If you think you weren’t being exploited enough by advertisers, think again.
Moneysupermarket.com are hoping to develop a new revenue stream worth millions, by selling consumer data from approximately a third of the UK.
Advertisers will have access to a wealth of personal data, if these plans go ahead. Moneysupermarket revealed that their financial growth over the next 12 months would be driven by the exploitation of the company’s data and users.
“The data asset in Moneysupermarket is a real foundation for growth,” said Peter Plumb, chief executive. “I don’t think there’s any other business out there that has the breadth and depth of quote data that we have.”
The company, whose revenue passed £225 million in 2013, expect that they can rake in around £10 million from this, but stress that it wants to offer trend data rather than sell off individual customer data.
Now throw your internet into the sea. We’re all for sale basically.
River Island have brought out a t-shirt with the word ‘Homeless’ on it.
The clothing chain, favoured mostly by those wanting a step-up from Primark, have been quietly selling the item on their website for a little while for a not entirely unreasonable £16.
The website reckons it will “Give your day a quirky talking point in this black and white “homeless New York City” print t-shirt”.
“We plan to give some of the proceeds of sales to homeless charities rather than making a LOL out of people less fortunate than ourselves” would be a better tagline.
The branding for the Lancashire borough was drawn up by a local councillor, but was deemed too similar to that of Lovehoney – the sexual happiness people (aka a drop-in centre for all your lube and gag treats).
After spending a whole £3,000 on the project – and wasting no end of councillors valuable time – they insisted that no taxpayer’s money was wasted on it [Not that councils find a myriad of other ways to waste our precious money, eh? - Ed.]
Upon seeing the results, Councillor Ann Kerrigan told her colleagues: “It wouldn’t do much for Pendle and I don’t think we should be associating our logo with this kind of thing.”
They should’ve kept the symbol as both symbols represent a cavalcade of spectacular tools.
Let’s face it, most of us don’t call retailers or service providers for a chat- we call because we need information or we have a problem. This means that we aren’t looking for lengthy calls, we just want to be in and out of that phonecall with the minimum amount of fuss. However, overseas call centres, endless choices and non-mobile friendly phone numbers mean that many people now turn to social media instead in the hope of getting a faster response than an email, but without the multiple annoyances a phonecall could bring. So what are the top irritants when trying to call a business? Recognise any of these bugbears?
1. Telephone numbers beginning with 08
Back when everyone had a BT landline, 08 numbers were not such a problem. Everyone knew where they stood and what the cost of a ‘local rate’ call would be. Freephone 0800 was always free. Nowadays, however, with more and more people eschewing landlines for mobiles, 08 numbers, even free ones*, can cost a pretty penny, and with all the landline telecoms providers around, the cost of other 08 numbers can vary wildly- and you need a degree to work out the cost.
Give us a standard 01 (or 02) number anyday, or one that is genuinely free/included in mobile minutes.
2. Never-ending options and recorded messages
Press 1 to bang your head repeatedly against the phone. While most people don’t mind pressing a couple of choice numbers (unless you are using a hands-free) some companies take the Mickey with the number of options you have to go through. There are even sites dedicated to the worst offenders- 2013’s winner was HM Revenue and Customs. Just answer the phone with a person, why don’t you?
3. Not speaking to anyone at all
The jury’s out on whether it’s preferable as a customer to get no answer at all or get stuck in an interminable queue of keypad options and irritating hold music, but businesses need to remember that customers normally ring for an actual reason. Not getting through to someone, owing to non-answering or the customer losing the will to live on hold, is going to hugely annoy customers, and lose future custom.
4. Speaking to someone
If #3 is not speaking to anyone, surely getting through to an operative means success, right? Not necessarily. We’ve all had the misfortune of speaking to a complete doughnut who struggles to remember their own name, let alone has the mental capacity to actually help you**, but this is not the worst thing. The worst is when you have been through an automated system, inputted your account number, date of birth and inside leg measurement on the keypad only to be put through to someone… who asks you for all the same details again.
5. When they call you
No one likes a cold caller, but even when you’re on the Telephone Preference Service, calls still make it through. Some people blow whistles down the phone at them, some engage them in conversation about Jesus. Most people just hang up on them. Some considerate souls actually feel sorry for these people who have to do this work to earn a living. But they are not the worst of the the worst.
No the worst ones of all, are when your bank (for example) ring you up, and then ask you to prove who you are…
* note that this should will change from June 2015
** of course, some call centre operatives are excellent at their jobs and truly lovely people. I spoke to one at Aviva the other day.
14th February is just around the corner (it’s on Friday, in case you need reminding). A day when singletons everywhere sing Eric Carmen and cry into their pillows. Unless you are an enterprising young lady from London that is.
“Brave” Hope Anscomb has auctioned the opportunity to take her out on a date on Friday. It’s a win win win situation- she gets a date, a similarly desperate young man (or young woman) also gets a date and Hope’s chosen charity (the Autism Trust) gets a wodge of cash.
In addition to a free meal at an Italian restaurant in central London, paid for by Ms Anscomb, the lucky winner can expect:
“Charm and wit (majority will be charm)
The chance to brag to your mates that you did something stupid and all in the name of charity
An honorary mention in my blog(!!) and my upmost respect for the rest of your days”
How can you resist?
Hope told The Evening Standard: “I am actually getting quite nervous… when I spoke to my friends and family they said I was insane.”
Interested parties may be dismayed to discover that Hope’s auction has now ended, with a final selling price of £621. Nevertheless, some other lonely women have jumped on the bandwagon, at a bargain 99p start, so whether you like Thai models in Hull *, or pink cupcakes in Coventry, get yourself a smashing Valentine’s deal…
* caveat emptor. Thai model describes herself as ‘used’.
It’s a good job we don’t have a drinking problem in this country. After all, if binge drinking is a thing, a new system that posts hard liquor to your door would be a bad thing, right?
Apparently not. ‘Conviviality’ provider Pernod Ricard, whose brands include Beefeater Gin, Jameson’s whiskey and the delightful Malibu and Kahlua, has announced a new system, called project Gutenberg, which will do just that. Instead of unsightly and garish bottles, that ultimately end up lying accusingly in your recycling bin, the new system comprises sleek spirit ‘books’ that sit on a computerised bookshelf.
The books contain sealed units of spirits that are measured by the computer, which can then tell you when you’re running low, or out of spirits. Of course, most people can also tell when they are running low, or are out of spirits by looking at the bottle. However, the new system is designed to link in with an online ordering system, to make sure a fresh ‘book’ arrives at your door just as you slurp that last shot, as well as intelligently advising you which cocktail you can make given your current stash of spirits. It doesn’t, however, tell you when you’ve had enough, improve your dance moves or help clean up coconut-scented vomit.
Although the system is only a prototype at the moment, Pernod Ricard are sure that digitally-enhanced spirits are the way to go. Pierre Pringuet, Pernod Ricard’s chief executive, said: “The conviviality of the future is a connected conviviality: mobile, instant and exponential, with its main vehicle for dissemination being the digital revolution.
“We have never had so many digital friends. But ultimately, this conviviality must first and foremost allow us to come together to share new consumption occasions with new friends.”
We think he may be drunk. Or French. Or both.
McDonalds gets a bad rep, but things have turned around in the company’s reputation in the last couple of years – their coffee isn’t terrible, Big Macs have less fat in them than most pre-packed sandwiches, and you can make a Filet o’Fish last a couple of hours while you use their wifi.
But McDonalds’ grip on the world’s munchies appetite is slipping. Admittedly with 34,000 branches of the chain, an overall sales fall of 0.1% isn’t that big a deal, and sales have actually increased by 1% across Europe in Q4.
The company, in a ‘no shit’ kinda way, have claimed that 2013 was a “challenging year”, but still plan to open up to 1600 new outlets across the planet. Globally they still face big competition from Burger King and Wendy’s, but over here in the UK it looks like they are fast being outnumbered two-to-one by Tesco Express.
Maybe they should go back to being outrageously unhealthy and not giving a shit because that’s precisely the reason you go? Sod being healthy.
It seems some people can’t do write for doing wrong, even when badly spelled. The management of a London branch of McDonalds have been forced to apologise and retract a ban on youths after putting up this mis-spelled sign in the window of the branch in Sidcup.
But despite their shocking English skills (let’s face it, they are working in McDonalds), you have to have some sympathy for the management, who put up the sign after a group of teenagers caused “sustained disruption” on a Saturday night.
Unfortunately for the branch, however, even before the Great Golden Arches in the sky overturned the ban, the teenagers themselves had already outwitted the management. One customer told the London Evening Standard “I couldn’t help but laugh because it was full of youths at 6.50pm.”
Welcoming said spotty youths with open arms, a McDonald’s spokeswoman said: “I can confirm that there is no age restriction policy in place at the McDonald’s restaurant on Sidcup High Street” but acknowledged the management had taken “urgent steps to try and prevent repeat anti-social behaviour.” Police confirmed they were called to the branch to investigate anti-social behaviour.
The spokeswoman continued: “McDonald’s is a family-friendly restaurant that welcomes everyone through its doors.”
While clearly being politically correct, many city and town centre branches of the fast food chain sport bouncers in the evenings to try and reduce the amount of unacceptable behaviour in the stores. Surely the branch in question was only trying to serve the majority of its customers, rather than rendering the whole restaurant inaccessible owing to a minority group of oiks.
Perhaps the sign was incorrect. Perhaps the first word should have been ‘All’ and the mis-spelled word was actually ‘severed’…
People give all manner of reasons for not handing a tax return in on-time, and HM Revenue & Customs has heard them all. And now, with a tax return deadline imminent, they thought they’d share the daftest reason for people’s tardiness.
Goldfish dying and woman too stunned after seeing a volcano go off on the news got onto the top ten of the most ‘bizarre and flimsy’ excuses and each one was met with a £100 fine from HMRC officials.
Others include a thespian from Coventry who said he was too busy touring the country with his one-man play while elsewhere, a taxi driver with a bad back would’ve done his return but he had a bad back and wasn’t able to clamber upstairs to get his tax return form. One corker was the man on a world cruise in his yacht who basically said they don’t have postboxes on the sea.
The best was a London accountant who told inspectors that he had been too busy submitting his clients’ tax returns to file his own.
HMRC’s head of personal tax, Ruth Owen, said: ‘There will always be unforeseen events that mean a taxpayer could not file their tax return on time. However, your pet goldfish passing away isn’t one of them.”
Fill out a self-assessment return for the 2012/13 tax year before the January 31st if you want to avoid a fine and if you’re struggling, have a look at www.hmrc.gov.uk/sa or call the self-assessment helpline on 0300 200 3310.
It’s the end of 2013. Some may be celebrating to see the back of the old year, others may be hoping for a better 2014. Either way, the dragging-on of this latest recession, coupled with the ever-rising cost of living has meant more and more of us are looking for ways to save a few pounds. Just don’t include your local charity shop in your money-saving hit list.
Charity shops are a staple of our high streets- with more than 10,000 of them up and down the country, an increase of 10% on last year, they may be the only thing saving many smaller shopping streets. However, cost of living increases seem to be also invading our charity shops, so much so, that some people have started calling charity shops ‘greedy’ for charging too much for their goods.
Charity shops have always been a slight retail-anomaly – while trying to raise money for their respective charities, there was always an implicit charitable purpose within the act of selling second hand stuff to people who couldn’t afford new. Both the charity and the empoverished shopper benefitted. But with more and more people shopping at charity shops, how can shop managers tell between those who are genuinely in dire straits, and those merely looking for a bargain?
Oxfam is one of those most criticised for pricing their items highly, with various examples of items retailing for hundreds of pounds, particularly in London stores. Ian Matthews, Oxfam’s head of retail, told The Guardian:
“The public kindly donates stock to Oxfam and we believe the best way to thank our donors is to get the best price we can, which in turn raises as much money as possible for Oxfam’s work. All our shop managers have the flexibility to set their own prices, using their judgment and some guidance, to decide what prices and products will best suit customers in their location.”
And who wouldn’t expect prices to be more expensive in London, particularly where donations include designer names and labels, and even binbags from the Beckham household? But customers are complaining that they are being priced out – and not just for designer labels. Modupe Tijani, 59, a carer from London, said she often sees clothing from Primark being sold at higher prices than it cost brand new. “It’s not supposed to be like this,” she said.
If ‘ordinary’ people are finding themselves too poor to shop at charity shops, heaven help the genuinely poor. And if shops are purely serving bargain hunters, or dealers looking to turn a quick profit at the charity’s expense, shouldn’t they charge as much as possible?
So what do you think? Would you consider shopping second-hand if it was the only way to afford that must-have designer item? Have you been a charity shopper in 2013 and have noticed prices increasing? Isn’t this just the way of the world?
Happy New Year! For tomorrow. Many of us will be ringing in the new year with a clinking of glasses filled with [Aldi’s £9.99] champagne and looking forward to 2014. But are you going to join in the latest charity fandangle and be a dryathlete? Giving up alcohol for a month might seem extreme, but even if you aren’t minded to do it for charity, rumour has it that you could increase your pension pot by £20,000 just by taking part.
Actuarial firm JLT employee benefits has calculated that, purely going on the beer money saved, your pension fund could be topped up by £20,000, which could then convert to an annual additional income of £1,000 a year, plus 50% spouse benefits. Unfortunately, however, they also assume that you are a 22 year old male who intends to stop drinking in January for the rest of his working life.
The calculations are based on the well-known fact that 22 year old men drink nine pints a week, at £3.20 a pint. The weekly £28.80 cost adds up to £125 for the month of January, and the cumulative effect of investing an extra £125 every year until Mr Average 22 Year Old reaches the unimaginable senility of 68 is the aforementioned £20k bung.
Those 20,000 reasons not to drink in January are only bonuses on top of the evergreen reasons not to imbibe such as overindulgence, dieting, or a lack of funds. But is it really worth it? In 44 years’ time, inflation might mean that nine pints cost £20k, or maybe the State Pension might have eroded so much that every extra penny will count. He probably won’t be able to retire at 68 anyway, the amount of times the Government has
increased changed the eligible age limit.
Or, if you are so concerned, you could just save an extra tenner or so into your pension* every month instead.
*Other retirement/long term savings vehicles are available
Ever secretly thought of becoming a vegan? Of course you haven’t. Everyone would’ve heard about it constantly and loudly. However, the Windsor Meat Co. decided to share a few facts about vegans in their shop window, trolling them into weak fury.
Meat-eaters may have yellowing fat around their internal organs, but it seems like they’re having more fun, according to this little fact sheet.
Do you remember the fun, excitement and anticipation of Christmas when you were a child?* Seems youngsters today don’t bother with the whole surprise element of presents, so much so in fact, that you may as well not bother wrapping the darned things. New research by Snapajack.com shows that almost seven out of every 10 children will get no surprise presents this Christmas, and that’s just the way they like it.
Sixty-nine percent of children aged between six and 17 write down everything they’d love Santa to bring them and their parents then share the list with grandparents and other members of the family via email or text. But don’t blame the youth of today- blame the parents, as 65% of adults are the ones encouraging the list making.
The most popular reason given for Christmas wish-lists among adults was that they don’t want people to waste money by buying them something they won’t use or enjoy, with 68% mentioning that useless relative who always buys them something that they will never use. A massive 71% of adults said they also try to make sure they get exactly what they want for Christmas by writing their very own letter to Santa, or online wishlist, to try and not be one of the 33% of respondents who have at least one present that won’t even make it out of its box.
Displaying traditional human idiocy, more than half of those surveyed admitted they still miss the surprise and excitement of getting unexpected presents at Christmas, but 41% of adults also said they’d still rather get what they wanted than a (potentially not-very-nice) surprise on Christmas morning. Make your blimming minds up people.
Three-quarters of those surveyed admitted they would like to see more of that old Christmas spirit displayed during the festive season. They were probably thinking of the Scotch…
*Don’t even get me started on children today with their Lego advent calendars. They’ll never know the joy of getting up early and rushing downstairs to open that tiny door and find a picture of a bell.