Homebase: creeping toward demise

October 22nd, 2014 1 Comment By Mof Gimmers

HOMEBASE LOGO 300x300 Homebase: creeping toward demiseHomebase have been in grotty shape for a while now and the company that owns it - Home Retail Group – have decided to accelerate the number of stores being closed following a review.

By 2019, 323 outlets of Homebase will be shut down because they are “unprofitable or are in decline”.

The review of Homebase noted “inconsistent store operating standards” and level of sales across the chain that resulted in a “challenged financial model”.

In plain English, that means they’re rubbish and they’re going to get rid.

That’s not to say all the Homebase shops will be vanishing (although, this is edging toward a Deathwatch) as there are plans to reorganise the remaining stores with 26 Homebases getting a refit.

Tellingly, the Home Retail Group does not plan to refit all of its stores. Looks like the pressure is on for those getting a facelift because, if they don’t work, then Homebase may well get binned off forever.

In a bid to get people into Homebases, the company will put a load of Argos and Habitat concessions within them.

Deals of the Day: Wednesday 22nd October 2014

October 22nd, 2014 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

lg g watch 300x162 Deals of the Day: Wednesday 22nd October 2014Everyone is going smartwatch crazy at the moment, probably because phones have plateaued and there’s not much they can do to impress us, unless they go full-on Star Wars hologram or something.

With that, we’ve spied a deal on the LG G Watch for Android. You can get one of these rascals for £99.99 delivered. Soon enough, you’ll be talking into your sleeves like some crafty spy while you eat a £3 meal deal. Have a look here.

EVEN MORE DEALS OF THE DAY!

Borderlands 2 PSVita £14.85 delivered
Halifax First Time Buyer 2 year fixed rate – 2.99% on 90% mortgage
Pre-Order New iPad Air 2 with 5% off from £379.05 at Curry’s/PC World
My Neighbour Totoro & Nausicaa Of The Valley Of The Wind Steelbooks £15 each
Ted. Extended edition Blu Ray for £4
Middle Earth: Shadow Of Mordor (Steam) £19.99 @ BundleStars
Seagate Expansion 5TB USB 3.0 external hard drive for £129.99
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Blu-Ray Steelbook for £6.48
Packard Bell Easynote 10.1 Touchscreen for £149
The Evil Within Xbox One £34.99 delivered

FOR THOUSANDS OF DAILY DEALS, VISIT HUKD!

Deathwatch: Landlines

October 22nd, 2014 10 Comments By Mof Gimmers

Mobile phone holiday beach GUIDE 01 Deathwatch: LandlinesRemember in the olden days when, instead of ringing an actual person, you had to wait for them to be in a building and then ring that? What a ridiculous system that was.

Well, thanks to this, it looks like the home phone landline is dead. We all knew this, but now there’s a study to back us up. The study showed that a lot of people don’t even know their own landline number (and the Mirror put it to the test by offering £50 to those that could).

Broadband providers Relish conducted some research it they found that 38% of us have no idea what our home phone number is and that half of us only have one because our broadband providers make us have one.

Will Harnden, chief marketing officer at Relish, said: “It’s a sign of modern times that our landlines are increasingly going unused. Despite the fact that many people aren’t using their landline for its intended purpose, they are forced to pay monthly charges for line rental, on top of the cost of their broadband.”

“It seems like now is the time the capital can finally wave goodbye to the landline.”

Of course, we can’t wave goodbye to them completely – businesses aren’t going to start giving staff members mobiles instead of banks of telephones. At home, the landline is becoming increasingly pointless. 4 in 10 of us won’t even answer the landline phone if it rings. People who ring landlines are either after money or mithering you for hours on end.

Social networks, as well as Skype and good ol’ fashioned texting are the most common ways of communicating and 65% of adults already think of landlines as a thing of the past. Naturally, people still leave the house and talk at people’s earholes, but that’s the standard and never going to go away, despite what desperate old lunatics say.

What this all means is that broadband providers need to modernise the packages they sell to customers. Landlines are all but obsolete. We await the rebranding of ‘line rental’ to something more internet based for Ver Kidz.

Lady protects house from the future

October 22nd, 2014 9 Comments By Ian Wade

a child on the internet 300x182 Lady protects house from the futureA pensioner from West Sussex has spent a small fortune renovating her house against WiFi.

Stefanie Russell has spent £4,000 covering her house in four thick coats of ray-repelling paint and has banned mobile phones and computers from her home, as she believes they threaten her health. Stefanie from Steyning, West Sussex, also uses a special device to detect unwanted signals in her house.

She claims that her sensitivity to the rays are responsible for frequent headaches and bouts of nausea.

She also believes that the severity of her condition means that she cannot travel on public transport due to the number of portable devices being used. Adjusting her tin foil hat, Ms Russell said: “I’ve not been diagnosed by a doctor but my GP surgery is aware of my condition.”

“Every time I am near WiFi or mobile phone signals I feel ill. It makes it difficult for me to get around and see people. I don’t touch the internet or email – it’s not safe”.

She’s been assured that she will not have unwanted WiFi guests coming into her home. Stefanie also fears for the children, for the children are the future.

“Schools could use broadband instead of WiFi, protecting them from early exposure to radiation. This is important – exposing them at an early age is essentially cooking our children.”

And there, at ‘cooking our children’, we must leave Stefanie. Bless.

online shopping Shops still play part in online shopping solutionsShoppers still prefer to have a gander at goods in real shops before purchasing them online, a new survey has said.

According to findings, 65% of shoppers prefer to check out a thing in a shop before pressing ‘buy’ online.

The report by Geometry Global, called The Connected Shopper study, interviewed 9,486 people across 12 countries, and found there is a continued reliance on physical stores with 88% of shoppers who visit a physical store first citing seeing the product in real life as the primary reason for visiting.

Of the 12 countries studied, China topped the list in number of online purchases (5.88) with European countries trailing significantly; the countries making the least purchases online were France (2.40) and Spain (2.17).

Checking prices (65%) is the second reason why shoppers visit physical stores.

Actual online shopping only grew by 5% in 2011 to 7% in 2014. Which isn’t all that really.

The elegantly named Cesar Montes, EMEA CSO of Geometry Global, said: “Our findings confirm that we haven’t yet witnessed the complete online shopping revolution some had predicted. There are a number of reasons for this: the high street still occupies a central and vital function in the consumer’s journey to purchase.

“In addition, there remain a number of obstacles to consumers fully accepting online shopping, such as security concerns, payment methods and unwillingness to engage with brands via social media.”

The study also noticed that 63% of users really are not going to ‘friend’ brands online. So stop trying to engage, you big bad corporates. However 70% liked ads tailored to them. Little wonder when some companies deliveries are so poor.

Frozen food is uncool say the young

October 21st, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

Frosty Freezer 300x225 Frozen food is uncool say the youngYoung people don’t dig frozen food.

Or so that’s what a new survey claims, as it discovered that 18-34 year olds were twice as likely to dislike food stored in the freezer than those codgers over 35.

These fascinating findings come from IGD ShoperVista, who surveyed over 4,000 UK adults about their food storage solutions.

It transpires that many of the younger age group only used the freezer to store meat with a close use-by date and “unwanted food gifts”. Many considered food in their freezer an “insurance policy” for when no better options are available, and keep fun stuff like poppers and six-box of Magnums in their freezer instead.

Despite not being fans of frozen food, a quarter of 18-34-year-olds feel they have insufficient room in the freezer. Only 14% of over-35s also felt this to be an issue. Over half of those questioned in both age groups, said that they used their freezer for frozen food rather than freezing home cooked leftovers.

Yet it seems for the younger group, which represented only those who live away from home and do not have children, whatever is in their freezer is gash. Also: defrosting is a bit of a drag.

It all may sound a bit bleedin’ pointless, but this information comes as part of the IGD’s ‘Working On Waste’ campaign, which is trying to tackle these issues and change modern attitudes to leftovers and leaving something in the freezer for the best part of five years.

IGD chief executive, Joanne Denney-Finch says: “In its first year, Working on Waste will reach around 650,000 employees in one month through meal planning advice, top tips, what to do with leftovers and much more,”

“As an industry, we employ 3.6 million people and it is these employees that will form the bedrock of our campaign, taking learnings from their company into their households. A lot of progress has been made already by companies across the industry to help consumers reduce household food waste. However, seven million tonnes of food and drink is still being thrown away by UK homes every year.”

KimJongIlTeapot 225x300 Sometimes cheapest is best. Top teas tested by Which!!!Most people don’t get paid to have afternoon tea, but for four lucky Which!!! experts, that’s exactly what happened*. Which!!!’s latest service to the UK consumer population is a test on the best teabags- with price not necessarily equalling quality in the tea stakes, as some of the cheapest teas proved most popular with the panel.

The panel of four experts blind tasted the teas in different orders, with and without milk. Each tea was scored on appearance, aroma, taste, body/strength and aftertaste. Standard bags were brewed for three minutes and all teas had exactly the same amount of milk and water added. They tested 19 English breakfast and 17 Earl Grey teas, so if you don’t drink either of those teas you are stuffed. Nevertheless Which!!! found that:

Top of the teas in the English Breakfast league were two supermarket own-brand ranges, with Morrisons M English Breakfast and Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference English Breakfast (Fairtrade) being awarded the joint highest score of 80%. Both teas were praised by the tea experts for their classic full-bodied flavour even despite their bottom-dollar cost of 2p and 3p a bag respectively. The cheapest teas all came in at around 2p per bag, but Morrisons was the runaway leader at this price point.

Posh cuppa Whittard English Breakfast Tag & Envelope came bottom of the English Breakfast standard tea bags, with a measly score of 50%, despite being joint most expensive  English breakfast tea (with Fortnum and Mason) at 15p per bag . One expert described the tea as tasting “like old cabbage”. Well we all could have done that.

ebtea 500x287 Sometimes cheapest is best. Top teas tested by Which!!!

For the snooty Earl Grey tea drinkers, they might be surprised to learn that Aldi Diplomat topped the taste test for Earl Grey standard tea bags with a score of 78%, for its well-balanced, warm, citrus flavour, another bargain at only 2p per bag. Duchy Originals from Waitrose had the lowest score of 38%, and costs 8p per bag. Aldi bags were the cheapest and Whittard and Fortnum and Mason were again the most expensive, scoring 63% and 58% respectively.egtea 500x298 Sometimes cheapest is best. Top teas tested by Which!!!

Separately, Which!!! also tested premium mesh pyramid tea bags for both English breakfast and Earl Grey. However, these bags are considerably more expensive at around 30p per bag and the best performing ones did only slightly better than the other teas we tested. So we haven’t bothered with those results.

Which!!! newcomer, the inscrutable Richard Headland, said: “Our taste test revealed a big difference in the quality of English Breakfast and Earl Grey teas.  With some of the best teas costing just a few pence per bag, and supermarket own-brands beating luxury brands, it shows you don’t need to spend a lot to get a great cup of tea.” Unless you are buying it from an over-priced coffee house, one assumes…

*we don’t actually know that they got paid. But we bet they did. How do you become a tea expert in a land of dedicated tea-drinkers anyway?

Tesco sales falling at fastest rate in groceries

October 21st, 2014 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

tesco 300x210 Tesco sales falling at fastest rate in groceriesThe trouble at Tesco simply won’t go away, with reports that the retailers sales are falling at the quickest rate in the grocery industry. As we all know, Aldi and Lidl’s successes are taking a huge toll on the supermarket.

Tesco sales fell by 3.6% in the 12 weeks to October 12th, reducing their market share from 30.1% a year ago to 28.8%, according to Kantar Worldpanel. It might not seem like a lot from the outside, but in the industry, this is bleak news. Or great news if you’re a rival.

 

In simple terms, to turn this around, analysts at HSBC reckon that it will cost Tesco £3bn to get things sorted in the UK. The good news for customers is that this should mean a drop in prices on goods by 5 or 6%. It would also mean 20% more staff and an improvement in the quality of their food.

Sainsbury’s are struggling too, with their sales down by 3.1% in 12 weeks, with Morrisons’ sales down by 1.8%. Asda, who have been quietly getting on with business as usual of late, have seen their sales increase by 1%. These figures are all knocked into a cocked-hat though, as Aldi’s sales have shot up by 27.3% and Lidl’s by 18.1%.

According to a detailed new survey of shoppers, Tesco’s brand in the UK is “severely compromised” thanks to a general and widespread disillusionment from customers with Tesco’s service. Research from the firm Lazarus shows that Tesco currently have the lowest overall customer satisfaction metrics in the grocery industry. As a brand, it has been labelled as “tarnished”.

Banks aren’t making as much money… what next?

October 21st, 2014 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

Bank 300x193 Banks arent making as much money... what next?Those beloved banks of ours aren’t making as much money as they’d like, so they’re saying that they’re going to have to cut everyone’s pay. This is according to a senior regulator at the Bank of England.

Sir Jon Cunliffe, the central bank’s deputy governor for financial stability, said that it’s all well and good that shareholders have suffered since the financial crash, but salaries and bonuses are still far too high.

He said: “It is noticeable that, since the crisis, for the industry as a whole, employees have received a larger share of a smaller pie relative to shareholders. In the new world, pay bills may well have further to adjust.”

Cunliffe said that in the decade before the crash, profits attributable to shareholders were around 75% of total pay at UK banks and 60% for global banks. “Since the crisis that picture has changed markedly,” he added. Shareholders in global banks get 25% of total pay now.

“Across the big UK banks in 2013, the fraction had fallen to just 2% – i.e. to 2 pence per pound paid to staff,” said Cunliffe. He added that it is “unlikely that we will see or want to see again” the kind of returns that were being made before the crisis, with respect to the tougher rules brought in to make banks safer.

“It is important, in seeking to restore returns, that banks and investors do not think in terms of back to the future” he added; “with less leverage and more liquidity in banks, required returns ought generally to be lower than prior to the crisis. Trying to offset that by taking excessive risk or evading regulation will not, I think, be tolerated in the new world.”

All in all, we can expect that this will be passed on to the customer because, when banks want to find more money, overdraft charges and the like will suddenly start working against customers.

Sky to launch mobile service

October 21st, 2014 1 Comment By Mof Gimmers

sky Sky to launch mobile serviceSky have had a nice chat with a number of 3G and 4G operators as they weigh-up whether or not to launch their own mobile services in the United Kingdom.

Sky has been making eyes at Vodafone, EE and O2 about a potential deal, and presumably, will be going with the most lucrative offer, rather than the one that will serve their customers the best. Have you ever tried to watch satellite television when the weather is a bit lousy?

Instead of your TV disrupted by a threat of rain, it’ll you be you screaming down the phone: “HELLO? CAN YOU HEAR ME? HELLO? HEL- MUM? HELLO? CAN Y- OH FORGET IT.”

Anyway, with a number of Sky’s competitors offering mobile and broadband packages, it looks like they’ll be going ahead with it, offering mobile services under their own brand.

Sky’s Chief Executive Officer Jeremy Darroch said the company always “remains open to opportunities”.

He said the mobile market is something that Sky “keeps a close eye on”, adding: ”If we thought there was strong customer demand, then we can be in a good place to respond. We’ve got a very significant customer base already that we know we can cross-sell into very successfully.”

Does anyone want to make a joke about Murdoch and phone-tapping so we don’t have to?

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.

People often like to have a bit of fun with their online orders. Someone asked for their shopping to be delivered by someone in a penguin suit (and they obliged) while others have given dinosaurs with orders.

Well, one hungry redditor ordered a couple of pizzas with some caveats.

B0djzzdCMAAdtmA Behold the silly pizza order about spiders and revenge!

As you can see, the customer asked for a crispier than normal pizza crust with the note of “if that’s not vague enough – make it like you’re taking revenge on a cheating boyfriend BUT you still want to reconcile in the not too distant future.” As for the delivery guy, he was told to keep an eye out for a spider called Frank.

There’s three potential responses to this:

1. Urgh! Arseholes! Why won’t they let people just do their jobs without being so bloody wacky and trying to get internet famous all the time! I hope they spat on their pizzas!
2. Aw! How funny! Adding a little humour to the mundane! How fantastic!
3. $20 for two pizzas? Sign me up!

You can decide which category you fall in for yourself.

Deals of the Day: Tuesday 21st October 2014

October 21st, 2014 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

dell xps 11 300x206 Deals of the Day: Tuesday 21st October 2014Want a gadget that is like a Transformer robot that can act like a tablet, as well as a laptop and generally be all swish and fancy for no discernible reason? Well, thankfully, there’s people making such things!

One of them is the marvellously daft Dell XPS 11 2-in-1 Ultrabook, which there just so happens to be a deal on! Starting at £351.90 (with free delivery) with 15% off code, you can get your mitts on one today! Have a look here.

EVEN MORE DEALS!

The Sopranos Complete Season DVD £36.40 delivered
Free Netflix for 6 months with Virgin Media
Beyond Two Souls PS3 £9.98 delivered
Madonna True Blue album for 99p
SimCity Game CD Key Download for PC from 365games @ £6.99
USB to Micro USB Cable – 1.8m 97p
Asus 23″ Full HD IPS LED Monitor for £99
Game of Thrones Seasons 1-3 Blu Ray boxset for £42
The Mad Max Trilogy Blu Ray for £8.60
Minecraft PS4 £9.99 delivered
Back to the Future Trilogy (Blu-ray+UV copy) £8.10 delivered

FOR MORE BRILLIANT BARGAINS, VISIT HOTUKDEALS!

Who are the worst at delivering parcels?

October 21st, 2014 7 Comments By Mof Gimmers

parcel delivery Who are the worst at delivering parcels?Many consumers have had bother when receiving their online deliveries. Parcels can be late, go missing entirely, contain damaged goods or in some cases, thrown on a roof for you to fetch.

According to Which!!!, 60% of us prefer to shop online for the convenience, even though 26% of us have had trouble with the delivery process. Seems like a gamble we’re willing to take because we’re all fantastically bone idle.

The biggest problem is late deliveries and not being able to choose a delivery time.

However, not all companies are bad. Some are in fact, rather good. According to a Which!!! poll, the best in the business are WexPhotographic.com, JohnLewis.com, LizEarle.com and RicherSounds.com.

Which!!!’s Richard Lloyd, said: “One of the attractions of shopping online is the convenience of having your items delivered but we’ve found the experience can be anything but convenient. We want shops to do more to ensure that the service is first class, first time. Retailers need to respond to consumers’ demands and stamp out dodgy deliveries.”

So with that, let us look at the best and worst companies when it comes to delivering your purchases.

Ten Best Online Shops

1. WexPhotographic.com
2. JohnLewis.com
3. LizEarle.com
=RicherSounds.com
5. AO.com
=Lakeland.co.uk
=Toolstation.com
8. ChainReactionCycles.com
=Coopelectricalshop.co.uk
10. AbeBooks.co.uk
=Screwfix.com
=Wiggle.co.uk

The Worst Online Shops

90. Shop.BT.com (BT Shop )
= Halfords.com
= Isme.com
93. ToysRUs.co.uk
94. HMV.com
95. PCWorld.co.uk
= TomTom.com
97. Homebase.co.uk
98. WHSmith.co.uk
99. DIY.com (B&Q)

illegal downloading1 269x300 Google to crack down on illegal downloading sites. Again. Google are planning on making changes to its search engine in a bid to crack down on illegal stuff happening.

The engine will direct users away from sites where they can half-inch content, pushing them towards less dodgy sites.

Google have caved in to pressure from the entertainment industry, who have been campaigning for the search engine to do something, while they carried on rearranging deckchairs.

Google will now list these legal services in a box at the top of the search results, as well as in a box on the right-hand side of the page, but if legal sites want to appear in the slot, they will need to pay Google for placement, something music trade group BPI has a problem with.

BPI made 43.3 million requests for Google to remove search results in 2013 – the U.S equivalent group, the RIAA, made 31.6 million and Google removed 222 million results from search because of copyright issues

Google’s Content ID system, which detects copyrighted material, scans 400 years-worth of video every day, which they then offer the music labels the choice of having the content removed, or monetising by having advertising placed there.

The report said: “Piracy often arises when consumer demand goes unmet by legitimate supply,’ the report said.

As services ranging from Netflix to Spotify to iTunes have demonstrated, the best way to combat piracy is with better and more convenient legitimate services.”

It’s unlikely that this will have a massive turnaround in the entertainment industry’s favour, who are missing the days where everyone was on champagne and cocaine breakfasts, but people will find a way around it. They always do.

However, with Google directing people to Google Play, making money through advertising on YouTube adverts and other schemes to ‘combat privacy’, it looks like they might be having the breakfast of a ’70s record company executive, so not everyone is a loser in this. We never said they were unscrupulous.