Archive for May, 2011
Here comes an out-of-control juggernaut, filled to the brim with red hot bargains. As you’d expect, some of them have flown out of its back doors and are lying by the side of the freeway. It’s our job to pick them up and show them to you.
Once we’re done with them, we’ll return them to HotUKDeals, from whence they came…
First off today, a couple of offers for those of you who of the travelling-to-America persuasion. If theme parks and gluttony is your thing, there’s a week in Florida, with flights, accommodation and car hire for only £290.50.
If you’re staying further up the coast and are looking for a more sedate, cultural experience, there’s a New York City pass for only £49 (usually £91). That’ll get you into places like the Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty and the book depository at Dealey Plaza.
If you’re not jaunting across The Pond to the United States Of A this year, maybe you’d prefer to stay in your house and watch one of the fabulous movies that they make in that there Hollywood instead?
You can gorge on the pick of the flicks for less dosh than usual with the help of a voucher from Blockbuster that will get you a rental for just £1.00 on a Wednesday. That covers DVDs, Blu-rays and games. Maybe even VHS tapes too, if they’ve got any left.
Finally, if you’re still smarting from the fact that you’re not jetting off to Americaland, you might be suffering from an acute case of plane envy. After all, trans-Atlantic flights are exciting and in no way irritating and soul-crushing experiences.
For just £1.00, you can get yourself a 12-pack of Super Glider planes – those polystyrene ones you probably used to play with when you were a kid. Okay, so they snap easily and don’t travel all that far, but it’s not NOT like flying to the US of Americans, is it?
(deals found by HUKD members diddygirl182, YFU, james4809 and lottysdad08)
Look Steve, we know that you’ve been ill and we realise that all those worker suicides at Foxconn must be preying on your pretty mind from time to time, but you’d probably sell a lot more of your fancy junk if you’d launch stuff in the manner of this chap from Asus…
Now this is curious. Have a peek at this email from avid Bitterwallet reader Joe:
“My mum is a very low usage internet user but over the last couple of months she has received emails informing her she is at 7GB of her 10GB limit. One month she went over and was subsequently charged £5 for going over the limit. Fair enough I thought. Unusual that she would be caning the connection but perhaps a lot of YouTube usage has led to these emails.
“The idea of going over limits and getting charged has meant that during May she used the internet barely at all but yet again half way through the month receives an email saying she is at 7GB of the 10GB limit.”
It’s possible that Joe’s mum is some bit-torrenting, porn-oogling fiend, but Joe assures us that’s not the case. Nor is it a matter of the internet connection being unsecure and allowing access to neighbours of passers-by.
So is it a one-off discrepancy? Apparently not; BT’s own forums are full are complaints from customers experiencing exactly the same problem. For example:
“The Homehub manager states I have used nearly 7 GB in the last 7 days. I am monitoring my usage from my PC and laptop with Tautology Bandwidth meter but this only shows 3.5GB for this month so far 1st to 18th Feb. BT support say I’ve used nearly 10 GB so far this month. I’ve checked my wireless security – using WEP encryption and am not using any other devices and cannot see any other devices from the Homehub manager.”
[UPDATE] Joe points out in the comments below he had actually enabled WPA2 encryption, so the connection should be secure.
Another forum post points to BT admitting that there was a fault at the beginning of the year:
“Hey, I have checked this out and there is a fault with it. No charges for overuse will be issued for Jan and Feb, please .. Disregard the online advice and the fix is being implemented as I write this.
“Disregard the online advice and the fix is being implemented as i write this is in hand and a fix is being implemented for anybody effected by the problem.”
That still wouldn’t explain how Joe’s mum has bust her data limit during May while hardly using the internet. It’s possible there are plenty of instances of secure wireless networks being hacked, but the problem appears to be affecting more than a handful of customers. So over to you – have you had issues with discrepancies in your home broadband usage? If so, how did you resolve the issue?
Pile up your cash and burn it – it’s no good any more. We’re living in an age of freeconomics – and all of this stuff is yours for nothing, courtesy of the mighty HotUKDeals…
FREE WHATSAPP MESSENGER THING: Apparently it’s like sending texts but it’s free. All the cool kids are into it. That and Glee.
FREE ELASTOPLASTER: Not to be confused with a free session with Cynthia Plastercaster (look it up).
FREE ANDROID EMULATION APPS: Allowing you to play emulated versions of classic games.
FREE CHOCOLATE BARS: The best phrase in the English language. These are Flubit bars. No, us neither.
FREE ACTIVATION OF VIRGIN MEDIA HD: Would normally cost you £49.95 but until June 29th, it’ll be costing you NOWT.
FREE GRAND THEFT AUTO GAMES: They’re old but they’re gold. Get ‘em downloaded now and start driving round and causing a nuisance of yourself inside your computer.
(freebies found by HUKD members kamen, theman369, DLC, HORLET, dsmuk and emz13x)
Apple have confirmed and announced that they’ll be giving us all a thing called iCloud on June 6th. That’s next week if you have no concept of time.
This new service is looking like it will allow users to listen and buy music without it needing to be stored on their phone or computer. A bit like Spotify then, who everyone has stopped using since they started messing around with how much music we can now access on the freemium account.
Really, it resembles Amazon’s latest cloud project, with both Apple and Amazon offering the chance to have all your music online.
Apple have already wooed two major record labels. They’ll need more than that won’t they? Don’t be surprised if they pull more big guns in.
Elsewhere, everyone expects that there’ll be more iPhones release, on top of the unveiling of ‘Lion’, the name CEO Steve Jobs has given to the eighth major release of Mac OS X as well as the next version of mobile operating system, iOS 5.
Loads going on then, but you get the impression that there’s another big trick up the company’s sleeve as these announcements have been a little too low-key for Apple.
What are they up to?
Quidco have launched a free iPhone app (soon to be available on Android) that applies the practice of cashback to your local high street spending.
We’ll get the disclaimer out the way immediately – Bitterwallet is part of the HUKD family of blogs; Paul Nikkel is a founder at HUKD and also a founder at Quidco.com. Regardless, if you’re the frugal sort then it’s worth having a play with this app, because it’s packing a lot of features not seen elsewhere.
If you’re already registered with Quidco, you can sign in immediately – if not, you’ll need to create an account. Once signed in, there are three ways to earn or save money with the app;
• find nearby deals and offers at local retailers and restaurants
• register a credit or debit card and earn cashback on in-store purchases
• earn cashback for simply checking in at selected stores
There are dozens of apps that use geo-location to find offers and deals in your neighbourhood, but it’s the other two features that set the app apart. Being able to earn cashback for physical transactions is an enormous boon, and cashback for check-ins isn’t something we’ve seen before – attaching a monetary value to an activity sometimes considered pointless will get plenty of consumers interested.
There are limitations; the app won’t replace use of the Quidco website, even though it tries. You can browse online cashback deals using the app, but then you’re diverted to the website of the retailer in question. Unfortunately, most retailer sites aren’t optimised for mobile phones, and trying to order anything through a fully-blown website on a mobile device is beyond tedious. A good idea would be a dedicated button to place a bookmark on your Quidco account, so you can easily find an offer once you’re on a PC.
It’ll also be interesting to see how much abuse the paid check-ins receive – while plenty of users may incorporate the check-ins into their shopping routine, there are bound to be others who spend their days checking into shops to rack up a free money without spending a penny in them. That said, the check-in radii are very tight – you can’t check into a store from your bed like you often can with Foursquare or Facebook. Perhaps the lure of cash will generate enough additional foot traffic to make it worthwhile for retailers.
As an app, it’s well designed and simple to use; maps and listings are clear although there are a few bugs to work out, with information being clipped or not displayed properly in places. Above all, it’s offering something genuinely different to the local deal features offered by Facebook, Foursquare and Groupon; if it can convert its web users to mobile and avoid losing money to check-in abuse, this app could quickly establish itself as a worthy accessory for consumers.
The festival season is almost upon us again, and that means blazing sunshine (or mud), great music, overpriced refreshments and merchandising and… those toilets.
It’s always been the idea of the toilets that has put us off being regular festival-goers but all that could be about to change thanks to this…
It’s from Japan, and as you could probably tell immediately, it’s an emergency personal toilet. It’s not just a bag that you cover yourself in before pissing or shitting into. Oh no, there’s some little tablets that go into the bag as well that will make your personal refuse that little bit more palatable once you get it out and start waving it around in the air.
Here’s a demo of the thing in action. One day in the not-too-distant future, we’ll ALL be etc etc etc…
It’s the end of May. You’ve slogged your guts out for 5 months knowing that you are providing for your family/cat/escort . Er, no. Actually for the last five months you have been working for the taxman.
Yesterday (30 May) was Tax Freedom Day, according to thinktank the Adam Smith Institute, the day on which you have ‘paid’ the equivalent of your annual tax burden, and can then genuinely spend the rest of it on yourself. Yes, that would be almost five whole months out of 12 that your money goes straight to the taxman.
This year’s taxes come to 40.8 per cent of the economy which is then converted into days of the year- working out at 149 days. This year’s date is 3 days later than last year, attributed to the VAT increase to 20% on 4 January, but is not the latest it has been- in 2006 it was 4 June and 1 June in 2007, but academic bods would still rather get the date down.
But it could be worse. If we had to fully fund our 2011 public expenditure through taxes, without borrowing, Tax Freedom Day wouldn’t be upon us until 1 July. And to pay off the National Debt? A mere 18 months hard slog per income tax paying person. The tax burden also varies by region, depending largely on incomes and employment in the different parts of the UK. Looking at income tax alone, it takes Londoners 51 days to pay their income tax bills, against just 35 days for the Welsh.
Sam Bowman, Head of Research at the Institute, grumbled: “Tax Freedom Day underlines the huge burden of government on working people’s lives. For five months of the year, we are slaves to the state…the government should resolve to make Tax Freedom Day something we can celebrate earlier and earlier each year.” Yeah right. I’m sure that’s high on the Government’s list of priorities.
The bitter squabbling between British Airways and the union Unite has caused pain and misery for thousands of travellers; over the past 18 months, industrial action has seen hundreds of flights cancelled and little in the way of progress at the negotiating table. The threat of further strikes has never been far from the minds of the airline or its customers.
That looks likely to change, however. Cabin crew are today voting on a new deal to bring the dispute to a close. If staff approve, the agreement will see concessions returned to cabin crews, as well as a new two year pay deal. Unite is recommending its members accept the agreement.
BA has suffered massive losses in recent years; 2010 saw operations affected not only by industrial action but hundreds of shot and long-haul flights were cancelled by the eruption of Eyjafjallajokul. Customer confidence in the airline hasn’t been particularly high in recent months, but if the permanent threat of strikes is lifted, British Airways has at least a chance to win customers back.
Happy Bank Holiday! And in true-to-British-summer form it’s persisting down. So to cheer you up, as if a (free) day off work weren’t good enough, we thought we’d look at what else you can get for free from those lovely and generous credit card people.
A quick scout around show that the ‘best’ freebies around include flights and gift card vouchers. The three main bucket airlines are first off the blocks with BMI, FlyBe and Ryanair all offering free flights to thank you for availing yourself of their credit.
BMI (note, not BMI Baby)’s AMEX card will give you 20,000 points if you spend £250 in 90 days on it. This amount of points will get you a free business class flight to Majorca (18,000 points and apparently not an oxymoron) or two shorter, non-Business flights to somewhere a bit nearer, like say France.
FlyBe and Ryanair both offer a free return European flight when you get their credit card with a minimum spend of just 1p for FlyBe and £100 on the Ryanair card . Note, however, that without a trace of irony, these free flights for all three airlines do not include taxes and charges. What a great deal. In addition, according to MoneySavingExpert.com, finding flights to book with the FlyBe vouchers can be difficult due to poor availability, and you have to call an expensive phone number in order to get your flights. It’s probably just a coincidence.
So what about vouchers then? Well the cashback card Amex rewards is currently giving away 6,000 bonus points for each month out of the first three that you spend over £500. Each point is worth 0.5p, so the full 18,000 is worth £90, which can then be converted into gift cards to spend at M&S, House of Fraser, Amazon, Boots, HMV, Waterstones, iTunes, Homebase, Comet, Net-a-Porter & more. Not bad. And certainly better than the Play.com card which gives you a measly £15 voucher if you spend £150 on its card in the first 3 months. But still, better than nothing eh?
Or is it? Unsurprisingly, these cards do not offer the best APR on the market, with the examples above offering between 16.9% (BMI Amex and Play.com) and a whopping 19.9% (Ryanair. Of course) which is more than double the cheapest standard rate available (9.9% with Capital One) according to Moneyfacts.com .
Or, even better, both Marks and Spencer and Tesco are offering credit cards with 0% interest for 15 months. Depending on how much your monthly spend might be, this could save you well over the cost of a 1p Ryanair flight, or £90 vouchers etc.
Bottom line? The credit card companies are out to snag you and extract cash from you in interest payments- if they can offer you a shiny freebie to draw you in all well and good. But they have probably done their sums first, so make sure you do yours…
Petrolheads – your time is almost up. Your dirty filthy cars and their disgusting emissions will soon be a thing of the past and this Nissan Leaf ad shows us just how ridiculous the concept of the petrol-fuelled car really is.
No longer shall we roar around the roads making loud exciting noises and belching smoke all over the place, and we’ll look back on it as being as ridiculous as petrol-guzzling dentist drills and computers. Ahhh, smell the clean air…
Although America might not be quite getting with the electric programme – here’s what they’ve done to a Smart car over there.
Hola, banditos! It is I, Len Dastard, former Mexican wrestler turned litigation executive. I’ll shortly be donning my Cape of Fear™ heading to the coast for a Bank Holiday of Tequila, which will inevitably end in me knuckling some drunken estúpido in his los dientes, so he might chupar his desayuno through a paja for a la emana. Pardon my French.
I am preparing a guide to pursuing a claim for personal injury, having been asked by several avid readers for guidance on this topic. While preparing this guide, I read the following news item and would appreciate your thoughts and comments.
Simon Douglas, director of AA Insurance, has suggested that law firms are partly responsible for the sky high motor insurance premiums that many drivers nowadays face. The latest figures available state that collisions on the road fell by 6%. Good news? Sadly not. The number of road traffic injury claims rose by just over 13%.
According to the AA British Insurance Premium Index, the average cost of a comprehensive policy rose to £892 in the first quarter of 2011. That is roughly a whopping 40% more than the very same period in 2010.
Further facts indicate that 200 whiplash claims are made every day for accidents up to three years previously. You might remember the piece that I put together which briefly touched on the Limitation Act 1980 – you can find it here.
The AA said that they have received reports of solicitors promising payouts of at least £3,000 if car accident victims take legal action. In response to these claims a Law Society spokesman said that solicitors were highly regulated and prohibited from techniques such as cold calling and asked that insurers distinguish between solicitors and claim managers.
Who do you think is to blame for the rising cost of insurance? The personal injury lawyer? The person who caused the accident? The victim for pursuing their claim? The insurer? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below, and I will incorporate them into my upcoming guide to making a personal injury claim.
* Continuous car insurance – good news for whose pocket?
* Harvey Water Softeners – marketing through fear (pictured)
* Orange and Vouchercloud? Is this partnership actually any good for your pocket?
* Tesco testing in-store satnav app… wonder why?
* BT to slash landline-to-mobile call costs
* What happens if a bank goes bust? How to make sure your savings are protected
* Len Dastard warns – don’t get caught out by Distance Selling Regulations
* iPhone 5 shelved for now, iPhone 4S announced in June?
* Ofcom ban 3 year mobile and broadband contracts and introduce 999 text service
* All hail the Japanese wasp crackers!