Posts Tagged ‘News’
EE is boldly claiming to have the cheapest 4G smartphone around, with the EE Rook. How much is cheap? Well, if you’re an existing EE customer, you can get it for £39. If you’re not, then it’ll be a piddling £49.
As this is a PAYG phone, you’ll have to top-up with £10 too, but still, that is very reasonable and would be a good present for a child in need of a cheap phone, or nana who doesn’t want to fork out too much.
Naturally, at this price, the spec isn’t going to trouble anyone who has an iPhone or a Galaxy, but that was never going to be the case.
As well as being able to go online and all that, you’ll get a handset that has a 4in screen driven by a 1GHz quad-core processor, with 1GB of RAM, and 8GB of storage. It runs on Android 5.1 and has a five megapixel camera.
Sharon Meadows, Director of Devices at EE, commented: “The new Rook from EE provides a great 4G smartphone at a compelling price – allowing even more people to enjoy the benefits of our superfast mobile network from high speed web browsing and downloads to gaming and streaming.”
You’ll be able to get up the shops on a Sunday for longer, thanks to George Osborne’s Budget this week. Jesus and his friends may well be very, very unhappy about this, but at least they’ll be able to get a latte and some trainers after they’ve finished at church.
Sunday trading laws currently hamstring businesses, which says that they can’t trade for more than six hours. Seems preposterous, now that the internet is always open, and that seeing as most people only have two days off a week, one of the days wouldn’t have shops open all the time.
Only small shops (so, corner shops and the like) can open for more than six hours, but that’s all about to change under the new plans.
Basically, the Budget is going to allow Sunday trading hours to become a devolved issue, which means that your local council will decide who long the shops can open for. Seeing as there’s potentially a lot of money to be made from all this, they’ll all be rather keen to give the retailers a free rein.
This also opens up a lot of jobs for people too, which is always a good thing.
“Even two decades on from the introduction of the Sunday Trading Act, it is clear that that there is still a growing appetite for shopping on a Sunday,” George Osborne said. “There is some evidence that transactions for Sunday shopping are actually growing faster than those for Saturday.”
“The rise of online shopping, which people can do round the clock, also means more retailers want to be able to compete by opening for longer at the weekend. But this won’t be right for every area, so I want to devolve the power to make this decision to mayors and local authorities. This will be another part of my plan to ensure a truly national recovery, with our great towns and cities able to determine their own futures.”
When Ne-Yo sang about a ‘beautiful monster’, he had clearly been tipped off about KFC’s plans to make a hybrid of fried chicken and pizza. It looks vile and heart-stopping, and we’ll take 10 portions please.
So what’s the craic? Well, Colonel Sanders has got his classic Original Recipe fried chicken thighs and drumsticks, and added tomato sauce and a breaded mozzarella and cheddar mix, and then melted them all together in the oven.
It sounds like heaven and is called the Napoli Crispy Pizza Chicken, and you’ll have to get to Hong Kong if you want to ram it down your neckhole.
Of course, this is going to have a gazillion calories and will have enough fat to make the skin on your hands go see-through while you eat it, but that doesn’t matter. Bitterwallet is not about to start telling you to eat kale or drink smoothies. We’re not about that life.
We’re already wondering if it’ll be any good if you get a bucket of these rascals and wrap them up in a calzone and eat the whole thing in one go with a couple of rashers of bacon lobbed in for good measure.
They say: ”Brindisa Spanish Foods recalls La Chinata Smoked Paprika Mild because of the presence of salmonella.”
“Brindisa Spanish Foods is recalling La Chinata Smoked Paprika Mild because salmonella has been detected. Salmonella is a bacterium that can cause food poisoning.”
The pack size of the product concerns 70g and 750g tins. It has a batch code of 320 (no other batches are affected by this issue).
The FSA says that, if you have bought the above product, do not eat it. Instead, return it to the store from where it was bought for a full refund. Mercifully, no other Brindisa Spanish Foods products are known to be affected.
This is what the packaging looks like (granted, the one below is the hot version, but they all have the same design) if you’ve recently bought some.
In Europe, this method of paying for stuff you probably don’t need was used more than ONE BILLION times in the past 12 months, according to those swines who work at Visa. As more businesses get the technology in, the more people want to use it, clearly.
Total contactless spending over the year totalled an impressive €12.6bn (that’s around £9bn to you). In March alone, €1.6bn was spent by wafting a card at a machine. That is triple the amount from the year previous.
British shops are, by some distance, the most likely place to see some hot card-on-near field device action. Brits paid for stuff with contactless technology 52.6 million times.
France were second with 20.3m and Poland was third with 14.5m.
In the UK, this number will only rise further as more and more shops get the new technology in and, of course, more people start forking out for shopping with their phones.
“The popularity of contactless will only increase in future as we experience the next generation of digital payments, where the simplicity and convenience is extended to mobile and wearable near field communications technology,” said Visa Europe’s Sandra Alzetta. “We’re proud to have led the way in establishing contactless payments in Europe, and excited to be at the forefront as contactless payments become increasingly available to everyone.”
Google Glass looked like it was being killed off, but alas, not. The thing that was being shelved was the Explorer Edition, while secretly, Google were working on Enterprise Edition.
According to a report in 9to5Google: “We’ve come to learn from people familiar with the matter that the next hardware is being referred to by Google internally as “Enterprise Edition” or “Google Glass EE” (If you remember, Explorer Edition was referred to as “Google Glass XE”).
“The device named “GG1″ that passed through the FCC seems very likely to be this new hardware—or at least some version of it—and it makes complete sense. Almost all of the Glass at Work startups have focused on the video streaming aspect of the device and have invested millions in software built around it. And in the workplace, this is where Google Glass has been discovered to be most useful. Amped up WiFi capabilities with ac WiFi and 5 GHz support, as well as Bluetooth LE, make sense for video streaming—and Glass startups are more than happy to take advantage of this.”
Obviously, wearable technology is a hot topic for companies at the moment, with everyone getting excited now that Apple have brought a watch out for people to buy. The Apple Watch wasn’t the first, but things go up a notch when they throw their hats into the ring. And of course, there’s a host of Virtual Reality headsets due to hit the shelves, go Google could occupy a middle-ground now that people are more willing to give things like this a whirl.
Importantly for Google, businesses are interested in what Glass can do for them. And with the new eyewear, Google have not just repackaged the old gizmo, rather, the Google Glass Enterprise Edition involves newer, and hopefully better, hardware.
The sticking point, as ever, will be price.
ASLEF, the union for drivers on the London Underground, have said that the strike will go ahead for 24 hours from Wednesday evening, as unions have not had enough time to study new pay offer.
This means that services are going to be messy and Transport for London says that there will be no trains at all from late afternoon Wednesday or all day Thursday.
The 24-hour walkouts will happen from 6.30pm, and services will start to wind down before then.
The issue here, is over the Night Tubes, which are due to run in September. Drivers and staff feel like they’re being shafted over the pay and working hours.
Finn Brennan, the district secretary of Aslef, who happen to represent most of the drivers, had previously said that he was “increasingly pessimistic” that there was going to be an agreement: “They have not moved their position at all during the last three months and seem intent of forcing through change without negotiation.”
Steve Griffiths, London Underground’s chief operating officer, said: “Londoners and businesses overwhelmingly back the Night Tube. Most of our staff will not be affected by the new services at all because it affects only five of eleven lines. Some staff will actually work fewer nights than they do now because we have hired 137 more train operators specifically for the Night Tube.”
“The train staff who will be affected are being asked to work around an additional seven nights each year on average, with no increase in their total current hours. In return, we are offering a realistic pay increase this year and next, as well as an additional payment for Night Tube working. We are ready to negotiate, but any increase must be sustainable and fair. I urge the trade unions to keep talking to us.”
As you know, 99% of all the advice ever given is thoroughly useless. However, some parents were horrified when their 2-year-old daughter found that her My Little Baby Born Nappy Time doll was dishing out potty-mouthed, but ultimately useFUL advice.
Anthony Burridge and Sarah Williams bought their daughter Emily the toy, and it was meant to gurgle and mutter nonsense, like babies do. However, this doll was saying “f***” and “f*** it” over and over.
Burridge said: “We opened the packaging on the doll and handed it to Emily. She was so excited to play with her new toy but as soon as she pressed its belly, we heard it say the swear word. Sarah and I were gobsmacked. When we played it again, it was clear that it was saying “f***”. We’ve had to take it away from her but it is too late. Emily is only two but already copying the doll.”
“She keeps saying “f*** it” – I don’t know how to stop her.”
Have you finished laughing? The toy was bought from Toys R Us, who of course, aren’t really responsible, but will no doubt be really embarrassed by all this.
Williams added: “Emily has always loved changing nappies and as soon as we got into the shop, she made a beeline for the dolls. Seeing her face light up as she picked the doll made me so happy. The doll was meant to cry every time you pushed her belly button and I couldn’t wait to see Emily play with her when we got home.”
“When we first heard the doll swear, we couldn’t believe it. We had to play it again to make sure we were hearing right.”
Burridge continued: “Hearing our two-year-old daughter swearing every day is just awful. I think it’s disgraceful that Toys R Us have sold us such a dirty toy.”
A spokesman for Toys R Us said they are ‘looking into the matter’, while the company that made the toy - Zapf Creation – said: “Zapf Creation prides itself on making high quality products that children can play with and love and BABY born is one of our most popular brands, having been around over 24 years.”
“With the aim of teaching young children about nappy changing, my little BABY born Nappy Time only makes “baby babble” sounds and does not say any actual words. We apologise if any customers feel that this babble resembles anything inappropriate.”
Anyway, have a look at the Daily Mail’s video where you can watch a toddler swear her little head off.
Now it is the turn of EasyJet cabin crew, with 2,000 workers set to down tools (wet wipes and uninflated life jackets) over a pay row, and is likely to take place sometime next month.
Of course, this could potentially ground thousands of flights, which in turn, would affect a lot of families who want to get a break in during the school holidays from a number of the country’s airports.
EasyJet bosses have indeed, offered a pay rise to cabin crew of 4.1% and 5.1% to the managers, but this has been refused by unions who think the working staff deserve more than that. They’d like to see a bigger pay increase to reflect the staff’s responsibilities and long working hours that they put in.
Some EasyJet cabin crew are apparently on a basic salary of just £10,000. Considering that various people in the know say that a living wage in 2015 is in the region of £17,500, you can see where the argument lies.
An EasyJet spokesperson said: “EasyJet’s cabin crew receive the highest pay in the UK airline industry. EasyJet has now awarded its UK cabin crew increases of 4.1% for cabin crew and 5.1% for cabin managers over two years backdated to January 2015 on top of an already market leading set of pay and conditions in the UK.”
We’ll keep an eye on things and report back with news of any affected flights.
Even though there’s loads of ways of paying for things via ways that aren’t cheques, Barclays are seemingly reluctant to let them go, as they roll out their ‘cheque imagining’ service a million more of its customers.
What’s all this about? Well, you can pay in cheques by taking a photograph of it, rather than walking to a branch with it in your hand. Of course, this has been around on iPhone for a while, but now, it is on Android, on the back of nearly £750,000 deposited through the service.
This technology lets you pay in cheques worth (up to) £500, and the money is available to spend immediately.
Normally, a cheque takes a couple of days to go through clearing. If your cheque bounces, then you are notified and the money is removed from your account. Some of you are already thinking of ways to bend the rules on this, we can tell.
On its terms and conditions, it says: “You authorise us to take a cheque payment back out of your Barclays account – even if we have allowed you to make a payment or take cash out against it.”
This ruling allows for cheques accidentally paid into the wrong too, so that’s something.
Ashok Vaswani, Barclays personal and corporate banking chief executive, said: “Our customers have welcomed this convenient new way of depositing one of the oldest forms of payment, which is why extending to android phones is an important step forward in giving all customers the ability to pay in cheques using their mobile devices.”
According to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), there’s been a rise in spam calls and texts, with more than 180,000 complaints made about these nuisances in the last year alone. That’s a 12% rise, compared with the year before.
The watchdog also said that they’d issued five fines relating to all this, totalling £386,000, alongside eight enforcement notices, with another 31 firms being “monitored”.
The said: “Most concerns related to accident claims, green energy deals, payday loans and lifestyle surveys. Live calls generate significantly more concerns than automated calls and spam texts.”
One of the reasons there’s been a spike, is that this year, the law was changed, to make it easier for companies to be fined for breaching rules regarding nuisance calls and texts. The ICO have also been doing a load of investigations where allegations of personal data being obtained or disclosed illegally. In one case, a Transport for London employee was prosecuted for illegally accessing Oyster card records.
Launching the report, the information commissioner, Christopher Graham, said: “We’ve seen real developments in the laws we regulate during that time, particularly over the past year. Just look at the EU court of justice ruling on Google search results, a case that could never have been envisaged when the data protection law was established.”
The executive director of Which!!!, Richard Lloyd, said that this was jst “tip of the iceberg”, adding: “This is why regulators, government and industry must work harder to cut off unwanted calls and texts that annoy millions of us every day. The ICO must use its new powers to full effect and hit hard any company breaking cold-calling rules. We also want to see senior executives personally held to account if their company makes unlawful calls.”
You might think selfies are the worst thing that ever happened to the world, or indeed, may well think that they’re a marvellous show of self confidence in people. Either way, Mastercard see something different – they want to start using selfies to verify payments.
They’re only testing this at the moment, with 500 pilot users using photos instead of punching in PIN numbers. MasterCard’s chief product security officer Ajay Bhalla says this will be popular with young people. Presumably, young people who aren’t bothered about banks potentially storing photos of their faces.
Bhalla said: ”The new generation, which is into selfies… I think they’ll find it cool. They’ll embrace it. This seamlessly integrates biometrics into the overall payment experience. You can choose to use your fingerprint or your face – you tap it, the transaction is okayed and you’re done.”
So, what you might be able to do in the future, is hold your phones at eye-level and blink once when instructed, and boom boom, the process is complete.
Bhalla says that people’s selfies won’t be stored or transmitted, in its normal construction. However, we’ve all heard that before haven’t we?
Figures released by the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) show that commuters feel that it is pretty futile complaining about train operators. The report shows that, despite having the most cancellations and late-running services, Southern received a fraction of the average complaints that Virgin got.
Virgin received around 24 times more complaints per passenger journey than Southern, with the pair being the most complained about. It seems that this is a particular problem in London, with the five operators getting the fewest complaints, despite the performance of the services suggesting otherwise.
David Sidebottom, passenger director of Transport Focus, said: “The weary commuter doesn’t complain any more, sadly, because the train is perpetually delayed or you can’t ever get a seat, and has given up on the system.”
Sidebottom added that longer-distance operators tend to pick up more complaints, thanks to the nature of the travel: “The impact and value of that particular journey is of a different magnitude; but the long-distance operators encourage people to complain when things go wrong – it’s what a good business does. It builds up trust. They don’t want disgruntled customers.”
“With commuter trains, these are harder things to work out and to get sorted, but you end up with the kind of things we’re seeing in the south-east at the moment. We do want commuter train operators to do more.”
The largest operator of mobiles in the UK has been slapped senseless with a £1m fine from Ofcom, for breaching rules on handling customer complaints. It has transpired that, from 2011 to 2014, EE didn’t provide customers with full information about their right to take complaints to an independent body.
It is worth noting that you can always take your complaints to an independent body, like the Ombudsman, with any business.
EE should have told their customers in writing about this, but didn’t. This was discovered during the regulator’s broad look at complaint handling in the telecom sector.
Customers of EE have the right to take complaints that can’t be resolved to an independent body, up to two months after they first made the complaint. However, between 22 July 2011 and 8 April 2014, Ofcom found that a host of people who had requested a “deadlock letter”, which would have been the precursor to getting their complaint looked at by someone independent, never received any correspondence.
It turned out that EE hadn’t been notifying customers on their paper bills about the fact that they could take any complaint to this body, free of charge.
“It’s vital that customers can access all the information they need when they’re pursuing a complaint,” said Ofcom’s Claudio Pollack. ”Ofcom imposes strict rules on how providers must handle complaints and treats any breach of these rules very seriously. The fine imposed against EE takes account of the serious failings that occurred in the company’s complaints handling, and the extended period over which these took place.”
In the case of EE, if you want to escalate a complaint to an independent body, then you get in touch with CISAS. You can get in touch with them, here.
Not only that, EE are charging almost twice as much as their rivals for calling non-geographic numbers. This comes from Ofcom’s efforts to force operators to be clear about what they’re earning from numbers that start with 084, 087, 09, or 118. They’re charging 44p per minute for these calls.
First Great Western has confirmed that they expects to run the majority of London Thames Valley services, however, long distance and local rail services will be significantly reduced, if the strike action goes ahead next week.
There’s still some meetings to be had, which could stop the strike, but talks might break down. Thanks to an overtime ban on Saturday 11 July, this could mean late notice changes or possible cancellations. It’d be worth keeping up to date with everything over at firstgreatwestern.co.uk/travelupdates for all journeys you’re planning to make.
If you have tickets for the dates affected, you can chose to travel on either Wednesday 8 July or Saturday 11 July. Full refunds will be available for those of you who decide to not travel. There’ll also be compensation for Season Ticket holders for the days affected. Seat reservations, sadly, will not be honoured.
First Great Western Managing Director Mark Hopwood said: ”We are pleased that we have been able to identify a number of routes and services where we can continue to offer a service. This is limited and in some areas services are significantly impacted. However we recommend customers check the website for full details next week as they may find that travel by train is unaffected.”
“This is not true in every case and we recognise that for many of our customers the RMT’s decision to ask their members to strike will cause considerable inconvenience.”
“This industrial action is about the new trains we are bringing into operation, the largest fleet upgrade on the Great Western for a generation, which will shave journey times by as much as 17 minutes, and provide the extra seating capacity we know our customers want to see. In order to be able to do this we need to operate these trains differently to the way we operate our current 40 year-old High Speed Trains. The best way to make the most of these new trains, in an efficient and safe way, is by the use of driver operation of the doors.”
“41% of RMT members who work for us voted in favour of this action and we are disappointed that our assurances over job security; the need for more, not fewer staff; and our commitment to maintaining existing pay and conditions for affected staff have not been heard.”
“All of the issues raised by the RMT have been discussed with representatives and we believe we have made some progress. We are continuing to meet and I very much hope that the RMT will not go ahead with the strike.”