amazoninstant Amazon: giving away apps and serving booze in under an hourAmazon are up to all manner of stuff at the minute and one thing they’re trialling through the Prime Now service, is putting booze on offer. If you’re in Seattle, and you don’t know what to do with that tossed salad and scrambled eggs, you can order hard liquor and beer, and get it delivered to you within a couple of hours.

Of course, you could just walk down the shops and stretch your legs, but y’know, you might be really lazy for all we know.

Prime Now, which hasn’t been rolled out everywhere yet, lets you get deliveries and fast. If trials are successful, then everyone will be able to get on it you suspect, while Amazon try to dominate the entire world.

Amazon are also trialling a new Android app called Amazon Underground, which is offering ‘Actually Free’ apps, games, and in-app purchases worth $10,000. This means they’re giving away apps that don’t have any hidden in-app purchases, which is nice.

The unusual thing here, is that Amazon is playing with the notion of paying certain developers on a per-minute basis, where money is generated for every minute the app is used. There’s surely going to be some irritating app developments through this, but certainly something to keep an eye out for.

Sadly, the Amazon Underground app isn’t available on Google Play, as Google are massive babies who don’t feature apps that offer access to other apps or games. You’ll have to get it through the Amazon Underground website.

This will replace the ‘App of The Day’ promotional giveaway that Amazon have been doing.

“The Amazon Underground app is a long-term program rather than a one-off promotion. Over time, we’ll continue to invent and add more benefits to Underground. For now, enjoy some actually free apps and games!,” said the firm on its website. This is available to people in the UK, America, France and Germany and will no doubt get rolled out everywhere soon enough.

sainsburys 300x192 Sainsburys to pay store staff more than the living wageSainsbury’s might be having a tough time with the balance sheet of late, but that doesn’t mean they can’t treat their staff right. They’ve vowed to pay its 137,000 store staff more than the Chancellor’s compulsory national living wage.

The supermarket’s 4% pay rise is the highest spike in wages for store staff that they’ve given out in a decade.

Boss Mike Coupe says he’s “committed to rewarding great service” and that they’ll be awarding its colleagues an “industry-leading” 4% pay rise, taking their standard rate of pay from £7.08 to £7.36 per hour.

George Osborne’s living wage is £7.20, and comes into play in April 2016.

Sainsbury’s say that this pay rise will be kicking off from Sunday and applies to staff of all ages, while the government’s living wage is only applicable to those over 25. Sainsbury’s added that they’ll continue to provide staff with paid breaks which are taken during shifts. Not bad eh? Beers are on any Saino’s staff you know.

Mike Coupe said that this raise was a reward for employees’ “hard work, talent and dedication.” adding: “We’re delighted to announce a 4% pay increase for the colleagues who work in our stores across the country. We know what a difference they make to our customers each and every day and we’re totally committed to rewarding them well for the great service they provide.”

“I’ve talked to thousands of colleagues over the past year and they tell me how much they value their package of benefits and the flexibility that we can offer as an employer, as well as hourly pay, which has always been well over the minimum wage.”

“Their hard work, talent and dedication have been central to our success and will remain so in the future.”

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’.

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.”

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.”

tip jar 209x300 Tipping scandal continues with Turtle Bay and Las IguanasTipping in restaurants is a hot topic at the minute, with a number of companies getting hauled over the coals about their policies. At Côte, there’s been consternation, while Pizza Express have come under notable fire too.

The latest reports say that some restaurants are making staff ‘pay to work’, thanks to their tipping policy where they have to give bosses cash at the end of the night.

Las Iguanas and Turtle Bay, two popular food chains, have a system that requires staff to pay back to their employer 3% of the table sales generated on each shift. So, the money taken isn’t relating to the tips taken waiting on staff, and can erase all the gratuity they’ve taken.

“This policy is far worse than that of Pizza Express,” said Perry Phillips, of the GMB union. “The fact that these restaurants are taking money off the waiting staff regardless of the tips they earn is unjust, unfair and downright disgraceful.”

The Observer found that, in one week this year Las Iguanas raked in £34,000 from its own staff. Nice little earner for a business, if reprehensible. So how do they justify this? The businesses say that this allows them to share tips with non-waiting staff.

If you work for Turtle Bay, the employment contracts say that, where tips don’t manage to cover the 3% payment, staff are “required to make up the benefit of any shortfall in the next or subsequent shift, or in the event of leaving the company by a deduction from wages due, such that the deduction does not reduce your effective rate of pay below the minimum wage”.

According to the report, one Turtle Bay waiter had to pay £20 to their manager at the end of the night, while one waiter from Las Iguanas said that they pay back £25 to £30 per shift, on average, thanks to the 3% policy.

A general manager at one of Las Iguanas’s branches spoke to the Observer, saying that they have the job of totting up the amount that is owed to the company from staff at the end of the night: “I am lucky as the company pay the general managers well, but morally I find it totally wrong to take money off the waiting staff. One night recently I felt terrible because a staff member had made £125 in tips and I had to ask her for £65 back.”

“Most of these waiters are just kids. The way the policy is sold to them is that the money is for recognition and development, but that is no way to take care of your staff.”

Supermarket gin beats big brands in taste test

August 21st, 2015 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

gin 300x300 Supermarket gin beats big brands in taste testAre you a gin drinker? Do you like mentioning it every 3 minutes on Twitter and saying “Ho! Ho! It is gin o’clock methinks!” Firstly, you should be swiftly kicked up the arse for being annoying, but secondly, here’s some interesting gin news.

A bunch of own-brand supermarket gins have beaten some of the big brands in a blind taste test, which means those ponces who turn their noses up at cheap booze can go whistle.

The tests were carried out by Which!!!, who clearly wanted an excuse to get hammered at work, but the results make for interesting reading.

Topping the table was Morrisons’ £10.49 London Dry Gin, which got a score of 80%, well ahead of the market leading Gordon’s gin. In second place, Lidl’s Castelgy London Dry Gin, and that’ll cost you a paltry £9.99.

“Once again, our taste tests have shown that supermarket own labels are giving the big brands a real run for their money,” says Which!!! editor Richard Headland. “Some inexpensive bottles received a much higher score from our experts, proving you don’t always need to splash out.”

Seeing as we’re looking at summer drinks, it was a similar story with white wines, with Asda’s Extra Special Leyda Valley Chilean Sauvignon Blanc coming out on top.

Of course, gin-enthusiasts will notice the absence of some of the more popular, branded gins. There’s no Gin Mare, Hendrick’s, Tanqueray, Monkey 47 or Williams Chase – we don’t know if Which!!! tried them or not, but still, if you want some decent, cheap booze, then this list is not to be ignored.

And so, to the tables, so you can see how various wines and gin fare against each other. Feel free to make your way through the lists to conduct your own ‘experiment’, but don’t blame us if you find yourself crying at the bottom of a stairwell.

Best Gin Results

1. Morrisons London Dry Gin 80% £10.49
2. Lidl Castelgy London Dry Gin 78% £9.99
3. Waitrose London Dry Gin 78% £12
4. Greenalls London Dry Gin 77% £15
5. Beefeater Dry Gin 76% £16
6. Asda London Dry Gin 75% £11
7. Sainsbury’s London Dry Gin 74% £11.50
8. Aldi Oliver Cromwell London Dry Gin 74% £9.99
9. Gordon’s Special Dry London Gin 74% £16
10. The Cooperative London Dry Gin 73% £11.99

Best Crisp Dry White Wine

1. Asda Extra Special Leyda Valley Chilean Sauvignon Blanc 79% £5.75
2. Lidl Cimarosa Sauvignon Blanc 2014 78% £5.89
3. Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference Albarino 2013 74% £8.00
4. Waitrose Grüner Veltliner Niederösterreich 2014 73% £7.99
5. The Co-operative TrulyIrresistible Leyda Valley Sauvignon Blanc 2014 71% £6.99
6. M&S Picpoul de Pinet 2014 69% £8.50
7. Aldi The Exquisite Collection Clare Valley Riesling 2014 67% £6.99
8. Morrisons M Signature Vermentino di Sardegna 2014 67% £5.99
9. Cono Sur Bicicleta Sauvignon Blanc 2014 66% £6.99
10. Oxford Landing Sauvignon Blanc 2014 62% £7.99

Same day delivery from Argos?

August 20th, 2015 2 Comments By Mof Gimmers

argos logo 300x230 Same day delivery from Argos?Even though Argos can be a bit ‘free jazz’ when it comes to delivering your goods, they’re not letting a little thing like that get in the way of their ambitions.

They’ve announced that they’re trialling a same-day delivery service for online purchases in certain bits of the UK. It’ll be running via their ‘Fast Track’ service.

So what’s the scoop? Well, there’s going to be three delivery slots per day, 7 days a week for £3.95. If you order something before midnight, Argos can get it to you the next morning between 7am – 1pm. If your order is placed by 1pm, you can have it delivered on the same day between 2pm and 6pm. For any orders placed by 6pm, they’ll offer you a delivery slot between 7pm and 10pm.

At the moment, it’ll only be available in the South East, but it looks like a nationwide roll-out is likely. That won’t stop your cynicism about the whole thing, will it?

In addition to all this, Argos already offer the Fast Track service for in-store collection in selected stores, for purchases that you have made on the internet.

If you want to find out more about this, then check the Argos Fast Track page.

Deathwatch: American Apparel gone in 12 months?

August 19th, 2015 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

american apparel 300x300 Deathwatch: American Apparel gone in 12 months?Clothes vendor and pervy advert shooters, American Apparel, may be dead within 12 months. That’s according to themselves as they’ve said they might not have enough capital to stay open. This is thanks to net sales dropping more than 17% in the second quarter of 2015, with their net loss up to $19.4m.

In a filing yesterday, they said that their decline in sales was “attributable to the lack of new style introduction for the spring and summer selling season”. They also say that their drop in sales is to do with unfavourable foreign exchange rates and, of course, they’ve been closing loads of their shops.

In addition to that, the company are being sued by founder and former chief exec, Dov Carney, who got the chop in June after being accused of ‘misconduct’.

Either way, the biggest problem they’ve got is that they’ve been posting losses for the last five years, which is absolutely no use to anyone.

And so, they’ve got some fast changes to make or they’ll be doomed. They’ve announced $30m of cost-cutting measures, and if that doesn’t work, they’re toast. For anyone who enjoys a meal regularly, or is over the age of 23, this will mean nothing to you. Hipsters – you need to find a new place to shop.

Sainsbury’s extends price pledge online

August 19th, 2015 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

sainsburys 300x192 Sainsburys extends price pledge onlineSainsbury’s are extending a price matching scheme to online orders, in a bid to win everyone over. Doesn’t help if they don’t sell anything that you want, but the thought is there at least.

The ailing supermarket said that they’re going to expand their Brand Match scheme to online orders from August 19th.

You’ll know this scheme if you’ve been in one of their stores any time since 2011.

Basically, it works like this – Sainsbury’s prices are compared with similar branded groceries at Asda and, if Asda are cheaper on a basket of at least 10 items, Sainsbury’s customers get a money off coupon for the difference, which you can spend on your next shop.

Or, you could forget about having a pocket full of vouchers for 28p, and just shop somewhere that is cheaper in the first place. And people wonder why everyone’s off to Aldi and Lidl.

That might be why Sainsbury’s posted a sixth straight quarter of falling underlying sales in June, and have seen their share price drop by 19% over the last 12 months.

Asda sales drop, again!

August 19th, 2015 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

ASDA logo Asda sales drop, again!Things aren’t looking good for a lot of supermarkets, thanks to a number of them getting too greedy and far too complacent. Along came Aldi and Lidl and started stealing all their customers, leaving a lot of boardrooms shrieking and sacking people.

Well, over at Asda, things have not been going at all well and, once again, sales at the Wal-Mart supermarket fell for a fourth straight quarter. Today, they were down 4.7%, which solidifies its position as the weakest performer in the supermarket sector.

Asda, which is now tussling for second spot with the also-beleaguered Sainsbury’s, trails UK market leader Tesco. The 4.7% sales drop is from the 11 weeks to June 30, its fiscal second quarter. Compared with a fall of 3.9% in the first quarter, things are bad because the previous drop was one of their worst performances.

Asda chief executive Andy Clarke said that the company has “hit its nadir”, adding: “we continue to navigate a steady course through the worst storm in retail history, despite another challenging quarter.”

“Predicting that 2015 was going to be a volatile year, I didn’t expect to report a positive sales figure, but I’m not distracted by the short-term picture. We have an enviably stable business with balanced books and the right strategy to return us to sales growth,” said Clarke.

Morrisons to axe M Local stores

August 17th, 2015 2 Comments By Mof Gimmers

morrisons 300x300 Morrisons to axe M Local storesMorrisons are looking at getting rid of its convenience stores – you’ll know them as the M Local shops – after the supermarket reviewed where it was at. They were slow on the uptake of local shops, compared to Tesco and Sainsbury’s, and as such, have been pretty much left behind in the sector.

Their main supermarkets aren’t much better either, but that’s not what we’re talking about right now.

And it looks like someone called Greybull Capital is going to snap the stores up. They love a troubled business though, as last year, the investment company threw money at the struggling Monarch airline, to the tune of £125million.

With around 160 convenience stores, chairman Andy Higginson said that more than 30% of these shops had not worked and new chief executive David Potts has been very clear that he wants to focus on the bigger supermarkets. The company have already said that they’re clearing out throughout, with 720 jobs being chopped from their headquarters.

Morrisons said earlier in the year: “Convenience is a channel that we expect will continue to grow in future. Over recent years, we have been working to grow M local at pace in order to quickly gain critical mass and learn.”

“However, for stores now in their second year, we are not seeing the level of trading performance we had anticipated.”

Free ATMs in shops? Maybe not

August 17th, 2015 1 Comment By Mof Gimmers

reg varney cash machine 300x300 Free ATMs in shops? Maybe notIf you’ve been drawing money out for free down the shops, that might all be about to change warn the UK’s shopkeepers, thanks to a change in how they are taxed.

The Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) are asking the government to exempt ATMs from business rates, which cost shops up to £15,000 per machine. And now, some shops are being asked to cough up for one off bills which are running into tens of thousands, because charges have been backdated to 2010 by the Valuation Office Agency (VOA).

The ACS, who rep independent traders, said: “We believe ATMs are a high street enabler providing shared benefits to a range of traders, allowing consumers to access their cash and spend it within their local communities.”

So what to the VOA have to say about this? A spokesperson says: ”We are currently reviewing ATM sites to ensure all sites that should be assessed are correctly rated. This treats all businesses equally, and ensures they pay their fair share of the overall business rates bill.”

“We will continue to consult with the machine operators who will be affected by this exercise.”

Asda to help dairy farmers, after protests

August 14th, 2015 2 Comments By Mof Gimmers

cow head 224x300 Asda to help dairy farmers, after protestsLooks like the protests by dairy farmers are working. First off, Morrisons decided to give 10p to them, and now, Asda have said that they’re going to increase the amount they pay their milk supplier, up to “a level that will assist” the farmers.

Asda have committed to paying 28p per litre for 100% of its liquid milk volume throughout their entire range, with a spokesperson saying: “We have confirmed to our milk supplier, Arla, that we are increasing the price we pay per litre from Monday to a level that will assist our farmers during the current crisis.”

“Asda’s origins are in dairy farming which is why we are acting in the best interests of our farmers and our customers by increasing the price we pay, introducing the Farmer’s Marque label and not passing on any of the costs to customers – our retail price stays the same.”

In reaction to Asda’s move, the National Farmers Union (NFU) president, Meurig Raymond, said: “The NFU has been lobbying tirelessly for Asda to recognise the plight of the dairy industry so we are pleased that Asda has moved to support farmers in their hour of need. It is clear from Asda that this commitment is to support the UK dairy industry at a time of crisis.

“It is now important that Arla ensures this is delivered to British farmers on the ground, with immediate effect. This decision recognises that our dairy farmers need a fair price so consumers can ensure they have access to British dairy products now and in the future.”

This will put pressure on the other supermarkets to get their houses in order too and Farmers For Action said this week, that other supermarkets will be targeted with protests. We’re hoping someone turns a muck spreader on inside a shop, provided they film it of course.

So keep an eye on Tesco and Sainsbury’s, who have said that they’re ruling out following in Morrisons’ lead, because they think they already pay a fair price, based on the cost of production.