

That’s not to say you won’t be able to get smaller items through this system; only now, you’ll have to pay a £2 charge for these small orders. The retailer says that this should only affect around 20% of the orders they get in, but there’s sure to be disappointment from some quarters.

In a speech declaring company’s new plans for click and collect, and the desire to “take a leadership position” in the future of the service (whatever the hell that means), John Lewis managing director Andy Street, said the company “is sure customers will understand why we are doing this.”

“It’s illogical that this can be produced at no cost.”

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.

Virgin Atlantic cut jobs in restructure

July 1st, 2015 1 Comment By Mof Gimmers

Richard Branson15 415 300x267 Virgin Atlantic cut jobs in restructureVirgin Atlantic are going to be sacking around 500 managerial and support jobs, a matter of months after the airline told everyone they’d made a return to profit.

So what’s the deal? Well, the company said the point of all this is to create a simpler, more efficient structure with few management layers. The people losing their jobs will be given the option of either re-deployment or redundancy.

Craig Kreeger, the airline’s chief executive, said: “To truly position Virgin Atlantic for long-term and sustained success, we need to be a more efficient and agile organisation that has the ability to invest even more in the areas that make Virgin Atlantic’s customer experience unique.”

“As a people-oriented business, these are extremely tough decisions to take, but we know they are necessary,” he added.

Customers shouldn’t notice an immediate difference, as these job cuts won’t be hitting the frontline of staff. That’s something at least, but little consolation to those getting the chop soon.

A few months ago, Virgin Atlantic announced that they’d made a £14.4m pre-tax profit for 2014, which was good news after three years of losses. In addition to that, last year, they shouted about a £300m programme of investment, which will see wifi installed on all its aircraft by the end of 2016.

As well as saving money on wages, the airline will also be ditching routes that are deemed unprofitable.

bank sign Thousands free to reopen claims for compensation from banks?The High Court could be tearing up thousands of legal settlements between customers and their banks over the misselling of interest rate swaps scandal, thanks to a legal spat between the Lloyds Banking Group and the owner of a property company, Gary Hartland.

The Libor-fixing case brought by Hartland’s Wingate Associates could allow individuals to revisit settlement agreements. Lloyds are obviously very unhappy about this, as it has already cost them billions already.

So what’s the craic? Wingate Associates are claiming that the settlement they received in 2011 over misselling should be overturned, thanks to the bank’s involvement in fixing Libor. Lloyds argue that the settlement should hold, because they’re presumably bored of dealing with all this.

Thus far, over 12,000 settlement agreements relating to interest rates have been sorted out under the Financial Conduct Authority redress scheme, which has a value somewhere in the region of £2bn. You can imagine that, should even a small fraction of these claimants reopen their cases, it could be very costly indeed.

Stephen Rosen, the head of financial disputes at law firm Collyer Bristow, told the Indy: “The value of claims out there is still very substantial. When you add Libor-fixing to a claim it can swell its value very quickly and matters such as consequential loss are brought into play.”

What’s more, Hartland has sued before over Libor-fixing. Previously, he made a claim against Barclays through another company he ran (called Guardian Care Homes), which was settled out of court by the bank for £40m.

A spokesman for Lloyds said: “As the matter is now subject to legal proceedings, it would be inappropriate to comment in any detail. However, having previously agreed a full and final settlement with the customer in 2011, we do not believe the matter has any merit and it will be vigorously contested.”

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.

TripAdvisor 300x256 Are TripAdvisor ratings worth the paper theyre (not) printed on?Have you ever visited La Scaletta? Until recently the top rated restaurant in Brescia, Italy?  If not, you aren’t alone, as Italian newspaper Italia a Tavola invented it just to prove the flawed nature of the TripAdvisor review system.

The newspaper decided to create a fictional restaurant, and then add fake glowing reviews, as an experiment to expose TripAdvisor’s vulnerability to fraudulent reviews. Within a month, the imaginary eaterie was the best restaurant in town. After contacting TripAdvisor for comment, La Scaletta’s listing was removed.

TripAdvisor, of course, deny that this means their system is flawed. A spokesperson for the company told The Independent:

“It is a pretty meaningless experiment to create a fake listing or reviews just to try and catch us out, since that is completely different from the fraud we see and catch on a daily basis. We know that, when fraudsters attempt to manipulate the rankings on our site, they leave behind patterns that we can and do trace.”

They added that they are “absolutely committed to ensuring that the content on TripAdvisor provides a trusted and useful source of information for those planning a trip anywhere in the world,” highlighting the fact that they removed the listing and the reviews from their site since they realised it ‘failed to meet guidelines’.

TripAdvisor, which currently lists over 170 million reviews, has become somewhat beleaguered of late. Last December, Italian authorities fined TripAdvisor €500,000  after ruling that it had failed to adopt sufficient mechanisms to protect consumers from misleading information, and last week it became the centre of a storm over accusations that they had deleted negative reviews of a National Trust property after a request from the PR department, who’d much rather not have those pesky ratings on the site.

TripAdvisor reportedly deleted more than 200 reviews of Wakehurst Place, a National Trust estate leased by the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew, with many of the negative reviews complaining about a £10-a-day parking charge and about National Trust staff at the property. TripAdvisor said that the deletions were made because they had determined that they did not relate to a genuine first-hand experience. Which is a convenient excuse.

All of this is, of course, great material for the current CMA investigation into the reliability of review sites…

Sky wants BT broadband competition inquiry

June 30th, 2015 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

Picture 2 Sky wants BT broadband competition inquiryEver since BT Sport became a thing, Sky have been furious with their rival. The latest thing that has Sky’s goat is the broadband market in Britain, and they’d like to see a competition inquiry into the whole thing, as they think that BT has an effective monopoly.

Sky said in their letter to Ofcom that they think that a history of under-investment in BT’s infrastructure business, Openreach, had led to problems like faults in the network and long waiting times for new lines to be installed. Openreach operates and looks after the telecoms network in the UK.

Openreach have been accused of missing over 5,000 appointments each month to install new lines for its own customers, and failed to complete a further 4,000 jobs each month.

Sky think that these issues raised as sufficient for Ofcom, who themselves are doing their own review in the sector, to ask the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) to conduct an inquiry into BT’s Openreach division.

Another thing that has caused BT’s rivals to chase after it, is the small matter of BT’s plan to acquire EE – Sky and TalkTalk are not happy about that one bit. The companies have asked Ofcom to break up BT, wanting Openreach be spun off.

“We welcome evidence and analysis from all parties to help inform that work, and we will publish an update later in the summer,” an Ofcom spokesperson said.

BT are trying to swat all this away and said Sky are engaged in “selective spin”. ”We acknowledge there is more to do on customer service but breaking up BT is not the answer,” said a spokesperson. ”It would lead to huge uncertainty and fundamentally undermine the case for future investment dragging the UK backwards at the very time it needs important investment in its infrastructure,” they added.

Asda see profits slide

June 30th, 2015 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

ASDA logo Asda see profits slideThe supermarket wars (millions dead) have been widely publicised, and most eyes have been on Aldi, Lidl, Tesco and Morrisons. However, flying under the radar for the most part have been Asda.

While we’ve all been looking at Aldi and Lidl’s growth, and how it has chipped away at Tesco, one of the retailers that has been faring most badly is Asda, with their market share on a drastic slide. The supermarket’s sales slid 3.5% in the 12 weeks to 21 June.

They’re not alone of course – Tesco and Sainsbury’s saw their sales falling by 1.3%.

Fraser McKevitt, head of retail and consumer insight at Kantar Worldpanel, had this to say: ”The two discounters increased their sales by 15.4% and 9.1% respectively. Aldi reached a new high with a 5.5% share of the market while Lidl, also showing continued growth, rose to 3.9%.”

“Waitrose also grew ahead of the market, with sales increasing by 1.2%, moving to a 5.1% share.”

As previously reported numerous times, the cheaper end of the market is faring well, as is the more middle-class end of the sector. Asda reported their first full-year decline in underlying sales in February, and things don’t appear to be correcting themselves.

And it looks like the supermarkets that are treating their suppliers the best, are the ones who are performing the strongest on the high street. Consumers are still shopping, but can the big guns turn everyone back into their aisles?

Uber bosses arrested

June 30th, 2015 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

uber taxi 300x300 Uber bosses arrestedNo-one likes Uber, apart from all the people who use the service all the time, of course. There’s been a lot of legal bother about the company, and now, two Uber managers have been arrested and taken into custody for questioning regarding “illicit activity” which has been linked to taxi business.

The Uber managers, who have not been named, were detained in Paris yesterday.

This is the latest kerfuffle is in a long line of bad press for the company, which has seen violent strikes, and numerous action from governments trying to shut Uber down and stop them from operating in their cities. One of the biggest rows has been about protecting taxi drivers and regulating labour.

French authorities are angered that Uber doesn’t pay the same taxes and social charges as other taxis do.

The latest news saw Uber saying that they would keep operating until a ruling by France’s top court says otherwise.

Globally speaking, Uber have also argued that taxi systems are outdated and need reform, and that everyone else needs to keep up with apps and geo-localisation.

Channel Tunnel closed due to fire

June 30th, 2015 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

eurostar channel tunnel Channel Tunnel closed due to fireThe Channel Tunnel has been closed thanks to a fire.

This is a result of strike action from French ferry workers, and both Eurostar and Shuttle services have been stopped for the foreseeable after demonstrators caused a fire on the tracks at Calais.

Industrial action has caused all kinds of trouble and travel chaos on both sides of the Channel last week, after people decided to protest, worried about their jobs.

You may have also seen the area in the news, after migrants tried to stow away on lorries that were stuck in queues on the French side of the Channel Tunnel.

Eurostar, who run the trains from St Pancras to France and Belgium, issued a service update saying: “Eurotunnel has been closed following a fire caused by MyFerryLink demonstrators outside the tunnel.”

“Delays to Eurostar services are likely, more information to follow.”

The strike action in Calais has led to the closure of the port and suspension of ferry sailings from Dover also. All services between the Port of Dover and Calais are affected.

Roaming charges – gone in 2017

June 30th, 2015 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

roam 294x300 Roaming charges   gone in 2017European big-cheese agreed today that mobile roaming charges need to die, beginning in 2017. This is very good news indeed.

These new rules will also include net neutrality regulations, which hope to make sure internet service providers (and other businesses) can’t discriminate between different services that run on their data networks.

The reason behind all this is to try and make the EU more profitable. The idea is that, with no mobile boundaries, the easier it will be for people to work.

Of course, the people who are making money from roaming charges aren’t happy about this. Vodafone and Deutsche Telekom are throwing their toys out of the pram and saying that, by removing roaming charges, this might hamper investment in Europe’s mobile and broadband infrastructure.

They’re not convinced that there’s anything good in reducing the costliness of people using their phones throughout Europe, unsurprisingly. What good could come from people being able to talk more freely from different countries and the like, eh?

“Europeans have been calling and waiting for the end of roaming charges, as well as for net neutrality rules,” Andrus Ansip, the European Commission’s vice president for the digital single market, said in a statement. “They have been heard.”

Which trains will be affected by the heatwave?

June 30th, 2015 3 Comments By Mof Gimmers

sunburn 253x300 Which trains will be affected by the heatwave?The trains in Britain are not equipped to deal with the weather. We’re talking pretty much all types of weather here, and seeing as we’re due a heatwave, things are going to get tricky on the rails.

Of course, many trains will lack ventilation and air conditioning, but there’s more. Network Rail has imposed speed restrictions on some services, and in addition to that, they’re advising that everyone checks their journeys before travelling.

A First Great Western spokesperson said: “Network Rail has advised that, due to the anticipated exceptionally hot weather, there will be speed restrictions to protect track points in the Thames Valley region on Tuesday 30 June 2015.”

“As a result there will be no fast trains between London Paddington and Bourne End or Henley-on-Thames from 12pm until 8pm. Trains from London Paddington will terminate at Twyford for a connection with a branch line train to Henley-on-Thames, which will remain on the branch line.”

“Trains from London Paddington will terminate at Maidenhead for a connection with a branch line train to Bourne End, which will remain on the branch line.”

So what’s going on? Why does a bit of sunshine cock things up? The spokesperson continued: “As rails are made out of steel, they expand as they heat up and are subject to strong compression. This expansion has to be managed to reduce the risk of track buckling.”

“If the track does buckle, the line must be closed and the track repaired before services can resume, causing considerable disruption. Usually, these repairs can’t be done until the temperature of the rails has dropped.”

“If a section of track is judged to be at risk, we introduce local speed restrictions – slower trains exert lower forces on the track and reduce the chance of buckling.”

So there you go. Network Rail have even made a little video about it all too.

If you’re unimpressed with any delays or cancellations, then you’d be wise to check out our guide to getting refunds and compensation for train journeys.

One hour delivery from Amazon

June 30th, 2015 1 Comment By Mof Gimmers

amazoninstant One hour delivery from AmazonAre you an Amazon Prime customer and you want your items in a hurry? You just can’t wait to get your hands on that video game or that multipack of undercrackers you bought?

Well, Amazon have a new thing where they’re promising to give you one-hour delivery from 8am ’til midnight.

It is exclusively for Amazon Prime Members and can be utilised via their app. However, it isn’t available to everyone, so don’t start getting too excited yet.

Amazon say: “We now offer one-hour delivery or same-day, two-hour delivery windows on thousands of items in select areas of London!”

They also say: “Shop for thousands of daily essentials, household products, gift items, and more through the Amazon Prime Now app. Select one-hour delivery for £6.99 or choose from FREE same-day, two-hour delivery windows. Prime Now is available from 8am to midnight, 7 days a week in select areas of London. Exclusively for Amazon Prime members. Download the app to get started.”

Or, you can just go down the shops with your legs if you prefer. We don’t care. We’re not your real dad. If you do decide to utilise this though, you can get £20 off a £50 spend with a code, which you can find here.

They’ve even made a video, complete with the now customary twee-music which blights all promotional guff. You can watch that instead of reading any more words.