Posts Tagged ‘Consumer’

white ps4 playstation 300x168 Why are we paying more for computers and TVs than Americans? WAIT A MINUTE. We good citizens of Blighty are paying a ton more for electrical products like laptops, games consoles and tellies than Americans – sometimes up to £402.

Which!!! pitted US prices against UK prices on 13 products, including TVs, games consoles, headphones and even computer software, and found that UK customers are getting the less fragrant end of the stick.

One Samsung TV was £402 more expensive in Britain, while a Macbook Pro 13 inch laptop was £194 more. Meanwhile, Xbox Ones and Playstation 4 cost £57 more than in the US. Software is also astronomical – Adobe Creative Cloud costs £114, and Microsoft Office is £89 more. And the list goes on…

Why? Well it’s not particularly clear. Which! attempted to contact a variety of companies to ask why Britain was paying over the odds and got nothing but mumbles, bumbles and fumbles. Most didn’t bother to reply, and Amazon said something incoherent about ‘different operating costs in each country.’

WTF, Richard Lloyd from Which!!!: “UK consumers are getting a raw deal by paying up to hundreds of pounds more for the same tech products on sale in the US.’ Manufacturers should play fair and explain why consumers are paying more for buying in the UK.”

Damn right.

Ditch the wheatgrass smoothies and save £440

July 21st, 2014 1 Comment By Lucy Sweet

Wheatgrass 250x250 Ditch the wheatgrass smoothies and save £440 Crazy people who believe in the healing power of superfoods are spending far too much on their health fix, says Which!!!

Instead of spunking all their hard earned wages on goji berries and wheatgrass and other dubious inedibles, our favourite consumer vanguards suggest that people should try cheaper alternatives, like kiwi fruit and sardines.

In what has to be their most niche report yet, Which!!! found that swapping blueberries for kiwis and salmon for sardines could help healthy types save £440 a year and still stay alive longer (while not having any fun.)

Lean, mean, tanned and toned Richard Lloyd from Which!!! paused his Tracy Anderson workout DVD and said:

‘You don’t need to break the bank to eat healthily. We’ve found you can swap some superfoods for cheaper alternatives and save a packet while still getting the vitamins you need.’

Thanks Richard! And now we can spend that lovely £440 on beer and pipes of Pringles.

nationwide 2153673b 300x187 Nationwide’s famous technical glitches are BACK! It’s been a few months, but it looks like the IT bods at Nationwide will be getting another bollocking after thousands of customers were locked out of their own online accounts last night.

Customers trying to make payments and do their banking both online and via their mobiles over the weekend were thwarted by error messages and frustration.

They took to Twitter on Sunday night with pitchforks and voiced their annoyance at the glitches, which took place between midnight and 7.30am this morning.

Nationwide said they were very sorry, but regular website maintenance had taken longer than expected.

‘Unfortunately our overnight planned maintenance has overrun and affected customers accessing our online bank and mobile banking app.’ Said a spokesperson. ‘We apologise for the inconvenience caused to our customers. The online bank and mobile banking app are now up and running.’

Perhaps the real reason that customers are so annoyed is that it’s a fairly regular occurrence with Nationwide. It ain’t the first time – and chances are it’s not going to be the last…

meerkat Price comparison sites ain’t what they’re cracked up to be, says FCA The Financial Conduct Authority has accused price comparison sites of being totally confused.com and ‘failing consumers’ by not giving them full or correct information.

The main problem is with the headings. The FCA says that too much focus is put on the big splashy headline price and the brand itself, and not enough info is given about what you actually get for your money. If you’re looking for home insurance, for example, you don’t necessarily get a full outline of your cover or any indication of whether it’s right for you.

The FCA eyeballed 14 price comparison sites and found that the websites don’t make it clear that they just gather and show all the prices – and don’t necessarily tailor their suggestions to your specific needs.

However, some are very naughty indeed and break FCA rules because they don’t declare potential conflicts of interest – ie, some sites are owned by the very insurance companies they’re trying to pimp ‘impartially’ suggest.

Clive Adamson from the FCA said: ‘Our research found that price comparison websites are not meeting our requirements in delivering fair and consistent outcomes for consumers. We also found that consumers had a number of misconceptions about the services they provided. It is important for consumers to understand that not all products are the same and the cheapest product may not always be the best for their needs.’

Companies like gocompare.com have said they would look carefully at the report’s findings, just as soon as the corrupt Go Compare man comes back from taking crack at the meerkat brothel.

Recycling Mixed Containers ‘Bin decision’ costs taxpayers £200 million a year Local councils who can’t agree on a standard size and shape of recycling bin are costing us a fortune, according to a new and exciting recycling report.

With so many lovely designs around – ‘the green one with the lid’, ‘the brown one with the hole in the top’ etc. – councils simply can’t make their mind up, and that means that each bin costs us £5 more than it would in other countries where all bins are a standard type.

Overall, their disjointed and quite frankly RUBBISH approach to bin selection and recycling in general is costing the UK £1.7billion.

The report from the Circular Economy Task Force suggests that the UK could actually generate £2billion in private investment in recycling plants. But because the UK recycling market stinks, not enough produce is collected to make private investment in new recycling plants profitable.

At the moment only 30% of plastic is recycled in the UK – two thirds of it goes to companies abroad, losing the UK more money. And so it goes. The circle of crap, as they sang in the Lion King.

‘Local authorities spend more on waste management than housing or planning. Valuable raw materials are lost while businesses are frustrated by a lack of usable recycled materials.’ Says Dustin Benton, who compiled the report (known as ‘Dusty Binton’ to his mates).

‘The system both stymies demand for recycled materials and prevents businesses investing. The problem is structural. The Government could easily turn this around by reforming the system to help businesses get the UK moving toward a circular economy.’

websites  People confused by copycat ‘government’ websites Confusion reigns amongst consumers, who are regularly bamboozled and misled by fake websites posing as official ones – particularly copycat government websites.

Savvy web users might be able to spot a rubbish fake crown logo or a web address called ‘giveusyourdetails.gov.passport.’ But others are regularly being led down the garden path, according to research by the Advertising Standards Authority.

The ASA is so concerned about this that it’s launching a new awareness campaign, which will lead people to official government web pages and away from the dodgy ones.

It’s also considering tougher enforcement of fake sites and advertisers, pledging to work with Google and Bing to weed out the infiltrators.

Although 8 out of 10 people surveyed could spot the official passport application site, some of the other sites posing as government sites are quite convincing. Only half guessed that a site replacing Births, Deaths and Marriage certificates was actually a commercial website.

‘We’re focused on tackling any sites that continue to mislead, in support of other enforcement activity.’ Said Miles Lockwood from the ASA. ‘We’re also working with search engines and government to ensure the public are protected. In the meantime, always start at gov.uk to access a government service.’

50% of people post online TV show spoilers

July 8th, 2014 4 Comments By Lucy Sweet

game of thrones 50% of people post online TV show spoilers According to a survey by people with nothing better to do, three quarters of us have had the plotlines of TV shows ruined by people on social networks.

Game of Thrones is the most spoiled programme (KING JOFFREY IS A WOMAN!), followed by Breaking Bad (IT’S NOT THAT GREAT!) and The Walking Dead (NEVER SEEN IT, IS IT GOOD?).

And half of us admit that we can’t resist sharing sensitive plot information with the world via Facebook and Twitter.

Researchers at VoucherCodesPro polled 2749 people about their viewing habits, and found that 77% of people watched their favourite shows for an average of 10-15 hours a week. But they only watched scheduled, traditional telly for 5.5 hours.

74% said that they’d had a TV show ruined by online spoilers, because audiences in America had seen it before then and discussed it on social media. BOO HOO.

Perhaps if people used those 20 hours a week of watching telly to do something more interesting they wouldn’t be sitting around boring everybody about spoilers. And they might smell a tiny bit less of overpowering armpit cheddar.

 Homophobic bakery finds itself in a sticky situation A bakery which refused to make a Bert and Ernie cake with the slogan ‘Support Gay Marriage’ might find itself in court after saying the request went against its director’s religious beliefs.

(How can people not believe in Bert and Ernie?)

Christian-run Ashers Baking Co is in Northern Ireland, the only place in the UK where gay marriage is still illegal, but even so, apparently the bun-faced haterz have been sent a stern letter by the Equalities Commission threatening legal action if they don’t ice the message.

The request for the cake came back in May, apparently made by a LGBT activist. The bakery is being backed up by the Christian Institute, which calls for extremely specific new laws to protect small bakeries from gay marriage. In a statement they said:

‘The case proves the need for the law to reasonably accommodate family-run businesses with firmly held beliefs.’

Daniel McArthur from Ashers Gay-hate-ery bakery added:

‘We thought that this order was at odds with our beliefs. It certainly was in contradiction of what the Bible teaches.’

Hmm, well with that logic, they would only make cakes featuring King Herod and thousands of dead babies. Or a jolly frosted representation of the story of King David’s son Amnon, who raped his half sister and then was brutally murdered by her brother in a revenge attack. FESTIVE!

What has cake got to do with beliefs anyway? MAKE A GAY CAKE, YOU SPONGE BRAINS.

oxford street Oxford Street is the worst pollution hell hole in the world London’s Oxford Street, home of Top Shop and lots of places selling ‘I went to London and All I Got Was This Lousy Chest Infection’ t-shirts, is officially the most polluted street on EARTH, with the highest levels of nitrogen dioxide.

The pollution station at Oxford Street has coughed and spluttered and produced a reading of 135 micrograms of nitrogen dioxide per cubic metre of air so far this year. That’s more than 4 times the EU limit of 40mcgs.

But that’s not even the true picture – that’s just the average. In the day time, when you’re out shopping for something pretty, the levels are even higher.

On one day in March, the nitrogen dioxide levels hit a chest heaving 436 micrograms per cubic metre of oxygen. These levels are higher than China and India, and it’s all down to diesel engines on buses and lorries.

David Carslaw from Kings College London said: ‘To my knowledge this level is the highest in the world in terms of both hourly and annual mean. NO₂ concentrations in Oxford street are as high as they have ever been in the long history of air pollution.’

So if you’re asthmatic, or would rather not die of heart disease or a stroke, then move to somewhere with cleaner air. Like Calcutta.

Dominos caught selling Aldi potato wedges

July 4th, 2014 9 Comments By Lucy Sweet

wedges 300x243 Dominos caught selling Aldi potato wedges Staff at a branch of Dominos in Linlithgow, West Lothian face a grilling after they were caught buying cheap jumbo bags of potato wedges from Aldi and then trying to pass them off as Domino’s own brand.

The cheapo wedges cost only 59p from Aldi, whereas Dominos wedges are a staggering £3.49 for a tiny box. But staff say they’d run out due to Wimbledon and the World Cup, and they were just trying to keep up with an unprecedented demand for wedge action.

A customer spotted what they were up to when he went in to order a pizza, and said: ‘I had a bit of a chuckle – but it’s really cheeky flogging Aldi products as their own.’

Domino’s bosses explained the problem.

‘With big sporting events in full swing, the Linlithgow store was faced with no wedges. We do not advocate this as a solution. We have spoken to the store to ensure ordering has been adjusted and our customers get Domino’s wedges.’

It’s actually pretty enterprising when you think about it – and it also very much begs the question: ‘is there a scientific correlation between major sporting events and potato wedges?’

MPs slam scary looking debt letters

July 4th, 2014 No Comments By Lucy Sweet

debt collector MPs slam scary looking debt letters Proving they’ll stop at nothing to make a buck, Barclays, Halifax, Lloyds, RBS and HBSC have been accused of putting the frighteners on customers by sending them letters which are designed to look like they come from debt collecting agencies.

The letters – which are actually from the banks themselves –look like they’re from third party solicitors or agencies to scare people into settling their debts.

But these companies are fictional. For example, Barclays use the pseudonym ‘Mercers Debt Collection’, Scottish Power ‘Sterling Collections’, and Lloyds have really pushed the boat out with a triumvirate of imaginary solicitors, ‘Blair, Oliver and Scott.’

And this trick is used not just by banks, but by utility companies and student loans companies, too.

Everyone was roundly outraged when it was revealed last week that Wonga was using a fake debt collecting company to ‘encourage’ customers into paying back their loans. And the FCA ordered them to pay £2.6m in compensation.

However it seems to be standard practice across the board. Labour MP Stella Creasy slammed the letters, saying:

‘These letters seem to have been designed to frighten people into thinking that they are further along in the debt process than they are. At best, they are not being transparent, and at the worst they are being downright deceptive. It’s disgraceful.’

So why fine Wonga and not the others? Marc Gander from the Consumer Action Group said:

‘All the companies that employ these tactics, whether it is the Student Loans Company, the banks or utility companies, should face equal scrutiny and equal sanctions. Action needs to be taken.’

You bet it does.

Forget foil – buy a Food Hugger

July 3rd, 2014 2 Comments By Lucy Sweet

food huggers Forget foil – buy a Food HuggerFoil is bloody annoying, isn’t it? It’s obscenely shiny, the jaggy bit on the dispenser cuts you and it’s favoured by heroin addicts the world over.

So let us ditch the stuff and instead embrace the Food Hugger, a silicone device that keeps that abandoned half an onion fresh for weeks on end.

The premise, like most things that actually work, is simple. The device is a reusable silicone disk that wraps itself around fruit and vegetables – and crazy online reviewers are in raptures, saying that it keeps food fresh for much longer than anything else.

American designers Adrienne McNicholas and Michelle Ivankovic invented the device to help halt the amount of food waste in the US. And it’s all about the silicone ‘second skin’ – meaning your old manky veg will be completely airtight and no mould will get in.

‘The most targeted solution to the problem of keeping them as fresh as possible was to address the area where the skin had been cut away, and to develop ideas for how we could replace the missing protective skin.’ Said the ladies, chomping on a brilliantly fresh 12 day old tomato.

Originally the project was funded by Kickstarter, but it looks set to TAKE OVER THE WORLD. So there’s no excuse to have fights with cling film or be foiled by foil – for £14.99 you can give your food a hug and keep that half a pepper (that you have no intention of using ever again) until Doomsday.

Posh curry house wins Restaurant of the Year

July 2nd, 2014 2 Comments By Lucy Sweet

curry Posh curry house wins Restaurant of the Year Think you’re some kind of curry connoisseur? You may have forged yourself a hot ring at your local curry house, but you’ve never seen anything like Gymkhana, London’s hottest restaurant.

This is fine dining at its finest, and a curry pour deux at Gymkhana – named after the jolly horse event favoured by posh teenage girls called Binky – will set you back about £100. And it’s in Mayfair.

Oh, and this is real curry, by the way, not your bog standard Patak’s korma.

Chef Karam Sekhi is known for his uncompromising Indian cuisine, and he’s refused to tone things down for weak British palettes more used to Findus Crispy Pancakes than fenugreek.

In fact, it’s so good that the restaurant has now been awarded National Restaurant of The Year, which means that the humble curry house has finally been lifted into the stratosphere of haute cuisine.

‘It’s a testament to the quality of Gymkhana as well as the true diversity of the UK’s eating out scene that an Indian restaurant has been named the best place to eat out in the UK,’ said Stefan Chomka, editor of Restaurant magazine. [Shout out to the amazing Mughli in Manchester - Ed.]

Yes, no longer will Indian restaurants be places where you try to competitively eat a table made of naan washed down with a pint of flat Kingfisher. Expect to see lots of overpriced posh Indian restaurants opening in your neighbourhood soon…

selfService 1700875c 300x187 9 out of 10 customers hate self service tills We use them because they’re there (and they’re marginally preferable to monosyllabic/overtly effusive checkout assistants). But a staggering 93% of us can’t abide self-service supermarket tills and say that they cause more problems than they solve.

A survey by cash management company Glory Global Solutions revealed the huge amount of customers who are frustrated, bamboozled, and otherwise kicked in the bagging area daily by self-service machines.

But we would rather use them than stand in a queue behind a glacially slow old lady buying 6 tins of marrowfat peas.

However, there’s a weird gender divide when it comes to using them. 80% of women used them regularly compared to 77% of men. But women were more likely to start yelling at the machines, with 96% admitting that they’d lost it in front of one, compared to 89% of men.

Interestingly, more than a third of customers avoided self service at both supermarkets and banks, preferring human interaction. And a quarter said they didn’t use the technology because it was ‘too slow.’

Young people, though, use self-service machines willy nilly and have few complaints, probably because they grew up with the sound of their mothers swearing at a computerised voice.

But the results showed that despite the rise of the machines, many of us see (human) customer service as a vital part of doing our shopping and banking. Mike Bielamowicz from Glory Global Solutions said:

‘While the majority of UK consumers are open to using self-service machines at least some of the time, it’s significant that interaction with a staff member is still a key part of the retail experience for many people.’

*Seeks assistance*

money jar 300x300 Couples with 2 kids have to earn £40,600 a year to live Ever wondered why you’re walking around in a knackered daze with moths flying out of your pocket, wondering how to make ends meet AND keep up with the endless demands of children, who want things like water, food and new shoes?

Well that’s because the amount of money required for an acceptable standard of family living has gone up by 46% since 2008, according to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation. And we’re not talking about trips to Legoland or booze and hookers for Dad. We’re talking BASIC NEEDS.

Despite the fact that the amount of money needed for staying alive has risen by almost half, wages have gone up by a piffling, paltry, perfunctory 9%.

The JRF have said that even if wages start to rise, the gulf between income and cost of living is so huge that families still couldn’t hope to catch up.

‘People have talked a lot about wages falling behind the cost of living but this really lays bare the challenge to make up lost ground.’ Said Katie Schmuecker from the JRF. ‘This isn’t just falling short, it’s falling behind.’

So that’s why you feel like you’re running to stand still ALL THE TIME. No wonder our heartless moneybags overlords call us ‘hardworking families’, eh?

*sells kids*