kebab 300x200 StopTober wants you to stay sober in order to save moneyIt’s the end of September, which might mean you are excited to go and spend this month’s salary on beer and fags at your earliest opportunity, or it might mean you are looking forward to a month of abstinence in the name of StopTober. Which starts tomorrow, being as it is 1st October.

Originally coined as a catchy activity-month rhyming phrase (see also Movember and Vajanuary), the stop smoking month has been hijacked by another charity campaigning for people to have an alcohol free month as well. October is just no fun anymore.

But just in case people think abstinence is boring, Macmillan have today ‘warned’ people about how much they spend on alcohol, attempting to rebrand StopTober as some kind of money-saving, rather than enjoyment-killing wheeze.

Apparently, the average adult in Britain spends almost £50,000 on alcohol during their lifetime. Macmillan’s survey spoke to 2,000 over 18s and found that each Briton spends around £787 a year on alcohol, although this figure was “sizably more” in London. Men spent an average of £934.44 per year, while women spent £678.60.

Even our friend Martin Lewis from Moneysavingexpert.com jumped on the stop-drinking-to-save-money bandwagon, ominously cautioning the “cheap night out that turns into a pocket-killer.” We’re not sure whether he’s referring to the pointless and regret-inducing purchase of stinky kebabs at the end of a night, or those nights when you end up in a kebab shop buying lap-dances…

Hannah Redmond for Macmillan Cancer Support, said: “By abstaining for the month of October and being sponsored to do so, you’ll save money, reap the health benefits and raise vital funds to support people affected by cancer.” While we have nothing against giving money to charity, surely people are going to be more inclined to join in with doing fun things for charity, rather than giving up things you enjoy. Besides, £50 grand over a whole lifetime?

Doesn’t sound like people are trying hard enough…

Anti-deathwatch: HMV

September 30th, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

hmv 300x168 Anti deathwatch: HMVHMV’s rebirth from the jaws of the dumper has been a success!

The entertainment solutions retailer originally filed for administration in January 2013.

But now, they’ve recorded operating profits of almost £17 million in the 11 months after it was rescued by restructuring firm Hilco in 2013.

According to reports set to be filed at Companies House, HMV posted operating profit of £16.7m on sales of £311.2m between January 29 and December 28 2013.

All of the chain – or those that are left – are back in profit, thanks to some wheeler-dealing as regards their debts and overheads, and negotiations with suppliers.

HMV paid out £10m in intercompany charges and £4m in on-off restructuring costs. It also paid £2.3m in interest on loans and working capital provided by Hilco.

After one-off costs, the retailer posted a pre-tax loss of £4.8m.

So that’s good news then.

TNT has a change

September 30th, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

tnt 300x228 TNT has a changeTNT have been having something of a rebrand.

Some designers named Design Bridge have rebranded delivery company TNT, “positioning” it as The People Network and to emphasise this, they’ve created a circular device which represents “perpetual motion”.

Further ponce-speak is to be had, as Design Bridge were asked to come up with something that would “reflect TNT’s vision”.

“The People Network”, reflects the company’s aim to connect people and businesses in a “truly personal, rather than purely professional manner”, according to Design Bridge.

And – Oh God – they hope it will help “galvanise the ‘challenger’ spirit of those working internally at TNT”, as well as TNT customers.

TNT chief executive Tex Gunning, said this with his mouth: “Customers are not barcodes and we are not robots. We all relate to what drives our customers: business growth with a personal touch. Taking time to understand what customers really need distinguishes us from others. We are The People Network.”

There’s an advert too, so feast your eyes

TNT Post rebranded as Whistl earlier this month too. No idea why.

Bitterwallet Facebook censorship Facebook will now follow you around throwing ads at youUpgrade your ad blockers, for Facebook’s ads are now going to start stalking you on the internet.

Starting today, Facebook will use data it gathers from the users for its new ad network, Atlas, which it will serve up ads on non-Facebook sites based on what Facebook knows about you.

Atlas was a Microsoft thing that Facebook scooped up last year to the tune of $100 million. Facebook have tinkered a bit with it a bit, but Atlas is a bit like Google’s AdWords, which will let advertisers follow users across the web and mobile devices.

According to a blog post from Atlas’ head, Erik Johnson: ”Cookies don’t work on mobile, are becoming less accurate in demographic targeting and can’t easily or accurately measure the customer purchase funnel across browsers and devices or into the offline world.”

Let us all enjoy that once again; “customer purchase funnel.

This opens a hellmouth of new opportunities for online advertising, with Atlas acting as an alternative to Google ads. Feel free to add your own ‘do bears shit in the woods’ sentiments in the comments below.

Morrisons & Lloyds tackle dodgy finances

September 30th, 2014 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

morrisons 300x300 Morrisons & Lloyds tackle dodgy finances

Morrisons’ former head of tax and group treasurer has been charged with insider dealing over snide trades in Ocado shares which were made last year. It just so happens that this all went down when the supermarket was getting into a partnership with the online grocer.

Paul Coyle was arrested at the start of the year and now has to appear at Harrogate Magistrates Court with two charges levelled at him, announced by the Financial Conduct Authority, relating to trades made when Ocado shares rocketed by 150% and a 36% spike on the day the deal with Morrisons was confirmed.

Of course, Morrisons are distancing themselves from all this, with their management saying that they are completely satisfied that they followed proper procedures. They said: “Morrisons is satisfied with its governance and procedures concerning the handling of market sensitive data in this case and found that the company’s procedures had been properly followed.”

“These accusations, if proven, would be the result of an individual acting alone.”

Meanwhile, over at the Lloyds Banking Group, they have sacked eight members of staff for their part in manipulating Libor and fraudulently reducing the cost of access to the Government’s Special Liquidity Scheme, say reports. The bank has also held back £3m in bonus payments to the individuals too.

Lloyds chairman Lord Blackwell has described the actions of the employees as “completely unacceptable”, but surely, not at all surprising?

In addition to fiddling Libor, Lloyds have also been hit with a penalty for rigging the ‘repo rate’, which is used to calculate the level of fees it had to pay for access to the Bank of England’s liquidity scheme, which helped to lower the cost of funding during the credit crunch.

Thus far, Lloyds have been fined £218m for their part in all this, and Lloyds Banking Group chief executive Antonio Horta-Osario says: “Having now taken disciplinary action against those individuals responsible for the totally unacceptable behaviour identified by the regulators’ investigations, the board and the group management team are committed to preventing this type of behaviour happening again.”

We’ll see.

People exchange their kids for free WiFi

September 30th, 2014 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

stupid children 214x300 People exchange their kids for free WiFiSix fully grown humans who should know better agreed to give their children away in exchange for free WiFi. Have they been arrested and the kids taken off into care?

No.

That’s because this was some kind of social experiment where researchers set up a WiFi hotspot in London which had a lengthy t&c section.

The terms contained a “deliberately ridiculous” term which, if you’d read, said that in return for the free access to the internet, the individual using the service was prepared to “render up their eldest child for the duration of eternity”.

The report is called ‘Tainted Love: How Wi-Fi Betrays Us’ by security and privacy company F-Secure. It states that, regarding people allowing their children to be given up for eternity: ”Despite this, six people decided that it was a fair exchange and signed up.”

Hopefully, the researchers will see the clause out in scenes akin to the baby being fought for in Ghostbusters 2. Hopefully they’ll have a massive magic oil painting too.

The report concluded: “Our results illustrate the very real problem of the modern world which is that – while massively dependent on the technology – the population is unaware of its capabilities for surveillance and intrusion into their lives. The problem is that people implicitly trust their technology and are not aware of the implications of that trust.”

“There is an insatiable pursuit of bandwidth, driven mainly by the desire to have video, data-rich apps and super-fast website performance on the move.”

“This appetite for bandwidth has blinded consumers to the risks that they are taking. In pursuit of free bandwidth, people are prepared to do anything as our experiment showed with its draconian terms and conditions.”

In fairness, the six people involved might have really quite horrible children. You just don’t know do you? Have you met some of them? They can be infuriating.

TL;DR – Breaking news: People don’t read terms and conditions on anything, ever.

Sainsbury’s drop a shop window clanger

September 30th, 2014 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

Window displays can be works of art, but mostly, they’re a load of cobblers. However, Sainsbury’s have taken it next level thanks to whacking a poster that was clearly meant for staff only in the front of one of their stores.

Where a nice offer or charity drive should be, instead, some berk has put a poster up which says ‘Hey! Staff! Lets try and rinse people for a bit more money! Right guys? Right!

Byt7 gMCYAA6qhs 500x375 Sainsburys drop a shop window clanger

The poster, as you can see, regards the Fifty pence challenge (no, not a thing where you place a 50p between your buttocks and try and drop the coin in a glass) where the staff have been challenged.

“Let’s encourage every customer to spend an additional 50p during each shopping trip between now and the year-end,” says the poster THAT THEY HAVE STUCK IN THE FRONT WINDOW.

[via twitter]

Asda and Sainsburys have a petrol war

September 30th, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

petrolpump 300x200 Asda and Sainsburys have a petrol warMotorists are in luck with regards to slightly cheaper petrol, thanks to Asda and Sainsbury’s duking it out between at the pumps.

It’s a petrol WAR! No, not like the war for oil or the war on drugs. This is a lot more brutal than those.

Sainsbury’s announced it would cut petrol and diesel prices by up to 5p per litre.

Not to be outdone, Asda responded by unveiling reductions of 1p and up to 2p per litre for petrol and diesel respectively at its stores.

Apparently price cuts are likely to be larger in heavily populated areas where prices are already lower due to greater competition from the likes of Asda.

A man from the AA, who is known as Luke Bosdet, said: “The real value will be in places, often small market towns, suffering from the postcode pump price lottery – having to pay at least 3p a litre more than in neighbouring, more competitive towns. If that pulls down the price among other retailers, that will be a big benefit.”

In more heavily populated areas a 5p cut, amounting to £2.50 off the average tank of fuel, would only bring Sainsbury’s in line with cheaper rivals, he added. Although industry insiders questioned the timing of the announcement by Sainsbury’s, who are heavily tipped to unveil a dismal set of trading results later this week.

Brian Madderson, of the Petrol Retailers’ Association, said: “My initial cynical reaction is that this is an attempt to divert the press and the public away from some pretty bad news on their store sales.”

“Five pence per litre, in terms of an at-the-pump price rather than a loyalty card, is probably one of the biggest if not the biggest potential cut I have come across in the last five years so the cynic in me says there is much more to this than meets the eye.”

Grab petrol cheap anyway! Pay with your lives later!

Aldi hits record profits

September 29th, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

aldi logo 252x300 Aldi hits record profitsAldi have announced record financial results for this year.

The supermarket has seen sales grow from £3.9 billion to £5.3 billion since 2013.

This is a combination of market share increasing, a summer of offers and competition and people generally fed up of Tesco and the like.

The supermarket has also rejigged it’s fresh food areas and brought in upmarket vibes with new ranges.

Aldi UK’s pre-tax profit rose 65% according to the Financial Times, to £260.9 million in the year to December 31 2013.

Tesco meanwhile has announced their third profit warning in as many months after Britain’s biggest retailer overstated its first-half profit by £250 milion.

It’s not looking too good for Sainsbury as they’re about to announce a grim tale of decline and sales later this week.

Roman Heidi, group managing director of Aldi UK, said: “We keep prices constantly low while keeping product quality consistently high, which is exactly what shoppers want.

“They had become used to thinking you have to pay more for better products. We’ve shown them this doesn’t have to be the case.”

Spending still a bit squeezy

September 29th, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

clothes shop 300x225 Spending still a bit squeezyThe British consumer looks like they have another three years of spending squeezes.

The annual wage growth is likely to remain well below the 4.5%-to-5% rises seen before the financial crisis struck in 2008, according to a EY Item Club survey.

Median pay in real-terms is forecast to fall from £18,852 in 2008 to £17,827 by 2017, the survey suggests.

The Item club, a non-governmental forecaster that uses HM Treasury’s model of the UK economy, believes that record numbers of people in work – currently 30.6 million – will act as a brake on wage rises.

Their report expects the gradual pace of consumer spending to be around 2% in the next two years, as opposed to the 3.7% it was last decade, pre-all the hassle.

Martin Beck, the EY Item Club’s senior economic adviser said “Total household incomes have strengthened because more people are in work, but individuals do not have extra money in their pockets,”

“Real wages are being held back by strong growth in the supply of workers and the fact that firms are facing increased non-wage costs, such as new pension schemes,” he added.

Mr Beck also believes the so-called “squeezed middle” – the charming name awarded to households containing neither highly-skilled nor low paid workers – will continue to see limited growth in disposable income as pay rises remain below the rate of inflation – currently 1.5% – and competition for jobs remains strong.

Osborne announces pension changes

September 29th, 2014 2 Comments By Ian Wade

pensions 300x187 Osborne announces pension changesGeorge Osborne is to announce plans where he will abolish ‘death tax’.

The new move will allow thousands of pensioners to leave more money to their families, or cat homes.

Next April, coincidentally a month before the election, the Chancellor will scrap the “punitive” 55% on drawdown pension funds due when the holder dies.

More than 400,000 have drawdown pensions, which are invested in the stock market. When they retire, they draw an annual income.

Drawdown pensions are seen as more attractive than annuities, which lock people into a fixed annual income.

The move is to be announced at the Tory Party conference this week, which is jizzing all over Birmingham.

It is hoped that elderly people will take more advantage of these measures, which is pretty much designed with driving them to vote Conservative at the next election. George Osborne blahed out that these moves will help those who “worked and saved all their lives will be able to pass on their hard-earned pensions to their families tax free”.

That bloody ‘hard-earned’

Currently pension pots are taxed at 55% when someone aged 75 or over dies. But they are taxed at the marginal rate in the case of those who die aged under 75. In future, when someone older than 75 dies, their relations will have to pay income tax at only the marginal rate — normally 20%. No tax will apply to the relations of people who die aged under 75.

Him again: “Freedom for people’s pensions, a pension tax abolished, passing on your pension tax free. Not a promise for the next Conservative government, but put in place by Conservatives in Government now.”

You can use your phone on Euro flights now

September 29th, 2014 1 Comment By Ian Wade

laptop airplane travel computer 300x225 You can use your phone on Euro flights nowEuropean plane passengers can now use their smartphones and tablets on the planes! Yes, as of now there is no need to use Airplane Mode. Or talk to other people!

Now, Europeans can livetweet annoying crying children on flights and immediately share Vines where they’re mid crash!

The EASA (European Aviation Safety Agency) has lifted the restriction, meaning phones can be used even during take off and landing, which was previously limited to Airplane Mode only. Amazing scenes.

In a statement, the EASA said “The new guidance allows airlines to permit personal electronic devices to stay switched on, without the need to be in airplane mode,”

“This is the latest regulatory step toward enabling the ability to offer ‘gate-to-gate’ telecommunication or Wifi services.”

Passengers won’t be allowed to use their devices fully just yet, as each airline must undergo and assessment to check that their aircraft communications will not be affected by the move.

But the EASA is hoping that the airlines will have the rules in place in the next eight months.

No iPhone refunds from Phones4u

September 29th, 2014 2 Comments By Mof Gimmers

pr374 No iPhone refunds from Phones4uInitially, Phones4u said that they would be offering a refund to any customer who had pre-ordered an iPhone 6. However, they’ve gone back on that claim saying that it is very unlikely that you’ll see your money again.

We Deathwatched Phones4u as they vanished into an administration hole, which of course, led to thousands of staff losing their jobs and over 500 stores closing.

The phone vendor originally said: “Any orders that have not already been dispatched will be cancelled and any payments refunded to customers.” Now, administrators PwC said that they don’t have any phones to give out and that they have contacted over 130 people to tell them that they “cannot process a refund.”

“Customers who have paid using credit cards should contact their credit card company to try and seek resolution to this matter,” they concluded. While your credit card may reimburse you, this is a swift kick in the balls to customers who have paid over £600 for their new iPhone. If you’re unsure of what to do, get in touch with your credit card supplier and if they are being difficult, tell them you have protection under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act.

PwC continued: “If you are unable to obtain a refund through your credit card company and wish to register a claim, your claim (to the extent you have one) will rank as an unsecured claim in the Administration. Please note, given the level of secured liabilities, if there is a dividend to unsecured creditors, any payment if made at all, would not be for many months and is likely to be negligible.”

If you’d like to know about Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act, click here.

LG fail at trolling Apple thanks to using iPhone

September 29th, 2014 1 Comment By Mof Gimmers

Trolling, done properly, is an artform. People mistake simply abusing someone as trolling. Trolling is when you get someone apoplectic with frustration without them knowing you were just getting a rise out of them.

Well, LG in France thought they’d mock Apple during the awfully named ‘Bendgate’*, but they dropped a clanger.

lg france tweet on bendgate 500x375 LG fail at trolling Apple thanks to using iPhone

While LG were chuckling to themselves at their very modern marketing jape, everyone pointed out that they’d mocked Apple while using Twitter on an iPhone.

The company said in their tweet, while talking about the LG G Flex smartphone: “Our phone doesn’t bend, it flexes…on purpose. #bendgate”

But the bloody idiots forgot to send the tweet from their desktop or, indeed, the LG G Flex which would’ve been a secure, tight trolling. Not only were they failing to mock Apple, but they were also inadvertently saying; ‘Hey! Buy our phones, even though our social media team doesn’t believe in them and would rather own a handset from a rival!’

The tweet was removed once LG had discovered the “issue”, but alas, everyone had already got a screengrab. Still, LG will be happy enough that they’re getting any coverage at all during the current Apple-fest, even if it does make them look like thundering bozos.

*As an aside, why do we add ‘gate’ on the end of things? If that was the correct procedure, Nixon would’ve been embroiled in Watergategate.

Vauxhall warn of wonky Corsas

September 29th, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

corsa 300x192 Vauxhall warn of wonky CorsasVauxhall have put out a warning to owners of their Adams, Corsas and Corsavans, after a fault was found with the steering.

After a routine quality control assessment in their plants in Germany and Spain, the company spotted issues with some of the models registered since May.

The car company quickly issued a warning to customers – approximately 3000 of the possibly hooky models are said to have been sold – that they should not drive the cars until they have been inspected.

“Vauxhall puts the safety and convenience of its customers first and, as this condition concerns their safety, the company is taking immediate action” Vauxhall has said in \ statement.

They’ve also told owners to head to the Vauxhall website to see if their vehicle is one of the ones affected by the issues raised.

Vauxhall said: “As a precaution, these vehicles should not be driven prior to inspection. Vauxhall puts the safety and convenience of its customers first and as this condition concerns their safety, the company is taking immediate action.”

“Customers can call the Vauxhall customer assistance centre for advice on 0800 026 0034 between 9am and 5.30pm.”