Man sues Lidl for opening a bit later than usual

February 12th, 2016 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

lidllogo1 300x298 Man sues Lidl for opening a bit later than usualWelcome to the story of David Benson. He’s 65 and irritated with Lidl. Why? Well, his local store opened up a bit later than it would normally, which caused his mince beef to go off. And he’s suing them about it.

Benson arrived at the Lidl in Edgware around 10am on a hot day last summer. On Lidl’s website, they said they were opening at that time, but he noticed a ‘hand-written note’ stuck on the door, saying it wouldn’t be opening ’til 11am.

As such, Benson claims that he was forced to wait outside until they opened, and during that time, his meat went off.

He said: “I realise there are those who would suggest that I am possibly over-reacting but I can assure you there were a lot of very unhappy people at 10am on that hot summer’s day”.

He’d bought his mince at a local butchers first, and went to Lidl to get the rest of his groceries. Benson, who happens to be an estate agent, said that he phoned Lidl customer services as soon as he got to the closed supermarket. He was told that Lidl’s opening hours had ‘recently changed’, and basically, they’d not updated the website yet.

Benson then wrote to Lidl, and he was offered vouchers. He says that he was treated ‘with complete contempt’.

A Lidl spokesperson said: “We can confirm the customer got in touch with us at 10.35am on June 7, 2015, and our customer services team investigated the matter fully. Our customer services team spoke to the customer over the phone and explained this, they apologised for the confusion and offered the customer vouchers as a gesture of goodwill.”

Fans of legal dramas – Mr Benson’s small claims case will be heard at Watford County Court on February 18th.

First-time buyers spending £50k on rent

February 12th, 2016 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

housemoney 300x213 First time buyers spending £50k on rentBuying a house in 2016 is hard if you’re a first-time buyer. Well, here’s another kick in their gussets – if they’re buying this year, by the time they get the keys, they will have spent an average of £52,900 on rent.

This is according to the numbers crunched by the  Association of Residential Lettings Agents (ARLA), who note that, if you’re just starting to rent now, by the time you buy a house, you will have spent £64,400 on rent. Lovely, cheerful news there.

They reckon that rent will account for 16.4% of total lifetime earnings for today’s first-time buyers. Of course, there’s regional variations, but it is still a lot of money.

“Rents are becoming alarmingly unaffordable due to the lack of available housing,” says David Cox, managing director of Arla. ”The north-south divide we’re currently seeing in the UK is a clear illustration of this. The London rental market is competitive, with far more prospective tenants looking for properties than actual houses available.”

“This is pushing up rents in the capital, which will continue to put pressure on surrounding areas, including the south east of England, as Londoners relocate to avoid high rent costs.”

The figures used were compiled by the Centre for Economic and Business Research, and are based on the average first-time buyer being 31 and people moving out at 18.

Of course, the price of houses is going up, but so too is rents being given to landlords. Rents paid to private landlords in the UK went up by 2.5% last year.

Trains not good value, because of less interest?

February 12th, 2016 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

train1 297x300 Trains not good value, because of less interest?A report from the Commons Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has asked the Department for Transport (DfT) to look at different commercial strategies if competition for rail franchises doesn’t sort itself out soon.

They’ve said that maybe, someone might want to look at other markets where there’s fewer companies involved, like the energy market, to see if there’s anything to learn from there. Of course, the energy market has been a rampant success for consumers, hasn’t it? Eh? No. Of course it hasn’t.

Anyway, the committee said that the DfT, when awarding rail franchises in England and Wales to private companies, need at least three bids (per franchise) to get the required “competitive tension” and “increase the likelihood of receiving high-quality bids”.

However, do companies want to get involved? The committee continued that there are “signs that the level of interest from the market in rail franchising is dwindling,” and that “there is a real risk to value for money if market interest declines any further.”

This is a problem. Last week, South Western trains was offered up, and only two companies showed an interest.

Committee chairwoman Meg Hillier said: “This hardly inspires confidence and highlights the urgent need for the department to develop new approaches it can draw on when there is a risk competition will not deliver the result rail users and the wider public deserve.”

The DfT put a statement out about all this, saying; “Since the launch of the franchising programme in March 2013, the department has introduced a series of measures which has brought new companies to the market. We have 11 owning groups already able to bid for franchises and we are working to actively seek further new entrants to the market.”

UK companies must now show gender pay gap difference

February 12th, 2016 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

uk money UK companies must now show gender pay gap differenceThe banks and bigger companies in Britain are going to have to reveal the difference in pay and bonuses that are issued to men and women who work for them. This is all part of a plan from the government, who want to tackle inequality, and close the gender pay gap.

And this will be enshrined in law, which means that anyone who has more than 250 employees on their books, will have to publish these figures, while the government will publish league tables to show the worst offenders.

The inclusion of bonuses ensures that businesses can’t discriminate “via the back door”, according to a Government spokesperson.

There’s also going to be renewed encouragement to get more young women to take maths and sciences at A level. With only 24% of girls taking “STEM” subjects, the government want to see a wider spread of sexes in engineering and other areas.

Women and Equalities Minister, Nicky Morgan, said the Government wanted to secure “real equality” for women: “In recent years we’ve seen the best employers make ground-breaking strides in tackling gender inequality. But the job won’t be complete until we see the talents of women and men recognised equally and fairly in every workplace.”

“That’s why I am announcing measures to support women in their careers from the classroom to the boardroom.”

We won’t see any league tables of offending businesses until 2018, which gives the worst performing companies the chance to get things sorted before then. Of course, there’s likely to be companies that are screwing men over in favour of women too, which means they’ll be named and shamed too. Will their be penalties for these companies?

We’ll see.

Rise in landline prices is being looked at by Ofcom

February 12th, 2016 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

telephone operator Rise in landline prices is being looked at by OfcomWith fewer people actually needing a landline in 2016, Ofcom are monitoring the price rises of phone lines, which have gone up 13%.

Those who only have a landline phone, it has been suggested, are subsidising the cost of the broadband roll out across the UK. If Ofcom find foul play, they’ll have to take action.

The regulators report showed that the average standard landline price had gone from £15.70 in 2013 to £17.77 last year. While a lot of people have offset this by getting better broadband deals, what about those with no internet connection?

The number of people without an internet connection is larger than you might think – 10% of homes have only a landline phone, which is somewhere in the region of 2.6million. Of course, a lot of those people are pensioners and people with low incomes.

The Ofcom study says: “These voice only customers also have fewer options from switching. The majority are with BT, with TalkTalk no longer offering a standalone voice service and Virgin Media and Sky offering but not actively promoting theirs.”

BT have raised prices for line rental, to between £17.99 and £19.99 a month for their customers. Call charges also went up. Sky put their line rental up to £17.40 just before Christmas.

An Ofcom spokesperson said: “We’re concerned about increasing landline prices and how this particularly affects elderly and vulnerable people who depend on their home phone, but are less likely to switch.”

“We’re monitoring prices extremely closely and will step in, as necessary, to ensure vulnerable consumers are protected.”

Asda scrapping multi-buy offers

February 12th, 2016 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

ASDA logo Asda scrapping multi buy offersAfter Sainsbury’s decided to beat the regulators to the punch, and stop doing confusing, and potentially misleading multi-buy deals, Asda have got on board with the idea too, saying that they’ve removed 133 multi-buy products from their supermarkets.

Now, we are just waiting for the other supermarkets to stop their BOGOF deals as well.

An Asda spokesperson said: “We have always prioritised low prices over promotions, but we also understand that it’s about getting the right balance for customers. We’re pleased that our competitors are finally coming around to our way of thinking, but we will continue to lead the way.”

“For example this week alone we’ve removed 133 multi-buys in favour of everyday low prices and we’ve never used BOGOFs.”

Tesco will be following suit today, cutting back on the number of these promotions. Of course, consumers have long been saying they prefer the Aldi/Lidl model, or just keeping things cheap, rather than burying everything in offers.

Either way, wave goodbye to BOGOF and multi-buy deals… and invariably say hello to something else which is potentially going to mislead a load of shoppers.

KFC table service for Valentine’s

February 12th, 2016 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

300px kfc logo svg KFC table service for ValentinesHave you got kind of relationship with your better half, where you are comfortable enough to do things that don’t require a barrow-load of cash on Valentine’s Day? Have you got a sense of humour? Like greasy-ass fried chicken?

You’re in all kinds of luck, because KFC is going to be trialling a thing where you get table service on your date night. Of course, there’s going to be a lot of people being incredibly sniffy about this, but think about it – eating chicken and sitting on your behind even more, with a person you like. Fantastic.

The KFC date-night service will even give you flowers, some linen napkins, a candelabra, and the staff will bring you your bucket of chicken on a little stand, like you’re fancier than the colonel himself. Hopefully, they’ll have a posh man to come and ask you if you’d like to try the fizzy pop, like it is wine as well.

Again. It is clearly meant to be silly, and no, you don’t have to go, and the human race hasn’t reach a low point. This is clearly a brilliant thing, and BW is hoping that they’ll even cut our food up for us and feed it to us.

If you want in, you’ll have to make your way to the Fishergate branch in Preston. Why this particular outlet? Well, it was the first ever KFC in the whole of the UK, but it is also the place where Bob and Pat Fogg met in 1965, who have a date night in the restaurant once a week, every week, since that day.

Awww!

Seriously though – flowers are all well and good, but we’d sooner have a load of chicken wings and legs to plough through. This is clearly a fantastic idea AND it passes Dr Nick Riviera’s ‘window to weight gain‘ test! Result!

Friday’s Tube strike is cancelled

February 11th, 2016 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

london underground sign 300x199 Fridays Tube strike is cancelledIt is hard to keep up with the sheer volume of strikes that have been circling around the London Underground lately, and there was set to be one this Friday.

The Tube’s maintenance workers were going to down tools on Friday, but it has been called off, according to the RMT union. Great news if you live in the capital, or visiting. For those who don’t – carry on not caring.

Anyway, roughly 1,500 workers were going to walk out, over disputes about safety.

General secretary Mick Cash said: “This dispute is over an outrageous attempt to casualise and undermine the jobs of our London Underground track patrol members through an extension of the use of private contractors. The plan must be halted.”

“RMT will continue to fight all attempts to undermine and casualise jobs across London Underground as the company looks to cut corners to meet Government austerity targets.”

“This union will not accept the undermining of jobs, conditions and safety or the creeping privatisation of functions.”

Findus Crispy Pancakes RIP

February 11th, 2016 1 Comment By Mof Gimmers

crispy pancakes 300x225 Findus Crispy Pancakes RIPDon the black armbands, because Findus are killing off the mighty Crispy Pancakes

According to reports, Young’s Seafood (who own the Findus brand in the UK) are going to stop using the name in the next month or so. We suspect there’ll be riots, as people aim to stockpile the deliciously vile treat.

There is good news though for fans of molten innards inside a breaded pancake - Findus Crispy Pancakes are going to be involved in a straight swap for a new thing under the new Original Pancake Co brand. We suspect that these new ones will be a bit healthier, which is not what we’re after. We’ll reserve judgement for now.

Remarkably, this product has been on the market since the late ’50s, but alas, it took a hammering during the horsemeat scandal. Findus’ lasagne had horses in it, which people didn’t like at all, for some reason.

Anyway, for Findus Crispy Pancake die-hards, a black day. Or a change of packaging. Depends which way you want to look at it.

Gretcyh Lady Gaga Telephone 300x168 BT to tackle nuisance calls... TalkTalks ears start burningBT have announced that they’re going to eradicate nuisance calls! They think this is something of a breakthrough, after they managed to create intelligent blacklists that should sort all this out. The company’s analysts are now using their brains and computers, and are able spot nuisance callers with greater accuracy than ever before.

British Telecom are going to draw up their own list, and then allow customers to put their own in too. Individual numbers can be entered, as well as types of number such as international numbers and withheld numbers.

They reckon this will block up to 25 million phone calls per week. This is all very promising, isn’t it? Is it also making the cynic in you kick in? We’re awaiting a system where some companies can pay BT to be allowed through the net.

Anyway, through all this, TalkTalk’s ears pricked up, and they started coughing loudly in the background; “coughcoughwealreadydothiscough“.

They sent a statement to BW towers, saying: ”TalkTalk has already been blocking nuisance and scam calls for over two years, during which time we have been the only provider to offer this service for free. We now block 70 million unwanted calls a month from reaching TalkTalk homes, which is double the amount we blocked last year.”

“We’re pleased to see other providers follow our lead in taking a stand against nuisance calls. But this is an urgent problem, which can only be tackled if government mandates all telecoms providers to offer free call blocking.”

Shade.

Price drops from British Gas and EDF

February 11th, 2016 1 Comment By Mof Gimmers

British Gas 300x193 Price drops from British Gas and EDFAfter pretty much everyone has already announced price drops, British Gas and EDF are crowing about dropping theirs. Nice of you to join the party.

British Gas are going to knock 5.1% off their standard gas price from  March, which is going to save the average customer around £31 per year. With all that extra money in your pocket, maybe you could buy a helicopter and a volcano lair, and invest with whatever’s left over.

Anyway, EDF Energy then jumped aboard the price cut wagon, and said that they’re going to cut 5% off gas prices. That’s worth around £31 too, and that will come into play on March 24th.

Of course, E.On, Npower, SSE and Scottish Power have already announced their price drops, and they’re all around the same percentage, all ending up in similar savings for the average customer. Not one of these companies has dropped the price for electricity though, even though wholesale prices having dropping there as well.

Don’t think we all haven’t noticed.

Not that this will stop the energy companies feeling very pleased with themselves. British Gas boss Mark Hodges said: “Today we’re announcing a further reduction to ensure our prices remain market-leading. Taken together, our three price reductions will bring the average household’s annual energy bill down by almost £100.”

“British Gas will be cheaper than 95% of the market, for a typical household on a standard dual-fuel tariff. Competitive pricing is the way to retain existing customers and win new business in this hard-fought market.”

What about EDF? Well, managing director Beatrice Bigois said: “We are pleased that we can reduce customers’ gas bills for the second time in just over a year. Our prices are under constant review and today’s announcement reflects falls in wholesale gas costs. There are other costs impacting customers’ energy bills that are beyond our control – these increased steadily during 2015.”

Burger King to serve hot dogs

February 11th, 2016 2 Comments By Mof Gimmers

Fast food has been a staple in our lives for a long, long time, with fried chicken and burger joints cropping up all over the place. However, one thing that never really made it to the chains, is the might hot dog. You would’ve thought that, with the crap that goes into sausages, and the potential for mark-up, they would have been all over this.

Anyway, Burger King are sorting that out – of a fashion. They’ve announced that hot dogs are going to be added to their menu – look at the state of those rascals!

burger king hot dogs 500x500 Burger King to serve hot dogs

These are beef sausages, which isn’t exactly the news we were hoping for, and of course, they’re being trialled in America first which means Europe will have to wait. Of course, Europe is where all the best sausages are, so maybe BK are worried about our snobby ways?

Anyway, if you’re in America, you can keep an eye out for these from February 23rd.

You’ll be able to get a Classic Grilled Dog (which comes with mustard, ketchup, chopped onions, and some relish) or you can get stuck into the Chili Cheese Dog, which comes with… you’ve guessed it! Chesse and chilli con carne on top.

BOGOF deals to be a thing of the past?

February 11th, 2016 2 Comments By Mof Gimmers

supermarket sweep b 300x225 BOGOF deals to be a thing of the past?Buy-one-get-one-free deals could soon be a thing of the past, after research showed that customers where being ‘seduced’ into spending an extra grand every year for no good reason. A lot of the time, these deals result in needless waste too, but should they be stopped?

Well, the Money Advice Service (MAS) found that 76% of people regularly spend more than they mean to thanks to these offers in supermarkets. Now, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) are sniffing around it, and could take action.

A spokesman for the CMA said: “We have been undertaking further analysis of the potentially misleading practices identified in our report and establishing our priorities for further action.”

Research showed that consumers are spending £11.14 more than they intended to, on average. With the average person going to the supermarket over two times per week, it was worked-out that this could see someone spending around £1,274 a year, when they didn’t need to. In addition to that, the survey asked over 2,000 consumers to pick the best value products among a load of typical supermarket deals. One-in-fifty people identified the one that was best value.

All this considered, you can see why we’ve got an issue.

John Penberthy-Smith, customer director for the MAS, said: “The problem is that quite often we see a special offer at the supermarket and we don’t want to miss out – so we throw it into our trolley without really thinking about whether it is a good deal or whether we actually need it.”

“Often deals can be difficult to understand and compare with other prices. Then there’s waste – even if the offers are cheaper, bigger packets or 50% extra are not always good value for money if we end up chucking most of it away. The best thing to do if you want to save cash is to write a shopping list and try to stick to it. You can also try shopping when you’ve just eaten and you’re not tired.”

Amazon t&cs include zombie attacks

February 10th, 2016 4 Comments By Mof Gimmers

amazon logo 300x298 Amazon t&cs include zombie attacksAmazon announced their new game engine yesterday, called Lumberyard, and in the terms and conditions, they included exemptions that allow it to be used when zombies attack. Yes. You read that right. Zombies, in a multinational company’s t&cs.

What’s this Lumberyard all about? Well, if you don’t know what it is, basically, it is a free tool for developers so they can make their own games, provided they promise to buy cloud services for the games from Amazon. So far, so thrilling.

Like most things, there’s a bunch of restrictions in place from Amazon, but not anything stopping you during a zombie onslaught.

Have a look at the last couple of lines in this (click on the image to enlarge).

Ca2Tdu WIAE kx2 500x86 Amazon t&cs include zombie attacks

As you can see, rules will be lifted in the event “of a widespread viral infection transmitted via bites or contact with bodily fluids that causes human corpses to reanimate and seek to consume living human flesh, blood, brain or nerve tissue and is likely to result in the fall of organized civilization”.

Pretty dark, Amazon. Do they know something the rest of us don’t? It wouldn’t surprise us if Amazon are reanimated the dead to work in their warehouses for cheaper labour, to be perfectly honest.

Have you been shopping at IKEA, and got yourself the glass Lock and Hyby lampshades? Well, you might need to return them, as there’s a recall on them over fears that they’re going to fall from your ceiling and end up cutting you open, like you’ve been set upon by a rubbish hooligan.

The Lock and Hyby glass lampshades have reportedly caused 224 incidents around the world. IKEA have said: “We have received reports that Lock and Hyby ceiling lamp shades have fallen. In order to safeguard customers and avoid further incidents we are recalling the products.”

They look like this.

Ikea lamps 1500 2682449a 500x339 Ikea recall Lock and Hyby lampshades over injury concerns

They say: “IKEA urges customers who have a LOCK or HYBY ceiling lamp to immediately remove it and bring it back to any IKEA store where they will receive a full refund.”

“IKEA has received customer reports of ceiling lamp glass shades falling. In a few cases medical treatment was required and one customer reportedly needed stitches.”

“IKEA takes product safety very seriously. All our products are tested to and comply with applicable testing standards and legislation. In spite of this we have received reports that LOCK and HYBY ceiling lamps have fallen. In order to safeguard customers and avoid further incidents we are recalling the products for a full refund.”

“The LOCK and HYBY ceiling lamps have been sold in all IKEA markets, LOCK since 2002 and HYBY since 2012. LOCK and HYBY ceiling lamps can be returned to any IKEA store for a full refund. Proof of purchase (receipt) is not required for a full refund. For more information, please visit www.IKEA.uk or contact IKEA 0203 645 0010.”