Posts Tagged ‘money’
SSE may have dropped their prices, but they’ll be trying claw money back in other ways, like scrapping the free phone number customers can call them on.
The energy company have stopped using the 0800 number, and instead, fired up the 0345 numbers, which will cost you (up to) 9p a minute from a line land, or 40p from your mobile.
Now, you may remember that the rules around 0800 numbers changed recently. The short version is that Ofcom said that 0800 numbers had to be properly free, with no hidden costs. This change has seen a number of companies having to be straight-up about any charges that crop up when you ring them.
SSE are throwing the blame at Ofcom, even though they could actually run a free phone service if they wanted to. The energy company said that this was adding a “a significant cost”. They also assume that most people have inclusive phone minutes packages, so it should be free in the long run (tough cheese if you don’t).
Of course, if you want to ring a company for free (any company for that matter), there are ways around it. You could try the WeQ4U app for starters.
The app says: “WeQ4U is a FREE Android/iPhone App and Service that puts you through to UK 01,02,03 and 08 numbers for FREE, without queueing. Mobile users save approx. 35p per minute on their 084 and 087 calls with WeQ4U, whether they encounter a queue or not, so it saves you money and time.”
Give it a whirl. Don’t give misers your money.
It has been a tough time for banks and financial institutions in recent years, but there’s little sympathy for them, as it was their own stupid fault. Well, Barclays are looking at a £1 BILLION lawsuit, after the person who play a huge role in brokering the deal which saw backers being found for Barclays getting bailed out during the 2008 financial crisis, is looking to sue.
The person in question is Amanda Staveley, and a spokesperson for her said that she is indeed looking to take legal action, but would not confirm the figure being sought by her, and her firm PCP Capital Partners.
So why is she taking legal action? Well, Staveley is unhappy that Barclays haven’t (allegedly) fully paid up their fees, which they owed to her for setting up a multi-billion pound investment in the bank from Abu Dhabi’s Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
During the financial crash, the bank wanted to get their balance in order, so they could stay out of the hands of the government. According to the FT, Barclays have said: “We believe the claim against Barclays is misconceived and without merit and Barclays will be vigorously defending it.”
That’s not all the hassle Barclays are dealing with – the Serious Fraud Office are looking into an investment they got from a subsidiary of the Qatar Investment Authority.
HSBC is under attack! Not from Godzilla or anything fun like that, but rather, the bank says that they have “successfully defended” themselves from an attack on their online banking service, but sadly, that means some services are disrupted today.
As such, HSBC are saying sorry to customers who have been trying to log-in today, and found that the service has been unavailable. As it is payday for a lot of people, this is a very inconvenient time for it to happen. It just so happens to be in the week when a lot of people are doing their tax returns too.
One good bit of news is that no customer details have been compromised.
A spokesperson for HSBC said: “HSBC internet banking came under a denial of service attack this morning, which affected personal banking websites in the UK. HSBC has successfully defended against the attack, and customer transactions were not affected. We are working hard to restore services, and normal service is now being resumed.”
“We apologise for any inconvenience this incident may have caused.”
This comes an outage that customers faced earlier in the month with HSBC. On that occasion, it was blamed not on an attack, but rather, on “a complex technical issue within our systems”.
Were you thinking of grabbing some of those Lloyds shares that were being put on general sale by the government? Well, you’re going to have to wait, because Gideon Osborne has decided to put the whole thing off for a bit.
Why is he doing this? Well, our beloved chancellor says that selling the final stake of the bank should wait, because of the global turmoil in the markets.
David Cameron pledged that this would be happening during the general election, and expected the sale to raise around £2bn. So, you can either assume that this is a mere postponement, or he’s up to something – your call.
Either way, Lloyds’ share price has dropped of late, and low interest rates have been hammering the banking sector.
Osborne said: ”I want to create a share owning democracy and I want to give the British people a chance to buy shares in Lloyds bank, a bank that they had to bail out.”
“It is also my responsibility to make sure we have a secure and sound economy and with these turbulent financial markets it wouldn’t be right to have the Lloyds share sale now. There will be a sale of shares [in] Lloyds but only when the time is right for people.”
“We need those markets to calm down, and then we can proceed with the sale. We’ve got hundreds of thousands of people interested in buying these shares, I want to sell them the shares, but it wouldn’t be right to undertake that sale when frankly things are pretty turbulent out there on the stock markets and the global financial markets.”
In a lot of video games now, be they console games, or games that come in app form on your mobile phone/tablet – there’s in-app or in-game purchases. That means, there’s things you can spend real-world money on, while you play.
Now, a lot of people know this, but clearly there’s parents who don’t, because we keep seeing stories where kids have spent ludicrous amounts of money while playing games – because their parents either haven’t told them not to, or haven’t threatened them with all manner of punishments if they go wild with mum and dad’s credit card.
And so, to Lance Perkins from Canada, who has now banned his son from playing on his console, after he spent £5,255.03 while playing FIFA.
“It floored me. Literally floored me, when I’d seen what I was being charged,” he told CBC News. “He thought it was a one-time fee for the game. He’s just as sick as I am, he never believed he was being charged for every transaction, or every time he went onto the game.”
“There will never be another Xbox system—or any gaming system—in my home,” he added.
In this instance, the parent and the child didn’t know the score – but this is 2016 and you really should. If a game has a thing where it says ‘purchase’ in it, you’d be wise to assume that it means ‘spend your actual money from your actual bank account’. Sure, Lance’s son might have an Ultimate Team that is the envy of everyone he knows, but it isn’t much use if he can’t actually play with them because he’s had his Xbox taken off him.
If you’re still unsure, here’s the official low-down on what in-app/in-game purchases entail. In short, if you think it might cost you money, it probably will.
They’re annoying, but they don’t appear to be going anywhere. Don’t register your card with your console, if you’ve got a reckless child in the house.
What with Santander putting up monthly fees with their 123 account, the competition are trying to woo customers away from them. One of them is the Co-operative Bank, who are offering an account called ‘Everyday Rewards’, that is going to pay existing and new customers £4 per month.
How do you get this money? Well, you get the reward for doing bog-standard, everyday banking with them. You’ll also need to pay in £800 per month, and stay in credit or within your agreed overdraft limit too. You’ll also have to go for paperless statements, have four active monthly direct debits, and log-in to your online banking once a month.
It seems like a lot to remember, but chances are, most account holders will do these things while on autopilot.
On top of all this, those who have this account will also get 5p every time they use their debit card (which will max out at £1.50 per month). That’s a potential of £66 per year, for nothing. Not bad.
If you prefer, you can donate your rewards to a number of charities - Amnesty International, Hospice UK, Oxfam, Refuge and the Woodland Trust.
There’s going to be a lot of competition at the moment, as the banks look to lure people away from Santander, and seeing as it is easier than ever to switch, it is worth weighing up all the rewards that will be thrown around in the coming weeks.
If the Co-operative Bank account sounds like your bag, then check it out here.
George Osborne is to warn of a ‘dangerous cocktail’ of risks from abroad, and from higher public spending on these shores, thanks to what he’s calling a ”dangerous cocktail”. The Chancellor is worried that the UK is going to be pulled into decline thanks to economic concerns in China, Brazil or Russia, and of course, the falling price of oil and political troubles in the Middle East.
Basically, in a speech to some people in Cardiff, he’s going to warn about complacency and doesn’t want anyone thinking that we’re in the middle of a “mission accomplished” scenario.
Osborne’s speech says: “Anyone who thinks it’s mission accomplished with the British economy is making a grave mistake. 2016 is the year we can get down to work and make the lasting changes Britain so badly needs.”
“Or it’ll be the year we look back at as the beginning of the decline. This year, quite simply, the economy is mission critical.”
“Last year was the worst for global growth since the crash and this year opens with a dangerous cocktail of new threats. For Britain, the only antidote to that is confronting complacency and sticking to the course we’ve charted.”
As a complete aside, and keeping with the cocktail theme, here’s a perfectly innocent photograph of our George enjoying a drink with a lady, from when he was younger.
He’s also saying: “Yes – there’s good news here and right across the UK. That’s because we have a national economic plan that backs business and skills, and is delivering growth, high employment, and rising wages.”
“But as we start 2016, I worry about a creeping complacency in the national debate about our economy. A sense that the hard work at home is complete and that we’re immune from the risks abroad. A sense we can let up, and the good economic news will just keep rolling in.”
As for the drop in oil prices: “That is good for consumers and business customers here in Britain, bad news for the oil and gas industry, worrying for the creditors who have lent to it, and a massive problem for the countries that depend on it. Meanwhile, the political developments in the Middle East, with Saudi Arabia and Iran, concern us all.”
“Yes, the British economy has performed better than almost anyone dared to hope. And as an issue, the economy has slipped down the list of many people’s everyday concerns. But the biggest risk is that people think that it’s job done.”
Of course, there’ll be some jabs at the opposition: “Many in our politics encourage this, irresponsibly suggesting that we can just go back to the bad old ways and spend beyond our means for evermore.”
“Though the year is only seven days old, already we hear their predictable calls for billions of pounds more debt-fuelled public spending. They reject all the reforms we propose to deliver better quality public services for less taxpayers’ money. Today I want to issue this warning: unless we finish the job of fixing the public finances, to get Britain back into the black by finally spending less than we borrow, all of the progress we have made together could still easily be reversed.”
Prices on the high street are going to continue falling, which is just lovely news for those of us who like buying things. Across the board, prices saw a deflation of 2% in December, according to the folks at BRC-Nielsen Shop Price Index.
This trend has been going on for two years and eight months now, and it looks like (according to those crunching the numbers) that this is going to carry on well into 2016. One of the things that looks likely to keep falling in price is oil, which hopefully means cheaper fuel at petrol stations!
As well as that, food prices in December were 0.3% lower than the same period the year before. There was a 3% drop in electrical products, as well as hardware, gardening, footwear and clothing items.
Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium, said: “This is an incredible run of good fortune for shoppers who’ve been preoccupied with picking up presents for family and friends, as well as themselves, ahead of the holiday season.”
“With retailers continuing to invest in price, relatively low commodity prices and intense competition a hallmark of the industry, we can expect falling prices to continue in the medium term.”
Of course, this isn’t great news for the retailers themselves, as a number of them saw a decline in full-price sales. However, they can carry on blaming ‘unusually warm weather’ as usual, while we all get to fill our boots.
A study has shown that British train users are spending up to six times as much of their wages on railway fares, as those who use trains elsewhere in Europe. Action for Rail say that some commuters in the UK are parting with 13% of their salary on trains, while Italians are paying just 2%.
This study was put out to coincide with the protests that are taking place at a number of railway stations across the UK, where campaigners and rail workers are unhappy with the increase to fares.
The report says that it weighed-up the average salary of a worker in the UK, and found that they were spending much more of their pay packet (the aforementioned 13%) compared to 2% in Italy, 3% in Spain and 4% in Germany.
TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “It’s hardly surprising that UK passengers think rail travel is bad value for money. They are shelling out far more of their income on rail fares than their counterparts in Europe. Years of failed privatisation have left us with exorbitant ticket prices, overcrowded trains and ageing infrastructure. Ministers need to wake up to this reality instead of allowing train companies to milk the system at taxpayers’ and commuters’ expense.”
Meanwhile, Mick Whelan – the general secretary of train diver union Aslef – said: “Taking the railways back into public hands is a popular policy. The vast majority of voters – Conservative included – are fed up with paying sky-high fares so the privatised train companies can take their slice. Commuters travelling into London from Kent and Sussex know their £5,000 a year season tickets would be much cheaper under public ownership.”
Amazon are amping up the pressure on rival retailers, by offering a service where you can ‘pay monthly’ with them. Sounds like trouble to us, as paying for stuff on the never-never can get consumers in all kinds of bother, but if you’re good with these sort of finances, it could be just the thing for you!
Anyway, if you’re spending £400 in one go, on one item or a load of different things, you can apply to pay them off over four years, without a deposit.
It is called Amazon Pay Monthly, and it’ll launch this month, and will charge you 16.9% interest.
Amazon have joined forces with finance company Hitachi Capital, which competes with similar credit options which exist on the high street.
A Hitachi spokesperson said: “It means you can go straight from choosing a new dishwasher or fridge to accessing finance options through us, all while staying on the Amazon site.”
Basically, you can do your shopping on Amazon as normal, and when you get to the checkout, you’ll be offered Pay Monthly. Of course, they’ll have to run a credit check on you, and if you’re approved, you’re good to go.
Interestingly, Britain is the first area that this has been offered to by Amazon.
The company had said that they were going to start treating their staff nicely, and this looks like part of that plan, after they were investigated by the Guardian, over the hours the staff we doing unpaid, after going through searches and surveillance.
MPs and unions were quick to criticise Sports Direct, and the company’s share price tumble thanks to the volume of bad press, especially that regarding zero-hour contracts. As well as this pay rise (which seems to be coming into play just as the mandatory living wage increase is ushered in), Ashley has said he’s going to oversee a review of all agency worker terms and conditions.
Ashley said in an interview: “I’m making a New Year’s resolution pledge to the Daily Mirror – and I’m deadly serious. I want to see Sports Direct become the best high street retail employer, after John Lewis. I realise this is ambitious and it won’t be easy, but I believe as a FTSE 100 or even 250 company we have a responsibility to set a high moral standard.”
“We’re putting our money where our mouth is and have notified the City we will be spending £10m ensuring all employees are above the minimum wage.”
A number of staff on zero-hour contracts are still in the middle of suing Sports Direct though, so they do have a long way to go before people look at them like John Lewis.
Either way, the staff affected by the pay rise will be getting an extra 15p an hour, which means those who are 21 and over will get £6.85 an hour, while 18 to 20 year olds will get £5.45 an hour.
The largest drop has been in London, where the study says that the real value of average pay has dipped by 23.2%. Following that was a 16% drop in the South East, then the East Midlands (15.7%), Yorkshire and the Humber (14.9%), North West (12.4%), West Midlands (11.8%), East (11.5%), Wales (11.3%) South West (10.6%), Scotland (6.7%) and North East (5%).
Paul Kenny, general secretary of the GMB, said: “While we have seen a growth in the number of workers as the population has grown, average pay has simply not kept pace with inflation.”
“Since 2008 the cumulative inflation has been 20.6%. During this period, pay in the UK has gone up by 7%, which has left the pay of the average full time worker down by 13.6% in real terms.”
“This has had a deflationary impact on the economy and has also affected the tax take by the Chancellor to pay for essential public services. In the autumn statement, the Chancellor predicted that the economy would grow steadily each year to 2020 when it would be 12% bigger than now.”
“Workers in the UK will want to see that growth translating into pay rises above inflation to make up for lost ground.”
Tesco haven’t been very popular of late, so they must have wondered what was going on when they were swamped by people last night. Turns out that one of their cash machines was giving out free money!
The machine was doling out double the amount of money that was asked for, giving out £20 notes instead of £10 notes. It really is the dream.
This ATM was in Manchester’s student area of Fallowfield, so you can imagine – word got around quickly and everyone started rinsing it for everything it had. Just in time for Christmas as well. The kids will be on the balloons this weekend.
The whole thing lasted for around an hour.
Tesco Bank are looking into the whole thing to see what the damage is and who they can blame. However, looks like they’ll have to take this one on the chin and accept the loss as an error. They’ll ask customers who used the cash machine for the money back, but you suspect that every single one of them will laugh in Tesco’s face.
The Money Saving Expert, Martin Lewis, has gathered together a team of legal experts to look at whether or not they can challenge the government over student loans, specifically, the new rules around the repayment of said loans.
George Osborne said that he was freezing the level at which graduates pay back their debt at £21,000. Martin Lewis thinks this is a ”disgrace”. ”No commercial company would be allowed to do it – the government shouldn’t be allowed to either,” he said.
He continues: “If you earn £22,000 and the threshold had increased to £22,000, you’d have repaid nothing. But with it at £21,000 you’d repay £90 a year.”
“How can I, to so many people, in good conscience explain student loans if the government is prepared to change students’ terms after they’ve signed up, in some cases after they’ve graduated? In a personal capacity I’ve engaged the solicitors Bindmans to investigate if there are grounds to judicial review this decision and to look at other legal grounds to challenge it (it may be people with student loans will need to agree to take cases – I doubt there’ll be a shortage of volunteers).”
The new £21,000 limit was planned to be increased with earnings from 2017, but now, it’ll be fixed until April 2021. This is a bid to reduce the government’s debt.
Lewis added: “My view (and it may be nonsense hence why I’m engaging lawyers) is there are many areas of weakness in this announcement – primarily that this is an unfair change in contractual terms for students, one no commercial company would’ve been allowed to do.”
You can read his full blog here.
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) have been worried that you’ve not been shopping around enough when it comes to home and car insurance, so this new rule is meant to help you make an informed decision on whether or not you should stick with the same company or not.
Christopher Woolard, director of strategy and competition at the FCA, said: “We hope the proposals encourage more people to shop around for the best product for them. It is important that insurers give their customers the information they need to do this and ensure they’re treating their customers fairly.”
This is clearly a nod to the oft-criticised auto-renewal that is popular in this sector. Obviously, auto-renewing is handy for some people, but it can also make you stay with a company when you’re perhaps not prepared to.
It has been said that auto-renewals have cost each household an average of £200 per year in needless additional premiums.
While this new rule from the FCA doesn’t stop it, it is a small step in the right direction. It is obvious that they need to do more than this though, as insurance companies aren’t to be trusted – you just watch them stick this newly required information in the small print of letters they send to customers, or bury them in confusing figures.
We need this information to be standardised, so that everyone can understand it easily. We’ll see how it all pans out.