It doesn’t take a genius to work out that downloading stuff abroad is likely to incur roaming charges. However, it seems you need to be cleverer than a maths teacher, after a Warwickshire woman failed to calculate that an £8.99 album would cost over £2,600 once roaming charges were added.
Teacher Katie Bryan, 43, was visiting her boyfriend’s family in South Africa when she decided to download a multiple-track “best of Neil Diamond” CD from iTunes to her phone for £8.99. When she returned to the UK, she was dismayed to find that, not only did she still have a Neil Diamond album on her phone, her bank account was more than £2,000 overdrawn after Orange took a direct debit of £2,609.31.
No-one, not even Miss Bryan herself, can explain what possessed her. She admits to having had “a bit” of wine, but claims it was “not too much”, thereby scotching the drunk-and-didn’t-know-what-I-was-doing excuse. She can’t even claim the moral high ground on musical taste despite describing herself as “really not that big a Neil Diamond fan”, after admitting to not only owning a Neil Diamond cd in the UK, but actually having it in her car, as well as claiming to be “more of a James Blunt fan”.
Upon her return to the UK, Miss Bryan called Orange, who laughed at her were initially unable to help her, reiterating the published tariffs which meant her 20 minute download, which used 326 MB of data, had been charged at £8 per megabyte once her 10MB monthly foreign allowance had been used up. Nevertheless an enterprising employee then came up with the solution of selling her a backdated bundle which would bring the data cost down to a still-scandalous £400.
Unfortunately, the powers that be at Orange tried to rescind the offer, entitled as they rightly were to the full £2,600, but last Friday the executive office agreed to the £400 compromise, refunding the hapless teacher £2,209.31. Orange also apologised for the stress they had caused. Presumably adhering to the customer service school of the customer is always right, even when they are an idiot.
Miss Bryant said: “I think Orange are preying on people who make a mistake while abroad. Why such a massive difference in cost? In England you would just pay the album price. There is no way this huge bill relates to the actual cost to Orange.” Grossly inflated roaming costs are currently under investigation by the European Commission within the EU, but this would not have helped someone holidaying in South Africa. Besides, no phone company ever claimed that roaming costs bore any resemblance to the costs incurred.
Miss Bryant continued bleating: “You hear of people doing this and you think ‘stupid person – why did you do that?’ I do feel foolish.” No-one, anywhere, argued with her.
“But I also feel it is morally wrong to be expected to pay this sort of money for a Neil Diamond album” she finished. Now there’s something we can agree with.
How on earth do you cock-up a business like Tesco? They’ve got all the suppliers in their pockets and own a terrifying amount of shops – all you need to do is make sure you have stuff people want and not rip them off. Surely they’ve done the hard part?
However, they’ve managed it and they’re all set to reveal a second year in a row of falling profits, which will heap untold pressure on chief executive Philip Clarke
Industry figures show that Tesco’s market share falling to 28.6% in the 12 weeks to March 31, which is down from 29.7% in the same period a year earlier. Of course, Tesco are still loaded with pre-tax profits around the £3bn mark, but that’ll be down by 15% for the full year.
Clarke is in the middle of a turnaround plan, which sees Tesco again focusing on the UK after failing to win over people abroad. The retailer is scrapping more than 100 major store developments and instead, concentrating on convenience shops and online sales.
Still, that hasn’t stopped finance director Laurie McIlwee quitting his post of 14 years, allegedly thanks to no confidence in Clarke’s strategy. He said that he’d hang around until a replacement is found, but warned that Tesco faces a period of “unprecedented change” in the supermarket industry.
Meanwhile, Aldi and Lidl are chipping away at the market share of the big supermarkets.
Looks like the big guns are weighing up whether or not they should have a dramatic change with their pricing strategy, sacrificing some profit to regain lost market share and slap down their rivals. Tesco had better hurry up and make a decision because it certainly looks like the supermarkets all have the same idea.
That’s an actual pisstake.
The git-heel would travel from Stonegate in East Sussex, and regularly travelled back and forth to the capital. He’d get off at London Bridge and then change for his office in Cannon Street, which with his Oyster, would cost a third less than his whole journey.
The station at Stonegate has no Oyster tappy barriers, and so his usual journey was significantly less when tapping in and out of Cannon Street.
He also successfully avoided any ticket inspectors on the trains.
He was discovered last November, when a ticket inspector was standing at a terminal at Cannon Street and spotted awry behaviour. He paid back the £42,550 in dodged fares, plus £450 in legal costs, within three days as part of an out-of-court settlement.
Southeastern trains were made aware of the man’s expired season ticket hadn’t been updated since 2008.
He has, unsurprisingly, also now updated his season ticket.
In order to afford your first mortgage these days, you have to be earning a pretty healthy wage. Gone are the days when you could be a sniveling bong-headed student and just ask your Mum to be guarantor on an interest only mortgage.
Now, to be a first time buyer you have to be raking in £40 grand per year to comfortably afford the average loan of £119,000 – meaning that a new home is just a pipe dream for those earning the average wage of £26,500.
Even so, the Council of Mortgage Lenders says that young people are clamoring to borrow via the Help to Buy scheme, or taking out mortgages that are 3.4 times bigger than their gross salaries. All anyone wants is a place to call their own, with no black mould or landlords who collect the rent while holding a machete.
In February, around 22,000 mortgage loans were agreed by people who were around the age of 30, up by 41% on last year.
But if interest rates rise, the dreams of idealistic young home owners could turn to dust as they struggle to afford even the most average mortgage.
Time to get a better paying job? Oh, sorry, there aren’t any.
You know how it is when a service provider provides a bad service and you just wish you could fine them, or charge them for your wasted time trying to sort out their incompetence? Well that’s exactly what one man has done, after getting increasingly frustrated with Npower’s apparent inability to refund his credit balance after he switched supplier.
Dave Clark, was not only sick of not finding a cheque on his doormat every morning, but was also getting more and more peeved at receiving final demand letters from Npower, when it was they who owed him money since the previous November.
So he decided to respond in kind. He wrote and emailed npower using the language from their demands, culminating in the issue of a final demand (complete with obligatory red capital letters) which included a £50 fine on top of the £137.41 he had overpaid. And Npower not only paid it, they apologised.
Mr Clark, who outlined the whole sorry process on his website, said: “I’m satisfied. The regulator should be looking into the days and weeks it takes to pay someone’s money back and if the likes of Npower persistently refuse to give money back straight away they should be fined heavily.
“They’re very quick to bill the rest of us so perhaps if we all hit them with charges they would realise they need to improve service.”
Guy Esnouf, director of external communications at Npower said: “We are very sorry. Where we know we’ve caused inconvenience we’ll look to a goodwill gesture because we don’t want to cause our customers inconvenience.”
Mr Esnouf added: “We said in December we are having system problems. We are making good progress, but we made it clear we wanted to improve, we are trying to improve and we are.”
So surely now everyone else to whom Npower owe money can expect a nice windfall and better service…
Well, it looks like that will soon be a thing of the past, as a company named StoreDot has created a prototype battery charger, which they reckon will be bring charging time down to 30 seconds.
30 SECONDS. Amazing.
The company, which hailed from the nanotechnology department at Tel Aviv University, has developed its prototype for the Samsung Galaxy S4, and has plans to adapt the technology to other phones.
The prototype still involves a charging device, the main change is the battery itself.
StoreDot has been developing biological semiconductors, made from naturally occurring compounds called peptides – a compound created by two or more linked amino acids – which is used in the battery to reduce charging time.
The technology was unveiled at Microsoft’s Think Next conference in Tel Aviv, and while the prototype is bulky, the makers say it plans to create a smaller version of it before it’s commercially produced.
However there’s still going to be something of a wait, as the makers plan to go into production in late 2016, with no actual confirmed date for when the product will be released.
Still, the future eh? Looks like it’s going to happen at some point! Hurrah!
That’s not living on the edge in an exciting rock and roll kind of way, like say, Jon Bon Jovi or Axel Rose. Instead, we’re barely making ends meet, and according to debt charity StepChange, it’s not just a problem for the scrounging, big screen telly-watching, Bingo playing underclass – millions of ‘hardworking families’ are falling behind on bills, relying on credit and suffering anxiety about job security.
Stepchange say that three million people are in ‘a spiral of debt’, borrowing to keep up their credit repayments. And a separate survey, by mortgage insurer Genworth, said that there are twice as many financially vulnerable households in the UK than solvent ones. Also, 41% of those surveyed said they were stressed about money.
And, Stepchange has also discovered that 13 million people would not have enough savings to last for a month, even if their income dropped by just a quarter.
*expires face down in a bowl of gruel*
Since the switching guarantee scheme came in, over half a million people have decided to move their accounts, rather than slavishly sticking with the same crap bank for life. That’s according to the Payments Council, who counted 609,300 switches in the six months to the end of March – up 14% from a year ago.
Before the Switching Guarantee, customers were basically held to ransom by their banks. It took 30 days to switch, they would bombard you with tearful ‘please come back’ calls, and it was easier to stick with the same old, same old than venture forth and move your money.
But is it enough to open up the banking industry?
Even so, the Payments Council was delighted with the news. Gary Hocking, its managing director said:
‘By making the Current Account Switch Service quick, hassle-free and removing the fear factor, we’ve taken away the barriers customers told us they had when it came to switching. There’s also been a noticeable surge of advertising activity from current account providers, big and small, suggesting that the new service is helping foster competition and choice for customers.’
But critics say that 14% doesn’t exactly herald a competitive banking market. Consumer Batman Ricardo Lloyd of Which!, is taking a very dim view.
‘Despite an increase in public awareness and confidence, switching levels are still low, suggesting that the new seven-day service is not the game-changer that can significantly increase competition in banking.’
I know what’ll stimulate competition. Barclays’ new and outrageously steep overdraft charges, due to be introduced in June, will have customers flocking to switch to ANYWHERE ELSE.
Allergy campaigners had been all up in the retailer’s grill recently, about unnecessary warnings on such products as yoghurt, sweet potatoes and ham.
Tesco had argued that the warning labels were only be applied to items if there was a genuine risk of cross contamination.
It’s not just loony labelling when you have a nut allergy. Oh no. Many of the campaigners were parents of nut-allergy nippers, and it’s no joke when trying to prevent them from death by potentially nutty ham.
New EU rules on allergy labelling are due to come into force later this year, and retailers have started to amend their packaging to suit.
But as many campaigners wonder if it’s a ‘one size fits all’ legal disclaimer which can be pointed out when challenged, is in fact highlighting a myriad of issues that suggest standards aren’t being fully adhered to.
And dear God, we can do without another month of weak puns on twitter that happened in the wake of the horse meat crisis.
M&S have been in the wars of late, reporting wishy washy figures and falling sales over 11 consecutive quarters. Are other stores just doing it all better – or cheaper?
Whatever is wrong, they’ve reported that like for like sales fell by 0.6% in general merchandise over the last quarter, blaming heavy discounting over the last six months.
BUT, they’re also keen to point out that there’s a silver lining. Despite nobody knowing who those people are on the adverts, apart from that woman who may or may not be Annie Lennox, and a heavily airbrushed Emma Thompson who looks a bit like a bloke, M&S clothing sales are up by 0.6%.
M&S don’t normally separate their clothing figures from their general merchandise, so you could deduce that they’re desperately clutching at straws.
Still, they have to find a way to justify their million pound ad campaign and design overhaul somehow.
But there are other positives, too. Even though the British public seems to have gone cold on Marks and Spencer, internationally their rep is glowing, with overseas sales up 4.7%. And online sales aren’t too shoddy either – rising by a very healthy and un-Twiggy like 12%.
CEO Marc Bolland, waving his hands about and yelling ‘look over here!’ said that womenswear was showing ‘clear signs of improvement.’
Still, whatever you do, don’t mention the word ‘Next.’
Ryanair have launched a new advertising campaign and it’s their first pan-European campaign.
The airline has had its fair share, perhaps quite a few people’s fair shares, of controversy in the past, and these ads are hoped to soften their reputation slightly.
You’d think it’d look like this.
Regrettably, they don’t. If you’re dying to see them, the ads will roll out from Friday 11 April in the UK, Ireland, Italy and Spain and, if you want to see it, hop on over to here to see them for yourself.
We await all the hilarious spoofs from the wise-crackers having a pop! *sticks head in oven*
Notice anything different about today? Just an average Thursday, isn’t it? It’s not Black Friday, or Terrific Tuesday or Super Saver Saturday. Just an ordinary day.
Ha Ha – fooled you! Yes, the relentless trying-to-make-days-happen machine has been cranked up again, and today is MORTGAGE FREEDOM DAY!
Does that mean we don’t have to pay our mortgage and we can just sit in the park taking the air and kicking pigeons? Well, no. This particular day – made up by the Halifax – represents the day of the year when the average new borrower has earned enough to pay off the annual cost of their home loan. This is based on the average annual mortgage repayment cost of £6954, and the average earnings of £25603.
However if you live in London, you won’t get a mortgage freedom day until May 20 – or the end of time – depending on where you live.
Craig McKinlay, mortgage director at the Halifax says:
‘Our research shows that today, if people had put everything they’d earned since the start of the year towards their mortgage, the average homeowner would be mortgage-free for the remainder of the year, which is a reassuring thought.’
But nobody would be able to put everything they earn towards their mortgage anyway, because there are massive amounts of bills to pay. And is this really ‘a reassuring thought’? Or is it just a random and entirely hypothetical load of billy bollocks to try and allay our fears about the housing bubble?
There’s not even a cake or balloons. GO AWAY MORTGAGE FREEDOM DAY. YOU SUCK.
Do you remember what you spent your student loan on? Rent? Bills? Hydroponic equipment and Aftershocks? Well, even though the money is long gone, it will haunt you forever, according to a study by independent education group, the Sutton Trust.
It seems that three out of four students who took out a student loan while at college or university won’t pay off their loans until they’re 51. And if you managed to get yourself a decent job in the interim, you’ll be paying around £2,500 a year off during your 40s.
This follows changes to the system in 2012, when universities almost tripled their fees. But it’s OK. Many graduates will manage to escape penury by qualifying for it to be written off at the 30 year time limit, simply by not earning enough to pay it back.
Conor Ryan from the Sutton Trust explained:
‘There has been a lot said about the lower repayments that graduates make in their 20s under the new loan system, but very little about the fact that many graduates will face significant repayments through their 40s, whereas many would previously have repaid their loans by then.The new system will benefit graduates who earn very little in their lifetime.’
YAY! Let’s bum about and not earn anything! Anyone got a bag of weed and a bottle of White Lightning?
Former Metro Bank chairman Anthony Thomson and Mark Mullen, who until last month was chief executive of First Direct, HSBC’s online portal are creating Atom, which they plan to launch next year to be an online only affair.
It will have a full range of services, including savings accounts, loan products and credit cards.
There will be a helpline for customers experiencing technical difficulties, but they will not be able to do bank things on it.
Talking about the reasons behind Atom, Thomson said: ”Telephony as a means of accessing bank accounts is in decline. All of the explosive growth is in digital generally and mobile in particular.”
“Designed entirely for the digital age and with none of the legacy issues of the past, Atom will be UK’s first real alternative to the established banks. Atom will be led and governed by an experienced and imaginative team who have a passion for people and know what it takes to put the customer at the heart of an organisation.”
There’ll be no physical branches and there will be an HQ based in the north east of England, should you become so angry you want to do a dirty protest around actual humans.