Posts Tagged ‘money’

Register to vote and improve your credit score?

January 26th, 2015 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

vote Register to vote and improve your credit score?Voting is a pain – not least because picking a candidate to vote for is often like choosing which debilitating disease you’d like to contract.

However, your credit score could depend on it, which means that, come the general election, it’d be worth voting for someone or spoiling your ballot, just to keep your credit score up.

So what’s all this about? Well, in 2014, the UK started moving toward the Individual Electoral Registration (IER), which means that the head of the household no longer registers everyone who lives under their roof. Mercifully, you can register online, so you don’t have to try and cajole any lazybum teenagers into getting off the couch for too long.

People who have moved house are less likely to be on the voting register because of reasons, which causes voting problems in the renting sector.

And all this will affect your ratings because, for example, credit reference agencies use the electoral register to confirm that you live where you say you live and companies use the electoral roll to confirm you are who you say you are. If you’re thinking about getting a mortgage, then being on the electoral list is paramount. Basically, it is used to try and stop fraud.

As well as that, if you’re not on the list, you can’t vote, which means you might be shunned at dinner parties by your chest-beating pals who like to parp on about such things… not that Jeremy Paxman and Russell Brand vote, but there you go.

Either way, being included on the electoral register means you’ll have a healthier credit score. Now, conspiracy theorists: Do your worst.

eBay cutting a load of staff

January 22nd, 2015 No Comments By Ian Wade

ebay eBay cutting a load of staffebay are cutting a load of jobs. The forum for old toot and hooky goods is shedding 2,400 staff in the first three months of 2015.

This comes after news that they are about to split away from their long running association with PayPal.

ebay dropped the news when they were unveiling the fourth quarter earnings report and they bugled in a statement that it wanted to refocus the businesses and ensure it was “set-up to compete and win”.

The online jumble sale also said it has made an agreement with activist investor, Carl Icahn, to give investors a greater say in its PayPal business once it is spun off in the second half of this year, as eBay also announced that it was considering a sale or public offering of its enterprise unit.

Fancy that.

They must be doing something right though as the company’s share price went up this morning. How to get ahead in business – sack a load of people and sell off your financial arm.

bank sign FCA think Brits are getting a bad deal from the banksIf you’re the kind of person that doesn’t know the answer when questioned where a bear drops its guts, then this will be news to you – in Britain, the banks aren’t very good and giving everyone lousy deals. For the rest of you, the Financial Conduct Authority’s latest findings will have you wanting to hand out PHDs in stating the obvious.

So what’s the news?

Well, people in Britain are getting poor value from a lot of cash savings accounts, finding it difficult to switch to a better deal. Are the FCA going to ban some practices? Of course not.

They say that it should be easier to compare and switch between accounts in a market that’s worth £700 billion, where six providers have around two-thirds of all balances. The FCA would like to see switching made easier and quicker, with more timely information about pending changes in interest rates that will happen if people look elsewhere.

This report came about after the regulator came under further pressure to sort out a market that is effectively run by HSBC, Lloyds, Barclays, RBS and Santander UK. The FCA found that ‘the big five’ pay on average “materially” lower rates on easy access savings accounts than smaller rivals.

“In a good market firms should be competing to offer the best possible deal and consumers should have the information they need to help them shop around,” Christopher Woolard, the FCA’s director of strategy and competition, said. The regulator have offered some changes, including greater information on interest rates and lowering the current 15-day switching time for cash accounts.

The watchdog also has concerns about teaser rates, which offer a higher interest as an introductory offer, which then tapers off.

Of course, they haven’t hinted that they’ll force the hands of the banks and indeed, gave no schedule for these changes. The FCA won’t be making providers offer the same interest rate to customers, either.

So basically, what they’ve done is release a report which says ‘Hey! We’ve noticed what you’ve noticed! Bit rubbish isn’t it?’ Time to start flexing your muscles a bit, FCA.

Rent: It is going up, unsurprisingly

January 16th, 2015 2 Comments By Mof Gimmers

pay rent Rent: It is going up, unsurprisinglyIn ‘is the Pope catholic?’ news, a new survey has found that the cost of renting a home in England and Wales has gone up by 3% over the course of 2014. The average cost of rent, per month, is apparently £767 a month, up from 2013′s £745, according to LSL Property Services.

“Recent months have shown a divergence from usual seasonal norms. Historically, there is a tendency for rents to ease in the winter, particularly December,” said Adrian Gill, director of LSL.

Rents fell slightly over Christmas, but not by a great deal.

“With fewer tenants willing to relocate in the festive period, landlords usually compete to fill empty properties and agreed rents tend to dip as a result. Last month that happened – and rents fell compared to November – but by much less than the usual extent.”

On the rise, was the proportion of tenants in arrears in December and the stats are showing that the cost of renting rose in eight out of 10 regions in England and Wales throughout 2014, unless you live in the North East of England, or the South West of England.

If you’re looking at moving, while renting, then the BBC have a lovely calculator thing, where you can find out the places you can’t afford to live.

£6,235.88 for a Nando’s

January 5th, 2015 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

nandos £6,235.88 for a NandosSome people are mental and really, really love Nando’s. They throw loads of money at them to scoff chicken, covered in sauce that could dissolve a corpse.

However, one chap had a surprise when he found out that he’d spent over £6,000 on a family meal at the poultry pusher.

Aurel Lupsa chewed some chicken at the branch in Brent Cross, London, with his wife, their seven-year-old daughter, his niece and her husband. Their bill should’ve been £62.35, however, the Nando’s worker had put £6,235.88 into the credit card machine and Lupsa didn’t notice.

Good ol’ staff got on it though. Lupsa said: ”I didn’t really notice I was overpaying, to be honest. Just as we were leaving, the server rushed over and said there had been a mistake. I couldn’t believe it when they said I overpaid by more than £6,000. Thankfully, the mistake was spotted straight away, so I wasn’t left broke and penniless or anything like that.”

“I can’t believe the most expensive meal of my life was at Nando’s. It’s good chicken, but it’s not that good.”

A Nando’s spokesman said: “We immediately refunded the transaction and apologised for the error.”

SWNS NANDOS BILL 02 500x332 £6,235.88 for a Nandos

Of course, this is a pretty typical story, but it is worth staying vigilant. One poor sod from Birmingham got charged £60,000 for some wrapping paper over Christmas and didn’t notice until his card was declined on Christmas Eve.

That saw his card being rejected, his account being frozen and all manner of nonsense to irritate him over the festive period. So there you go. Don’t get complacent or you’ll end up with a load of faff and mithering friends for scraps of food and all that.

Hurray! A crackdown on card fraud!

December 19th, 2014 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

creditcards Hurray! A crackdown on card fraud!Good news everyone – new rules have been revealed which aim to beat down on card payment fraud! Aren’t you thrilled about that?

The European Banking Authority (EBA) has shared their new, tougher guidelines, making payment service providers get serious about customer identification before payments are processed.

There’s good reason for this too – in the last four years, the yearly cost of card fraud in the UK has jumped up from £365 million to somewhere in advance of £450 million! Two thirds of that came from the dastardly practice of ‘skimming’, where small amounts of money are continually removed from an account in the hope that the victim won’t even notice.

Of course, there’s been an increase in digital snidery too, with ne’er-do-wells using malware and the like. There’s also the tried-and-tested tactic of just nicking your card too.

Anyway, all this means is that you’ll carry on as normal while fraudsters will have to learn a new set of tricks to try and get at all your precious money.

energy Make sure you claim a refund on closed energy accountsIt looks like a whole host of us have not been reclaiming the money that is rightfully ours after we’ve closed accounts with energy providers. You’re smart enough to know that the energy companies are quite happy for you to leave it in their care and not do a damned thing about it.

Somewhere in advance of £200m has been left in 3.5 million frozen accounts, discovered by Ofgem, and Energy UK want everyone to get their money back.

British Gas, EDF Energy, E.ON, npower, ScottishPower and SSE have all been asked to refund old customers, but obviously, they need to be ordered to do it.

So how can you get your cash back? Well, Energy UK has launched the My Energy Credit campaign and they reckon they’ve already got £50m back into the hands of the people who were owed it. Now they want everyone else to get on it. They’ve set up a website, which you can see here, as well as a helpline and freepost address. Concerning the latter, you can call 0370 737 7770 or write to:

My Energy Credit
47 Aylesbury Road
Thame, OX9 3PG

Energy UK chief executive Lawrence Slade said: “This campaign aims to inform customers throughout the UK about money that might be owed to them by their previous energy supplier. Energy companies have long had systems in place to give back energy credit to customers. This campaign spreads awareness and makes it easier for consumers to check whether they are owed money or not.”

So don’t miss out. If you think you’re owed money by an energy company, chase them up and you’ll have a nice little bonus to spend on dirty books, booze or whatever it is that tickles your pickle.

Marks & Spencer offering refund on loans?

December 8th, 2014 2 Comments By Mof Gimmers

marks and spencer Marks & Spencer offering refund on loans?Something is afoot at Marks & Spencer’s loan department as customers having been getting money put into their accounts without much explanation.

After a little digging, we found that M&S have broken the law because they didn’t write to customers to inform them that they could pay their balance off early if they wanted to and that customers were also permitted to pay off any amount they wanted, at any time.

Legally, they are required to do that, so those who haven’t received such correspondence have been finding seemingly random amounts of money coming to them, which is a nice early Christmas present, you have to say.

There have been some letters of apology sent out, but not to all customers, and some have received hundreds of pounds. In one instance, a customer was given £600, which is not to be sniffed at. Another customer received a BACS transfer for £1,467, which is thought to be the interest paid on the loan from when the loan was first taken out to the present day.

If you have a loan with M&S and think you might be in with a shout of a loan, then you can either trust them to sort it out for you (good luck with that) or, you can give them a ring to see what the score is.

Call the M&S Personal Loan number, which is 0800 363 400 and hopefully, you’ll be having a festive period that is much more suave than you anticipated. Let us know how you get on.

Wonga 300x195 Wonga jump into lower cost loans before being pushedAccording to reports, Wonga have started trials of lower-cost loans, a matter of weeks before the FCA start shoving them around (and everyone else as the regulator cracks down on the sector).

Britain’s biggest payday loan lenders have started to randomly pick out people and offering them loands that have noticeably better terms than other payday loans companies. By the time the Financial Conduct Authority’s new rules take effect in the New Year, Wonga will be able to brag: ‘Oh that? We were doing all that anyway. We don’t need telling because we’re nice. Honestly we are.’

Of course, there’s a lot of people who couldn’t care whether Wonga are nice or not and look at them like any other financial institution and you’re a mug if you get involved with them and deserve everything that comes with it. Hardly an empathetic approach, but then, Britain isn’t an empathetic place really.

Anyway, the FCA rules say that payday loans will have to cap their interest at 0.8% per day, which means that, if you’re borrowing £100, the customer will only accrue a maximum level of interest of 80p per day. Fixed default fees will be restricted to £15 and there’ll be a cost cap of 100% of the initial loan.

Of course, Wonga deserve scrutiny as they’ve been sending customers letters from fake legal firms and have had a number of commercials banned and had to write off £220m in loans after the FCA spanked them on the way they do things.

It seems to be the way payday loans are going. Last week, we told you about Mr Lender – a dismal name for a company –  who are aiming to become the trustworthy, cheerful face of finance.

The FCA will be reviewing the new measures in 2017 to see if they’re working and protecting the customers. Full marks if you muttered “we’ll see” under your breath throughout this whole article.

Britain: spending money again

December 3rd, 2014 1 Comment By Ian Wade

uk money Britain: spending money againPeople are spending the most since the wretched Coalition was formed, according to new figures from the Office for National Statistics.

Average household spending increased to £517.30 a week in 2013, an increase of £16.30 from 2012.

This figure has been bolstered by people buying tellies and cars and doing things like holidays and getting fancy dan theatre tickets. Wooh! Up YOURS austerity.

However the ONS said there was a time-lag between changes in pay and consumption, meaning that after inflation, families are still spending less than the pre-shit/fan interface of £539.80 back in 2006.

Strong consumer spending – you only just have to look at people going crackers on Black Friday for a TV made by an in-car radio manufacturer to acknowledge that – drove UK growth in the third quarter, as business investment contracted against an increasingly uncertain global backdrop.

While spending has slumped overall since the giddy days of 2006, it’s starting to rebound slightly, with disposable household income, after inflation, growing a teeny bit from £612 to £614 a week last year, down from the 2008 peak of £676.

The ONS report said: “The economy has witnessed signs of economic recovery, despite consumers remaining price conscious. There is evidence that consumer confidence is increasing slowly, increases in household expenditure are largely focused on items such as housing. However, the results have also seen an increase in expenditure on big ticket items, such as new cars in 2013, indicating that pent-up demand is being realised.”

“Expenditure on items such as TV, video, computers and recreational activities has held up over time, showing the high priority placed on these goods and services by many households, regardless of economic circumstances,” the report said. Families spent an average of £5.10 a week on such items last year.

However, it’s not all good news, as spending on drink, drugs and tobacco dropped to record lows, down £1.30 in a year to £12 a week, compared with £18.20 a week a decade previously. People dunno how to party these days, that’s their problem.

And get your Class War t-shirts on, as the divide between rich and poor is ever clearer, with the lowest-earning 10% of households spending an average of £189.80 a week. This compared with an average of £1,119.50 a week for the 10% of highest-earning households.

Poundland: flexing High Street muscle!

November 28th, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

poundland 300x204 Poundland: flexing High Street muscle!Poundland – the land where everything’s a pound, unlike some – have posted a good set of half year results!

The discount retailer where every day is literally Black Friday saw their pre-tax profit climb 11.7% from £8.4m after non-underlying charges to £9.3m on sales up 15% from £459.2m to £528.2m. Like-for-like sales moved 4.7% higher compared with 0.8% for the same period last year.

They also expanded the empire from 490 in 2013, to 556 shops now. 28 new stores were opened, retail park outlets gained 26 more branches taking them to 72 and there’s another 60 new shops in general planned in UK and Ireland in the current financial year. Blimey.

Jim McCarthy, chief executive, reckoned Poundland would continue to benefit from continuing consumer behaviour and doing better business in improving economic conditions than it was in recession, saying: “As the structural changes in UK retail continue to redraw the landscape, we are building our reputation for offering amazing value every day to our customers and substantially broadening our appeal.”

“We know that Poundland is a good business in a recession and we believe it is an even better business in improving economic conditions. It is now seen as smart to save money and Poundland will continue to benefit from changing consumer shopping behaviour.”

Stick that in your pipe, Tesco.

tesco bag 300x187 Refund for Tesco loan customers (your bank might too)More woe for Tesco, but great news for those who bank with them!

Tesco Bank is set to pay out £43million in compo after a loan statement cock-up saw 175,000 customers out of pocket. The bank failed to send out personal loan and credit card statements and those to bank with Tesco were illegally charged interest on loans

The good news is that anyone who accrued interest on loans during the time of the error will now be refunded, with the average payout of £228.

Some customers have already got their cheques. On Twitter, Stuart Gibson wrote: “Apparently Tesco bank forgot to send me an annual statement for five months on a loan I had. So they’ve sent me £450 instead. That’s nice.”

A Tesco spokesman said: “We have put in place a redress programme to return interest and charges to customers who did not receive documentation in line with the requirements of the Consumer Credit Act. This redress programme has commenced and we are writing to all of those customers affected. Customers do not need to take any action however if they do have questions they can contact us as normal.”

“It’s not an incident of mis-selling. This is an industry-wide issue.”

Other banks and building societies are in the process of sorting this all out too, with the Office of Fair Trading confirming that there’ll be just shy of 500,000 people set to get a cheque as a result of the Consumer Credit Act balls-ups.

We’ll keep an eye on things and let you know, so you can chase your bank up if they try pulling a fast one.


Twitter introduces Offers

November 26th, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

twitter offers 300x277 Twitter introduces OffersTwitter have just introduced a new thing called Offers to US users.

Twitter will work with a variety of brands to offer up deals on various things, and they’ll be able to redeem discounts from the social network.

Once an offer gets linked to your card, you can then use it to buy where the discount will be activated. Also, Twitter will also be able to focus deals to particular users based on their Twitter habits and which brands they engage the most with.

According to a Twitter blog post: “Starting today (in the US only), we’re beginning to test a new way for advertisers to connect with consumers on Twitter and convert them to loyal customers in their stores, on their websites and in their apps.”

“This feature, Twitter Offers, enables advertisers to create card-linked promotions and share them directly with Twitter users. As we continue to learn and improve based on the experience of our advertisers and users, we’ll make this feature available for more advertisers.”

It sounds a bit Groupony to be honest, but no doubt we’ll embrace it when it arrives over here at some point in the New Year.

Wonga boss quits

November 20th, 2014 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

wonga ladies 300x282 Wonga boss quitsJust six months into the job, Wonga’s new boss has quit. Funnily enough, the previous boss lasted six months in the job as well.

Tim Weller was the last senior executive at the payday lender who was appointed by Errol Damelin, the company’s controversial founder who jacked it all in back in June.

Andy Haste has now taken over the day-to-day management of Wonga, and he says: “At a critical time for Wonga, when we will complete our forbearance programme, prepare to apply for FCA authorisation and introduce a cap-compliant product, I’m taking an even more active role in leading the business.”

“Tim Weller therefore stepped down as CEO in October. This was a mutual decision, following a comprehensive handover, and will ensure clear leadership in the weeks and months ahead. I want to thank Tim for his three years in the business as chief financial officer.”

“Our search for a permanent group CEO is well underway and Tara Kneafsey, our new UK managing director, will join us in December.”

Running Wonga is a tough gig at the moment as, only last month, they were forced to write off £220m of customer debts after they admitted they’d be wrong in lending money to some 330,000 people. While they were at it, they also axed interest charges for another 45,000 customers.

RBS fined £50 million

November 20th, 2014 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

RBS 300x272 RBS fined £50 millionWe wrote about RBS getting fined by the Financial Conduct Authority, speculating that they’d be hit with a £50 million fine.

Well, we weren’t far off as regulators have slapped the bank with a fine of £56m after their software malfunction saw millions of customers unable to access their own money in their bank accounts in June 2012.

The fine is actually a twofer, with a £42m penalty coming from our pals at the Financial Conduct Authority and another fine of £14m being served by the folks at the Prudential Regulation Authority.

RBS chairman Sir Philip Hampton said the problems “revealed unacceptable weaknesses in our systems” and that it ”caused significant stress for many of our customers,” adding: “As I did back then, I again want to apologise to all customers in the UK and Ireland that we let down two and a half years ago.”

“Modern banking depends on effective, reliable and resilient IT systems,” said Tracey McDermott, director of enforcement and financial crime at the FCA.

“The banks’ failures meant millions of customers were unable to carry out the banking transactions which keep businesses and people’s everyday lives moving. The problems arose due to failures at many levels within the RBS Group to identify and manage the risks which can flow from disruptive IT incidents and the result was that RBS customers were left exposed to these risks.”

The FCA said the fine was down to the problem which saw customers unable to use online banking facilities to get at their accounts. obtain accurate balances from ATMs, make mortgage payments, access money abroad and, on top of all that, RBS Group’s banks applied incorrect credit and debit interest to accounts. As well as the aforementioned, some businesses weren’t able to pay their staff as a result of this cock-up.