EasyJet crew set to strike

July 6th, 2015 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

picture 42 EasyJet crew set to strikeThere’s more strikes afoot. You’ll know that there’s been rail strikes, strike action at the Channel Tunnel and of course, walkouts in the airline industry.

Now it is the turn of EasyJet cabin crew, with 2,000 workers set to down tools (wet wipes and uninflated life jackets) over a pay row, and is likely to take place sometime next month.

Of course, this could potentially ground thousands of flights, which in turn, would affect a lot of families who want to get a break in during the school holidays from a number of the country’s airports.

EasyJet bosses have indeed, offered a pay rise to cabin crew of 4.1% and 5.1% to the managers, but this has been refused by unions who think the working staff deserve more than that. They’d like to see a bigger pay increase to reflect the staff’s responsibilities and long working hours that they put in.

Some EasyJet cabin crew are apparently on a basic salary of just £10,000. Considering that various people in the know say that a living wage in 2015 is in the region of £17,500, you can see where the argument lies.

An EasyJet spokesperson said: “EasyJet’s cabin crew receive the highest pay in the UK airline industry. EasyJet has now awarded its UK cabin crew increases of 4.1% for cabin crew and 5.1% for cabin managers over two years backdated to January 2015 on top of an already market leading set of pay and conditions in the UK.”

We’ll keep an eye on things and report back with news of any affected flights.

protectmoney 300x215 FSCS protection to be cut by European directiveThe Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) was raised to £85,000 per account in 2010 following the financial crisis and specifically the collapse of Northern Rock. However, EU regulations mean that this amount is going to change, and it’s going to go down by £10,000.

The Bank of England has announced today that the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) is making changes to the protection under FSCS. For most savers currently covered by the FSCS, the existing level of deposit protection (£85,000) will be maintained for six months before changing to £75,000 from Jan 1 2016

The problem is that the FSCS compensation scheme is run under a European directive, which sets the limit at €100,000 across the whole of the European Union. In the UK (as we don’t use the Euro), the equivalent sterling amount is calculated every five years, and that amount is what we use until the next renewal date. Given all the gnashing of teeth over a potential Grexit, so the rates used today work out at £75,000 (rounded to the nearest £5,000), rather than the previous £85,000. Note that it realy is a case of swings and roundabouts- contrary to political spin, the Government only raised the protection level in 2010 (up from £50,000) as it was required to do so by this same EU directive, and was not, in fact, a gesture to help out poor disgruntled savers. In five years’ time it could go up or down again.

While the process and timing of this whole process is specified by the Directive and is not at the PRA’s discretion, the Bank of England announcement also specified a six month grace period- rather than becoming effective immediately (as it strictly should) the £85,000 limit will remain in place until 31 December, allowing people time to move their money should they need to do so in order to remain protected under the scheme. Note that the limit is per person and per institution, so joint accounts will get £150,000 protection from January. Any excess balance can simply be transferred to another account at a different bank to benefit from additional protection, after checking the new bank is not part of the same group- and FSCS limit- as an existing account.

“People have six months to get ready for the change, if necessary,” said Mark Neale, the chief executive of the FSCS, adding that the new limit of £75,000 will still protect more than 95% of consumers. The PRA are also consulting on whether any transitional measures are necessary to cover situations where savers have money in excess of the limit tied up in accounts/binds that would cause a penalty for early withdrawal.

But there are other small changes to the scheme too, the most interesting of which covers ‘temporary high balances’ arising as a result of specified  ‘life events’. From today, qualifying depositors with temporary high balances will be covered up to £1 million for six months from the date on which the money is transferred into their account, or the date on which the depositor becomes entitled to the amount, whichever is later. This is to cover situations where deposit funds go unusually over the limit as a result of specified events, including following a house sale or funds received from a ‘life event’ such as a divorce settlement or inheritance. The six month period gives these savers time to spread the cash out into a number of accounts to appropriately protect these funds.

Barclays customers can pay cheques via photo

July 3rd, 2015 2 Comments By Mof Gimmers

Barclays PA 300x225 Barclays customers can pay cheques via photoEven though there’s loads of ways of paying for things via ways that aren’t cheques, Barclays are seemingly reluctant to let them go, as they roll out their ‘cheque imagining’ service a million more of its customers.

What’s all this about? Well, you can pay in cheques by taking a photograph of it, rather than walking to a branch with it in your hand. Of course, this has been around on iPhone for a while, but now, it is on Android, on the back of nearly £750,000 deposited through the service.

This technology lets you pay in cheques worth (up to) £500, and the money is available to spend immediately.

Normally, a cheque takes a couple of days to go through clearing. If your cheque bounces, then you are notified and the money is removed from your account. Some of you are already thinking of ways to bend the rules on this, we can tell.

On its terms and conditions, it says: “You authorise us to take a cheque payment back out of your Barclays account – even if we have allowed you to make a payment or take cash out against it.”

This ruling allows for cheques accidentally paid into the wrong too, so that’s something.

Ashok Vaswani, Barclays personal and corporate banking chief executive, said: “Our customers have welcomed this convenient new way of depositing one of the oldest forms of payment, which is why extending to android phones is an important step forward in giving all customers the ability to pay in cheques using their mobile devices.”

Spam calls and texts on the rise

July 3rd, 2015 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

Spam 300x300 Spam calls and texts on the riseAccording to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), there’s been a rise in spam calls and texts, with more than 180,000 complaints made about these nuisances in the last year alone. That’s a 12% rise, compared with the year before.

The watchdog also said that they’d issued five fines relating to all this, totalling £386,000, alongside eight enforcement notices, with another 31 firms being “monitored”.

The said: “Most concerns related to accident claims, green energy deals, payday loans and lifestyle surveys. Live calls generate significantly more concerns than automated calls and spam texts.”

One of the reasons there’s been a spike, is that this year, the law was changed, to make it easier for companies to be fined for breaching rules regarding nuisance calls and texts. The ICO have also been doing a load of investigations where allegations of personal data being obtained or disclosed illegally. In one case, a Transport for London employee was prosecuted for illegally accessing Oyster card records.

Launching the report, the information commissioner, Christopher Graham, said: “We’ve seen real developments in the laws we regulate during that time, particularly over the past year. Just look at the EU court of justice ruling on Google search results, a case that could never have been envisaged when the data protection law was established.”

The executive director of Which!!!, Richard Lloyd, said that this was jst “tip of the iceberg”, adding: “This is why regulators, government and industry must work harder to cut off unwanted calls and texts that annoy millions of us every day. The ICO must use its new powers to full effect and hit hard any company breaking cold-calling rules. We also want to see senior executives personally held to account if their company makes unlawful calls.”

Mastercard to use selfies for payments

July 3rd, 2015 1 Comment By Mof Gimmers

selfie Mastercard to use selfies for paymentsYou might think selfies are the worst thing that ever happened to the world, or indeed, may well think that they’re a marvellous show of self confidence in people. Either way, Mastercard see something different – they want to start using selfies to verify payments.

They’re only testing this at the moment, with 500 pilot users using photos instead of punching in PIN numbers. MasterCard’s chief product security officer Ajay Bhalla says this will be popular with young people. Presumably, young people who aren’t bothered about banks potentially storing photos of their faces.

Bhalla said: ”The new generation, which is into selfies… I think they’ll find it cool. They’ll embrace it. This seamlessly integrates biometrics into the overall payment experience. You can choose to use your fingerprint or your face – you tap it, the transaction is okayed and you’re done.”

So, what you might be able to do in the future, is hold your phones at eye-level and blink once when instructed, and boom boom, the process is complete.

Bhalla says that people’s selfies won’t be stored or transmitted, in its normal construction. However, we’ve all heard that before haven’t we?

train1 297x300 Consumers feel theres no point complaining about trainsWe’ve told you how to claim compensation and how to get refunds for train delays and cancellations before, and which things entitle you to money, but it seems many of you don’t see the point.

Figures released by the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) show that commuters feel that it is pretty futile complaining about train operators. The report shows that, despite having the most cancellations and late-running services, Southern received a fraction of the average complaints that Virgin got.

Virgin received around 24 times more complaints per passenger journey than Southern, with the pair being the most complained about. It seems that this is a particular problem in London, with the five operators getting the fewest complaints, despite the performance of the services suggesting otherwise.

David Sidebottom, passenger director of Transport Focus, said: “The weary commuter doesn’t complain any more, sadly, because the train is perpetually delayed or you can’t ever get a seat, and has given up on the system.”

Sidebottom added that longer-distance operators tend to pick up more complaints, thanks to the nature of the travel: “The impact and value of that particular journey is of a different magnitude; but the long-distance operators encourage people to complain when things go wrong – it’s what a good business does. It builds up trust. They don’t want disgruntled customers.”

“With commuter trains, these are harder things to work out and to get sorted, but you end up with the kind of things we’re seeing in the south-east at the moment. We do want commuter train operators to do more.”

Deals of the Day: Friday 3rd July 2015

July 3rd, 2015 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

deals of the day 300x162 Deals of the Day: Friday 3rd July 2015If you’re after a load of games for your Xbox One, but want your money to go further, then there’s some good news for you. You’ll won’t have to go outside for the whole of summer and you can ignore the flies and people with frisbees!

There’s a great Xbox Summer sale on, with up to 50% off some ace games. You get good prices on Mortal Kombat X, Goat Simulator, Far Cry 4, Shadow of Mordor, Ori, Borderlands, Titanfall, Assassin’s Creed 3, Dragon Age – Inquistion and loads more. Have a look here.

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zzzw £1m fine for EE over complaints... and theyre charging double for premium callsIf you’ve complained to EE, and felt they were hopeless at handling your gripes (not a euphemism), you’re not alone.

The largest operator of mobiles in the UK has been slapped senseless with a £1m fine from Ofcom, for breaching rules on handling customer complaints. It has transpired that, from 2011 to 2014, EE didn’t provide customers with full information about their right to take complaints to an independent body.

It is worth noting that you can always take your complaints to an independent body, like the Ombudsman, with any business.

EE should have told their customers in writing about this, but didn’t. This was discovered during the regulator’s broad look at complaint handling in the telecom sector.

Customers of EE have the right to take complaints that can’t be resolved to an independent body, up to two months after they first made the complaint. However, between 22 July 2011 and 8 April 2014, Ofcom found that a host of people who had requested a “deadlock letter”, which would have been the precursor to getting their complaint looked at by someone independent, never received any correspondence.

It turned out that EE hadn’t been notifying customers on their paper bills about the fact that they could take any complaint to this body, free of charge.

“It’s vital that customers can access all the information they need when they’re pursuing a complaint,” said Ofcom’s Claudio Pollack. ”Ofcom imposes strict rules on how providers must handle complaints and treats any breach of these rules very seriously. The fine imposed against EE takes account of the serious failings that occurred in the company’s complaints handling, and the extended period over which these took place.”

In the case of EE, if you want to escalate a complaint to an independent body, then you get in touch with CISAS. You can get in touch with them, here.

Not only that, EE are charging almost twice as much as their rivals for calling non-geographic numbers. This comes from Ofcom’s efforts to force operators to be clear about what they’re earning from numbers that start with 084, 087, 09, or 118. They’re charging 44p per minute for these calls.

Rail strike: RMT planned industrial action

July 3rd, 2015 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

traintrack 300x225 Rail strike: RMT planned industrial actionThere’s another strike afoot, with services expected to be significantly affected from Thursday 9 July to start of service on Saturday 11 July.

First Great Western has confirmed that they expects to run the majority of London Thames Valley services, however, long distance and local rail services will be significantly reduced, if the strike action goes ahead next week.

There’s still some meetings to be had, which could stop the strike, but talks might break down. Thanks to an overtime ban on Saturday 11 July, this could mean late notice changes or possible cancellations. It’d be worth keeping up to date with everything over at firstgreatwestern.co.uk/travelupdates for all journeys you’re planning to make.

If you have tickets for the dates affected, you can chose to travel on either Wednesday 8 July or Saturday 11 July. Full refunds will be available for those of you who decide to not travel. There’ll also be compensation for Season Ticket holders for the days affected. Seat reservations, sadly, will not be honoured.

First Great Western Managing Director Mark Hopwood said: ”We are pleased that we have been able to identify a number of routes and services where we can continue to offer a service. This is limited and in some areas services are significantly impacted. However we recommend customers check the website for full details next week as they may find that travel by train is unaffected.”

“This is not true in every case and we recognise that for many of our customers the RMT’s decision to ask their members to strike will cause considerable inconvenience.”

“This industrial action is about the new trains we are bringing into operation, the largest fleet upgrade on the Great Western for a generation, which will shave journey times by as much as 17 minutes, and provide the extra seating capacity we know our customers want to see. In order to be able to do this we need to operate these trains differently to the way we operate our current 40 year-old High Speed Trains. The best way to make the most of these new trains, in an efficient and safe way, is by the use of driver operation of the doors.”

“41% of RMT members who work for us voted in favour of this action and we are disappointed that our assurances over job security; the need for more, not fewer staff; and our commitment to maintaining existing pay and conditions for affected staff have not been heard.”

“All of the issues raised by the RMT have been discussed with representatives and we believe we have made some progress. We are continuing to meet and I very much hope that the RMT will not go ahead with the strike.”

Facebook videos, now with adverts

July 2nd, 2015 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

facebook mobile 300x200 Facebook videos, now with advertsFacebook videos are about to get themselves loaded up with adverts. Great news if the autoplay feature wasn’t annoying enough.

Anyway, there’s a lot of videos that get millions of shares on the social network, and now, it looks like you’ll be able to try and make some money on it all, just like you can on YouTube. Facebook are going to be trying out a new feature called ‘suggested videos’, and it will appear in your newsfeed and will show videos from people who have paid a lot of money to get placed adverts in your eyeline.

Remember when your newsfeed was a linear timeline that you could work out and see what you wanted, rather than the mess it is now?

Anyway, it looks like Facebook will swipe 45% of the revenues, with partners taking the remaining 55% and the NBA, Fox Sports, Funny or Die and some other people we haven’t heard of are first in the trial. ”We’ve heard consistently from media companies and other video creators that if they were able to make money from their videos, they would publish more,” Facebook’s vice president of partnerships Dan Rose told Variety.

Looks like Facebook have cottoned on to the fact that celebrities and business are embedding YouTube videos into Facebook, when the social network would prefer everything in-house, where partners can upload more videos directly. Knowing Facebook, they’ll tinker with their algorithms so that their own videos take greater prominence over links to YouTube vids.

Of course, this could meet some friction as people won’t want to hamstring their income from their YouTube videos.

Facebook have some things to sort out too – a lot of content creators have complained that Facebook is hosting too many videos that have been ripped by others, which means the people who want to monetise it can’t, and lose control of their product. This is galling if a video is doing the rounds, with 1bn views and the person who created it isn’t seeing a penny.

While YouTube has Content ID, which helps people to identify when their copyrighted content is being swiped, Facebook (at the moment), does not.

Dixons Carphone go Stateside

July 2nd, 2015 2 Comments By Mof Gimmers

dixons carphone Dixons Carphone go StatesideYou may recall that Dixons and Carphone Warehouse became one, a while ago. Together, they’re going to start throwing their considerable weight around and, now, they’re going to America like they’re Eddie Murphy’s Prince Akeem or something.

Dixons Carphone will be tagteaming with American network Sprint, where they’ll open 20 retail stores (or, if you prefer, ‘shops’). This is the first stage of the plan, which could see them opening 500 places. Sprint have a big sway in the USA, with 57 million mobile customers.

“This is a very exciting venture for us, and is a significant step in growing our CWS business in the US,” said Andrew Harrison, deputy chief of Dixons Carphone and chief executive of CWS. “We bring specialist knowledge and skills to this partnership and will be looking to deliver innovation and outstanding customer service under the Sprint brand.”

The love-in continued with Marcelo Claure, Sprint’s chief executive, who cooed: “We are excited to partner with Dixons Carphone and to leverage all their know-how as one of the world’s leading wireless retailers to benefit Sprint and its customers. We are committed to offering the best customer experience when buying wireless products and services.”

So there you go Americans! Isn’t this the most exciting thing to happen to you since Michael Jackson did the moonwalk at the 25th anniversary of Motown show?

 

BBC to axe 1,000 jobs

July 2nd, 2015 5 Comments By Mof Gimmers

BBC iPlayer Radio logo BBC to axe 1,000 jobsAuntie Beeb is going to cut 1,000 jobs, thanks to a £150m shortfall in licence fee income, according to director general Tony Hall. He told BBC staff that the corporation were adjusting to a reduction in the number of people watching live television, which in basic terms, means that there are fewer people paying for the licence fee.

Hall said to staff: “A simpler, leaner, BBC is the right thing to do and it can also help us meet the financial challenges we face. We’ve already significantly cut the costs of running the BBC, but in times of very tough choices we need to focus on what really matters – delivering outstanding programmes and content for all our audiences.”

This is all part of a plan that sees the BBC havin to make £1.5bn of savings a year by 2017, which is a terrifying amount of money. The corporation, as well as job losses, are looking at reducing the amount of cash spent on property and sports rights.

The BBC said in a statement: “Despite the progress already made, and the realities of the licence fee being frozen for seven years, a new financial challenge means additional savings must now be found.”

“The licence fee income in 2016/17 is now forecast to be £150 million less than it was expected to be in 2011. This is because as more people use iPlayer, mobiles and online catch-up, the number of households owning televisions is falling.”

“It also provides further evidence of the need for the licence fee to be modernised to cover digital services.”

Now, hands-up if you’re thinking that the British Broadcasting Corporation could save millions and millions from paying a number of their big stars a bit less money?

Security issues with Windows 10?

July 2nd, 2015 3 Comments By Mof Gimmers

Windows 300x300 Security issues with Windows 10?You’ll know that you can get Windows 10 for free, but there’s some mutterings of discontent about the OS already, regarding the security of your WiFi password.

With a thing called WiFi Sense, anyone who rocks up to your house and gets the password for your WiFi, could let all their friends onto your network. Now, of course, someone could just tell everyone your WiFi password anyway, but this is slightly different.

This feature is designed to make it much easier for people to get access to the internet while they’re on the go, which it does by automatically logging them into wireless hotspots. It logs people into select open networks, and it also allows them to share secured connections with their pals.

So, should someone with a Windows 10 device log on to a new network, they can tick a box which will share that access with all their contacts – that includes  Facebook friends, contacts they’ve got on Outlook and the people they know on Skype.

Craig Mathias, from the Farpoint Group who happen to be specialists when it comes to wireless tech, said that this feature was “a cheap hack,” and continued by saying that ”no-one should ever leave WiFi access wide open.”

The idea behind WiFi Sense is so you can let your guests use your WiFi connection without having to give them the password. In a FAQ, it says that any user who shares network access, sends the password through an encrypted connection to a Microsoft server, where it is then stored (where it is encrypted) before being doled out securely to friends, which are found via location data from their device.

The worry is, is that Microsoft might have a feature that doesn’t work as well as they predict, which means hackers could find one of your friends on Facebook, and then get busy accessing your network via WiFi Sense.

Mercifully, you can opt out of this. To make your WiFi network unavailable to Wi-Fi Sense, you can rename your network to include “_optout” at the end of the SSID. Or, if you prefer, you can make sure the aforementioned checkbox turned off, and you can carry on giving your guests your WiFi password manually.

Deals of the Day: Thursday 2nd July 2015

July 2nd, 2015 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

deals of the day 300x162 Deals of the Day: Thursday 2nd July 2015Are you an avid Xbox gamer? Do you spend endless hours playing video games, accidentally fasting because you’re far too engrossed in your world of Minecraft to be bothered with things like eating and showering?

Well, listen up – you can get 12 months Xbox Live for a measly £19! That’s right! If you want to cop this deal, then all you have to do is click these differently coloured words and you’ll be away! A great price for this.

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Lexar 64gb class 10 microsdxc flash memory card for £12.79
Dell Inspiron 15″ for £699.99
HP Windows 7 Premium small-desktop PC for £89.99
Oral-B precision clean replacement heads 4 pack for £7.50
Hitachi screwdriver set – 61 pieces for £5.99

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Alton Towers have had another bad day, after a number of their customers were stuck on the Air ride, upside down, during the hottest day of the year.

They were left dangling for roughly 20 minutes as the rollercoaster broke down, mid-ride. In addition to that, another 80 people were stuck inside hot carriages for more than an hour after two monorail trains stopped.

alton towers again Alton Towers ride traps people upside down in the heatwave

This of course, follows the really terrible accident on the Smiler ride, where there were numerous injuries, including those which resulted in amputation.

A spokesman told the BBC: “The train drivers kept guests informed via the on board PA system and refreshments were provided.” Mercifully, no-one was injured during the incidents.

How to get a refund from Alton Towers