Amazon and Royal Mail in job bonanza

October 21st, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

Royal Mail Amazon and Royal Mail in job bonanzaJobs ahoy, as Amazon and Royal Mail have announced they’re creating 32,000 of them for the festive season.

Amazon plan to get in an extra 13,000 people to help at their eight distribution centres, as well as looking to employ another 1,000 permanent staff.

The Royal Mail is scoping for 19,000 Christmas workers to help with the additional onslaught that this time of year brings, with contracts from November to January.

Amazon reckon that on their busiest day last Christmas, they had orders for over 4.1 million items – working out at roughly 47 things per second. So yes. Some extra staff might be quite helpful there.

John Tagawa, director of UK operations at the Amazon, said: “The thousands of seasonal associates who join us at this time of year play an integral role in helping us deliver an exceptional experience for our customers during this incredibly busy time.”

“We’re excited to be creating 13,000 seasonal jobs, hundreds of which will lead to permanent, full-time positions.”

“We have created more than 2,000 new permanent roles at our fulfilment centres in the last two years, taking our total permanent fulfilment and customer service centre workforce to over 6,000 employees.”

‘Seasonal associates’. Honestly.

McDonald’s in your facebook

October 20th, 2014 1 Comment By Ian Wade

mcdonalds logo McDonalds in your facebookMcDonald’s are to launch 14,500 Facebook pages by the end of 2014, just in case they were omnipresent enough in your life.

This is part of a drive to get every US branch connected to its customers via social media.

While there’s no date of when the UK end plan on doing it, the move will make the burger empire the biggest brand on Facebook.

It will also allow branches to engage directly with problems that customers might have. They’ll probably start wishing you Happy Birthday and butting in on your posts too.

At the moment, in the UK social media consists of bitching about McDonald’s UK and then getting redirected to the branch in question and, should you still be feeling arsed, email the manager directly.

McDonald’s has already rolled out 7,000 pages so far, with a further 7,500 to follow by the end of the year. It will also launch Twitter accounts for individual restaurants.

In a bid to talk the most gunk about a thing ever, David Martinelli, US digital marketing manager at McDonald’s, said the goal was to speak to customers in “real time”.

“Fourteen thousand five hundred pages – we know that’s a lot of pages to get up and running, but we know the customer’s journey doesn’t end at the restaurant. We wanted to connect to them in the place they’re at and deliver that relevant content. It’s important to be part of the conversation and really understand what’s being said, and then join the conversation.”

“We have hundreds of stakeholders that are playing role in launch of this and it’s been a journey bringing them along with us to fully understand the impact on the business.”

He’s said ‘journey’ twice, like he’s on X Factor or something. McDonald’s US will support the new pages with paid ads at a local level, plus activity on other social media outlets.

So grabbing a cheeky Big Mac when you’ve been on the pop is a ‘journey’ now. Fancy that!

Iceland unveil the £5 lobster

October 20th, 2014 4 Comments By Ian Wade

lobster Iceland unveil the £5 lobsterPeter Andre isn’t the only orangey red thing Iceland are throwing at you this season.

The frozen food giant is going to offering a cooked whole lobster for a fiver as part of the Christmas line-up.

Coming ‘atcha from November 5th, it’s the first time the prawn-ring and 89p pizza vendor has offered whole lobster.

Lobster has been on sale in the past at Waitrose (for a sinister £6.66), Tesco and Ocado, but this is the cheapest the high street has seen.

Iceland will also be offering what it reckons is the “best value turkey dinner in Britain”, whose chief component is a turkey crown for 12 priced at £14.

Iceland proudly claim a family of eight could buy a full turkey dinner, with starter and pudding, for £29.39, or £3.67 per head.

Iceland themselves aren’t doing too badly either, seeing as they’ve essentially been doing the cost-cutting thing for years, that Aldi and Lidl are now being praised for. Hurrah!

Facebook to save your life

October 17th, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

Bitterwallet Facebook censorship Facebook to save your lifeFacebook are bringing out a new feature that will tell people that you’re okay during a disaster.

While nobody likes to think about such things, increasingly, social media is keyed into every element of modern life, so a move like this is fairly inevitable.

Plus, like, the world is in a bit of pickle innit?

Called Safety Check, the service lets you input whether you are safe or not in the affected area. That, of course, is down to things like your situation not being one where there’s a bomb that wipes out communication or something like that.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced ‘Safety Check’ while in Japan, where they’ve had their unfair share of natural disasters.

If Facebook notices that you are using a device in an affected area during a natural disaster like an earthquake, it will ask: ‘Are you safe?’ Presuming you’re emotionally stable enough to be checking your phone and not crying at the sky, you can confirm or deny.

Location is determined by the city listed in your profile, and your last location if you use the ‘Nearby Friends’ thing or the city where you are using the internet. It can be used around the world on Android, iOS and on computers.

The company says that this development came about from the Disaster Message Board that was created by Facebook after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan.

Naomi Gleit, vice president of product management at Facebook, said:  “Unfortunately, these kinds of disasters happen all too frequently. Each time, we see people, relief organisations and first responders turn to Facebook in the aftermath of a major natural disaster.”

“If you’re ever in a situation that would require you to use Safety Check, we hope it’s a tool that helps you stay connected to those you care about, and gives you the comfort of knowing your loved ones are safe.”

Deathwatch: Mulberry post a profit warning

October 15th, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

mulberry 300x156 Deathwatch: Mulberry post a profit warningSnoot handbag peddlers Mulberry have posted a profit warning. The luxury brand has been suffering somewhat after a drop in sales.

Fortunately, in one of those ‘it only makes sense in fashion’ situations, the company hopes it will be saved by a handbag designed by model Cara Delevingne

The company previously revived itself when it launched the Alexa bag, which is based on the TV presenter Alexa Chung. Alan Hansen is on telly more than her though, and no one wants his bleedin’ handbag.

Mulberry’s former designer Emma Hill called the Alexa ‘the anti-It bag that became an It bag’ – and it became so popular that it once had a waiting list that ran into thousands and accounted for a third of Mulberry’s sales.

It’s enough to make you want to strap explosives on to your body.

But Mulberry has since struggled to come up with another hit on the same scale – with the launch of its Willow Tote and other designs failing to capture womens’ imaginations. It is now valued at just £340million.

The bad news sent shares to a four-year low at one point yesterday, wiping 17per cent off the value of the Somerset-firm. 17% was wiped off the swanky company’s value after the departure of creative director Emma Hill, who was widely credited for the success of the Alexa satchel.

It has since launched a range of cheaper styles and has been trying to replicate its success with Miss Chung by contributing with model of the moment Cara Delevingne this autumn.

Executive chairman Godfrey Davis said: “As expected the first half has been difficult. Profit before tax… is expected to be significantly below current expectations. Despite the current challenges I remain confident that we build on Mulberry’s solid foundations.”

As a lure to attract the genuinely quite thick, at £795, there is a Mini Cara Delevingne Bag in black natural leather and this rises to the top end large Cara Delevingne Bag in Black & White Camouflage at £2,500.

Potential deathwatch on our hands here, so we’ll keep our eyes on them.

Dropbox: nearly seven million accounts hacked

October 14th, 2014 2 Comments By Ian Wade

Dropbox Logo 580 75 300x168 Dropbox: nearly seven million accounts hackedNearly seven million Dropbox accounts have been hacked.

The latest in the long line of unending hackery was spotted after hackers were able to get at logins and passwords via a third party affair.

Hackers leaked 400 accounts onto site Pastebin, claiming to make the remaining 6.9 million hacked accounts available to users in return for Bitcoin donations, according to The Next Web.

The post threatened that 6.9 million Dropbox accounts had been hacked, including photos, videos and other files.

Obviously Dropbox don’t want to be seen as quite so vulnerable and so dismissed it, claiming: “These usernames and passwords were unfortunately stolen from other services and used in attempts to log in to Dropbox accounts.

“We’d previously detected these attacks and the vast majority of the passwords posted have been expired for some time now. All other remaining passwords have been expired as well.”

Dropbox reckon that the service consistently expiries passwords for accounts that are being attacked, but could not provide a number of accounts that expired recently.

The news comes as wasteman Edward Snowden claims individuals who care about their privacy should “get rid of Dropbox”, counting it among the services that are “hostile to privacy.”

Either way, Dropbox should change their company logo from ‘your stuff, anywhere’, to ‘your stuff, bloody everywhere’.

telephone operator The best (and cheapest) ways to call directory enquiriesRemember the halcyon days of 192? Not the cheesy stalking website 192.com, but the single directory enquiries service run by BT until the market was deregulated in 2003.

Of course, the reason the number was deregulated was to prevent BT’s monopoly of the service, with the introduction of competition clearly enabling a reduction in the call costs. In 2003, a call to 192 cost 40p. Now calls to directory enquiries can cost as much as £5 per minute. Good job deregulators.

The market is, however, still monopolised, with 118 118 (run by The Number UK) and 118 500 (run by BT) taking over 80% of the market share, despite there being hundreds of alternative providers. The Number UK has just released figures showing a healthy £70.9m pre-tax profit, despite falling customer numbers/turnover, with an estimated cost of £2.61 for a 45-second call to the company. That’s still an awful lot of calls to what is classed as a premium-rate number. Surely there is a better way?

If you are at home/at work in easy reach of a computer, the cheapest way would normally be to use an internet search instead of calling someone to do exactly that for you. However, assuming you can’t, for whatever reason, access or use a computer, one better way would be to get the number for free, and if you are on a landline (prices quoted here are for BT landlines) there are some free and lower cost alternatives. The best offering comes from, surprisingly, the company behind 118 118 itself. If you call 0800 118 3733 (that’s 118 FREE for those of you with alphabetic number pads), you can get an automated directory enquiry service for free. This isn’t for people in a hurry though, as you have to listen to adverts, and jump through recorded message hoops before you get your number, but it is a viable alternative.

The other 118 numbers can, and seemingly do, change their rate frequently, so, for example, a 2010 best buy table is not going to be accurate any more. And with so many number fighting over just 20% of  a shrinking market, many numbers simply disappear from existence. However, we have found the following cheaper alternatives that are currently still effective.

The cheapest we could find is 118 390 run by Colt, who charge a flat rate of 32.5p per call, but you can only make one enquiry. And The Number UK actually come out well again, with their less-well known 118 811 service offering a single search for just 50p per call. Or if you’re feeling altruistic, try Ethcom who charge 40p plus VAT per call and donate 9p to a limited choice of (mainly Scottish) charities.  The full list of valid 118 numbers can be found here. But if you want the security of a ‘trusted brand’ that should give you the right number,  BT have a ‘corporate’ directory enquiries number of 118 707 that is charged at a flat rate of £1 per call and is described as ‘no frills’.

But what if you aren’t on a (BT) landline?

If you have a smart phone with an inclusive data allowance, the smart thing to do would be to look the number up on the internet. For free. You can even search BT directories online at 118500.com. But what if you don’t have any data allowance?

First of all, it might be cheaper to buy additional data than call a 118 number though your phone. While data add-on costs vary between plans and providers, as an example, EE offer 50MB of EU roaming data for £3, so it’s worth finding out how much a search using up to 1 or 2MB might cost you.

Calls to any premium rate numbers are even further inflated on a mobile, and 118 numbers are no exception. Fortunately, the main providers actually have a search facility on their respective websites so you can check how much premium numbers will cost before you call them.

For example, Vodafone’s internet calculator tells you that it is the cheapest network if you want to call market leader 118 118- a single call is a snip at £3.25 per minute, compared with BT’s 118 500 or at a full fiver a minute.

EE’s call cost calculator is a bit more complicated, as result depend on whether you are PAYG or Pay Monthly, and they sneakily exclude VAT from the monthly costs to make it look less expensive. Calls to 118 118 cost £4.50 per minute for Pay Monthlies ( but only £2.25 for PAYG)  and 118 500 costs £4.08 per minute (£2.00). O2 is by far the simplest- its own dedicated directory enquiries number of 118 402 is charged at £1 per minute. All other 118 calls are £5 per minute. No confusion there.

As mentioned, the call costs can, and do change all the time, so if you think you might be caught out and need a number in a hurry, it could be worth checking beforehand. While many people haven’t used a directory enquiry service for years, and find it quite incredulous that people still do so, The Number UK’s figures show there are still an awful lot of calls being made. So why not save while doing so?

call centre 300x168 Another attempt for nuisance calls and spam to be regulatedA change to the regulations surrounding nuisance calls and text messages has been recommended by Ed Vaizey.

The Minister of State for Culture and the Digital Economy wants to make it easier to fine the perpetrators of these heinous crimes.

Mr Vaizey would like to get it all sorted by the next general election, which suggests he needs to get his skates on.

A vague attempt at doing this last year was stopped, after a legal ruling went against the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) after it fined Christopher Niebel, the co-owner of marketing company Tetrus Telecoms, £30,000 for bombarding people with hundreds of thousands of texts regarding PPI and accident claims.

Simon Entwistle of ICO reckons: “This will make it much more straightforward for us to take action,”

“At the moment, it takes a large amount of effort to prove substantial distress and this change will make it much more proportionate to the problems these calls and texts cause.”

“We understand firms can have legitimate reasons to make marketing calls, but we reckon that for every one concern lodged with us there are about 1,000 nuisance calls or texts.”

Well, about time frankly.

new tube 300x168 London Underground unveil new fancy futurist trains The new tube trains are here!

Designs for the new-look London Underground trains has been unveiled and it’s bad news for the drivers, as they’ve been written out. No wonder they’re going on strike.

Yep, the new trains are driverless and will run on the Piccadilly, Bakerloo, Central and Waterloo & City Lines.

Perhaps it will be like a DLR arrangement where they’ve made YOU the driver, or at least you’re the driver after you punched a small child to get that seat anyway.

Paul Priestman, director at PriestmanGoode, says: “TfL wanted the New Tube for London to celebrate the great history of transport design in London, whilst acting as a beacon of innovative 21st century public transport.”

“We took inspiration from iconic London landmarks and key attributes of British design to create a tube that is beautiful, simple, functional and maintainable.”

What he fails to mention is that they aren’t due on the tracks anytime soon, with 2020 being the ‘going into service’ date.

Priestman continues: “London’s Tube is one of the most iconic trains around the world. We are proud to have designed something that it is part of the very fabric of London life, celebrating all that’s great about London’s environment; cutting edge technology, rich history and diversity. The New Tube for London will take the city into the future by enriching the everyday journey of its passengers.”

They’ll still hum of commuter B.O. though.

Spamwatch: Emma Watson

October 10th, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

emma watson sofia vergara 300x156 Spamwatch: Emma WatsonPoor old Emma Watson – she’s become the latest front for an internet virus.

Ads claiming to have nudey footage of the Harry Potter star are actually trojans riddled with malware.

Serves you right if you’re that type of person into leaked celebrity baps to be honest.

Bitdefender’s cooly-named Chief Security Strategist, Catalin Cosoi, told Digital Spy: “It all starts with a Facebook comment promising to reveal private or leaked videos of Emma Watson”.

“The comments are automatically posted by users infected with the malware. As is the case with many Facebook scams, victims end up as marketers for cyber-crooks.”

“When users click on the malicious links, they are redirected to a salacious YouTube copycat. Future victims are then asked to update their Flash Player to the latest secured version of Video Player, as an error allegedly prevents them from watching the leaked videos of Emma Watson.”

As if you needed reminding, trojan malware is a bastard, and will rifle through your computer for anything stealable.

Disguised by the Flash Player icon, Trojan downloads the infected components into computer files. The videos themselves are hosted by a fake YouTube account, identified by the Anonymous Guy Fawkes avatar in the left hand corner.

So anyway. Norks on the internet. More harm than good.

Amazon actually on the high street

October 10th, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

amazoninstant Amazon actually on the high streetAmazon is opening its first proper shop.

Yes, having pretty much decimated the high street with selling its wares on the internet, the online behemoth has decided to set up an actual proper shop.

However it’s in New York. By the Empire State Building. Oh.

The 7 West 34th Street location will act as a mini-warehouse, but also cater for same-day deliveries in the city, product exchanges and customers picking up orders they have placed online, the Wall Street Journal claimed.

Which is a bit like Argos if you think about it.

Amazon may also use the store to showcase products such as its Kindle e-reader, Fire smartphone and Fire TV set-top box. The company have been scouting out locations for a shop for a while now, possibly in Seattle where the company is based.

This new shop is being deemed an experiment, and if it doesn’t go tits up, there’ll be more shops rolling out across the planet before you know it.

A survey by retail agency Live & Breathe last year found that 31% of shoppers want Amazon to open physical shops on the UK high street, because they needed to go outside occasionally, and sitting about in a gloomy precinct overrun by tat seemed preferable.

Cafe serving junked food

October 9th, 2014 2 Comments By Ian Wade

food waste 300x200 Cafe serving junked foodA cafe has opened in Bristol serving old food. Outrage!

Except it’s actually food that’s been chucked out by supermarkets and restaurants, ethically sourced from skips and the like.

Skipchen [urgh - Ed.] is being run as a not-for-profit cafe in Stokes Croft by campaigners highlighting the amount of edible food that is thrown away.

Naturally the venue varies from day to day, but there’s been such delights as lobster, gorgonzola omelettes and seafood platters.

Skipchen cafe manager Sam Joseph said: “We see them do it and get the food out and into a refrigerator straight away. We have a real mix of people coming to the cafe and they sit on two long tables, so you could have a businessman sitting next to someone who is homeless one lunchtime,” said Mr Joseph, before bursting into a rendition of Another Day in Paradise.

“People sometimes think they will be taking food from the needy when they come to us but the truth is there is so much to go round.”

It’s not all just ropey off-cuts, as they’ve also made a deal with Nando’s to take spare chickens from their bins. Sounds delightful doesn’t it? Bin chicken! Mmmmmmmm!

The cafe is the second of its type opened by The Real Junk Food Project (TRJFP). The first opened in Leeds nine months ago.

Three: Fined for being terrible

October 9th, 2014 4 Comments By Ian Wade

three logo new 370x229 300x185 Three: Fined for being terrible3 have been bad and slapped with a £250,000 fine. The mobile operator have been punished by Ofcom with a £250,000 fine due to their incompetence handling customer complaints.

According to Ofcom, the network “did not handle some complaints in a fair and timely manner,” and closed some complaints without establishing that they were fully resolved.

That sounds like the actions of SCOUNDRELS.

Ofcom have also shaded Three for not logging calls as complaints when it was supposed to, therefore there weren’t treated sufficiently seriously enough, and just dumped into a corner while people pulled faces at them.

Three also failed to inform customers, either on the phone or in writing, of their right to escalate complaints to the independent alternative dispute resolution services, according to Ofcom.

Man, they sound a right hopeless affair.

Fortunately Claudio Pollack, Ofcom’s consumer and content group director, said: “When things go wrong, customers are not only entitled to complain to their provider, but must have confidence that their complaint will be dealt with fairly. That’s why we impose strict rules on providers on how they must handle complaints.”

“We treat any failure to follow these rules very seriously. The fine imposed on Three takes account of the shortcomings in its complaints handling, but reflects that the harm to consumers in this case was limited. The company fully co-operated with our investigation and has now taken steps to ensure it’s compliant with the rules on complaints handling.”

Three have 30 days to settle the fine and swear they’ll never do it again, despite trotting out some nonsense to the contrary.

“Customer service and complaint resolution is really important to us. Ofcom’s own figures, collected over the past three years, reflect a huge shift: we have become the least complained about mobile operator in the UK in 2014.”

“Ofcom identified issues with our complaints handling process back in spring 2013. Since then we have worked closely and openly with Ofcom to address these as part of the broader effort to improve complaint resolution, contacting all the customers that might have been impacted. Delivering a great customer experience remains an absolute focus across the business.”

Yes of course. You’re so great that you’re having to shell out for being so.

Asos being gobbled up by Amazon?

October 8th, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

bw asos 300x168 Asos being gobbled up by Amazon?We’ve spoken about the troubles that online clothing vendor Asos have been having, but their shares looked up today amid rumours that they’re going to be taken over by enormo retail monster Amazon.

Presumably Amazon have a fair bit of money hidden under the bed to complete any takeovers.

Asos recently issued three profit warnings, but saw shares rebound 304p to 2227p as UBS told clients to buy with a 4050p target. Nice.

According to a broker: “Global online fashion is becoming more competitive. Scale and platform are paramount, and we think significant value could be added to Asos via a combination with a larger online retail organisation.”

“We think Amazon might be the best fit and could pay £50 per share. It intends to increase its international and clothing exposure and is not averse to consolidating the online retail space. An acquisition of Asos would give access to a fashionable, low price own label offering.”

It could be what Asos needs, as their cost-cutting exercise has been cheesing off their suppliers and still not really helping the company make a profit.

Bitterwallet Facebook censorship Facebook working on an anonymous messaging affairFacebook are at it again, this time, making a new app where you can talk to people whilst being absolutely anonymous!

That’ll go well.

The social media behemoth has been knocking about an app that will allow communication with other users, and they may never know who you are!

They initiated to work on such app after the criticism they faced for compelling their users to use their real names on their profiles as many users had privacy concerns.

There’s no name for it as yet, or even a release date but after splashing out $22 billion on WhatsApp earlier this week, it’s possible that it may be along those lines; or they’ve noticed other anon apps like Secret and Whisper and don’t want to miss out on any potential money that could be made from such things. Not that anyone really uses those.

Whatever transpires, you can rely on some trolls or genuinely stupid people using it to throw death threats or be a git to someone. OR you could flirt with your beau secretly, pretending to be the stud.

Either way, looks like Facebook are tired of having one port of call that they own and are slowly buying out all the competition!