The weekend is nearly upon us and there’s a slight rise in temperature outside. That can mean only one thing! Sit inside and playing video games because outside is filled with dreadful, oxygen thieving githoles.
If you have one of the new Xbox consoles and have been looking at getting an Xbox Live Membership, check this out – you can get 12 Months for £23.99, which is really great! You’ll need a code though, which you can find by clicking here.
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Humble Weekly Sale: Popcap
Transformers 3: Dark Of The Moon – Double Play Blu-ray £3.14
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Exclusive Mario Kart 8 Bundle – Limited Edition (Includes T-Shirt, LE and Keyring) £59.99 @ Nintendo UK Store
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According to the AA, more than 90% of motorists say that they find it hard to see cyclists while driving and so, they’ve started a campaign called the ‘AA Think Bike’ which advises you put stickers on your wing mirror, because drivers obviously need reminding how to drive.
This coincides with the launch of a national Think Bikes awareness campaign, which showed that 55% of motorists are frequently “surprised when a cyclist appears from nowhere”.
They’ve made a video about it all and it features a naked man and lots of people whooping.
One million free stickers will be distributed to drivers, which will acts as a reminder that they should keep an eye out, in case they kill someone.
AA president Edmund King said: “Our campaign is definitely needed when half of drivers are often surprised when a cyclist or motorcyclist ‘appears from nowhere’. hose on two wheels never appear from nowhere so as drivers we need to be more alert to other road users.”
Things are changing in the world of crowdfunding and now, loan-based crowdfunding platforms will have to have capital in the vaults to put against the risk of the business, should it fail. And this is according to the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).
Basically, if you’re going to act like a financial service, then you’re going to be regulated so that consumers can be protected. The FCA have released a 95 page document which details all this and you can read that here.
Investment-based crowdfunding already has regulations in place, but the regulator have updated their rules so that loan-based funding is covered too. Previously, the FCA thought loan-based crowdfunding had a “lower risk than investment-based activities”, but they’ve changed their mind on that.
These new regulations will set ”prudential requirements” and companies will now need “financial resources” to underpin their business, should things go belly-up.
The FCA created a model for calculating how much capital each business will need, which is staggered for each individual company.
“Other protections that we are introducing – such as the minimum capital standards and the requirement for firms to have arrangements in place to continue to administer loans in the event that the platform fails – should provide adequate protection at this time,” the regulator said. “We do not consider that it is contradictory for these firms to be subject to some regulatory requirements but not others.”
“We do not consider it appropriate to mandate specific disclosures or the form and content of those disclosures since business models vary across the market,” the FCA added. “Instead, the rules require firms to consider the nature and risks of the investment, and the information needs of their customers, and then to disclose relevant, accurate information to them. The high-level approach puts the onus on firms to provide appropriate, useful information, and not to over-burden consumers with too much detail.”
These new rules will come into play on 1st April.
Are you completely neurotic about your health? Well, join the growing army of the worried well who are using technology to plan, plot and monitor every breath with this new iPhone case from Azoi.
We’ve seen enough wearable health tech in recent months to clog up landfills for millions of years, but this is the first phone CASE that can check your blood pressure while you’re on the move.
The Wello case looks like an ordinary, boring black phone protector, but inside there are multi-purpose sensors that can accurately measure your ECG, blood pressure, heart rate, blood oxygen and lung function.
It’s a must for health freaks or just people with an abnormally high rate of self-absorption.
All you need to do is hold it in your hand, wait a minute and see whether it flashes red and starts beeping the Funeral March. (Actually, your readings are transferred to an app, which you can show to the doctor when you arrive at A&E, clutching your chest.)
The Wello case is out this summer and will cost £120 – which would probably be better spent on pies because you’re going to DIE ANYWAY.
As interest rates celebrate five years at their historic low, savers are commiserating five years of complete pants deposit rates. One way to combat microscopic returns could be to invest in peer to peer lending- an industry reporting massive growth in the last year. However, despite the better returns, and improved protection, new figures suggest over eight in ten (84%) consumers would not invest their money with a peer-to-peer lender.
Official figures show the UK’s peer-to-peer lending sector increased by 121% during 2013, yet new figures from uSwitch.com show that only 2% of savers are currently using a peer-to-peer lending platform.
Mostly, consumers are put off by the lack of regulation and statutory protection- almost six in ten consumers (59%) are reluctant to use a peer-to-peer lender because the industry is not covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme, and four in ten (39%) say that it is because it is not regulated by the FCA. A further half (49%) are sceptical about using peer-to-peer lenders simply because they don’t know enough about them.
However, regulatory changes are coming to the peer to peer market in April, but this still won’t satisfy some customers. A quarter of those surveyed (25%) don’t want to lend money if they don’t know where it’s going, and one in ten (9%) don’t want to use an online platform.
Jafar Hassan, personal finance expert at uSwitch.com, said: “While the take up of peer-to-peer lending has been low so far, regulation should provide additional peace of mind. But to encourage more widespread adoption, peer-to-peer lenders need to convince consumers that their money is safe, and they can’t simply rely on regulation to do this.
It seems the risk/reward balance needs to tip more in order for more people to get on board with peer to peer. But given savings rates are so pitiful, what are people doing with their money? Some are investing in cash ISAs, although rates this year have so far proven lower than those available last year, and tax relief on nothing is not worth a fat lot. Interestingly, however, 43% of those surveyed are using current accounts to earn interest, such as the Santander 123 cashback account or the Nationwide 5% account. Ten per cent of people have given up on all kinds of formal banking and have stashed their cash in a piggy bank at home.
So what do you do with your spare cash?
We liked the look of Google’s Chromecast, and it appears that everyone else is going to be getting in on the action. If you missed it, or can’t be bothered to click on the link, Chromecast is a cheap device which you plug into your television, enabling you to stream things to it from your phone, tablet or whatever.
And now, Roku have announced their smart TV device, the Streaming Stick.
With this device, you can surf channels and browse from your iOS or Android phone or, if you like, use the bundled Roku remote. Channels that are available from Roku include BBC iPlayer, 4oD, Demand 5, Now TV, Sky Store and Sky News and you’ll be able to stream personal media from your devices. That includes your Netflix accounts and what-have-you.
The 2012 Roku Streaming Stick didn’t have the Chromecast functionality, so be careful if you’re looking at buying one.
Jim Funk, senior vice president of product management at Roku and owner of a marvellous, marvellous name, says: “The new Roku Streaming Stick gives consumers more choice for streaming entertainment to the TV than any other device. Consumers want a ton of entertainment, an easy way to search for movies and TV shows, and options to control the experience with a remote or mobile device. This new Roku Streaming Stick brings all that and more – and in a tiny form factor.”
Roku’s device is slightly pricier than the Chromecast, retailing at £49.99. However, it is in the shops now. Definitely worth looking at.
The Co-operative are having a terrible time, what with a scandal or two, losing a lot of money and they’re selling off their farms. However, they can’t just admit defeat. They’ve got to do something about it in a bid to revive themselves.
It seems the Co-op think success lies in convenience and they’re set to double the number of convenience shops they have, to around 4,000 in the next five years.
The company’s retail chief executive, Steve Murrells, wants to turn around the Co-op’s food business and said that he’d be overseeing an expansion that would double its capital expenditure to around £300m a year, as well as investing in cutting prices, smartening the stores up and growing their range of own brand products.
There will be 150 Co-ops opening per year, with that target looking to increase if all goes according to plan as Murrells hopes to become the UK’s “leading store retailer”. ”We want to have a shop on every corner in every community around the country,” Murrells said.
You’ll have to fight Tesco for it.
Riding the rails. It is so romantic isn’t it? You whisk your way through the countryside on a train that smells like egg butties and next to a weirdo who is drinking cans of lager at half eleven in the morning. Trains, glorious trains!
If you’d like to go somewhere on the railways, then we’ve spied this ace deal where you can have a £16 voucher to spend on rail travel at redspottedhanky.com for £8. Not bad eh? You’ll be able to have a nice day out and go twice as far for your money. Have a look.
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You know what it’s like – you’re a train guard and you think ‘I know, I’ll just go to Sainsbury’s for a can of Rubicon and a bag of Mini Cheddars’ just as rush hour hits.
That’s what one Southeastern Trains employee did yesterday, leaving passengers on the 19.53 to Hastings high and dry for an hour while he went on his break. Passengers were told over the tannoy that the reason for the delay was because ‘the guard could not be found.’
Soon afterwards, he was spotted in Sainsbury’s. He driver relayed that news to the passengers, who were understandably delighted. The delay caused the train to be cancelled and passengers had to be shunted onto another train.
When that train eventually left, it contained three train loads of delayed and harassed commuters who wanted to KILL HIM.
It’s the latest in a catalogue of disasters for Southeastern Trains, who came second from last in a recent Which! customer service poll. Furious customers have called them ‘a rip off’ and denounced them for their ‘poor service’.
Southeastern blabbed: ‘The shift timing was thrown out of place because of a knock-on effect of earlier delays, and we didn’t have a standby conductor available to work the train in his place.’
But Amber Rudd, MP for Hastings, took a dim view, and said: ‘It has been a very disappointing experience. Southeastern must up their game if they want to get their franchise renewed.’
The Financial Conduct Authority are very please with themselves, saying that all the major banks on British high streets have made great improvements when it comes to the hard-sell, either replacing or substantially changing the financial incentive schemes which were the cause of mis-selling huge numbers of products.
A number of fines doled out to banks have been influential in changing their cultures – in December, Lloyds were hit with a £28million penalty by FCA after the bank were found to be pushing staff to hard, which resulted in the selling of unsuitable products to customers.
In the latest review, the FCA says that they have found significant improvements at many finance firms and they’re going to keep at them, to ensure that the work they’ve done doesn’t come unstuck and so that further improvements can be made.
Martin Wheatley, chief executive of the FCA said: “Eighteen months ago we gave the industry a wake-up call and it recognised that a poor incentive culture had helped push bad sales practice, which led to mis-selling. We’ve seen some good progress but it is going to take time to see whether the changes firms have made to incentive schemes and their controls stick, and whether good beginnings are part of genuine cultural change.”
“Consumers can be assured that this remains an area that we will be watching closely to ensure poor practice doesn’t return.”
The FCA has identified the areas where banks can better manage incentive schemes, such as checking for increased trends in individual’s sales patterns, or by doing more to correct poor sales behaviour in face-to-face conversations. Importantly, banks are advised that staff should be told that sales bonuses can also be affected negatively by mis-selling, so it isn’t worth staff members simply trying to flog as much as possible without proper conduct.
The watchdog have also warned banks that they shouldn’t replace bonus schemes with other performance management measures which put the same amount and type of pressure on staff. And, it seems to be working with a number of firms changing the way they sell. Barclays, for example, have stopped sales incentives altogether.
However, while the public are still receiving cold calls and emails from branches, there’s still loads to be done. Could this possibly be the end of the hard-sell, or are the banks just playing nicely until the FCA leave them alone?
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.
The high speed train ferried 10.1 million travellers in 2013, up 2% on 2012.
The company has seen passenger numbers grow significantly over the last ten years, and has now carried 140 million since it started 20 years ago.
Eurostar also reported that its 2013 sales revenue had risen 7% to £857 million, while operating profit was up 4% to £54 million.
Eurostar chief executive Nicolas Petrovic reckons that “2013 has proved to be a record-breaking year for Eurostar and we are pleased with the sustainable growth in both traveller numbers and sales revenues reported today.
“After a period of economic uncertainty we are now starting to see more confidence in the business market. In comparison with this time last year when the overriding sentiment was still very cautious there are more encouraging trends and in some sectors there is clearly a greater appetite to invest and look for business.”
You know when your property management company charges astronomical maintenance fees, even though there’s a dead rat on the stairway and more mysterious leaks than even Edward Snowden could handle?
Well, if you’ve ever been at the mercy of sinister/lazy/overpriced property managers who charge regular fees for bugger all, you’ll be pleased to know that the Office of Fair Trading is looking into the ‘services’ they provide, to see if they actually do anything at all.
The investigation will cover local authorities and housing associations, as well as private property management companies.
The OFT will look into whether the market is working for leaseholders and freeholders and ask whether property management companies have the best interests of their leaseholders. (No). They’ll also ask whether we have much of a choice over which company deals with our building maintenance. (No). Then they’ll look into whether there are barriers to switching and enough competition in the property management market. (No).
The Competition and Marketing Authority (CMA) takes over some of the OFT’s duties in April and will be publishing a report at the end of the year. Rachel Merelie, who is leading the study, said:
‘Service charges for the maintenance of a building can be substantial and we want to make sure that leaseholders are getting a fair deal. We are concerned that management agents and freeholders may not be incentivised to keep maintenance costs down and that leaseholders may not receive value for money.’
We’re all used to hearing news that the high street is on its knees and retailers are openly weeping into the bins outside Claire’s Accessories as their empires crumble. And we’re all equally used to hearing how the cost of living has skyrocketed while our wages, er…haven’t.
But today, we can walk down the high street with a little spring in our step because the British Retail Consortium have announced that high street prices are falling at a record rate.
That’s right, we’re paying less and less in the shops, with goods costing an average of 1.4% less in February than in previous months. Some things went even lower, with clothing and shoes were 12% cheaper than last year.
February marked the tenth month in a row that deflation had occurred on the high street, and food inflation also feel slightly from 1.5% in January to 1.1%.
So can we look forward to paying even less for our stuff? Helen Dickinson from the BRC thinks so.
‘Many of the larger food retailers have been looking closely at their investment in promotions and price cuts, suggesting competition could intensify further.’
LET’S BUY EVERYTHING.