Archive for May, 2012
Forget economic doom and gloom-we are all so well-off it’s practically untrue. Yesterday we told you how Ernst and Young have worked out that we will all be nearly £500 nicker better off this year than last, and today comes news that most of us could put a bit away every month, but we choose not to. We’d rather spend our money on holidays, satellite telly and overpriced delicious takeaway coffee.
The survey, commissioned by Aviva (Norwich Union), found that approximately a third of UK families say they have cut their spending to the absolute bone, rising to 65% of single parent families, but that 79% of families admit there are certain cutbacks they can’t or won’t make. 173% of the researchers were no good at maths*. Of the two thirds of families who believe they could afford to save something extra each month, the typical “affordable amount” is £53 a month (£636 annually).
The survey found that people are prioritising “must haves”, instead of thinking about saving this extra cash. These “non-negotiables” include items such as summer holidays (17%), not turning down the heating (14%), and cable / satellite TV (12%). Austerity my bottom.
But bizarrely, when asked about where they would find the extra money, families said they were most likely to cut back on food costs by stopping regular take-away meals (26%), or buying basic ranges in the supermarket (25%). They would be far less likely to give up take-away coffees (6%) or breakfast (4%) on the way to work even though they could get close to the £53 monthly amount just by cutting out a daily £2.50 chocamochaskinnylattecino.
The research shows that saving, even if we do have the money, is not top of families’ priority lists. While most families admit they could put something extra aside, their savings experience tends to be ad hoc rather than as a conscious part of their regular financial planning. Only one in five (19%) families set aside a specific amount each month and one in eight families (12%) admit to using a penny jar or piggy bank. Just don’t try and pay your accountant with it.
But what do you think? Is saving a little bit worth more than a little bit of luxury? Or, if you are daft enough to be a Starbucosta addict, should we even care about whether your family can eat cool and retro Kellogg’s cereal instead of Budget flakes? Is all this talk of a recession just plain nonsense? Won’t someone please think of the children?
*The researchers meant to say 76% of the remaining 67% (which is nearly 53%). But they didn’t.
BSkyB’s broadband wing has blocked access to The Pirate Bay which means someone, somewhere, is going to have great fun trying to hack and down Murdoch’s company.
Of course, Virgin Media were first to block the site after Justice Arnold told ISPs to comply with the order which said that both operators and users of The Pirate Bay are liable for infringement of the copyright of music companies.
BT are expected to follow suit soon, with a spokesman saying: “We continue to have discussions with the BPI and we hope to announce an outcome acceptable to both of us soon.”
BSkyB said: “We have invested billions of pounds in high-quality entertainment for our customers because we know how much our customers value it. It’s therefore important that companies like ours do what they can, alongside the government and the rest of the media and technology industries, to help protect their copyright.”
“Such protection makes sure that consumers continue to benefit from TV programmes, movies and music both now and in the future. This means taking effective action against online piracy and copyright infringement.”
While the world and his dog wants BT to hurry up in giving us superfast broadband, one stupid bit of the world doesn’t want it at all, isn’t that right Kensington and Chelsea?
BT planned to install 108 fibre cabinets in the borough but have now been forced into ditching their plans Kensington and Chelsea Council refused 96 of BT’s planning applications for the cabinets.
“The council said the cabinets weren’t in keeping with the historic streetscape. Now they can have the historic broadband to match,” a cheeky BT spokesman said.
Apparently, dialogue has been going on between the two parties for some time and, according to BT, the council asked BT to bury the cabinets underground, which BT refused in case of flooding. The council then asked BT to make special small cabinets for them. BT laughed in their stupid, posh faces.
Kensington and Chelsea Council said: ”BT was seeking permission for 108 cabinets, many of them in sensitive locations. It would not compromise on the number, or on the design. It would not use sites that already had unused BT equipment and it would not consider putting the equipment underground or any other method.”
So, taking its ball away, BT have decided to play elsewhere, saying it had “no option but to send our engineers to other areas that are more welcoming”.
But having said that, there’s still a lot of positive, slightly sentimental feeling from the public towards Nokia, and it’d be great to see what has become a plucky trier get off the, erm, burning platform and get back on top of its game. You can do your bit by dashing out today and putting £99.95 down on the Nokia Lumia 710. It’s powered by Windows 7.5 and you’ll get a six month Zune music pass chucked into the bargain as well. Well? Go on then!
WAIT! THERE’S MORE…!!!
• Apple iPad 2 (16GB, wi-fi, refurb) – only £249.99.
• £5 off a £35 spend at Aldi.
• Football Manager 2012 (PC and Mac) – yours for only £4.99
• Digital multimeter – only £2.89.
• Xbox Live Hits Collection (Limbo, Trials HD & Splosion Man) – just £8.99.
• Sniper Elite V2 (PS3/Xbox 360) – yours for £22.99 delivered.
• Lots of fruit and veg deals.
• Belkin Cushtop – only £4.99 delivered.
• iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad-controlled rechargeable helicopter with gyroscope – 50% off at just £12.25.
• Fallout New Vegas Ultimate Edition (PS3/Xbox 360) – only £14.95.
• Men’s 2011-12 England football shirt (away) – only £14.99
All those and more can be found over at HotUKDeals…
If you suspected that there might be something a bit iffy about the car insurance market, then it seems that you’re not alone – the Office of Fair Trading is about to get the Competitions Commission to take a close look at car insurance costs after announcing that the market is ‘dysfunctional’.
They’ve decided that a whopping £225m per year is added on to drivers’ premiums each year through artificially high car hire and repair charges and they’re planning to stamp it out. The accusation is about the relationship between insurance companies and garages regarding the cost of repairs and supply of courtesy cars.
Basically, when a claim is made, the insurer of the “at-fault” driver normally has to pay for repairs and temporary car hire for the other driver in the accident. The OFT are alleging that these costs are pumped up by the insurer of the “not-at-fault” driver arranging artificially expensive car hire deals and repairs, in return for a tidy payment from the car hire firm or garage involved. All in all, it’s a diabolical set of circumstances, where the only loser is us, the poor, innocent consumer.
The OFT has provisionally referred the car insurance industry to the Competitions Commission and a decision is expected in October.
So. It’s been sunny. Inflation has come down. You probably still have a job. Everything is just peachy. And in even better news, accounting impresarios Ernst and Young have produced a special report saying that, on average, we will be £482 better off this year and £624 better off next year, and that we will all celebrate by not necessarily spending all our money in the shops. Go us.
That’s right, a new report has been prepared by Ernst and Young sponsored ITEM club, the only non-biased non-governmental economic forecasting group to use the HM Treasury model of the UK economy, according to them. They claim that changes to personal taxation benefitting basic rate taxpayers and an easing of fuel prices and inflation will make us all feel like our wallets are bulging with unspent cash, causing some of us to rush out and remedy the situation.
The ITEM club’s top picks for what we will spend our money include audio visual goods, including TV’s, mobile phones and broadband, and “Recreation & Culture and Communications” with both of these sectors expected to grow by 4.2% this year. Buying a new car and eating out/ staying away are next on our spending lists.
However, apparently, we are a more sensible nation than the Bitterwallet readership would have us believe. The report suggests consumer spending will show only a gradual improvement from the middle of this year, but that spending levels won’t return to pre-recession levels until 2015.
So what are we doing with our extra few hundred quid? We are paying off our debts. How very grown up of us. Andrew Goodwin, senior economic advisor to the Ernst & Young ITEM Club explained:
“After the tightest squeeze on consumer incomes in a generation, the worst is now behind us and most people should start to feel a bit better off by the end of the year. Wage growth will finally begin to outpace inflation and our pay packets will also be boosted by the tax changes announced in the Budget.”
“It’s an improving outlook for the UK high street but it’s going to be a slow and steady recovery. Rather than splashing their cash, we’re expecting to see conscientious consumers keeping a relatively firm grip on their purse strings. Instead, they are likely to focus on trying to pay down debt, taking advantage of a 12 month window before interest rates start to rise again” he continued, sensibly.
So are the economic boffins right? Are you starting to feel wealthier, or are you too scared to look up from the treadmill, just in case? Would you splash any extra cash on a TV and weekend away or send it straight to the credit card company? Isn’t this all relative- if the past two years have been as bad, economically, as the late 70s, doesn’t it stand to reason that we would feel better off in comparison?
The summer is almost upon us, and so what better time could there be for us to get online and download a huge bunch of reduce-priced games on to our computers? After all, it’ll probably rain for most of the next three months so we’ll need something indoorsy to do.
There’s a mahoosive list of indie games that can be had for not many pennies at at the moment at Steam. It’s been compiled by for us by avid HotUKDeals user Macdory. There’s some great-sounding titles in there, such as Data Jammers, Zombie Driver, Serious Sam, Gish as well as big hits like World Of Goo and, erm, The Baconing, which we believe is about a city where all of the occupants are slowly turned into replicas of Kevin Bacon, before being cooked and eaten. We’re off now to smash our high score on The Binding Of Isaac…
WAIT! THERE’S MORE…!!!
• Star Wars: The Complete Saga (9 Blu-ray discs) – only £42.49 delivered with code
• 40-inch Samsung full HD 1080p Smart LED TV with built-in wi-fi – only £479.99.
• HIS HD 7850 2GB GDDR5 – yours for £159.99.
• 1.5TB Intenso external hard drive – only £64.99.
• Motorola DEFY Mini (Sim-free smartphone) – only £81.95.
• Sony 3D Movie Bundle (3D player, two pairs of glasses and five 3D films) – all for £124.50.
• Lost Complete 1-6 (Blu-ray box set) – only £43.07.
• Various tech deals – all from 99p.• Prototype 2 (Xbox 360/PS3) – only £20.75.
All those and more can be found over at HotUKDeals…
RIM, cack-handed overlords of BlackBerry, is probably going write down a whopping $1bn which will invariably end in a number of job cuts. They’re in tatters aren’t they?
And yesterday, RIM called in bankers JP Morgan and the Royal Bank of Canada to conduct a strategic review which also suspending any trading in their shares. These problems are mounting against a backdrop of being hammered by, basically, better phones on the market as well as the failure of the PlayBook, and a series of blunders that saw people unable to use their phones.
In a statement, Thorsten Heins, the company’s president and CEO, said that there would be “headcount reductions in some areas” but added that “we will continue to spend and hire in key areas such as those associated with the launch of BlackBerry 10, and those tied to the growth of our application developer community.” Heins added that the company’s performance would “continue to be challenging for the next few quarters.”
Ehud Gelblum at Morgan Stanley, said: “Bankers do a lot more than buy and sell, certainly finding a buyer is one the things they do, but in this case it would be an option of last resort. [RIM] will be a much, much smaller company. They have to bring down the cost structure in a hurry so they don’t get to the point that they go bankrupt until they have a new product. Is there a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow? The odds are definitely against them.”
Meanwhile, the Reaper awaits.
The Office of Rail Regulation has got the belt out and started cracking its knuckles in the face of Network Rail as they hope to get the train operator to sort themselves out over the punctuality of their trains.
If they don’t, they’ve been promised a ‘substantial’ penalty.
The ORR thinks that Network Rail is likely to imminently breach its operating licence, leaving them no choice but to prepare an enforcement notice. The ORR found that Network Rail had ‘struggled to cope’ regarding their long distance punctuality target.
While the ORR conceded that cable theft contributed to late trains, they insisted that NR could do more, concluding that a number of problems have been ‘of the company’s own making’, notably concerning problems with timetable planning and poor handling of equipment failures.
The ORR’s chief executive Richard Price said: “Let me be clear – we expect Network Rail to hit targets, and to achieve this by implementing sustainable improvements that really benefit passengers. In the last year, approximately 13.7 million long distance journeys were affected by late or cancelled trains – and this is unacceptable. That is why we are proposing a penalty which puts pressure on Network Rail to achieve its funded target – an incentive for the company to do everything it can to deliver improvements.
“We will not allow Network Rail to rest at ‘good’ performance when the public have paid the company to achieve excellence. It is our duty as the regulator to push for improvements for passengers – and that is what we will do.”
Network Rail chief executive David Higgins responded to the warning, saying: “We accept the challenge to deliver an even better service. We are determined to do all we can to achieve that, through balancing the continued growth in demand with passengers’ desire for improved reliability.”
Business genius and billionaire Donald Trump is very fond of his surname – after all, it’s his brand. Never mind that over here in the UK, it is another word for an anal gas emission – that’s not important. What IS important is that Donald has registered SCORES of trademarks that include his name – over 200 in fact.
Of course, the vast majority of them will never see the light of day, but it’s marvellous to know that they exist and that he’s spent the time and energy coming up with them. Here’s some of the best, courtesy of the US Patent and Trademark Office and Mother Jones…
Donald J. Trump, the Fragrance
Trump’s Golden Lager
Trump’s American Pale Ale
The Donald J. Trump Credit Card
The Donald J. Trump Signature Collection
The Trump Art Collection
Trump Concierge Service
Tour de Trump
Trump Super Speedway
Trump’s World’s Fair
The Trump World Open
Trump the Game
The Trump Follies
The bean counters at the Advertising Standards Authority have been totting up their stats for reasons that we’re completely unable to fathom, and have revealed that this is the advert that they’ve received the most complaints about over the years.
It’s for KFC and it features some call centre workers singing their way through a turgid 30 seconds with their mouths filled with the fast food provider’s ‘product’. Admittedly, if you watch it more than twice, you’ll feel yourself compelled to leave your home and strangle the nearest animal. But is it the most offensive ad ever? Tell us what YOU think dear readers… and the top ten can be found here.
As spotted in Wythenshawe by avid Twitter user @drunkenoaf. This is well and truly the lowest moment for an incredibly worn-out old meme. Please, like the war that spawned it, LET IT END!
Cash! Apps! eBooks! All those and more could be yours for ABSOLUTELY NO MONEY if you do some reading and clicking in a few seconds from now. Yes, we’re good to you and so are the lovely folks who contribute to the freebies section at HotUKDeals…
FREE CASH OR VOUCHERS: It says here that all you need to is watch some videos on your phone with GetJam. As long as they’re not mucky videos, we’re IN!
FREE CASSETTE TAPE APP: Apparently this makes your iPhone look like a cassette tape when you’re listening to music. Fair enough – takes all sorts.
FREE TRADE-IN PRICE CHECKER: A handy tool from what’s left of the lads and lasses at GAME – allowing you to see how much they’ll give you for the crappy games you don’t want any more.
FREE MONEY: With the help of a Quidco app, ‘checking in’ at stores could save you £££s….
FREE ZX SPECTRUM BOOK: As you might have thought, it’s a book about the ZX Spectrum. A hard copy would have cost you £17.99 – this PDF of it is free.
FREE KINDLE BOOKS: More gratis eBookery – here’s a list of a bunch of IT books that could be yours for nothing. If that’s what you’re into.
FREE DOCUMENTARIES: To watch on your computer. There’s 6,303 of them in total – enough to see you through the weekend.
(freebies found by avid HUKD members panddda, cath1510, chaywa, mcpaddy, nemesiz, iliko and reddit)