Posts Tagged ‘News’

Sony: Still doing rather badly, bafflingly

September 17th, 2014 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

6 sony logo w Sony: Still doing rather badly, bafflinglySony are not doing well. They’re not doing well at all. They’ve not been doing well for ages.

In ’99, they had the infamous ‘Shokku’ profits warning, then in 2005 Sony had the first batch of major restructuring initiatives before downgrading their net income forecasts four times in 2011. This year, they announced that they planned to sell the Vaio wing of their business and continued to warn on profits.

 

So where are we now? Well, they’ve warned that their expected annual net loss will be nearly five times as big as initially predicted.

It seems constant restructuring hasn’t helped the ailing firm at all, with annual net losses exceeding a whopping $2bn. While Sony have the successful PlayStation 4 in their armoury, it seems everything else is just a massive balls-up.

 

Sony are blaming the “competitive environment” of the mobile business (how dare people compete) and as a result, are looking at a strategy where they aim to reduce “risk and volatility”. They’ve got to do something, seeing as they’ve doled out three warnings in the six months to May, and this loss for the current year will be Sony’s sixth in seven years.

Seems no-one is arsed about the Xperia phones, which will need to challenge Samsung et al, if they’re going to get back in the saddle. The PS4 will sell big units for a while, but they can’t rely on that once the January sales have died down.

Directors bonuses must now be justified

September 17th, 2014 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

fat cat rich man 300x300 Directors bonuses must now be justifiedAre you one of those people on the internet who likes hitting out at ‘fat cats’? Like griping about those who make loads of money because you  can’t stop mentioning your socialist leanings down the pub, much to the mild irritation of your pals?

Well, get this – all companies (so, not just banks) will have to be able to prove that director’s bonuses are linked to their performance thanks to a new City code.

You see, there’s a review of the corporate governance code and it has been decided that companies are going to have to provide more information for shareholders. This will include all manner of performance things, as well as details on the risks being run and details about how long a business would be able to run for under their current financing arrangements.

Unbelievably exciting isn’t it?

The Financial Reporting Council (FRC) have told the City that the next review is going to tackle diversity in the boardroom and they’ve got two years to make some changes.

“Diversity can be just as much about difference of approach and experience. The FRC is considering this as part of a review of board succession planning and will consider the need to consult on these issues for the next update to the code in 2016,” it said.

More pressing changes ask for an extension of clawback arrangements which bankers are already working to. Basically, this new code says that companies should have arrangements to allow them to “recover or withhold variable pay when appropriate to do so”. It’ll also require companies to look at how long a director should wait before receiving any bonuses and that any extra pay should be link to performance.

“The changes to the code are designed to strengthen the focus of companies and investors on the longer term and the sustainability of value creation,” said Stephen Haddrill, chief executive of the FRC. ”The changes on remuneration also focus companies on aligning reward with the sustained creation of value rather than, as before, simply on retention – a focus that has tended to promote pay escalating and leap-frogging.”

So, from now on, companies will make two statements: One will be based on accounting rules and the other will require directors to assess their ability to stay in business for more than 12 months. Could play havoc with our Deathwatch articles, but there you go.

Either way, those ‘fat cats’ are going to have to justify their bonuses now, which they inevitably will be able to, much to the chagrin of those who can’t abide these upwardly mobile swine.

Man fined for headbutting sausage roll machine

September 17th, 2014 6 Comments By Ian Wade

sausage rolls Man fined for headbutting sausage roll machineSausage roll news now, and a baker has been prosecuted for head-butting a sausage roll machine in anger when it stopped working properly.

The baker, Shane Thompson who is 22, had been working on the £27,000 computer-controlled machine, and something went awry, he lost his mind and head-butted the display screen

He head-butted with such force, he created a crack measuring six by four inches on the display scren

His bosses reckon it would cost £3,204 to fix, Prosecutor Kathryn Reeve told the court in Scarborough.

It was at his time at Yorkshire Baker, which he’d been happily working at for 17 months previously, where he lost his bap.

His former bosses docked £295 from his wages to cover the cost of the damage and wanted the £2,909 balance, the court heard. Defending solicitor Robert Vining said: “The defendant is at a total loss to understand how butting a glass screen and cracking it results in that piece of equipment being worthless.”

“He admits he became frustrated with the equipment. It was not making the pastry properly so he lost his temper and head-butted the glass screen and cracked it.”

We’ve all done it, yeah?

He was given a 12-month conditional discharge and ordered to pay £720 compensation towards the cost of repairing the machine. Thompson has since found a new job as ride operator at Flamingo Land theme park.

Is there anyone on Earth with a better CV than Shane Thompson? We’re quite serious.

Who is the worst company in the UK?

September 17th, 2014 1 Comment By Mof Gimmers

npower logo Who is the worst company in the UK? Like clockwork, npower are here with their latest unsavoury accolade – they’ve capped off a dismal year by being named the worst company in the UK, replacing Ryanair who were the previous owners of the ‘Worst’ title.

Which!!! have been collating their annual customer service rankings for the UK’s 100 biggest brands and npower came out as the absolute pits.

Other energy companies featured prominently too, with ScottishPower going from 62nd place to 99th, which just happens to be the biggest drop of any of the brands featured.

Both companies have been blaming the fact that they’ve got new computer systems, which means that customers have been sent fantastically incorrect bills, not had bills at all, seen their complaints vanishing and queries taking months to be sorted out.

As previously reported, npower have been so poor that they’ve been separated from the rest of the class and been forced to sit on a special table with Ofgem and put back on pencil.

Ofgem set npower a series of targets for clearing a swathe of problems which were affecting 400,000 customers. They were threatened with a ban on all telesales and npower just sneaked their targets. EDF Energy are 81st in the table, and British Gas and E.On were joint 86th, while SSE sat in 94th place.

So which companies are any cop, sitting pretty at the top of the table? First Direct was ranked 1st and John Lewis and Lakeland did rather well also.

An npower spokesman said: “We’re determined to improve and we’re already making progress. Since this survey was carried out we’ve reduced the number of late bills by over 75%, and the number of complaints we received by nearly 30%. However, we know we still have a long way to go before we can reach the top spot and we’re continuing to focus all of our efforts in this area.”

So, npower aren’t very good and neither are their energy competitors. Next week, we’ll bring you the news of the Pope’s religious preferences and confirm whether or not bears go to the toilet in woodland areas.

Bookies sign up to watchdog

September 15th, 2014 1 Comment By Mof Gimmers

labrokes betting Bookies sign up to watchdogPre-empting some tough measures which were set to come into play, three out of the four big high street bookmakers have signed themselves up to a new voluntary watchdog. These new statutory measures are looking at the prevalence of betting shops, aggressive customer recruitment and high-speed roulette machines.

William Hill, Ladbrokes and Coral (as well as the smaller, but equally noticeable Paddy Power) have vowed that, from next month, they’ll remove all adverts for touch-screen roulette machines from windows and start dedicating space to messages telling you to gamble responsibly.

They’ve also promised to refrain from advertising sign-up offers that suggest we can all get “free bets” or “free money” before 9pm.

This all comes before a new trade body comes into play, next year. The Senet Group will start pushing an educational advertising campaign which hopes to tackle problem gambling and make sure that all TV adverts carry more prominent messages for responsible gambling.

It seems the word ‘gambling’ itself isn’t enough of a clue to tell people that you are in fact, not certain of a win.

There’s measures being considered by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport who are looking at making it more difficult for people to place more than £50 on a roulette machine and the like. Until now, you could put £100 bets on one spin of a wheel. Politicians want to see a reduction of the minimum stake.

The biggest bookies that are ignoring all this are Betfred who will coin it in no doubt, until they’re forced to sign up to something. They are, we’re told, in ‘discussions’ about it all.

A Ladbrokes spokesman said: “This is about striking the balance between a player’s right to bet and the visibility of gambling on the high street and on TV. We accept that the balance has not been right in the past.”

Anti-deathwatch: Bebo

September 15th, 2014 1 Comment By Ian Wade

It looks like Bebo is back. Back. BACK.

The apparently dead social network posted a teaser video on YouTube last week, which gave the impression that it was an app.

The ad – bugling itself as ‘#Bebo – probably not for boring people’ (hark at them), illustrates how users are able to create avatars for their messages.

LET’S LOOK AT IT

Also, the whiteboard feature will make a return, with users able to send drawings to each other. Remember that Draw Something thing?

It’s still in its infancy of returning, but while the mothership has lain dormant, the company has launched Blab, and plans another two releases later this year, including something called Hug.

At one point, Bebo was the third largest social network behind MySpace and Facebook, and then sold to AOL for $850 million. It was brought back by the couple who originally owned for a mere $1 million after it went bankrupt.

That’s some good businessing.

120,000 compaints to water companies in a year

September 15th, 2014 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

tapwater 258x300 120,000 compaints to water companies in a yearThe collective ‘we’ made over 120,000 complaints to water firms in a year, according to a new report.

Between April 1st 2013 and March 31st 2014, water companies received a total of 123,218 written complaints and you can only imagine how many phone calls were made on top of that.

According to the Consumer Council for Water (or CCWater for lazy typists), over half of the gripes concerned billing and charges. Remarkably, these figures are dropping from previous years.

Tony Smith, chief executive of CCWater, said: “Most water companies have responded well to our challenge to improve performance, with complaints now at their lowest level since we were formed in 2005; but affordability remains a huge challenge for the industry, with one in five customers telling us their water bill is not affordable.”

“Water companies and the regulator Ofwat must deliver prices for the next five years that customers can afford and find acceptable or risk a backlash from struggling households.”

The two companies performing the worst are Southern Water and South East Water and the report said: ‘We have repeatedly told them that they need to bring themselves into line with the rest of the industry, but they continue to lag significantly behind.’

The best? Well done to Wessex Water, Portsmouth Water and Cambridge Water.

Steve George, customer services director at South East Water, said: ‘We are pleased to see the downward trend continue during 2014 but we recognise that there is still more to do. Over the past year we have been working hard to integrate the new communications technologies into customer service. Not only has this new instant approach been welcomed by our customers, our own staff have enthusiastically embraced each development as it has come on board.”

Darren Bentham, Southern Water’s chief customer officer, said: ‘While our performance in 2013/14 saw a big improvement, we are still lower down the results table than we want to be – and where our customers want us to be.”

“However, we are continuing to make changes which ensure we focus on our customers – from training, to new systems and an improved website. These changes are making a huge difference as proved by a significant reduction in written complaints over the past 18 months. Our customers have told us they expect better service and we have promised to bring more improvements. There is still work to do but we’re confident we can deliver our promise, while ensuring bills are affordable for all.”

In other news: bears continue to defecate in woodland areas.

Child Support Agency (CSA) arrangements are ending

September 15th, 2014 3 Comments By Mof Gimmers

childcarryingclothes Child Support Agency (CSA) arrangements are endingThe government have announced that Child Support Agency (CSA) arrangements are going to vanish and anything sorted out through them will cease to be between now and 2017.

So, if you’ve been getting your child maintenance through the CSA, you’ll soon get a letter informing you when your child maintenance arrangement will end and how and when to make new child maintenance arrangements

You’ll be sent the letter between now and the end of 2017. Until then, you don’t need to do anything other than worry yourself sick.

So, if you are currently getting some CSA money, that’ll continue as normal until the letter arrives to tell you different. Same goes for those of you who are making payments.

What happens next? Well, on the government page announcing this, they helpfully say: “When you get the letter, you can… arrange child maintenance yourself” or get in touch with the new Child Maintenance Service.

Over 800,000 cases will be closed over next three years and the CSA won’t be taking on any new cases.

If you get a letter, make sure you respond and carefully consider your options. If you are stuck, then phone the new Child Maintenance Options service at 0800 988 0988 or check cmoptions.org.

Websites to become more BBFC’ed

September 15th, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

bbfc 18 jan82009 cg main99999 Websites to become more BBFCedUK websites will no longer be able to host films that glamourise sexual violence and abuse, due to new government rules.

Material refused an age rating by the BBFC will be banned under new legislation coming this autumn, after David Cameron pledged to sort it out.

What applies to the films in the cinema and TV, will now apply to online.

It’s basically an expansion of the legislation that currently exists for violent sexual behaviours from cinemas and DVDs.

Regulator for video services online, Atvod, Peter Johnson reckons there will be “significant fines” for any websites that breach the new rules, and will also face removal from the internet altogether.

Currently films with scenes removed by the BBFC for consumption in cinemas or on DVD can be shown online in their original form without penalty.

Good luck trying to put a modesty wrapper on the whole of the internet.

News round-up – the best of the week’s stories

September 12th, 2014 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

bwbest 300x255 News round up – the best of the week’s storiesBest of Bitterwallet

Your energy company might owe you money bw/energy
Burger King sell goth food bw/blackblackblack
Which!!! call for end to 0% cards bw/zeropercent
Sports Direct to be sued by zero hour contract workers bw/bonus
Ikea troll Apple bw/bookbook
Goodbye to a real game changer bw/ipod
The North gets hammered on rail price rises bw/train
Watch out for panto scam bw/ohnoheisnt
BrightHouse to be investigated bw/bright

Best of the Rest

Pubs hit out at stupid government telegraph/burp
Businesses get jumpy about Scottish independence guardian/aye
Microsoft held in contempt of court over data handover techienews/comply
US threatens Yahoo over surveillance dnaindia/fine
Yes. Apple fanboys are queuing already itproportal/iphone
Is Bitcoin going to muck up the pound? guardian/stability
Google Play expands refund window cnet/refund

Britons: rubbish at pensions

September 12th, 2014 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

pensiner 300x225 Britons: rubbish at pensionsAround most half of Britons who are not yet retired aren’t very good at preparing for the winter of their lives, according to some musings by the Office for National Statistics.

These figures show that 45% of men and 49% of women did not have any private pension savings, which means in the future, there’s going to be a lot of old people complaining about freezing to death while living in a McDonald’s bag on a hard shoulder, on social media.

Barnett Waddingham’s senior consultant Malcolm McLean said: “The figures released by the ONS this morning paint a worrying picture of the state of unpreparedness for retirement of a significant proportion of the working age population.”

‘Unpreparedness’ there. We were hoping he would’ve gone for ‘unpreparedity’ or something. Anyway, the there seems to be some areas of employment where people are more clued-up about their future years in the wilderness.

In the accommodation and food service industries, 95% of men and women didn’t pay into a private pension, while those working in public administration, defence and social security, only 7% of men and 9% of women choosing not to contribute to a private pension.

McLean continued: “This illustrates how important that particular government initiative is to secure an improvement in this situation. Not surprisingly perhaps, wealth is also unequally distributed – with those households with a private pension being seven times more better off than those without.”

So there you have it. Stop buying Maoams and cans of gin and tonic and go sort yourself out a pension.

Ryanair doing a bit better than last year

September 11th, 2014 1 Comment By Ian Wade

Ryanair New Plane Logo 214x300 Ryanair doing a bit better than last yearRyanair reckon they’re flying six more customers per flight this year than in 2013. SIX WHOLE CUSTOMERS!

This small but obviously a good thing, is said to be down to the company’s improved customer service and ticket selling.

The airline expects load factors to increase 3-4 percentage points to ‘close to 86% of available seats this year.

So basically, translated into humans, an increase of 3-4 points on the Boeing 737s, with space for 189 people on them, would represent between 6-7 more passengers.

This news comes just after the Irish airline took delivery of the first part of 380 Boeing jets over the next ten years. That’s a big letter box that fits 380 planes through it.

This addition to the fleet should take the airline’s passengers from 82 million to 150 million a year.

Forward bookings also increased between September and January, when the airline started to sell tickets up to a year in advance instead of the previous nine months barrier.

To top that off, they’re looking to buy Cyprus Air and have completed all the paperwork required to start its first routes to Russia, with proposed flights from Dublin to Moscow and St. Petersburg.

Banks to ditch Scotland if it votes ‘Yes’

September 11th, 2014 1 Comment By Mof Gimmers

rbs Banks to ditch Scotland if it votes YesScotland’s indyref is causing all manner of problems for a lot of businesses, which of course, many will find funny. Rich people being inconvenienced is never to be underestimated.

Directors from RBS and Lloyds are not happy at the prospect of Scotland voting ‘Yes’ to independence and are mithering the government to introduce legislation that would  help the relocation of their legal headquarters. They want politicians to usher in a new Act of Parliament so that banks can avoid the need for a lengthy legal process handled by the courts when they want to flee Scotland, screaming in panic.

Bosses from both companies are worried that the relocation process will be a faff, because of their banking licences and legal base. They need to go through a thing called a Part 7 Transfer under the Financial Services and Markets Act, and they think it would be far too time-consuming.

They’ve had months and months to sort this out. It all reeks of doing your homework on the bus to school and moaning about it to everyone else, but what else would you expect from this shower?

Basically, the banks are concerned about the currency that an independent Scotland would adopt and Lloyds and RBS are fretting over credit ratings agencies downgrading them if they keep their headquarters in Scotland. Both banks have made plans to move their legal bases to London, and Lloyds have a slight edge because they’ve had operations in England for over a century.

RBS said: “There are a number of material uncertainties arising from the Scottish referendum vote which could have a bearing on the Bank’s credit ratings, and the fiscal, monetary, legal and regulatory landscape to which it is subject. For this reason, RBS has undertaken contingency planning for the possible business implications of a ‘Yes’ vote.”

“As part of such contingency planning, RBS believes that it would be necessary to re-domicile the Bank’s holding company and its primary rated operating entity (The Royal Bank of Scotland plc) to England.”

RBS added that this referendum was “a matter for the Scottish people” and that they’d been based in Scotland since 1727: “RBS intends to retain a significant level of its operations and employment in Scotland to support its customers there and the activities of the whole Bank.”

Lloyds said: “While the scale of potential change is currently unclear, we have contingency plans in place which include the establishment of new legal entities in England. This is a legal procedure and there would be no immediate changes or issues which could affect our business or our customers.”

Sports Direct to be sued by zero hour contract workers

September 11th, 2014 3 Comments By Mof Gimmers

zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz12345671 300x300 Sports Direct to be sued by zero hour contract workersZero hour contracts polarise opinion, with some saying that they’re magnificently unfair to people who want to earn a crust, while others saying ‘oh shut up moaning – most jobs aren’t ideal’.

Well, those on the zero hour contracts at Sports Direct were left out of a £160m bonus scheme, and it looks like there’s going to be legal action over it.

The 2,000 or so permanent staff members of the company received around £160m in shares, but those on the controversial zero hour contracts were left out, and they are set to sue for breach of contract at the High Court.

The thing is, that almost 90% of the staff at Sports Direct are on zero hour contracts, and they’re already irritated because they don’t get holidays, sick pay and work for a company that doesn’t even guarantee them set numbers of hours each working week.

Elizabeth George, of law firm Leigh Day, said: “These are the staff whose hard work over many years has brought about the record profits that funded the bonus awards in the first place. It’s plainly unfair that they should have missed out.”

“We believe that they had a contractual right to the bonus because regardless of the zero-hours label that the company has given their contracts they were all permanent employees of the company for the necessary number of years.”

How they’ll afford this lawsuit is another matter.

Facebook to add view counts

September 10th, 2014 1 Comment By Ian Wade

facebook 300x300 Facebook to add view countsFacebook have just updated its video features!

The new look video will now add a new view counter so that the narcissists can find out their “digital reach” or some such bollocks.

The company claims that the soon-to-be-rolled-out feature will allow both those who have posted the video as well as those who are viewing it to see how many people have viewed a particular clip. The view counts will be displayed next to the ‘like’ and ‘comment’ area.

This is similar to the view counter on Vine, where people find out quite quickly how unpopular they are and just how few people are looking at their videos, for maximum despondency.

Facebook is also reportedly testing another feature on mobile that will suggest related videos after users finish watching a clip.

They’ve not said anything about fixing the autoplay videos, which is running up needless bills and gobbling data where you’re away from a WiFi connection, but there you go.