Posts Tagged ‘News’
All over Twitter, people have been griping about it, with one in Edinburgh saying: “Was delighted to discover your Corstorphine store is happy to turn away anyone not wanting to buy a TV today. Won’t be back.”
“Got in as was there for ‘normal’ shopping, got basket, then told by two female staff I couldn’t buy anything as it was black Friday?”
Tesco replied that their stores open at 7am for customers who don’t want to take part in Black Friday. That seems completely counter-intuitive, but that’s Tesco in 2015 for you.
A spokesman for Tesco said: “Our Black Friday event has been very popular so far and feedback from customers has been extremely positive. As part of our plans, we advised customers not participating in the event to visit our stores after 7am. Colleagues have been on hand to help the very small number of customers who needed assistance.”
They’re going to start testing a 90-day loan, so people can spread costs out over longer periods, and the idea is that there’ll be greater flexibility too. They need to do something to win people back to their business, as in April, they announced a loss of over £37 million.
For the trial, only existing customers will be allowed to apply for these new loans. Those that do, will be able to on the same terms as the existing product, paying interest of 0.8% – or 80p per £100 borrowed – per day.
A Wonga spokesman said: “We can confirm that we are planning to launch a pilot of a more flexible, three-month instalment loan to existing customers this week.”
The lender is still wrestling with a lot of mither at the moment, as they are still going through a process of authorisation by the FCA. They have been operating under interim licences since 2014. The FCA aren’t messing around though, and have said that they think the majority of payday loan companies are going to go out of business, since they introduced a cap on loans and repayment fees.
Can Wonga pull out of all this? Doesn’t look likely.
There’s been job losses at the company, with chairman Andy Haste saying: “Our focus is on creating a business that meets the demand for short-term credit sustainably and responsibly, resulting in good customer outcomes. However, Wonga can no longer sustain its high cost base which must be significantly reduced to reflect our evolving business and market. Regrettably, this means we’ve had to take tough but necessary decisions about the size of our workforce.”
Instances of car tax evasion has more than doubled, after the scrapping of the old paper tax disc, according to official figures. If you put your head out of the window now, you’ll be able to hear a load of people muttering ‘I told you so.’
Now, the number of people dodging tax is 516,000 according to Department for Transport statistics. That’s a loss of around £80 million according to their figures. Not to be sniffed at, given that this new system was brought in to save £10 million (thanks to not having to print out discs, and the removal of some red tape).
The Department for Transport said: “The rate of unlicensed vehicles observed on the road was much higher in 2015 than when previously surveyed in 2013, following changes in the licensing system.”
Other than people just thinking they can get away with it, what’s caused this rise? Well, the new way of doing things ended the practice of letting drivers transfer unspent car tax across to a new owner; now, each owner must re-tax a car when they buy it. This extra bit of hassle for drivers looks like it has resulted in them not bothering to do it at all.
The DfT report continues: “The increase is probably due to major changes to the vehicle licensing system which took place in October 2014, especially the automatic refund of tax when a vehicle changes hands. This could cost about £80million in lost VED revenue over the course of a year, about 1.4 per cent of the total amount due.”
RAC chief engineer David Bizley said: “These are very worrying and disappointing statistics indeed. Sadly, the concerns we raised about the number of car tax evaders going up at the time the tax disc was confined to history have become a reality.”
“The number of car tax evaders has more than doubled from 210,000 in 2013 to 560,000 in the latest statistics and is now at its highest level for eight years. We really cannot afford for this to increase again for the sake of both road safety and the country’s finances. Hopefully, much of the increase in evasion is due to the system being new and these figures will reduce as motorists become more familiar with how it works.”
London cabs are going to start accepting contactless payments, in a bid to take on/keep up with Uber. The Mayor of London and Transport for London are invariably going to approve this in the new year. Meanwhile, the rest of the country couldn’t care less.
“This move will boost business for cabbies and bring the trade into the 21st century by enabling quicker and more convenient journeys for customers,” said Boris Johnson.
Customers won’t pay a surcharge on their fare if they pay by card, and instead, cabbies will recoup their transaction costs through a proposed 20p increase on the minimum fare, which is currently £2.40. All Uber need to do is undercut that, and they’re golden.
“Mandating card payments in taxis will mean customers no longer have to consider how they might pay for a journey before getting into a taxi. It will also benefit drivers, who will see their services opened up to potential new business,” said Garrett Emmerson at TfL.
Of course, private hire firms already agree fares in advance, and Uber will tell you on your phone and it comes straight off your card without any fussing about with contactless payments, actual money, or anything like that. And, despite arguments from many quarters, the High Court ruled last month that Uber is not breaking the law.
Whether you agree with Uber or not, the rest of the taxi world has some catching up to do.
Lloyds Banking Group are going to cut another 1,000 jobs today, which include those who work in the branches. These cuts are part of a larger target of 9,000, which was announced around a year ago. Before this week, 2,360 of the 9,000 job reductions have been lost, and Lloyds are looking at completing the grim task by 2017.
This news follows Chancellor George Osborne saying that the government plans to offer billions of pounds of discounted Lloyds shares to investors in 2016, which is no use to those getting their P45s just before Christmas.
The government had a 43% stake in the bank, but have managed to reduce that to 10% (or just shy of). They’ve raised £16bn in the process, which is still short of the original £20.5bn injection at the moment. What isn’t helping Lloyds, is that they have put aside £14bn for their part in the mis-selling of payment protection insurance (PPI), but that’s their own stupid fault for being snide.
There’s still going to be some branch closures, which means Lloyds are looking at getting more of their customers involved with their digital banking arm. They have 5 million mobile banking customers, which is a number that’s only going to grow.
Lloyds are looking at closing banks in urban areas, where they already have a number of outlets.
EE have already said that they’re looking at blocking adverts, and now, O2 are looking at joining in too. Bad news for people in marketing – great news for people who swear loudly at roll-over adverts and videos that autoplay.
O2 are apparently testing their technology which will block mobile ads on their network.
The company’s managing director of digital commerce, Robert Franks, said: “We are absolutely looking at [network-level ad blocking] technology… we are looking at these technologies to see if they can help our customers with some of the bad practices and disruptive experiences that are happening.”
“It is not in an advertisers’ interest to spam customers or do things to create a terrible experience. If the way to raise the bar is to look at these technologies, whether through a mobile network, or a combination of apps and browser extensions as Apple is doing to address some of the behaviours these intermediaries are executing, I think that’s fine. But I don’t see it as a polarized debate between ‘do you have advertising or don’t you have advertising’.”
O2 are going to work with advertisers in a bid to make them improve their wares, and no doubt, tell them that they can pay to circumnavigate any blocks put in place. Improvements are likely to include things that make ads take up less data, and faster. The message is that, if you want to advertised on O2′s mobile network, then don’t make using your phone a pain in the arse.
It looks like they’re all getting on this, apart from Vodafone who have said this week, that they have no plans to block adverts. They said: “Vodafone has made no decisions that ad blocking is a service our business wants to offer. However, we acknowledge downloads of iOS ad blocker apps do show there is some demand from customers to manage their browsing experience, privacy and data usage.”
Barclays have been slapped with a whopper of a fine – to the tune of £72 million – by the Financial Conduct Authority. Why? The FCA say that the bank “ignored its own process” when handling a £1.9bn transaction for a group of people described as ‘wealthy and politically connected’.
*Harry Hill sideways look to camera*
The FCA said that Barclays “went to unacceptable lengths to accommodate the clients” and didn’t carry out sufficient checks on the deal which meant they “failed to minimise the risk that it may be used to facilitate financial crime.”
This transaction went through in 2011/12, and Barclays executives knew it involved “politically exposed people”, which should’ve seen the company being extra careful and monitored things more closely.
However, it turns out that the bank rushed the whole thing through, and made themselves £52.3m in revenue as a result. UK banks are supposed to be extra vigilant when it comes to doing transactions for those “who may be able to abuse their public position for private gain”, in a bid to reduce the risk of bribery and such.
The FCA found no involvement of financial crime in the transaction, and haven’t said who was involved. Either way, this penalty is the largest imposed by the FCA or its predecessor for financial crime failings. Barclays had to hand over the money they made from this dicky looking deal, and were fined £20m on top.
Mark Steward, from the FCA said: “Barclays ignored its own process designed to safeguard against the risk of financial crime and overlooked obvious red flags to win new business and generate significant revenue. This is wholly unacceptable. Firms will be held to account if they fail to minimise financial crime risks appropriately and for this reason the FCA has required Barclays to disgorge its revenue from the transaction.”
British Airways and EasyJet are extending their cancellation on flights to and from Sharm el Sheikh, until the New Year. There’s been security alerts from the government, and the airlines aren’t taking any chances.
BA have said that, “following discussions with the Government”, they are cancelling all flights to and from Sharm until 14th January. EasyJet have said the same, cancelling flights until 6th January.
Serious business. If you have flights to Sharm booked with either of these companies, contact them to see what your options are. Customers on any cancelled flights can claim a full refund, or if you prefer, you can use the value of the ticket towards another flight. If you’re determined to fly to Sharm, you can postpone your ticket for a later date.
British Airways said: “We are keeping flights which are scheduled to operate from Saturday January 16, 2016 under review. The safety and security of our customers will continue to be our top priorities in any decisions we may make.”
EasyJet have said that this move is “to help provide some certainty for our customers’ travel arrangements over the Christmas period. We are sorry for the inconvenience this will obviously cause, but we hope that being clear with all our customers at this point helps you to manage your plans with more certainty.”
“The situation is beyond our control and passenger safety will always be our number one priority.”
To contact EasyJet, their customer services are open 7 days a week, 8am-8pm, at 0330 365 5000. For British Airways, call their customer service team at 0344 493 0787.
TripAdvisor and Yelp found themselves being pushed down Google’s search results, and it was an accident, honest guv. Google has that it was a bug that was responsible for this, and now, they’re trying to fix it, now that people have noticed.
Executives from Yelp and TripAdvisor complained on Twitter, that when searching for things, Google’s own reviews were given priority, even when the search included the name of their own companies. You can see their tweets about it, here.
“The issues cited were caused by a recent code push, which we’re working quickly to fix,” a Google spokeswoman told Recode.
Of course, Google have been pushing their own reviews of locations recently, offering prizes to everyone if they do theirs on Google Maps, in a bid to grab some traffic from the likes of TripAdvisor and Yelp.
This isn’t particularly good timing for Google, as they’re being investigated by the European Union over accusations of showing favouritism to their own apps and services, over others. It is good timing for Yelp though, who have been arguing with authorities, that something needs to be done about Google in this respect.
Over summer, Yelp put out a document that accused Google of manipulating searches to promote themselves. They said: “The easy and widely disseminated argument that Google’s universal search always serves users and merchants is demonstrably false. Instead, in the largest category of search (local intent-based), Google appears to be strategically deploying universal search in a way that degrades the product so as to slow and exclude challengers to its dominant search paradigm.”
In what seems like a 2015 twist on the ‘waiter, waiter, there’s a fly in my soup’ joke, Greggs have sold someone a sandwich which was filled with insects. While they’re a source of protein, it isn’t exactly what you’d want to find is it?
A lady called Sue Powell-Reed bought a ham and cheese baguette from a branch in Swansea, and found it crawling with flies. And here it is, for your viewing pleasure, at lunch time.
A spokesperson for Greggs said: “‘Nothing is more important to us than hygiene and food safety. We not only kept in touch with the customer, but carried out immediate and thorough checks which confirm that our products, procedures and shop environment were clean and safe.”
“We will continue to liaise with this customer to find out more about this video. Meanwhile, all our Swansea customers can be reassured that our products are safe.”
Now, feel free to make your own jokes about Greggs customers or the people of South Wales.
They’re recalling 1.6 million vehicles for the airbags that have been supplied by Takata, who were at the centre of the last scandal which saw huge amounts of vehicles recalled worldwide.
Now, at the moment, it involves 22 models, including the Corolla and Vitz, manufactured from January 2004 through December 2005. It affects cars in Japan, Italy, Britain and Spain – there’s no numbers on that yet.
Like before, it looks like these Takata airbags might be inflating with too much force, which results in shrapnel being flung through the car when the bags inflate. People have died as a result of these airbags, but for the latest recall, there have been no reports of injuries.
Toyota will be getting in touch with drivers and dealerships. If you want to get on it first, then click here to check Toyota’s recall checker.
In America, regulators fined Takata $70 million for hiding evidence that their airbags were faulty, and if the company don’t abide by new terms, the penalty can be upped to $200 million by the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
The supermarket has frozen pay for drivers and warehouse staff in Belfast and Doncaster for this year, and now they’re being balloted by their union, and if they strike at the earliest opportunity, that means they could be downing tools on December 18th. If you’re in those areas, get your Christmas shopping delivered before then, eh? Or shop somewhere else, obviously.
That said, Tesco are being bullish about the whole situation, and said that ”any industrial action at these two sites will have no noticeable effect on Tesco customers”.
A Tesco spokesman said: “For the past several months we have been engaged in dialogue with our unions over our normal annual pay negotiations in our distribution centres. A two-year pay proposal has been fully recommended for acceptance by Usdaw across 20 of our sites and colleagues are currently voting on this offer.”
“The approach from Unite is clearly counterproductive, as we have always been committed to pay discussions, and is surprising given Unite had initially agreed to new talks. We want all of our distribution colleagues to support our turnaround plans, and work together to better serve our customers.”
Unite national officer Adrian Jones returned serve: “Our members have been working very hard to get Tesco to the position where the company can announce such promising results and be confident that it has turned the corner of the challenges of recent years.”
“We don’t want favours from the company but we believe that the current offer is far below what it can afford and what our members deserve. Unite members don’t want to disrupt anyone’s Christmas shopping but without a proper pay increase thousands of workers will not be able to enjoy their own Christmas in the way they deserve.”
“We urge Tesco to revise its pitiful pay offer and avoid potential industrial action in the run-up to Christmas.”
Toys R Us are putting an end to categorising toys into boys and girls categories. This means that they’ll be selling toys and it’ll be up to your child which ones they want. It is a good move, which ultimately won’t change much in the way of shopping habits, but still, it is nice to open all the toys up to children.
This of course, came about after pressure from a group called Let Toys Be Toys and, thanks to them being campaigners, it means that some people will automatically be against whatever it is they’re saying – that’s how humans work. Group A says “CHANGE THINGS!” Group B complain and reply with “LEAVE EVERYTHING ALONE!”
Either way, you’ll now search for toys by age-group, brand, or type of toy, rather than gender. Of course, some parents will think that this is going to make shopping for their children more difficult, but really, buying toys for kids is a nightmare regardless of how it is offered to you.
Obviously, television commercials and marketing won’t be changing the way they do things, which means Toys R Us changing their system won’t mean that girls will stop being ushered toward dolls, and boys toward diggers, but it is something. And of course, parents will influence what they want their children to play with, but all the same, if you shop at Toys R Us, the shelves will no longer categorise things into things for girls, and things for boys.
MasterCard has, today, launched a limited “Fare Free Mondays” promo, which is offering free public transport to Apple Pay users in London. This is going to be a thing on Mondays between November 23 and December 14, 2015.
MasterCard customers who are using Apple Pay to tap their way around the capital will have up to £27.90 in daily fares refunded by MasterCard, which is handy if you’re in London. It is utterly useless for the rest of the UK mind you, but there you go. You can use it on the Tube, buses, tram, DLR, London Overground and most National Rail services.
Mark Barnett, president of MasterCard UK&I said: “The move by TfL last year to accept contactless cards and devices on London Underground has been a phenomenal catalyst to the growth in contactless payments across the UK. Now that Apple Pay has arrived we want to encourage travellers on London’s transport network to try it out and give them another convenient option to pay for their travel.”
“What better way to do this, than to offer MasterCard customers using Apple Pay the chance to travel for free over the next four consecutive Mondays.”
So, if you don’t live in London and have an Android phone, feel free to swear under your breath about those gits who live in London getting all the good stuff.