Man buys expensive domain name for peanuts

January 30th, 2015 No Comments By Ian Wade

A gentleman has bought a domain name worth $15,000 (£9,900) for just $10.99 (£7.25).

The snipular bargain was picked up was picked up by Bruce Marler, who was after buying the domain credit.club. A glitch in the website allowed him to get it at the knockdown price by mistake.

He’d hoped to buy it to make even more money from selling it, having been inspired by someone who’d bought the domain wine.club for $140,000.

credit club 500x280 Man buys expensive domain name for peanuts

Marler had created a wordpress platform and registered the address with a Twitter handle too.

The company that runs all dot-club domain names, .Club Domains, said that the sale was an error on its part and that several premium domain names were wrongly listed as available for the low fee for 24 hours. The mistake has now been corrected.

.Club Domains also said they could be arses and cancel the purchase, but their chief executive said they’d honour the deal rather than allowing any particular mud-slinging to begin.

In a statement he said: “The registry does not believe it is in our best interest nor the best interest of the registrant to pull the name back given the substantial investment in time and money he has invested to launch credit.club. I informed the registrant of such matters and wish him a continued success.”

Speaking to the Domain Gang website, Mr Marler said: “My intent is to sell the domain, eventually. This domain is as good as any finance-related .club domain that exists. If the site grows in revenue the site can be considered a business venture, but at this point it’s a domain investment.”

Business, there, ladies and gentlemen.

PPI: Banks still being arseholes

January 30th, 2015 No Comments By Ian Wade

Bank 300x193 PPI: Banks still being arseholesThe UK’s markets watchdog is to collect evidence on whether those customers who were mis-sold PPI are actually being compensated properly.

The PPI debacle has become one of the most shameful episodes in British banking of the last ten years. And there’s quite a range of knobbery to select from.

A whopping £17.3 billion has now been paid out, after PPI was ruled to be an utterly despicable piece of mis-selling, often with no actual thought as to whether the customer could pay it back or not.

Payment Protection Insurance or PPI, was meant to protect borrowers in the event of sickness or unemployment, but were often sold to those who would have been ineligible to claim.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) said it would use its findings, due to be published in the summer, to assess if the current approach to compensating customers is working properly. Because there just hasn’t been enough money squandered on this.

The FCA said in a statement: “The FCA will then consider whether further interventions may be appropriate, which could include a consumer communication campaign; a possible time limit on complaints; or other rule changes or guidance, or whether the continuation of the PPI scheme in its current form best meets its objectives,”

“While this work continues, the FCA expects firms to continue to deal with PPI complaints in accordance with our requirements,”

Banks such as Lloyds, Barclays, HSBC and Royal Bank of Scotland have already set aside £24 billion to compensate consumers, with many of them wiping off the entire debt of customers

Since 2011, the banks have dealt with over 14 million complaints about PPI, and have got to around 70% of customers paid back.

There’s still around 4,000 complaints coming through the banks each week about PPI, so even if you have the slightest doubt, get in touch with them.

Honestly, you can’t trust anyone these days.

British Airways 857 19385812 0 0 4005 300 British Airways takes airmiles from normal people to give to First Class passengersLoyalty schemes are often touted as a good way to retain customers and to keep them choosing your brand over another, and British Airways’ Avios scheme for airmiles is no exception. However, running a successful a loyalty scheme is a lot like trying to please a good woman- always better to keep her happy, as once you start scrimping on what you’re offering, hell hath no fury…

New changes have been announced to the British Airways airmiles (Avios) scheme that will see the scheme ‘gutted’ and ‘devalued’ for normal, economy class users. However, this is not a cost-cutting exercise, as British Airways are, at the same time, making the scheme far more generous for those who, arguably, need the benefits less as they are already forking out first – and business-class prices.

For example,from 28 April a basic economy-class ticket from London to New York will earn just 865 airmiles, down from 3,458. Previously, a Heathrow-Vancouver economy return earned 9,400 points which was more than enough for a round-trip from London to Milan (subject to a £35 payment). Now, some economy passengers face a 75% fall in the number of Avios earned, to just 2,350 meaning the same traveller would now need to make four round trips to earn enough for a journey to Italy and back.

Passengers in Scotland and northern England face even more dramatic increases in the cost of redeeming points for journeys to Europe. At present they are entitled to a free domestic connecting flight, often to London, but this ‘courtesy’ is also being withdrawn “to bring the UK in line with the rest of the world.”

Business and first-class passengers are the big winners from the changes to point-earning. These travellers will see their Avios points rise by as much as two-thirds, with the Heathrow to JFK traveller picking up 8,645 airmiles, up from 5,187, on a one-way flight. However, when business travellers come to redeem their points, the number of Avios they have to spend will rise. For example, a business class flight from London to Sydney currently costs 100,000 Avios points, but this will rise to 125,000 at off-peak times and 150,000 at peak times.

And this peak and off peak pricing for reward flights is across the board, hitting those who travel at Christmas or during the school summer holidays hardest. For example, a single flight to Rome will cost 7,500 points in July but 6,500 points in January. BA said the new structure means that “for two thirds of the year you will require fewer Avios than now to fly on reward seats.”

To attempt to sweeten the deal and head off the inevitable PR storm, BA is promising to make half a million extra seats available for travellers trying to use their accumulated points. “We guarantee that more than 9m reward seats will be available on our flights, with a minimum of two Club World/Club Europe and four World Traveller/Euro Traveller reward seats on all British Airways operated flights that are offered for sale on ba.com,” it said, before going on to excuse the changes to the scheme as being in the name of ‘fairness’, by making more expensive tickets earn higher rewards. “In practice this means that if you pay for a flexible ticket you will earn more Avios than the lowest priced ticket in the same cabin.”

So are you going to be affected by the dramatic changes? Or are you more prosaic, happy that getting something for nothing is always a good thing, even if it’s a lot less something than it used to be…

Amazon comes up with WorkMail

January 29th, 2015 No Comments By Ian Wade

amazoninstant Amazon comes up with WorkMailAmazon are in the process of launching a new corporate email service. The online Mothra will offer the email and calendar service for office types, in a bid to rub up against Google and Microsoft.

They’re calling it Amazon WorkMail, and is said to be tougher than the rest, as regards data storage and security.

Ever since that Edward Snowden blabbed about the US government, started handing out National Security Agency documents like free samples and said how leaky they were, that’s been enough to get everyone a bit paranoid.

The general distrust about Google and Microsoft being too big, has let Amazon see a hole that it can fill in the market, according to TJ Keitt, an analyst at Forrester: “Lots of questions have been raised about US companies’ relations to the NSA and the federal government and their stance towards subpoenas, and Amazon hasn’t been as battered by the documents that came from Mr Snowden as Microsoft and Google have been,”

This is yet one more step on for Amazon, who will be replacing our eyes come 2018, you mark our words.

Waitrose to create 2,000 jobs

January 28th, 2015 No Comments By Ian Wade

waitrose 1 300x224 Waitrose to create 2,000 jobsExciting job news now, as Waitrose have announced they plan to create 2,000 jobs. Someone’s doing alright aren’t they? Now they’re stopping all that free coffee business at least.

The fancy John Lewis-owned anti-Lidl is planning on opening 14 new stores in 2015, after it had a strong Christmas.

These new stores will be divided between convenience and actual supermarkets.

“Our expansion story continues as we take the brand to more customers,” said Nigel Keen, the supermarket’s development director. Last year many of our new branches received than more than 10 applications for every vacancy.”

Waitrose left the big four supermarkets crumbling, by outperforming them with a 2.8% rise at established stores and a 26.3% increase in sales via Waitrose.com.

Two of the new locations confirmed so far include Wollaton in Nottinghamshire and Milngavie in East Dunbartonshire. They’ll be dancing in the streets in Wollaton and Milngavie.

There’ll also be one at Kings Cross which will also have a cookery school in it. So you can work out how to peel an olive or something.

There’s also 100 new jobs being created at a new e-commerce depot in Coulsdon, south London, which is due to open in March. The facility is replacing Waitrose’s existing depot in rancid old Acton, west London, which has a staff of about 400.

Snapchat’s Discover woos more firms

January 28th, 2015 No Comments By Ian Wade

The likes of Daily Mail, CNN and Vice are among early media adopters of Snapchat’s new Discover feature.

The Discover feature grants users a snapshot of content every 24 hours, allowing Snapchat users to flick through new content on their Discover channels.

Let’s look at some filmed content:

Discovery Channel, ESPN and Warner Music are also on board with more set to follow. The Daily Mail have even dedicated a team of four to re-purpose editorial content for the app, which will no doubt point via nosy pictures at Kim Kardashian pouring her curves into a slinky winning dare-to-bare outfit, or throwing shade at various degrees of dressed down celebrities getting coffee with pixelated children.

A Snapchat spokesperson said: “Snapchat Discover is a new way to explore stories from different editorial teams. It’s the result of collaboration with world-class leaders in media to build a storytelling format that puts the narrative first. This is not social media.

“Social media companies tell us what to read based on what’s most recent or most popular. We see it differently. We count on editors and artists, not clicks and shares, to determine what’s important.”

It went on: “Discover is different because it has been built for creatives. All too often, artists are forced to accommodate new technologies in order to distribute their work. This time we built the technology to serve the art: each edition includes full screen photos and videos, awesome long form layouts, and gorgeous advertising.”

Apple Watch has a release date at last

January 28th, 2015 No Comments By Ian Wade

Remember the Apple Watch? Oh you must do. It was mentioned in passing around that Apple launch where U2 made massive tools of themselves.

Well, news has come that it will start shipping in April.

apple watch 500x334 Apple Watch has a release date at last

Tim Cook confirmed that it would be in April, having previously said that ‘early 2015′ was the time frame. ‘Early 2015′ usually suggests January in our minds, but we’re not Apple.

The Apple CEO delivered details of the wearable’s release during a quarterly earnings call with investors and the press.

If you recall, the Apple Watch will come in men’s and women’s sizes with a choice of six different straps which is quite nifty and could actually catch on – or at least, that’s what Apple is hoping.

Cook had already gone on record to declare that users will use the device so much, that they’ll be charging it up daily. Which is obviously good news for the planet. There’s no actual price as yet, but early estimates of the original $349 (£230) mentioned back in the launch.

This follows the news that Apple posted the biggest profit ever, after selling 74.5 million iPhones in its fiscal first quarter. Revenue went up to $74.6 billion from $57.6 billion a year earlier.

Tweetbot: victim of its own success

January 27th, 2015 No Comments By Ian Wade

Twitter Logo1 Tweetbot: victim of its own successTweetbot for Mac has been pulled from the Mac App Store. The third party app has hit a cap imposed by the social network on the number of users it can have.

Tweetbot originally started life on the Mac App Store back in October 2012, and has now the latest casualty of the Twitter rule of limiting new clients to 100,000 users.

The rule dates back to August 2012, when Twitter announced that any new app which was mainly used to access the users’ timeline would need explicit permission to have more than 100,000 users.

The post was widely seen as an attempt to kill off third-party Twitter clients, and eventually forced users onto the official Twitter app.

Mainly as Twitter cannot display adverts on third-party apps, and it has no control over which of its new features get rolled out when, you can imagine why they got a bit itchy about it.

While other apps have managed to escape such a fate – the rules were imposed in August 2012 – Tweetbot for Mac fell foul and is now ostracised. The ruthless world of social media!

EGGS 300x199 EasterWatch: Marmite and Pot Noodle eggs are now thingsCalm down the rioting, lovers of Pot Noodle and Marmite, for there IS an Easter egg for you after all.

Yes, Unilever have brought out Easter eggs for both their unique products, which they hope will ‘broaden the appeal of Easter’. Bloody Hell.

Each egg will have flavours of each product embedded within the chocolate, which may sound a bit mental, but actually might be quite nice. However, we at Bitterwallet can only go so far in fields of research, and will await public consensus before running to the nearest confectioners on this occasion.

Unilever has formed a partnership with the confectionery firm Kinnerton to deliver the chocolate egg which carries hints of Marmite and is promoted under the slogan ‘love it or hate it’.

Ah, they’re sticking with that slogan. One day Marmite will realise that people either love something or hate something in general, and their whole pitch will be rumbled.

The firm’s UK head of licensing Julie McCleave said: “Building on the success of our first ever Easter egg launch last year with iconic ice cream brands Magnum, Cornetto and Mini Milk, we wanted to bring something new to the Easter egg market once again for 2015. ”By broadening the appeal of the Easter egg fixture, we anticipate that the new additions will drive sales for retailers by offering an exciting new product from brands that consumers know and love.’

The Easter egg market is worth a whopping £365 million a year in the UK, so understandably, Marmite and Pot Noodle want in on a bit of that. Kinnerton’s Rachel Wyatt said: “Easter isn’t just for kids. We want to bring fun to Easter fixtures by using these two iconic brands. The Marmite Easter egg, which shoppers will either love or hate, combines Marmite with chocolate.”

‘Easter fixtures’. Good grief. Each egg will set you back a fiver.

Amazon are top of the pops for entertainment

January 27th, 2015 No Comments By Ian Wade

amazoninstant Amazon are top of the pops for entertainmentAmazon took one in every four pounds spent on an entertainment solution, in the run up to Christmas.

The online retailer was the key victor in physical sales of music, games and DVD products, with a 25.6% of the market. Get that! Over a quarter of all sales! Amazon must be thrilled.

They beat Tesco with 14.7% and HMV with a measly 13.9%, according to figures from Kantar Worldpanel.

However, what makes these figures interesting is that shoppers still buy the bulk of their entertainment products on the high street, in the few remaining vendors that cater for them, and Black Friday had an effect too, with heavily discounted promotions tempting the weak inside.

Fiona Keenan, strategic insight director at Kantar Worldpanel, said: “While consumers’ average online spend increased by 6% this Christmas, they still spent less than they did when shopping in physical stores as retailers struggled to get them to shop impulsively online.”

“A third of in-store purchases were bought purely on impulse, creating an additional £119m for the industry, but when shopping online this proportion halved. Retailers need to identify ways to encourage impulse purchasing in an online environment, particularly as so much of our spend goes through this channel.”

Asda, however, fared less well in the game and music sales area, falling 3.4%, to 9.5% of the market. But such is the way of these things, as Asda and Tesco both cut back on the CD and DVD offerings in many of their larger stores.

Game Digital also did rather well, 1.4 percentage points, but it has issued a profit warning after selling too many games too cheaply on Black Friday. The buffoons.

TalkTalk 300x180 Talk Talk join blocking unsavoury stuff online setTalk Talk are the latest to block unsavoury adult material online.

They’ve said that customers who have not chosen to whether to activate net filters, must opt out of the safety system if they want to look at saucy content online.

The net provider will block access with pop-up boxes until decisions are made by the user, and will also prompt their customers to review their settings each year.

This follows Sky’s announcement last week that it would activate filters for inappropriate content by default.

However, BT and Virgin have yet to reveal any proposals for automatic filters, but seeing as David Cameron is bearing down on the whole ‘internet safety’ thing, it’s likely an announcement will occur soon.

TalkTalk customers are now presented with information about the HomeSafe filter activation in their account settings pages, and reckon 95% of its 4.2m customers have already decided whether to activate the filters.

According to Talk Talk’s spokeswoman Alex Birtles on the firm’s blog: “We pre-tick the ‘on’ option, but it’s the customer’s choice. Filters will only ever be applied if the customer has consented and they’re able to change their mind or edit their level of protection at any point.”

So if you’ve yet to visit the settings page, you’ll be confronted with a pop-up box if they try and look at some rude stuff. However, like most filters, HomeSafe does not block material accessed via a web proxy or Virtual Private Network (VPN).

According to the website blocked.org, a project by the Open Rights Group (ORG), around 11% of the 100,000 top websites (according to Amazon-owned analytics firm Alexa) are currently blocked by default filters.

Michael O Leary Ry 1208663i 300x276 Ryanair fined €550k for poor customer serviceWe like consumer championing here at Bitterwallet, and once again the Italian competition watchdog AGCM has brought out the big guns and landed a massive fine for unscrupulous business practices. This time, its budget airline Ryanair, who have been slapped with a €550,000 (£412,000) fine for poor customer service practices, including  “extreme difficulty” and exorbitant costs.

ACGM already investigated Ryanair last year, after a deluge of complaints from passengers over its premium rate customer service phone lines. Fliers found it “difficult and unreasonably expensive” to get reimbursements, to find alternative flights following cancellations or to receive detailed billing information for tax and expenses purposes. Others complained of huge difficulties when attempting to change their bookings before the flight or even getting accessibility information for passengers in wheelchairs.

The AGCM  did acknowledge Ryanair’s effort in the last year to improve its service, which included getting rid of a premium phone number for passengers requiring assistance with boarding, but those measures were deemed not sufficient to avoid a fine. This is also the second fine imposed by the Italian watchdog on Ryanair in less than a year. Last February, the airline was fined €850,000 (£635,000) for the “lack of transparency in their travel insurance policies” and the “obstacles created in case of refund” during the online purchase of airline tickets.

Besides the money, this ruling is likely to come as a blow to Ryanair after having so publicly turned over a new leaf on the customer service front, with flamboyant Chief Michael O’Leary even saying he was trying not to p*** people off.  ACGM also recently fined TripAdvisor for publishing ‘misleading reviews’

Ryanair has issued a statement saying it has noted the ruling and is looking into an appeal.

Post Office set to combine financial services

January 26th, 2015 1 Comment By Ian Wade

postoffice10a 300x180 Post Office set to combine financial servicesThe Post Office are set to announce that it will bring together all of its financial products into a new whole called Post Office Money.

It’s hoped that this will pump the Post Office up to becoming a leading challenger-type brand in the financial services solutions market, while the big bank set start to wind down branches on the high street.

Business secretary Vince Cable is to meet up with major lenders to sort out a deal that will let bank customers make the most of the Post Office’s 11,5000 branches.

The Post Office currently offers products including insurance, mortgages, savings accounts and foreign exchange, some of which are provided through a partnership with Bank of Ireland.

Speaking to Sky News, Nick Kennett, director of financial services at Post Office Money, said: “Consumers want a choice about how they manage their money; at Post Office Money our customers have access to an unrivalled network as well as online and phone, combined with multi-award winning products.

“We have been listening to our customers and know that people are facing some big financial decisions, and through the new Post Office Money we want to become their first choice when thinking about a mortgage, credit card or a safe haven for their savings.”

The Post Office network has around three million customers within its banking and insurance business and nine million people use its foreign currency exchange services, while 2,500 of its branches open on Sundays.

Vince Cable is said to be quite keen on the idea, after getting cheesed off with major banks who decided not to renew a commitment not to close branches where they are the only one left in local communities.

The banks are all saying that with technology and the like, people are doing less in a bank, and more online.

But Mr Cable argued to Sky News that: “There are a lot of people who are not connected who also need to do basic banking functions, and we mustn’t be in a position where large numbers of villages and other small communities are effectively being cut off from banking.

“If the banks cannot perform that service we need an adequate substitute, and they’ve got a responsibility to help provide it.”

SSE joins in with the energy price cuts

January 26th, 2015 No Comments By Ian Wade

sse SSE joins in with the energy price cutsSSE have become the latest energy company to announce a price cut.

The company become the fifth of ‘The Big Six’ energy firms to have announced a reduction in their price cuts, following recent moves by the likes of E.On, British Gas, Scottish Power and Npower.

Now they’re all staring at EDF to follow suit.

SSE will cut domestic gas prices by 4.1% from 30th April, which should save their average households around £28 a year. Whoop. They’ll be mindful that they’ve got to win people over after it was revealed that Ofgem are investigating them.

SSE – who have around 8.7 million customers – have also said it would extend its guarantee not to increase its gas and electricity prices until July 2016, and that wholesale energy costs now make up “less than half of the typical household energy bill”.

Steve Forbes, SSE’s director of GB Domestic, said: “We were the only supplier to freeze prices and we promised we would cut them if we could; now we’re delivering on that promise with an average £28 reduction in gas bills.”

“There are significant other costs within energy bills, including those relating to government-sponsored environmental and social policies and the roll-out of smart meters.”

Chipping in, Alistair Phillips-Davies, SSE’s chief executive, said: “Customers are at the heart of SSE’s business, and our work to secure their energy supplies in wholesale markets last spring enabled us to guarantee that prices would not increase until at least January 2016, showing we are committed to treating all of our customers fairly and to giving them stable prices over the long-term.”

“We’re being true to that commitment with a 4.1% reduction in the typical gas bill and an extended guarantee meaning gas and electricity prices won’t go up before July 2016 at the earliest.

SSE reckon the prolonged period of mild weather to 31 December 2014 meant that average consumption of electricity was estimated to have fallen by 5.6% while average consumption of gas dropped by almost 16%.

This ongoing set of price tumbles is responding to politicians and general “stop charging so much” level headed humans as well as due to the reduction in oil and gas prices. For that reason, the energy industry is undergoing a full scale inquiry from the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) into the way it operates. The CMA inquiry is expected to report its provisional findings in May or June.

Deathwatch: BHS

January 26th, 2015 3 Comments By Ian Wade

bhs logo Deathwatch: BHSSir Philip Green has popped BHS on the market.

The department store for elderly relatives has been struggling for a while, and clocked up a pre-tax loss of £69 million.

The chain has 185 stores in total, and has been on the high street since 1928, and was inspired by the launch of Woolworths, but wanted to be a bit classier.

BHS has been a central part of the Green empire, which includes Topshop, Dorothy Perkins, Miss Selfridge and Wallis, since he bought the chain for £200million in 2000.

Sir Phil bought the company in 2000 for £200m from the Storehouse group. Initially, it was a success and was one of the main reasons that helped Green to become a billionaire and opened the opportunity for him to buy Arcadia. However, the high street is a very, very different place to the one it was at the turn of the Millennium.

2013 saw sales at the chain dip 3.5% to £675.7 million, and a pre-tax loss of £69.6 million. Blimey. Despite a near 1% rise in sales to £2.7billion, BHS slid further into the red. The group also did not pay out a dividend for the ninth year in a row.

According to rumours, Primark had been sniffing around the chain as well as HMV restructurers Hilco.