Farmers want better deal from government

September 18th, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

Farmers want the next government to step up and help a brother out at the next election. 

farmer Farmers want better deal from governmentOur agricultural pals want the government to give farming a boost at the next general election, and they have issued a load of demands (which sound a bit harsh but aren’t really) to help increase food production and business in general.

The National Union of Farmers has urged all parties to work with them to reduce reliance on imported produce.

And there are calls to increase speed limits for tractors on public roads.

Interestingly named Weslsh farmer and NFU president Meurig Raymond said: “What is needed now is a government that understands farming.”

Unveiling the NFU’s 2015 election manifesto, Mr Raymond, a Welsh farmer, said British farming provided 60% of the food we ate, was the UK’s largest manufacturing sector and protected the nation’s countryside and wildlife.

However he stressed that farmers faced major challenges.

“I want the next government to work with the NFU to set an agenda for growth, for profitable production that fosters the breadth of farm businesses from food to renewable energy and environmental services by building on the professionalism and confidence of British farmers,” he said.

“By backing British farming and working together, we have a unique opportunity to increase food production by supporting research, investment and growth.”

The NFU represents 55,000 farmers across England and Wales, so it’s not just some crackpot group of madpeople.

Usain’s Virgin Media ad runs into trouble

September 18th, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

That Virgin Media advert with Usain Bolt in a variety of outfits has been banned after complaints from BT and Sky.

This one:

BT were first to get a bit narky, and complained to the ASA about the claim “you’ll be able to download five times faster than BT’s regular broadband”.

BT argued that the web page referred to in the Virgin Media ad did not provide sufficient information to verify the comparison, which is fair enough. Thanks for that BT, you little snitches.

The second complaint was made by both BT and Sky, arguing that Virgin Media’s claim about its speed was misleading, reckoning that it implied that customers would always be able to “download five times faster” than its rivals’ broadband customers.

The two companies argued that this wasn’t the case at all, and was dependent on the speeds of that area.

In its defence against the first complaint, Virgin Media claimed that the web page referred to in the ads relied on up-to-date data. This included information on the average speeds of its service at peak time and over 24 hours. The website also provided Ofcom data on broadband speeds of its competitors.

Defending itself against the second complaint, Virgin Media argued that the claim “download five times faster than Sky and BT’s regular broadband” would not be understood to be an absolute figure. Which, thanks to the pesky smallprint in the ad, made clear the circumstances in which consumers would be able to download five times faster.

It’s not the first Usain-based advert for Virgin Media to be banned. The ASA ruled that one in 2012 as  the company could not definitely deliver the superfast broadband. Full of fake promises. What are fake promises but LIES.

The ASA ruled against Virgin Media over both complaints.

Regarding the first complaint, the ASA said: “the information provided was not sufficient to ensure the details of the comparison could be verified”. In the second case, the ASA ruled that the claim “download five times faster than Sky and BT’s regular broadband” was misleading, and said the ad should have made it clear that the claim was based on an average, and not an absolute figure.

The ASA banned the ad from appearing again in its current form.

Deathwatch: Olive oil

September 18th, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

olove oil Deathwatch: Olive oilFirst it was the nuts, now it’s the oil.

Yep, due to the scorching Summer, Spain’s summer olive crop was hit so bad, that the country’s harvest may not even equate to half of 2013′s level.

With Spain being the main olive oil producer, this is quite hardcore.

Olive oil bottlers are reporting that they are paying 20-40% more for this year’s crop, than they were in May.

Obviously, we’re all in this together and that price increase will obviously be reflected on the supermarket shelves.

One litre of Filippo Berio extra virgin olive oil at Waitrose currently costs £6.50 which could be pushed up to £9.10 if wholesalers pass the full cost of the shortage onto consumers.

Italy has also suffered a spike in olive prices following an intensely hot summer and their extra-virgin olive oil price has jumped by 30% since the start of the year, currently at a two-year high.

Filippo Berio managing director Walter Zanre said: “The extent of the increase in the wholesale cost of olive oil means it is almost inevitable that prices to shoppers will have to increase.”

“Currently it is very difficult to purchase wholesale bulk olive oil in Spain as producers are withholding stock in anticipation of higher prices later in the year.”

It’s going to get a bit Mad Max 2 down the farmer’s markets that’s for certain. We’re going to have to start cooking our tea in vegetable oil like monsters.

Continued deathwatch: ASOS

September 17th, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

bw asos 300x168 Continued deathwatch: ASOSASOS are having a rough time. The troubled online clothing retailer had already posted a profit warning earlier this year, and have now posted another one.

This follows something of a disastrous 12 months for them, after a warehouse fires damaged stock and fourth-quarter sales were dented by a strong pound. The fire damage alone cost the company £30 million in lost sales.

Shares fell 8.88% to 2207p after the firm warned full-year profits were set to be lower than previously expected.

Whereas the analysts had reckoned on a £62 million profit in their forecasts, it’s more likely to be nearer to £45 million.

The firm warned: “In the new financial year we’ll make significant investments in our international pricing and proposition, as well as in our logistical infrastructure and technology platform. As a result, we expected profit before tax for the year to August 31 to be at a similar level to 2013-14.”

Retail sales for the three months to August 31 did increase 15%, but was still a slowdown deom the 25% from the previous quarter. The international business now accounts for 60% of sales but the strong pound means prices have risen by up to 20% in some markets.

Basically, international sales have fallen from 63% to 61% with Australia and Russia bringing sales down. We’ll be keeping an eye on Asos.

Parents want payday loans to do one

September 16th, 2014 1 Comment By Ian Wade

wonga ladies 300x282 Parents want payday loans to do oneThree-quarters of the parents want payday loan adverts banned before 9pm.

Research found that more than one third (34%) of children considered the adverts to be fun, tempting or exciting as they tend to peddle their wares via the medium of puppetry, such as those wankstains at Wonga.

Look at it. How can a child REFUSE TO BE DRAWN INTO A WORLD OF GERIATRIC FELT?

This group were significantly more likely to say they would consider using a payday loan, even if they’ve never heard of them.

The report by The Children’s Society calls for restrictions on advertising loans to join those already in place to protect children from adverts on gambling, alcohol, tobacco and junk food.

Matthew Reed, chief executive of The Children’s Society, said: “Through our frontline work, we see first-hand the devastating impact of debt on children’s lives.”

“We know it’s become a daily battle for families to pay the bills, meet the mortgage or rent payments, and find money for food or other basics. One setback or even a simple mistake can lead to a spiral of debt. Right now children are being exposed to a barrage of payday loan adverts, which put even more pressure on families struggling to make ends meet and to provide the very basics for their children. That’s why the law should be changed to ban these ads from TV and radio before the 9pm watershed.”

“It is crucial that children learn about borrowing and money from their school and family – not from irresponsible payday loan advertising. A significant majority of parents back a ban and it’s now time for the government to act.”

The survey questioned 1,065 adults and some 680 kids from the 13-17 age range.

Pink apples: witchcraft in the shops now

September 16th, 2014 3 Comments By Ian Wade

pink apples 300x225 Pink apples: witchcraft in the shops nowPink Lady apples? They’re so last year darling.

What you need to get your hands on now are pink-fleshed apples. No really. Apples. Apples that are pink on the inside like they’ve been injected with Ribena.

Tesco will be stocking the Surprize range of apples, which have been grown in Tillington, Herefordshire and will be stocked in 120 branches.

It’s only £1.75 for four! Bloody Hell.

While no taste-testing appears to have gone on ahead of this auspicious launch, the rumour mill claims they’re slightly sharper in taste but higher in vitamin C.

Which is quite a draw for an apple that is AN ABSOLUTE FREAK.

There’s no news on what colour they turn if you cut them and leave them out for far too long, but if we had to put a bet on such a thing, we’d bet on off-turquoise.

Honestly. This planet.

Deathwatch: Rileys

September 16th, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

snooker Deathwatch: RileysRileys, the snooker hall chain, has been forced to shut a quarter of its sports bars.

The company called in the administrators, and restructuring has already shut 15 venues, as well as cutting several jobs at their head offices, giving 124 staff the heave-ho.

The fate of another 400 jobs is in the balance however, as the firm hope to continue as normal while the restructuring happens.

Rileys was founded in 1878, and made their name with pool and snooker joints, however now also offer darts and bingo as solutions to your leisure time too.

An administrator, who answers to the name of Rob Harding, said: “Following our appointment it has been necessary for us to implement certain cuts immediately. We are now working to stabilise the business whilst we consider our options for securing the best outcome for the company’s creditors.”

The remaining 44 branches will continue business as usual, although for how long, who knows.

Poor Rileys. Looks like they’ve got a tricky snooker to get out of for the second time in less than two years.

Design a pound!

September 15th, 2014 2 Comments By Ian Wade

one pound coin 300x300 Design a pound!Fancy making a load of cash? Sort of?

Now you can, by entering your design for the reverse side – you don’t get to mess with the Queen side – of the £1 coin.

The competition is open to those of any age and whatever. Even if you’re half cyborg, presumably.

This follows news from the Budget earlier this year when troubled-hair George Osborne said that the Royal Mint would manufacture a new coin in the hope of reducing counterfeiting.

The hot design at the moment is one similar to the pre-decimilisation threepenny bit, and has 12 sides – like this:

“The winning design should display an image which symbolises Britain or ‘Britishness’”, the Treasury said.

Mr Osborne blubbered: “Think about your favourite landmark, or a great British achievement or a symbol from our Islands’ story. The winning design will be in millions of people’s pockets and purses. It’ll be heads you win; tails, it’s your design.”

The winner will get £10,000 in exchange for the right to use their design, and be invited to visit the Royal Mint in south Wales.

Entries will only be accepted on an official submission form, and all designs must be submitted by Thursday 30 October.

We’ve already submitted ours.

cameron pound 500x495 Design a pound!

 

If you reckon you can do better than our efforts, put your designs on our Facebook page or Tweet us (@bitterwallet) and we’ll share your obviously tasteless work (including the ones moaning about feral shopping trolleys).

Vodafone: Now in HD

September 12th, 2014 1 Comment By Ian Wade

mobile Vodafone: Now in HDVodafone have gone HD!

The UK endz of the Vodafone operation have announced nationwide availability of the service, which is part of a massive spending and investment spree totalling ONE BILLION POUNDS.

Depending on your network capacity, phones with it in will automatically switch to HD voice (although both callers need it in order to have an effect).

In a statement, Fergal Kelly, Vodafone UK’s technology director, said: ”Our HD voice brings our best call quality to our customers.”

“It is another important step towards our commitment to deliver our strongest ever network to the U.K.”

Vodafone’s eventual catch-up in this area follows Orange (September 2010) and 3UK (May 2011). However O2 haven’t got around to it all. It only works on the 3G network too, so if you’re 4G, you’ll roll back to 3G when you make a voice call.

So there you have it. HD phone calls. Great news for those who want absolute clarity when they’re breathing heavily down the line to their ex-wife who left them for a karate instructor.

Delete yourself with Facebook

September 12th, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

facebook mobile 300x200 Delete yourself with FacebookFacebook have been testing again!

The social media giant has been experimenting with a new thing that allows the users to create self deleting posts.

Oh hang on, sounds familiar. Snapchat anyone?

When upon posting some bon mot on the Facebook, one can now select an expiration date for it to delete itself, ranging from one hour to seven days.

It’s currently happening as a pilot on the Facebook iOS app. And currently only in New Zealand.

It will be interesting to see if the younger set who favoured the ephemeral existence of a Snapchat missive, may be tempted back to join the old squares banging on about cats, babies, dogs and car parts.

This is quite interesting too, as Snapchat said no to a $3 billion offer from Facebook late last year.

It’s not the start of some lol-fest where one can post something horrible for an hour and upset everyone and then it vanishes though, as even posts removed from the user’s profile hang around the company’s servers for three months.

Thorntons back on the up again

September 11th, 2014 1 Comment By Ian Wade

After being in our Deathwatch a number of times,zs 300x138 Thorntons back on the up again Thorntons have had something of a turnaround in their fortunes this annum!

The confectionary vendors have announced a 60% jump in annual profits due to their cost-cutting drives.

Pre-tax profits and one-off items jumped to a better-than-expected £7.5 million in the year to the end of June, from £4.7 million a year earlier. Revenue was only marginally ahead, at £222.4 million.

Since their chief executive Jonathan Hart joined the company in 2011, he’s been attempting to stir the company back into life, and it looks like he’s succeeding.

Two years ago shares were at 10p a pop, now they’re up to dizzy heights of 109.75p, before settling on 103p

This is due to Hart helping move the brand and sales online and to supermarkets, even though 39 branches of the chain shut in the last 12 months.

The company are quite pleased, as you can imagine, and have concentrated on a Classics range as well as an Easter dude named Harry Hopalot who did wonders during the egg-and-Christ based event.

Now, if anyone wants to send us some personalised chocolate with a crude insult written on it, we won’t be offended at all…

Ryanair doing a bit better than last year

September 11th, 2014 1 Comment By Ian Wade

Ryanair New Plane Logo 214x300 Ryanair doing a bit better than last yearRyanair reckon they’re flying six more customers per flight this year than in 2013. SIX WHOLE CUSTOMERS!

This small but obviously a good thing, is said to be down to the company’s improved customer service and ticket selling.

The airline expects load factors to increase 3-4 percentage points to ‘close to 86% of available seats this year.

So basically, translated into humans, an increase of 3-4 points on the Boeing 737s, with space for 189 people on them, would represent between 6-7 more passengers.

This news comes just after the Irish airline took delivery of the first part of 380 Boeing jets over the next ten years. That’s a big letter box that fits 380 planes through it.

This addition to the fleet should take the airline’s passengers from 82 million to 150 million a year.

Forward bookings also increased between September and January, when the airline started to sell tickets up to a year in advance instead of the previous nine months barrier.

To top that off, they’re looking to buy Cyprus Air and have completed all the paperwork required to start its first routes to Russia, with proposed flights from Dublin to Moscow and St. Petersburg.

Millions moving banks

September 11th, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

bank sign Millions moving banksMore than a million people have switched their bank accounts since a national switching service began a year ago.

Thanks to The Payments Council, a trade body which came up with the ‘switch guarantee’ as a thing to encourage competition, said that the number of switches was up 19% on the year before.

The highly lucrative current account market is dominated by four banks – HSBC, RBS, Barclays and Lloyds – and they provide three quarters of the UK’s bank accounts.

The Payments Council have not issued a breakdown, but outside of the big four, Santander have been one of the biggest beneficiaries, with Nationwide.

A lot of switchers have come from the troubled Co-operative Group, who’ve been basically handing out their customers to their competition.

While no sign of them making much of an impact, the future could be shaken up by TSB, Tesco, Virgin Money and M&S Bank.

David Mann, who is the head of money at comparison service uSwitch, said “We no longer see our bank as our lifetime companion.”

Blackberry still really popular (with thieves)

September 10th, 2014 2 Comments By Ian Wade

Picture 111 Blackberry still really popular (with thieves)Chart topping news for Blackberry now, as it turns out that the 9790 is one of the most stolen phones in the UK.

It’s not even the most popular phone in the UK either, as figures released by the Home Office say that the four most stolen phones are all iPhones, Blackberry handsets are more stolen than those by Samsung or HTC.

Rather than being linked to popularity thieves target phones that are seen as ‘soft’ targets with poor security. The Blackberry 9790 is joined in the top 20 by the Blackberry 8520, Z10, 3G, 9900 and 9780.

Also in the top 20 most stolen list include the Samsung Galaxy S3 and S4, HTC One X, One S and One, iPhone 4 and Samsung Galaxy Note.

The Home Office reckon that the new security features in iOS 7 has helped reduce the lure of these phones as thieveable items.

Home secretary Theresa May chipped in: “The mobile phone industry is already taking vital action to introduce features that enable phones to be tracked and wiped if they are stolen.”

“It is encouraging to see that these security improvements have contributed to recorded theft from the person falling by 10 per cent in the last year, according to the most recent crime statistics.”

Oh and the most vulnerable targets for phone thieves, is if you’re between 14-24. Watch out, if you’ve got a baby face.

Ratings to be taken from your tablets

September 10th, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

bbc iplayer 300x205 Ratings to be taken from your tabletsRatings news now, of a sort, with the announcement that viewing figures for TV watched on tablets is being recorded for the first time.

The Broadcasters’ Audience Research Board (BARB) has now mastered the technology to allow such a thing, and will be able to read from Android and iPads.

The traditional way of measure TV ratings, BARB uses a panel of 5,100 homes across the UK, giving it data on the viewing habits of around 11,500 people. Then this is all extrapolated to work out the viewing figures for the entire country.

“The ability to track how our panel members watch television on their tablets is a great step forward,” said Justin Sampson, chief executive of BARB.

Only half of the 5,100 homes has such devices, but the that would be representative as demand increases.

So basically, someone’s going to get a lot of reports on what internet traffic certain shows are getting. It really is mind boggling that they didn’t think of doing this ages ago.