McDonald’s defend zero hour contracts

August 26th, 2015 2 Comments By Mof Gimmers

mcdonalds McDonalds defend zero hour contractsIt won’t surprise anyone that a company like McDonald’s employs people with zero hour contracts. We believe that Hamburglar has been on one for the past few years.

Well, the UK boss of the meat vendor has decided to defend the company’s use of zero-hours contracts, by saying what all the other businesses who use them say: it helps staff to stay flexible. It also screws a load of people who want more work, but there you go.

Paul Pomroy, while speaking to the Beeb, said that all UK employees were notified of shifts two weeks in advance and were allowed to work elsewhere. He says: ”Jobs at McDonald’s are good jobs. Our staff are trained well and are proud to work for the company.”

Stop laughing at the back.

McD’s are also looking at how they will pay the new National Living Wage to staff who are 25 and over, with Pomroy saying that it’ll be a burden on the company. That’d be the company that are worth $92.5bn worldwide, the poor lambs. Oh, and they’re the same company who are being investigated for dodging $1bn in tax too, and that the EU are investigating them. The struggle is real, clearly.

Of course, Pomroy says that McDonald’s have paid a “fair” amount of tax: “I’m confident we’re going to come out clean, we have paid within 1% of the UK corporation tax for a number of years.”

Maybe the new table service will be the thing that sorts everything out, so we forget about McDonald’s numerous dicky doings.

Google to warn you about potholes

August 26th, 2015 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

pothole Google to warn you about potholesWith 7 out of every 10 drivers hitting potholes, and the cost of fixing them coming in at £12bn and taking 13 years to sort out, you might say potholes are a bit of a problem for everyone.

Well, Google have noticed this and are getting in on the action. Of course, they’re not going to fix the potholes themselves, but rather, try and win you over by warning you about them and where they are.

The internet behemoth is already a part of your travel, with Google Maps having all manner of features and Google giving you loads of alerts for things. You can already see if there’s a shedload of traffic en route, and get directions to where you’re going.

Now, they’re aiming to make your ride a bit smoother by telling you about imminent potholes that you’re heading toward.

Google has filed a patent which would allow them to gauge if there are potholes on your journey, using your car’s GPS navigation system and other sensors.

One of the things Google might do, is to monitor the vibrations that rattle through your car, in a bid to track and collate where all the potholes in the world are. They’d cross reference that with GPS data, and hey presto! You’ve got a living map of dodgy roads. With Maps, they’d presumably then suggest alternative routes to save your suspension from getting hammered.

Naturally, Google is making a fleet of autonomous cars that might really want to know about all this.

lidllogo1 300x298 Lidl to bring out Smarter Shopping card and Autumn RangeLidl are going to win some friends with the introduction of the new ‘Smarter Shopping’ card, which will let you gobble up a different promotion each week. However, it’ll only be available in Scotland… for now at least.

The first of the offers came last week, where you can get £5 off when spending £25, and from then on, the following deals will be highlighted online and in-store, for 10 weeks.

Now, this isn’t a loyalty card, thanks to the time frame on it, and Lidl have said that they won’t be collecting data on their shoppers. Basically, you redeem you rewards at the checkout, and there’s no limit on how many times you can use the card.

Nationwide, Lidl have also unveiled their Autumn range of clothes, which has got some mutters of approval. Certain quarters are rather excited at the classic leather biker jacket that is going on sale, for the price of a paltry £14.99. Lidl sold the item last year, which sold out in three days!

They’ll also be selling a black denim jacket (also £14.99) and a Chanel-inspired boucle jacket, whatever that means.

There’s also going to be some leather-look headphones for £7.99 and some mirrored shades for £2.99. Basically, if you buy all of this stuff, you’ll look like an ’80s action film hero.

morrisons 300x300 Morrisons told to stop saying theyre as cheap as AldiMorrisons have had their legs smacked by the Advertising Standard Authority, asking them what they mean exactly, when they say they’re as cheap as budget supermarkets.

See, Morrisons ran an advertising campaign where they said that a comparable grocery shop at Morrisons would be cheaper than its rivals. That includes the likes of Aldi and Lidl. If not, you’d be reimbursed. Aldi weren’t having any of that and lodged a bunch of complaints with the ASA like massive grasses.

They argued that the Morrisons advert would mislead shoppers, and that a proper comparison to goods could not be achieved.

The ASA looked into it and today, Morrisons have been told that they can’t show the ads again “until it had provided consumers and competitors with a sufficient method to verify the references to the price-match scheme”. Basically, they’ve said ‘PROVE IT’.

Tony Baines, joint MD of buying at Aldi said: “This supports our view that these adverts did not provide consumers with sufficient price comparison data to enable them to make an informed choice. Our own analysis shows that the Morrisons Match & More scheme did not price match Aldi. In our view, complex price promotions and price matching schemes of this nature are confusing, are not transparent and do not serve the best interests of consumers.”

Morrisons said that four of the five things thrown at them were thrown out by the ASA and, in addition to that, the commercial in question hasn’t been running for months now. Basically, ‘ner ner n’nyer ner’.

Major flaw in Samsung Galaxy Note 5 could wreck it

August 26th, 2015 3 Comments By Mof Gimmers

samsung logo Major flaw in Samsung Galaxy Note 5 could wreck itSamsung have been getting decent reviews for the Galaxy Note 5, however, there’s something wrong with it and it could brick your device.

Thanks to a major design flaw, the S Pen that comes with the Note 5 could do major damage to the functionality.

So what’s happening here? Well, you can insert the S Pen into the Galaxy Note 5 any way you like, because Samsung have designed it that way. However, pop it in with the wrong orientation, and you could break the device’s stylus detection feature, which means it won’t work.

Most devices that have a stylus are designed in such a way that it can only be inserted the correct way, presumably to stop nonsense like this from happening. Not with the Galaxy Note 5, nosireebob. A very simple fix could lead to a very expensive apology from Samsung.

The Verge says: “If you are unfortunate enough to slide your S Pen in the wrong way, you’ll have a hard time unjamming it from the slot (though eventually you should be able to pry it away), but more importantly, you might disable the Note’s stylus detection feature.”

So what do Samsung have to say about all this? Are they going to fix the problem or issue some adapters to stop this from borking a load of devices? Course not.

In a reply to The Verge, Samsung said: “We highly recommend our Galaxy Note 5 users follow the instructions in the user guide to ensure they do not experience such an unexpected scenario caused by reinserting the S pen in the other way around.”

There you have it. You’re slipping it in wrong.

Michael O’Leary is at it again…

August 26th, 2015 3 Comments By Mof Gimmers

After promising to pipe down and, basically, stop being a jarring weiner, Michael O’Leary is at it again with his publicity stunts. Of course, these things work because, look at us, writing about it. We can’t help it. It is an illness.

So what’s he playing at now? Well, he’s decided to dress up as Robin – Batman’s mate – in a bid to tell us all about some new venture he’s doing.

CNPsZlgWgAEuXxN 500x375 Michael OLeary is at it again...

While in his outfit, O’Leary predicted a price war over Winter with Aer Lingus’s new owner IAG, as well as telling everyone about CarTrawler, which is a new online aggregator in the car rental sector. It will apparently allow Ryanair customers to book cars through the Ryanair website.

 

We might as well give you the details, even though we don’t want to, just in case this ends up being half-decent. Curse Michael O’Leary’s fancy dress.

This new service will have a connection to over 1,500 leading and independent car rental agents at 30,000 or more airport and city locations, in 174 different countries.

“Following an extensive tender process, Ryanair is pleased to partner with CarTrawler, who offer the best conversion rate in the business, as we launch Ryanair Car Hire, offering the widest range and best value car rental service to our 103 million customers,” O’Leary said.

Here’s another photo of a businessman in tights and underpants, sat on a car, if you’re into that sort of thing.

Betfair and Paddy Power to merge?

August 26th, 2015 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

bendtner paddy power 300x211 Betfair and Paddy Power to merge?Labrokes and Coral decided to merge to make a giganto-bookies, but they’ve got competition as it looks like Paddy Power and Betfair are going to merge too.

This is only an agreement in principle, but if it pulls through, then it would create one of the largest betting companies in the world. Just imagine how annoying Paddy Power will be with their advertising then!

Together, the companies will pool somewhere in advance of £1.1bn of revenue. Paddy Power shareholders would get 52% of the merged company, with Betfair shareholders getting the other 48%. Of course, the Competition and Markets Authority will have to give this the once over first.

Betfair have been going great guns lately, with their share price rocketing by 142% in the last 12 months. Paddy Power has seen theirs rise too, over the same period, going up by 53%.

Ladbrokes, in that same time, have seen their share price drop by 24%, so this merger news will worry them, no doubt.

Paddy Power and Betfair said: “The combination has compelling strategic logic and represents an attractive opportunity for both companies to enhance their position in online betting and gaming and to deliver synergies, customer benefits and shareholder value.”

They’re going to try and take over the world, aren’t they? One trolling advertising campaign at a time…

Did Ashley Madison talk about hacking a rival?

August 25th, 2015 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

sex with glass Did Ashley Madison talk about hacking a rival?There’s a world of difference between saying “I could if I wanted to” and “I can and will”. That’s the terminology being slung around with Ashley Madison.

After the hack and leak of the affair-prompting dating site, there’s been another dump of information from The Impact Group. This time, internal emails were included, and it looks like Ashley Madison discussed hacking a competitor.

According to the leak, emails show that in 2012, AM’s chief technology officer Raja Bhatia, emailed chief executive Noel Biderman after looking at the security of the new dating section magazine Nerve.com – a publication that looks at sex and relationships and all that. There, Bhatia found some security flaws.

“They did a very lousy job building their platform. I got their entire user base,” said Bhatia. “Also, I can turn any non-paying user into a paying user, vice versa, compose messages between users, check unread stats, etc.” Included was a link to a Github archive, with a sample of the database.

However, Ashley Madison say that these messages are being taken out of context. They say that this discovery was part of “due diligence” which was undertaken in the run-up to a proposed partnership between the two. Six months after this conversation, Bhatia emailed Biderman to see if he should “tell them of their security hole”, to which Biderman didn’t reply.

In a statement, AM’s parent company Avid Life Media said the emails were “taken out of context” and that the interpretation that Bhatia had hacked Nerve was “incorrect and unfortunate”. It continued: “Nerve was exploring strategic partnerships in May of 2012 and reached out to Noel to determine Avid Life Media’s interest in the property. At the time Noel did not act on that opportunity.”

“In September PTC Advisors, representing Nerve, contacted Noel and provided a more detailed brief on the opportunity. This communique was followed by a number of conversations. Subsequently Noel contacted Raja Bhatia and asked for his assistance in conducting technical due diligence on the opportunity. This activity, while clumsily conducted, uncovered certain technology shortcomings which Noel attempted to understand and confirm.”

“At no point was there an effort made to hack, steal or use Nerve.com’s proprietary data.”

While this is all well and good, Ashley Madison have been incredibly slow and unforthcoming about this whole affair (pardon the pun). It certainly seems that this mess isn’t going away any time soon.

Poundland’s takeover of 99p Stores looks likely

August 25th, 2015 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

poundland Poundlands takeover of 99p Stores looks likelyIt looks like Poundland’s £55m takeover of 99p Stores is going to happen, as the venture has got provisional approval from the competition watchdog, Competition and Markets Authority.

The CMA said that everything seems above board, as the deal won’t make customers “worse off”. Although, if Poundland change 99p Stores prices, then everyone stands to be at least 1p worse off on things like plant pots, German biscuits and dry shampoo.

The initial investigation, which took place in April, said that a merger between the two companies would result in a lessening of competition in some areas, as well as the likelihood of a reduction in promotions, a loss in quality and the closure of some shops.

However, after surveying 5,000 customers and looking through company documents and commercial data, the CMA came to a different conclusion. They said: “Customers would not face a reduction in choice, value or lower-quality service as a result of the merger”. A blunt answer, but an answer all the same.

The idea now, is that the company merger would still face a lot of competition from places like B&M Bargains, Wilko, as well as retailers like Asda and Tesco.

Philip Marsden, Chair of the CMA’s inquiry group, said: “There has been a significant rise in prominence of value retailers for UK shoppers. Our evidence indicates that customers are primarily attracted to Poundland and 99p Stores because of their affordability and see them as good alternatives to each other.”

“Nevertheless some customers can and do switch to other types of discount retail chains. We have also seen in recent years the Big Four supermarkets engaging in intense price competition, some of which involving the promotion of £1 products.”

“On the basis of the evidence to date, we do not think customers will be worse off from the merger.”

BT’s lacklustre broadband rollout, noted

August 25th, 2015 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

bt logo BTs lacklustre broadband rollout, notedYou may recall that BT made a deal with the British government, in a bid to get broadband rolled out across the country. Well, it isn’t happening quickly enough, and millions still don’t have a proper internet connection.

In addition to that, Openreach has doled out slower speeds that originally advertised. It is all a bit rubbish, frankly.

The target that was set originally was to have 95% of the UK covered by 2015, however, that date is now being pushed back to 2017, and even with the revised date, BT reckon that it’ll be more like 2018 by the time they reach 95% coverage. And it’ll be longer still before they reach every citizen in Britain.

Another thing that might cause delays is an Ofcom investigation into a monopoly on government contracts. The government gave 44 out of 44 contracts to BT, even though there’s the option of TalkTalk, Virgin Media, and Sky. And now, David Cameron is showing signs of frustration, unhappy at the speed of the rollout.

BT have missed tagrets of speeds of at least 5 Mbps or 24 Mbps, and reports show that new Openreach customers are getting under 2 Mbps on a typical day. Given that countries like Sweden, Czech Republic, Finland, Romania, Lithuania, and Hungary have all been getting faster average speeds, with a lower cost of implementing the services, to say this whole thing is unsatisfactory is something of an understatement.

Given that the UK is the fifth largest economy, it really shouldn’t be this slow when it comes to rolling out such things. BT – pull your finger out.

Naked Wines to let you text for booze

August 25th, 2015 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

FineWineCellar 300x300 Naked Wines to let you text for boozeWinos! Are you tired of having to walk to the shops to get your plonk? Are you regularly too leathered to manage to dress yourself properly, but still want to sup more wine?

Well, good news – online wine vendor, Naked Wines, have launched a new service that will let you put a booze order in via text message. ‘ICYMI: I still want a load of wine lol’.

This “Text for Wine” service is being referred to, by Naked Wines owner Majestic Wine, as “the first of its kind”, and is available to you boozehounds for no additional charge, other than the usual standard network rates.

This could be rather handy if you have a lot of wine to get in for a party, and you really can’t be bothered to carry it all from the shops. And get this – you can be “as vague or specific as they want” with their textual order. You can ask for specific wines, or if you’re not sure/don’t care, you can tell them the kind of wine you’re looking for and how much you’d like to pay for it, and staff will sort it out.

You’ll have to be organised though - orders will be delivered within five working days. You can collect them from a Majestic Wines store if you like, but that feels borderline pointless.

This scheme is being piloted in the UK, and if it is a success, then America and Australia will see it rolled out there too. This follows a ‘no minimum purchase’ rule that has just come in at Majestic Wine.

Naked Wines UK managing director Eamon FitzGerald said: “We’re extremely proud to launch our “Text for Wine” service, which gives our customers a new, fast and simple way of ordering their favourite wines.”

“Initial uptake has been very encouraging and it’s easy to see this service being particularly useful for busy customers who don’t have time or access to the website. Now these customers are only ever a text away from ordering a case of delicious wines.”

Npower boss gets the chop

August 25th, 2015 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

npower logo Npower boss gets the chopNpower have been so crap for so long, that recently, they were ordered to give power away for free by way of apology. That’s not say things have been fixed – they said themselves, that the omnishambles that they’re currently running will run into 2016.

So with that, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that the boss – Paul Massara - of the lousy energy firm has left his position ‘by mutual consent’ after the energy company posted ‘unexpectedly negative’ half-year results. Unexpectedly negative! The delusion is palpable at Npower, clearly.

Massara’s oversaw company results earlier this month, which showed that Npower’s profits had dropped by two thirds. Of course, this might be something to do with customers leaving the company en masse, because they’ve been so thoroughly useless for such a long time. In the last year alone, Npower lost 300,000 customers.

The company are still being investigated by regulator Ofgem for their shambolic behaviour, and it is almost certain that there’s going to be some big fines waiting for them in the future.

Npower’s parent company, RWE, said that the exodus of customers, coupled with their own incompetence, has hit UK profits by 65%. Again. That’d be Npower who have just said that their negative results were ‘unexpected’.

RWE chief executive Peter Terium said: “At this time we need a CEO at RWE Npower who will focus on fixing the basic process improvements and has a track record of implementing operational process changes.”

 

Tube strikes called off!

August 25th, 2015 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

london underground sign 300x199 Tube strikes called off!The two 24-hour Tube strikes that were planned for this week have been called off. Unions and London Underground managers have been in talks over the dispute regarding the Night Tube, and the Unite union said that action has been postponed as a “gesture of goodwill”.

There’ll be further talks. And potentially, there’ll be further strikes too. If talks break down again, then the Tube strike will take place on 8th and 10th September.

A Unite officer, Hugh Roberts, said that there were some “remaining sticking points”, but for now, enough progress has been made in talks, so that industrial action can be suspended. He added that he now hopes that Underground management would “seize this opportunity to reach a deal that fully addresses our members’ concerns”.

The new strike dates are interesting though, as they’re just two days before the Night Tube is supposed to kick off. It is fair to assume that the Night Tube won’t be happening on those dates.

London Mayor Boris Johnson said: “I would urge the unions to continue with positive discussions that will help to deliver a night Tube service that will bring huge benefits to our city.”

General secretary of the RMT union, Mick Cash, said: “We have still not reached a final agreement and as a result we are putting on additional strike action next month.”

Apple to fix your iPhone camera

August 24th, 2015 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

apple Apple to fix your iPhone cameraIs the camera on your iPhone, to use the common vernacular, a load of shit? You may recall that, last year, the iPhone 6 Plus had Apple’s best ever smartphone camera, but for some, their pictures were coming out rubbish and blurry.

Well, Apple have decided to fix that. Over the weekend, Apple said that they’re doing a replacement programme for faulty iSight cameras on the iPhone 6 Plus.

It seems that some phones have a faulty component in it, and Apple have identified what and where the problem is, and it concerns phones sold between September 2014 and January 2015.

So what do you need to do? Well, you will have to check your phone’s serial number on Apple’s designated site about this issue. If you find your phone is on the list, you’re in business.

You’ll be able to get your faulty module sorted out at an Apple Store. Apple don’t seem to be doing a phone swap though, so if you’re smart, you’ll backup the contents of your phone before taking it in.

While you have a little time to get this sorted, what with Apple covering this issue for three years from the time you purchased your phone, it is worth remembering that Apple are on the brink of releasing a load of new bits, including the iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s Plus, which means they’re going to be rammed and busy… so better to get this sorted out sooner, rather than later.

Punch Taverns to close 158 pubs

August 24th, 2015 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

pint of beer 300x180 Punch Taverns to close 158 pubsWe all know that there’s too many pubs closing, so it is bad news that Punch Taverns are goin to sell 158 ‘non-core’ pubs for £53.5m, to some people called New River Retail.

The pub company plan to sell off its non-core pubs at a rate of about 200 a year, which is pretty dreadful as they’re likely to be less profitable, but vital small village pubs. New River Retail are a company that deal in bargain shops and food outlets, so this sale won’t see more pints pulled, sadly.

Punch boss Duncan Garrood said that this sale is going to allow the company to focus “on our higher quality core pub estate”.

Allan Lockhart, property director at NewRiver Retail, said: “We are delighted to announce the acquisition of the pub portfolio from Punch Taverns, which represents a strategic progression for NewRiver, following our acquisition of a similar portfolio from Marston’s in late 2013, the successful result of which has led us to identify similar opportunities.”

Maybe it is time to set up that speakeasy in the basement, eh?