sky 300x168 Man finally manages to resolve Sky contract cancellation problem after two years and £1,395Forget last month’s story about the man who was kept on the phone for 96 minutes trying to cancel his Sky contract, Pete Swift from Edinburgh has finally managed to settle an ongoing dispute with Sky over cancelling his contract after two whole years. However, in a triumph for the underdog, he’s also been paid £1,500 in compensation to settle the £1,395 bill he slapped on Sky for his time spent in sorting out their mess.

The problems began in 2012 when Mr Swift moved to Leith in Edinburgh and cancelled his contract with Sky at that time. Unfortunately the cancellation never actually happened, and Mr Swift became intimately acquainted with a number of debt collectors over the next 18 months as Sky sent the dogs after him, for non-payment of a cancelled contract.

However, Mr Swift declined to take this lying down, and decided to take legal action, first contacting the Citizens Advice Bureau and then the Ombudsman. After speaking to the Ombudsman, Sky offered Mr Swift a £60 gesture of goodwill, but he was more concerned about the effect the error had had on his credit file. The Ombudsman said they could not do anything to rectify any blights upon his credit record, nor could they request any further compensation over and above the £60 offered.

Mr Swift decided this was just not good enough. “I told them that this sum was not proportionate to the hassle and frustrations I had experienced as a result of their error and was therefore not appropriate compensation,” he said, before deciding to take Sky to court over the matter.  The 30-year-old research consultant billed Sky £25 an hour for all the calls he had had to make- to the Sky itself, to the ombudsman, and to various credit reference agencies and debt collection companies. In total, Mr Swift spent almost 56 hours on the phone, including 31 hours talking to Sky.

Two days before the court case was due to be heard,  Sky said it would pay Mr Swift £1,500 for the time and money spent on trying to terminate his contract. He said: “When Sky finally agreed to cover the full settlement I had mixed emotions. On one hand I was really pleased to have the £1,500 and some form of resolution, but I was still very resentful of the lengths I’d had to go to and the way Sky had dealt with the situation,” adding that “Sky had contacted me the week before to try and talk me down to a lower sum of £500.”

He continued: “The whole time I was dealing with them it just felt like I was being fobbed off with the bare minimum they could get away with. There was never really an acknowledgement that something was wrong procedurally that needed to be addressed, it just felt like a case of let’s pay off the complaining customer so he shuts up.” Fortunately, Mr Swift has told his story to the national press before going away and shutting up as Sky would presumably have preferred, giving hope and inspiration to anyone else out there being walked all over by a big corporation.

Sky said the issue was due to a technical fault with its systems, meaning his cancellation was not recorded on his file. A spokesman for Sky said: “Our staff work hard to deliver great service. However, in Mr Swift’s case we got it wrong, and didn’t resolve things quickly enough.

“We are really sorry and have apologised, offering a gesture of goodwill in recognition of the frustration he has experienced.”

Why your bread now costs less bread

May 11th, 2015 No Comments By Thewlis

bread Why your bread now costs less breadWhat’s the best thing since sliced bread? Unfortunately for bread manufacturers, its not the traditional white sliced loaf anymore. A combination of changing consumer tastes and supermarket price wars have meant that traditional sliced loaves are no longer the best thing in a baker’s range.

Research shows a widespread switch away from sliced bread in recent times, with consumers instead turning to ‘healthier’ alternatives such as wholegrain and artisan loaves, or even shunning wheat or gluten-based products entirely. Add to that the fact that bread, as a staple product, has been heavily involved in supermarket price wars- Asda recently dropped a number of branded bread products, and Tesco has thrown them all out in favour of in-house ranges, and you can see why the top three UK bakers are all showing a massive decline in sales. And don’t even mention the introduction of free school meals for all infant school children- with the 14% decline in schoolchildren taking sandwiches also being blamed.

Data from analysts IRI shows that Warburtons, Hovis and Kingsmill , have lost a total of £121 million in bread sales in the past year. Warburtons has lost sales worth £35 million, while Hovis has suffered a £11 million slump in sales. Kingsmill reported that bread sales down £75 million on the preceding 12 months, price drops exacerbating a 14.3% drop in volume. Total UK bread sales were down 8.4% as average prices fell 4.7%, and these figures mean that Hovis, perhaps assisted by its ‘wholemeal’ and traditional image, has overtaken Kingsmill to become Britain’s second biggest selling bread brand.

And therein lies the silver lining. As the bread market goes stale, this has spelled good news for consumers as prices in High Street stores have fallen by an average of 15p for a large (800g) loaf. Trade magazine The Grocer reported that shoppers are currently paying, on average, 13.3%  less than they were a year ago for a large loaf with those selling at a typical promotional price of £1.14 in the last week of April now costing just 99p.

So are you still a tea and toast in the morning kind of consumer? Or are you almond bagel or fruit and yogurt material? Does your lunchbox include a ham sandwich, or are you quinoa and roasted vegetables these days…


It’s always nice when a retailer makes a goodwill gesture when they’ve stuffed up in some way, although, in some cases, disgruntled customers might stretch that goodwill to the limit. Like the case of the Hertfordshire woman who, when offered a meal for two to compensate her for a delay in picking up her new (used) car, promptly went out and spent over £700 on a slap-up meal.

The delay in question was caused when a delivery truck bumped into Ms Siobhan Yap’s new (used) car she had purchased from Watford Audi. While Audi repaired the damage, there was obviously a delay in Ms Yap, 27, obtaining her new Audi A3, and in addition to providing her with a courtesy car, the car retailer offered to pay for her to have ‘a meal for two’.

So far so amicable. However, while Audi did not specify a restaurant, or indeed a price limit for the meal, it is unlikely they would have been expecting the inconvenienced customer to book in at the Michelin starred L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon in Covent Garden, the total bill for the meal for two coming to £714.

700 bill Woman offered a free meal for two runs up a £700 bill at top London eaterie

picture via BBC

While at L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon, Ms Yap and her mother did not cut any corners, enjoying four glasses of champagne, two bottles of wine costing £69 each, six cocktails totalling £86 and a sloe gin all at Audi’s presumed expense.

They did also eat some food, and the “small tasting dishes” they tried included one La Truffe Noire at £35, two St Jacques scallop dishes costing £29 each and two La Volatille risottos totalling £42.

Unsurprisingly, Audi were a little dismayed to receive the hefty bill, which was rather more than it would have been in Nandos, with a Watford Audi spokesman saying they felt it was “excessive expenditure for two diners”, but as Audi were “keen to make amends for the incident” they offered to cover half the bill, equating to £357.

“We believe this is a fair and reasonable amount given the circumstances, and we stand by the decision taken,” said the spokesman.

However, an unapologetic Ms Yap told the JVS show on BBC Three Counties Radio that Audi should really pay the whole bill because she’d had to send the car back for further repairs, and the cost was “relative to what they put me through and their customer service levels”. If only we all got sloshed at a posh restaurant every time we had sloppy customer service eh?

“They put me through a lot of stress and it was a really nice restaurant,” Ms Yap said, before adding triumphantly that “they should have specified a limit.”

Etiquette expert William Hanson agreed that the garage should have set an upper limit and should “learn a lesson” and “absorb the cost”. However, he also remarked that “you don’t need to perhaps drink that much if someone else is paying”.

But what do you think? Do Audi deserve being taken to the cleaners for their naivety, or is Ms Yap just taking the mickey? Isn’t she entitled to a little bit of what she fancied in exchange for what was an admitted cock-up by the car retailer? Or are greedy people like this the reason more firms don’t make added gestures when things go wrong?

Internet rationing on the way?

May 6th, 2015 2 Comments By Thewlis

internet 240x300 Internet rationing on the way?Do you remember life before the internet? When you could actually argue over who was right on a contentious point for hours, rather than googling it on your phone? When people actually had to write to each other, rather than using email? When accessing certain private services could result in stuck together pages of a magazine rather than a wipe-clean screen? It seems those sepia-toned days could be making a comeback, as experts warn that we’re all gobbling up so much data, that pretty soon we’re going to run out of capacity, which could force us into a new age of internet rationing.

The reports predicting a capacity crash come ahead of next week’s Royal Society meeting in London, when industry experts will meet to discuss the ‘capacity crunch’ that power and data networks are moving towards, as incessant demand for web access goes through the metaphorical roof.

And don’t even think this is a Far Away problem, like pensions, that you don’t really have to worry about, the crash is predicted to fall sooner than you might think. Professor Andrew Ellis, an expert in optical communications, warns that, at the rate consumers are using the web, existing cables will reach their data capacity limit by the end of the decade. This decade. He calls it a “potentially disastrous capacity crunch”.

Of course, extra cables, and more technologically advanced ones, upgrading the UK data network to fibre-optic cables and the like have increased the ability of existing networks and cabling systems to deal with an increased demand for data. But scientists are suggesting even the newer cables are reaching their physical limit because of the rapid increase in popularity of web-enabled devices such as smartphones, tablets and laptops greedily sucking up data all day long.

So what’s the answer? Just lay more cables?  On top of the obvious cost involved in bolstering an infrastructure of this size, it seems money might not be the only problem if considering laying more cable. We could then run out of juice.

According to experts, The Internet is already consuming at least 8% of Britain’s total power output, which is equivalent to the output of three nuclear power stations all by itself, and increasing demand is pushing that higher, even before the added drain of extra cables. Lay too much cable, and the internet could suck all our power. And how would we do the vacuuming then?

BT’s head of optical access, Professor Andrew Lord, said ominously:

“It’s the first time we have had to worry about optical fibres actually filling up. We could expand the network by laying more cables but the economics of that do not work and it would increase power consumption.”

So there you have it- looks like we’re destined for internet rationing and a lucrative black market in dodgy data. The roaring twenties of the 21st century could involve everyone shouting at each other for their turn to have a go on the country’s internet…

kebab 300x200 Kebabs and Pizzas are a good investment?Looking for an investment in a fast-growing business? You could do worse than investing in the expanding waistlines of your fellow man. Just Eat, the online takeaway service has just announced a massive portion of extra orders in the first three months of the year. So is this the shape of things to come?

It seems consumers are using their increasing disposable income to order takeaways, with the Just Eat apps and websites accounting for the surge in orders. The company, which was launched in the UK in 2006, reported an increase in like-for-like orders of 47% in the first quarter, with total orders were up 51% on the same period last year.

Scarily, Just Eat reckons it has more than 8 million users, with 45,700 takeaway restaurants signed up to the service.That’s an awful lot of chicken kormas. Its full-year results in March, saw more than 61 million takeaway orders for restaurants in 2014,  worth more than £1billion. With the most popular orders being Margherita pizzas and Doner kebabs. Classy, people, classy.

David Buttress, its chief executive, said : ‘I am delighted with the company’s performance. The team has worked very hard in all our markets to achieve these results.”

“I am also pleased to see the continued shift of consumers to the ease and convenience of ordering food through Just Eat apps and websites.”

Of course, this news, coming in election frenzy, is likely to spark more calls for some kind of fat tax on unhealthy foods, as has been previously mooted, with some of the cash earmarked to help NHS services deal with the fall out from 61 million Doner kebabs. Which doesn’t bear thinking about.

Nevertheless, shares in the company rose 3% to 470p, which is a nice little earner for those who got in at 260p when it floated last year. Looks like the online takeaway is a winner, whether you’re drunk and hungry or a savvy investor who knows that the value of shares can go down as well as up. Bit like a kebab really.

The company is now planning  to take over the world by expanding on its French, Mexican and Swiss operations.

If we were to compile a list of the most ‘meaningful’ brands, we’re not sure that Amazon would be top of our list, but according to a survey of 300,000 people worldwide, Amazon is the most ‘meaningful’ brand in the UK with 64% of people saying they would care if the retailer disappeared. Slightly more ‘ethical’ brands M&S and John Lewis came in at second and third, respectively, and supermarkets Aldi and Sainsbury’s completing the top five.

The global study was conducted by Havas and surveyed of 300,000 people over 34 countries covering 1,000 brands across 12 industries. Rather than looking at brand recognition, the Meaningful Brands metric looks at how consumers’ “quality of life and wellbeing” is affected by brands. Specifically, the survey looked at how brands “impact self-esteem, healthy lifestyles, connectivity with friends and family, making lives easier, fitness and happiness” as well as more traditional market factors such as quality and price of goods. Golly.

Globally, and perhaps unsurprisingly, technology brands accounted for nearly a third of the top 50 global Meaningful Brands with Samsung, Google and Sony all featuring near the top of the global list. However, technology giant Apple didn’t come anywhere near the top 20, languishing at number 45 on the list.

Although Amazon are still riding high, Starbucks was among one of the worst performers, with only 14% of people saying they would give a caramel latte if Starbucks disappeared, with criticisms over its tax policies accounting for a 6% fall in favour.

And being ‘meaningful’ can be quite meaningful to a brand’s bottom line. The ‘Share of Wallet’ calculation used in the survey compared the percentage spent with a meaningful brand versus the total annual expenditure within its particular category. The survey founds that brands ranking highly on the list, received, on average 46% higher spend, with some brands showing as much as a seven fold increase.

The full list of the Top 20 ‘meaningful’ brands in the UK, and across the world is as follows:

top 20 brands Amazon tops the most meaningful brands to UK consumers list

lightbulb 219x300 Latest EU lightbulb ban delayed by two yearsGood news for anyone still trying to read a newspaper indoors after dark, the latest phase of EU meddling with your light fittings has been delayed, with some halogen light bulbs getting a stay of execution for two years after the European Commission (EC) delayed the phasing-out of halogen bulbs until 2018.

The original ban,which doesn’t affect all halogen bulbs, mainly  those that look like the last lot of bulbs the EU banned, was supposed to come into force next year, but concerns have been raised about the availability, cost and quality of LED light bulbs, the most common alternative to the halogen bulb.

Note that the new 2018 ban on halogen bulbs doesn’t apply to all halogen bulbs, just to be totally confusing. It mainly covers pear-shaped bulbs that look how a lightbulb is supposed to look, but the ban doesn’t apply to the teeny spotlights or to halogen lamps used in desk lamps and flood lights. Look at this handy pictorial guide from Which!!!

lightbulbs Latest EU lightbulb ban delayed by two years

Of course, it’s not that the EU actively want you to sit in the gloom in your house, despite the previous banning of incandescent bulbs, no, halogens bulbs are considered highly inefficient compared with LED or CFL energy-saving lamps. To put it into perspective, halogen light bulbs tend to be classified as D or lower for energy efficiency and use about 10% less energy than the old, banned, lovely incandescent bulbs. LED light bulbs, on the other hand use up to 90% less energy. This is, of course, good for the environment and bound to be good for your pocket too. Thanks EU.

According to a 2014 survey by Which!!!, virtually half of Which!!! members still have halogen bulbs in their home and over 43% have halogen spotlights. Which!!! also calculated that replacing six 50W halogen or incandescent light bulbs with six equivalent LEDs could save up to £32 a year. Unfortunately, however, you might need a few years to realise your lightbulb investment as Which!!! also confessed that some LED bulbs cost up to £40 each…

car 300x225 Brown and beige cars making a seventies revivalThey say everything in fashion goes around in circles, and those of us who lived through Eighties’ fashion the first time are watching it again in stunned admiration. But it isn’t just clothes fashions of yesteryear that make a comeback, it seems. Car valuation firm CAP Automotive reckons that, platforms and bell bottoms aside, it is car colour fashion from the seventies that is hot right now.

Every month CAP tracks the tastes of motorists and the data helps advise dealers on the best choices for used car stock – from brands, models and body styles to engine type and colour. By analysing the results, CAP has identified a resurgence of interest in shades that have been (understandably) rarely seen in the mainstream car market for decades, with green, beige, gold, bronze, brown, yellow and even orange all rising in popularity on fashion-conscious car buyers’ agenda.

Of course, colour charts are normally dominated by the usual boring suspects that include silver, black, blue, and red, but five classic 1970s colours – green, beige, yellow, brown and gold – have made it into the top 10 choices for the first time since CAP began charting consumer tastes.

CAP suggests that the comeback of 1970s colours among consumers valuing their next car purchase may simply be a natural extension of motorists’ desire to ‘personalise’ their driving experience, and that it is in keeping with the current fancy for retro everything.

Philip Nothard, retail and consumer specialist at CAP, said: “Just as new cars are increasingly configurable to the driver’s personal preference, it makes sense that there is now a more diverse array of colours on the radar of today’s motorists.”

“You can’t underestimate the power of ‘retro chic’ either in the world of consumer taste – and what could be more retro than having an orange or a bronze car.” Indeed, or more trendy, groovy and right-on.

CAP also pointed out that car colour choice is traditionally down to the manufacturer, rather than the consumer, as manufacturers decide which colours to offer and to use on models, and that “people therefore tend to buy what they’re offered.”

And he describes the phenomenon most appropriately when saying that “evidence that a significant number of people are trying to find brown cars to buy would have seemed crazy just a few years ago, but we can confirm that they are.”

So can we look forward to seeing 50 shades of brown and beige on the roads this summer or is this a retro step too far. Would you buy a brown car with your own money?

cash 300x225 How long does it take you to make those all important decisions?It seems we’re a nation of ditherers. While we take less than two minutes to decide what we want from our friendly local barkeep, making bigger decisions on how to spend or save our money takes us a little longer, with bigger purchases like a new car taking over two weeks’ worth of thinking time.

The survey of 2,000 people commissioned by Skipton Building Society also found that people had missed out on a bargain, extra money or even a job because they took too long making a decision.

Stacey Stothard, from Skipton Building Society, which commissioned the research, said: “People who don’t over think those day-to-day smaller decisions, but consciously allocate themselves time and space to think through the important ones enjoy a balance that many overlook.

“While some seem happy to make snap decisions within seconds, most like to take their time and consider their options, especially on more important decisions.”

However, taking too long to consider their options means almost two thirds have ended up having to rush a decision. A sizeable 62% have taken so long to decide, they missed a bargain or cheap deal, a quarter have lost out on tickets to an event and 22% have missed out on extra money.

Ms Stothard added: “It might not matter if you take an age deciding what to have for lunch, but choosing how much money you want to put into savings each month or your pension contributions will directly affect your and your family’s financial future.”

So how do you size up against the surveyed decision making times below? At least you’re more likely to be wed to your energy supplier than your significant other though eh…

Decision times

What drink to order in a pub or bar - 1 minute 53 seconds

What to have for lunch - 3 minutes 13 seconds

What to have for dinner - 4 minutes 55 seconds

What outfit to wear that day - 5 minutes 37 seconds

Which bottle of wine to buy - 5 minutes 40 seconds

What film to watch at the cinema - 6 minutes 25 seconds

How much money to put into savings - 7 minutes 52 seconds

Where to go on a date - 8 minutes 58 seconds

Whether to buy a new item of clothing or outfit - 10 minutes 8 seconds

How to spend your spare income - 4 days 2 hours

Who to vote for in an election - 5 days 18 hours

Whether to increase your monthly pension contributions - 5 days 19 hours

Where to go on holiday - 7 days 13 hours

Whether to get married - 8 days 12 hours

Whether to have children - 8 days 12 hours

Whether to switch your gas/electric supplier - 8 days 13 hours

Whether to go on holiday - 9 days 10 hours

What to buy your spouse/partner for their birthday - 10 days 6 hours

What to buy your spouse/partner for Christmas - 10 days 11 hours

Which school to send your children to - 11 days 1 hour

Which car to buy - 15 days 5 hours

mobile phone 300x200 Which!!! are the top five ways to keep your mobile spam free?It’s the second four-day week in two weeks, so we’re expecting you all to be a great mood. However, one of the things most likely to ruin a glorious mood is constant and persistent hounding by spam peddlers who, it seems, never take a day off. And it’s not just nuisance calls that get our collective goat- Which!!! research suggests that almost half of people with a mobile phone receive at least one spam text a week, mostly wittering on about whiplash compensation or claiming for mis-sold Payment Protection Insurance (PPI). Yes, still. And they’re constantly finding new ways to annoy you- with reports that the latest en vogue topic of spam textiness being the plugging of dodgy pension liberation schemes.

So, our good friends at Which!!! asked their friends, and 60% of them said they would report nuisance calls and texts, if only they knew how. So here we have the top five tips for getting rid of spam texts and leaving your inbox free for messages from pizza delivery companies and your mobile provider…

1. Use 7726

A massive 90% of the people Which!!! asked didn’t know that you can use 7726 to report spam texts directly to your mobile phone provider. 7726 is a universal number used by all providers (except Vodafone who use 87726) and, if you’re into that kind of thing, spell SPAM on your phone’s alpha-numeric keypad.

All you need to do is either forward it or copy and paste the message (if you are over 35 you might need to get a young person’s help to do this) and send it to 7726. You should get an automated response thanking you and giving you further instructions.

2. Never EVER reply to the text message…

If you reply, the scurrilous spammers will know that your number is live, rather than just being a randomly generated number on a list, so they will take this as an invitation to send you more and more unwanted text messages. Just delete the text, and if it comes from an identifiable number, block the sender to prevent further fishing contact.

3. … unless you know who the text is from

While many spammers use ‘unknown’ numbers, you can sometimes get marketing texts from companies who might legitimately have your mobile number, such as pizza delivery companies or taxi firms.  While you are supposed to have explicitly opted in to text marketing, these text from proper companies will have instructions on how to remove yourself from the list, often by replying STOP. Do this and they should not contact you again.

4. Tell them to go away

It sounds too simple, but under the Data Protection Act you have a right to ask companies to stop unwanted direct marketing – whether it is by phone, post or email. Of course, this again assumes this is an identifiable company contacting you who is registered as a Data Holder.

You can contact the company directly and make a formal request to have your details removed from their system and no longer user those details for direct marketing purposes. If they refuse, or you discover that they subsequently have not removed your details you can…

5. …report them to the ICO

If you continue to receive spam texts or calls from a company after asking to be removed from its database, you can report it to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) for breaches of the Data Protection Act.

beer 300x225 Cuts to alcohol duty are shameful and a total disgraceMost people will have been at least mildly pleased with last week’s Budget, with a number of small giveaways that will generally have a positive effect on the pocket. One group of announcements that most will have filed under positive news were those relating to sin taxes on beer, cider and spirits, which have been cut by 1p and 2% respectively. But apparently we’re all wrong, with the duty cuts being described as “shameful” and “a total disgrace”.

The Alcohol Health Alliance, which is comprised of medical bodies, charities and alcohol health campaigners, has come out in strict disapproval of the cuts, and the freeze on wine duty,  with Professor Sir Ian Gilmore, chair of the Alcohol Health Alliance, claiming the cuts were evidence that the chancellor had prioritised the interested of big business over public health.

“This decision is a slap in the face to our doctors, nurses and emergency services on the front line that are paying the price for this cut”, he said. “With over one million alcohol-related hospital attendances every year, our NHS simply cannot afford for alcohol to get cheaper.

“The government’s own figures show that alcohol-related harm costs the UK £21 billion every single year. With less than half of this recouped through current levels of taxation, to suggest lowering taxes even further is thoroughly shameful. These cuts also mean that cheap, strong alcohol that gets into the hands of our children will be even more affordable now,” he finished, not mincing his words.

Katherine Brown, director of the Institute of Alcohol Studies agreed, calling the decision to cut tax on cider and spirits at a time when the NHS is at “breaking point”  a “total disgrace”.

So why did the Chancellor do it? Is he hoping to woo beer drinkers in advance of May’s election? Possibly. However, the subject of alcohol duties has been a subject of sustained campaigning by the trade, specifically the Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA) who welcomed the cuts to the “extremely high” rates of duty paid by UK drinkers. But as part of the Drop the Duty! Campaign, the arguments for a cut in alcohol duties are that cheaper prices will stimulate this area of the economy, and lead to greater prosperity and more jobs.

Independent analysis commissioned by the WSTA and carried out by Ernst Young showed that a 2% cut in duty would boost public finances by £1.5 billion. David Frost, chief executive of the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) said the cuts send an “important signal on fair taxation” to the Scotch industry’s export markets; the SWA previously blamed the 5% decline of the UK market for Scotch whisky in 2014 on the country’s “excessive” levels of tax on spirits.

So what do you think? Will a penny saved in duty result in more alcohol-related NHS spending, or will it just mean our pockets are ever so slightly fuller after a night out?

We’ve pondered upon this before, but now, possibly in a case of jumping before you are pushed, drinks manufacturer Diageo has said it will voluntarily put nutritional information, including calorie counts on all its labels. The Diageo stable includes drinks like Guinness, Bailey’s, Blossom Hill and Smirnoff.

guinness 200x300 Guinness and other alcoholic tipples to get calorie labelsCurrently alcoholic drinks are still exempt from nutritional labelling, but Diageo wants to “help the health conscious and tackle binge drinking” by going the extra mile and providing details of fat, protein, carbs and calories alongside alcohol content on its drinks labels “as soon as is practical”. The sticking point at the moment is that Diageo are trying to agree with EU regulators on the standards serving size- not only is per 100ml probably misleading, as drinks are not normally drunk in those quantities, given EU metric measures, will Diageo be permitted to have a standard serving size of the metrically-untidy 568ml?

Chief Exec of Diageo, Ivan Menezes said “Currently there is no obligation to provide alcohol content and nutrition information per typical serve,” but said that the company has decided it wants to “provide alcohol and nutritional information that consumers can quickly understand, instead of expecting them to do the maths.”

While Diageo are not trying to make drinking look healthier, you may remember the old “Guinness is good for you” advertising slogans that were banned in the eighties. Nevertheless a US study in 2005 suggested drinking Guinness has similar effects to taking aspirin, helping prevent blood clots and heart attacks. The health benefits of wine are similarly debated with some studies claiming consumption of a small glass of wine a day helps prevent heart failure, while  others claim drinking a large glass of wine per day increases the risk of a stroke.

Either way, you can now work out what the best tipple for your low-carb day is going to be, and calculate just how much twerking you need to do to work off those 3 glasses of wine…



Bitterwallet bacon sandwich 300x300 Which is the best bacon? Important consumer testing from Which!!!Bacon is an important human right*, and getting the right quality bacon, at the right price, is a cause of great consternation to many Bitterwallet readers throughout the country. However, consumer champion Which!!! has now swooped in to the rescue, having recruited some ‘bacon testers’ to sample bacon sold by the country’s supermarkets in order to inform you which bacon is worth it’s weight in, well, bacon. And the top bacon was so good, they’ve even awarded it a prestigious Which!!!  Best Buy award.

Which!!! asked a panel of ‘experts’ to assess bacon from ten different supermarkets- we want to know how you get to have  job that classifies you as a bacon expert and whether its genuinely means you have to eat bacon all day. Interestingly, and somewhat pointlessly, Which!!! asked the experts to assess the raw bacon as well as the cooked deliciousness. Quite why the appearance of the raw bacon is at all relevant to how it tastes while hot and crispy is beyond us, but that was, nevertheless, one of the criteria. The cooked rashers were then judged on aroma, taste and texture.

All the bacon tested was the premium, dry-cured back versions, unsmoked to avoid tainting the samples. The tests were also blind- with the experts having no idea which supermarket’s rashers they were sampling at any point.

Which!!! often claim that the cost of a product does not necessarily dictate the quality, and it seems this is also the case for salty pork products, as the  most expensive rashers (£3.49 for six rashers (200g) from Waitrose) came in bottom of the table of bacon tested. One judge described the bacon as ‘very average’, with rashers were so thin that they ‘would avoid it in a shop’.

In contrast, the Best Buy bacon was the joint cheapest available, and was lauded for its beautiful aroma and superb taste from ‘successfully balancing the salt level with the sweet dry cure’. The rashers were also thicker than most on test, making it “a real treat and our standout winner.” So where does one find this Holy Grail of bacon? You already know the answer don’t you. It’s from Aldi.

The full table of results is shown below, and just goes to prove that you can get paid actual  money for eating bacon for a living.

Bacon table Which is the best bacon? Important consumer testing from Which!!!

*OK human right is perhaps a bit strong, but there’s something wrong with anyone who doesn’t like bacon amiright? Unless they’re a vegetarian or something.

car crash Changing the date your car insurance starts could save you 50%There are any number of tips and tricks to reducing your car insurance, including selecting the most insurer-friendly job title, and including more experienced drivers on  your policy. However, one variable you’ve probably never considered when getting an insurance quotation is thestart date of the policy- and according to Which!!!, that alone can save you up to 49%…

While we don’t know why they did it, Which!!! Money pretended to be a Ford Focus driver living in South London and contacted 15 major car insurance providers, changing only the start date of the policy in getting comparable quotes. The difference in price they report is astonishing.

The baseline initial quotation Which!!! requested was for insurance cover active from the 30 January, which was the day of the quotation. After getting the details, Which!!! then went back and changed the ‘start date’ to see what effect, if any, this had on the annual price.

Now, in the majority of cases, the difference of a day made little or no difference to the premium- after all, an annual policy is going to cover all 365 days, so even if certain days are more accident-prone than others, they’ll have to cover you sooner or later. However, Which!!!’s investigations did find several insurers where the one little day made a huge difference. Moving the date forward a day to 31 January knocked £121 off Nationwide’s premium, £115 off LV’s and £95 off Direct Line’s.

The biggest shocker came from Tesco Bank, where a one-day deferral of cover cut the renewal price down from £1,577 by a massive £780- that’s 49%.  And postponing the start date to 1 February took the quote down another £99, giving a total reduction of £879 over the two days.

But why does a day make such a difference? Even the smallest quoted saving of £95 is worth having if you can get it. There are, apparently, two schools of thought on the matter. On one hand, some insurers reckon that that those who buy cover in advance statistically pose less risk, resulting in cheaper premiums. A Tesco Bank spokesperson said: “Some of our underwriters have identified that the period of time between the quote date and start date of the policy can be a risk factor, and so this can affect the premium that is offered.” While we can see the logic in assuming the kind of person who sorts out their car insurance three weeks before renewal is, perhaps, less likely to drive with reckless abandon for the speed limit, or without regularly checking their dipstick, does doing it the day before (as Which!!!’s experiment would have had it) really count as doing it in advance? Isn’t it more likely that those trying to sort car insurance on the day of cover are being penalised for leaving it until the absolute last minute?

However, perhaps it isn’t that at all. LV said that it sometimes offers discounts to customers who insure in advance, but that it regularly changes rates in response to market conditions and “policies that start on different dates may have different prices, according to when a rate change takes effect.”

In either case though, if you don’t use your car every day, and you keep it off a public highway (on a driveway or in a garage, for example), next time you renew it might make sense to check and see whether delaying by a day or two might make a welcome difference to your pocket, particularly if renewing with one of the firms cited above.

No nectar cards for Fannys

February 24th, 2015 3 Comments By Thewlis

It must be difficult enough to have to go around in life being called Fanny, without having to cry over all the Nectar points you aren’t collecting because Sainsburys won’t give you a card. It’s like kicking a girl when she’s down.

That is exactly what happened to 19 year old Fanny Carlsson, whose name was deemed such a joke that it wasn’t even rejected on quality control- the computer would not accept her first name was, in fact, her first name. Even though it is.

fanny No nectar cards for FannysFanny, originally from Sweden, helpfully screenshotted her attempt to use her ‘invalid’ first name, but may have had to explain to her fellow countrymen (and women) what Fanny means, both in the UK (front bottom of a lady) and in the US (bottom bottom), and why, to save schoolboy sniggers, she often uses her middle name whilst here in the UK.

Ms Carlsson did eventually have to resort to her middle name in order to be able to rack up her points, but Sainsbury’s and Nectar have had their boob pointed out to them. Nectar said, in a statement: “Like many companies we block a number of words on the Nectar website. We are sorry for the inconvenience caused to this particular customer and are reviewing this going forward.”

Next week, find out what happened when Randy,  Dick and Willy applied for a Clubcard…