Posts Tagged ‘News’
A couple went to a hotel in Blackpool and they didn’t have a nice time. So, like many disgruntled customers, they complained about it on the internet. After leaving a critical TripAdvisor review, they found themselves being fined £100.
Tony and Jan Jenkinson left some negative comments on the review site after being thoroughly unimpressed with their stay at the Broadway Hotel. Later, when checking their credit card bill, they found an erroneous £100 charge. The hotel, it turns out, has a policy where they take money from you for bad review.
Of course, the Trading Standards are now investigating as it looks like The Broadway Hotel has breached unfair trading practice regulations.
If you look at the hotel’s policy, which is contained in the booking document, it says: “Despite the fact that repeat customers and couples love our hotel, your friends and family may not. For every bad review left on any website, the group organiser will be charged a maximum £100 per review.”
You can almost admire the cheek.
If it is in the t&cs, then what is the excuse of the Jenkinsons? Well, when Mrs Jenkinson signed the papers, she didn’t have her glasses on so she couldn’t read the small print. Mr Jenkinson isn’t having any of that though. He is vowing to fight the fee, and told the BBC: “Annoyed isn’t strong enough for how I feel about this, what happened to freedom of speech? Everybody we have spoken to says they (the hotel) are not allowed to do this.”
Councillor John McCreesh, cabinet member for trading standards, said: “Customers need to be free to be honest about the service they’re getting. Other customers depend upon it. Hotel owners should focus on getting their service right rather than shutting down aggrieved customers with threats and fines.”
“People should have the right to vent their disappointment if a hotel stay did not meet their expectations and should not be prevented from having their say.”
Netto have been opening a crop of new shops with little fanfare, but the one to keep an eye on is B&M Bargains.
Simon Arora, the chief executive of B&M, has been saying that his company are “genuinely disruptive” to the retail industry and that they will be doubling in size in the UK. B&M floated on the stock market earlier this year and are valued at £2.7bn.
While Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Morrisons and Asda have all been keeping an eye on each other, they collectively failed to noticed that B&M, Poundland, Aldi and Lidl have been stealing their customers through good prices and expansion.
B&M also happen to be chaired by former Tesco boss, Sir Terry Leahy, so you know they’re not messing around. The company already has 400 outlets, but they’re looking at getting to 850 stores in the next couple of years.
Arora said: “Half the UK does not have a B&M in convenient access. We will become a national retailer not a regional retailer.” While they don’t sell food, “you can find a toaster in B&M and it will be cheaper than a specialist shop.”
B&M are looking at becoming something like Woolworths, filling the gap for those who want the kind of things you wouldn’t buy with your groceries. B&M are also looking at grabbing the buildings left by Homebase who closed a quarter of their stores.
Sir Terry Leahy says: “The business is well-positioned as the leading limited assortment general merchandise discounter in a growth sector which offers scope for it to at least double in size in the UK alone over the next few years – and we are making good progress towards that objective.”
“B&M has delivered good momentum in sales, profits and cash generation during the first half whilst at the same time pushing on with rapid store rollout and investing in new infrastructure and team capability to support this long-term growth.”
The Big Four – the ball’s in your court.
We all know that the big supermarkets aren’t doing particularly well and, as far as the consumer is concerned, why should anyone care? As long as someone is offering a decent price on decent products, it doesn’t matter where you shop.
And so, to Goldman Sachs who think they have a solution for the big players in supermarket world – they need to be broken up and scaled down.
In a research note, Goldman Sachs said Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Morrisons must cut space by around 20% by 2020 if the want to survive the onslaught from Aldi and Lidl. “Our analysis of the UK grocery industry suggests capacity exit is the only viable solution for a return to profitable growth,” their analysts said.
Of course, this isn’t the first time that someone has suggested that. We’ve spoken about the idea of Tesco becoming ‘smaller’ in a bid to stay relevant.
It is believed that like-for-like sales through the bigger stores will fall by around 18% and that earnings could also fall by 60% between 2013 and 2017 if supermarkets don’t sort this issue of space, out.
The supermarkets have already noticed this and tried to find a remedy for it, that’s why so many of them are setting up ‘convenience’ versions of their supermarkets, because no-one is using their enormo-markets that are found out-of-town.
And while the big four have been slashing prices, or at least threatening to, it isn’t enough according to Goldman Sachs. They think that “the major decisions that will shape the future of the UK grocery market are yet to be taken”.
We can only wait and see.
Tesco are trying to win over the public with free WiFi in their stores. Of course, this means Minority Report fans are going to lose their baps over this, thinking that the whole thing is an exercise in stealing your data and tracking you around the aisles.
In fairness, that’s probably true.
In a press release, Auntie Tesco said:”Customers are now able to take advantage of BT WiFi free in Tesco Extra and Superstores across the UK and Republic of Ireland. Tesco is helping customers get more value out of their shopping experiences with free and fast WiFi access at stores in the UK and Republic of Ireland, thanks to a new partnership with BT.”
So how do you go about getting it?
Tesco add: “To enjoy the new service, customers should simply select ‘Tesco Wi-fi’ or ‘BT’ on their smartphones or tablets and they can begin browsing. The free service has been fully rolled out to 806 Tesco Extra and Superstores in the UK and 113 stores in the Republic of Ireland.”
While you’re using it, you’ll be allowed to download Clubcard vouchers and get product information too, as well as browsing recipes and hawking the latest in-store offers and all that.
Tomas Kadlec, Group Technology Director, Tesco, said: “Customers now want the same kind of experience in-store as they enjoy online, with fast and convenient access to product information, pricing and offers at the touch of their fingertips. We were the first supermarket in the UK to offer free WiFi and the first to launch online shopping. We’re now bringing these innovations together to put our customers in control with better service and value than ever before.”
Get on the torrents while you’re shopping for beans, eh?
Remember when The Royal Bank of Scotland’s IT systems went awry and no-one could get into their accounts? Well, that’s coming back to bite them on the posterior as the bank is looking at a fine for £50 million.
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), who will be doling out the fine, haven’t said how much they’re going to slap RBS with, but it looks like it’ll be tens-of-millions.
FCA need to make a show of RBS because their cock-up saw over 100 million transaction being delayed, with people going to buy their shopping and finding that their cards didn’t work, to people’s direct debits for rent not leaving their account. It was a grade-A mess.
Of course, it was customers of the RBS Group that were inconvenienced, with RBS customers being annoyed, as well as those with NatWest and Ulster Bank.
In addition to this, Bank of England Governor Mark Carney has warned all the banks and financial institutions that there’s going to be need for radical reform after a number of scandals. Let us not forget, the banks are also being investigated for diddling foreign exchanges and a whole lot more.
Regarding the latter RBS have already coughed-up £400m to the FCA and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (an American regulator).
They’re not the only villains in all this: HSBC, UBS, Citi, JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America are also settling with regulators all over the place, totalling $4 billion in payments. As for RBS, this IT mess has already cost them £175m to resolve. The whole thing is a depressing mess, especially given that the taxpayer now part-owns the Royal Bank of Scotland.
Carney said: “The repeated nature of these fines demonstrates that financial penalties alone are not sufficient to address the issues raised. Fundamental change is needed to institutional culture, to compensation arrangements and to markets.”
“The succession of scandals mean it is simply untenable now to argue that the problem is one of a few bad apples. The issue is with the barrels in which they are stored. Standards may need to be developed to put non-bonus or fixed pay at risk.”
If you’re thinking that we need further reforms, Carney says: “Some might feel that, having apparently reached the finish line, the race has been extended. Indeed there will be inevitable calls by some vested interests to turn back. Already we can hear some of the runners, particularly those at the back, making world-weary arguments that more reform will hurt jobs and growth, and even that financial crises are just something that happens every five to seven years.”
“If that were true, we are due for another crisis about now. Does anyone find that acceptable?”
As well as letting you book and pay for a cab all through a mobile app, it looks like you’ll be able to act as in-car DJ as, according to a new report, the Uber app will soon let you play Spotify tunes through one of their car’s speakers.
That means you can put on your playlist that features both Barry Manilow and Ty Dolla Sign while someone drives you to the pub.
You’ll have to wait for Uber to update the Android and iOS apps to let you be the tune selecta in your cab, but it will be happening and TechCrunch have some screenshots of the new service. Drivers will need the relevant tech to make this work, so if you jump in an Uber cab and the driver is listening to 20 Greatest Roy Orbison Hits on an 8-track, you’ll have to plug your headphones in your phone if you want your own tunes.
That means drivers will have to update their Uber information to let customers know whether they’ve got an AUX input, just in case you’re the kind of person who demands control of the stereo and can’t be doing with Magic FM being played at full tilt.
Now, the screenshots shown don’t say which music company is behind the Uber music crossover, but all fingers are pointing and voices are muttering in the direction of Spotify. There’ll be a press conference later, which will confirm that it is Spotify.
Anyway, tops off. Taxi rides are about to go H.A.M.
Are you the kind of person who prefers to look at your own arse in the mirror while you’re having sex? Well, LIVE IN THE NOW as someone has come up with an app for Google Glass so you can check yourself out while on the job.
The app is called Glance which captures the viewpoint of your partner, you fantastically vain swine. Of course, this isn’t all about you. If you and your partner like filming yourself whilst knocking your uglies together, then you can both do a movie and play them back side-by-side.
Basically, you can now truly see what your partner has to put up with during your grunting sweatfests.
What happens is that you pop on your Google Glass(es) and say ominously: “Okay glass, it’s time.” The app will then stream the footage. For the full experience, you’ll need a pair of Google specs each. Amusingly, to stop the footage, you need to say “Okay glass, pull out.”
The creators said: “Glance let’s you see two different perspectives, seamlessly. It changes the way you experience something personal. Like sex. Having sex with Glance brings a completely new perspective.”
The inventors also said that they’re very concerned about you and your partner’s privacy and that they won’t host the videos anywhere and that you’ll be the only people to own a copy. Of course, if you store it on a cloud service, that could all go out the window. Either way, the app database won’t store anything and the footage will be on your phone only.
The next ‘Fappening’ is going to be interesting isn’t it?
There’s a lot of rules and regulations around pubs that many see as damaging to our noble boozers. One of them is the ‘beer-tie’, which means that tied leaseholders are legally obliged to buy their beer at whatever price their landlords choose.
The OFT said that ‘beer-ties’ were ‘working well’ for customers, despite the fact a lot of pubs have closed down because of it, which isn’t great for those who like a snifter down their local at all. This ruling has mainly hit pubs in less affluent areas the hardest, where they’ve been priced out of the market by landlords and of course, supermarkets.
Tied-landlords are shutting down pubs and the people that own them are flogging them as little more than property. It is enough to drive you to drink, if you had somewhere to drink that is.
However, MPs are pushing for an amendment to the proposed Pubs Code, where they hope to axe the ‘beer-tie’.
Greg Mulholland, LibDem MP for Leeds North West and chair of Parliament’s Save the Pub Group, is pushing an amendment to the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Bill which proposes that landlords should be offered a ‘market rent only’ option, which in plain English, means that they’ll have no obligation to buy beer from the group that owns their pub. That means a better variety of booze and, with more competition, better prices on the pumps.
If you’ve ever wondered why, for example, your local hasn’t ever served Doom Bar or Timothy Taylors, even though everyone wants to sup it, chances are, the person who runs your pub isn’t allowed.
Federation of Small Businesses chairman John Allan said: “Pub company tenants aren’t getting a fair deal and this will continue unless they have the option to go free of tie.”
There’s some opposition to this proposal, but these people are clearly not concerned about communities having proper boozers, rather than priced-up gastrononsense.
Will this be the end of the ‘beer-tie’ or are the breweries too powerful to budge?
The Conservative MPs are supporting an appeal to get rid of the BBC TV Licence. No surprise there as this is the latest in a long history of the Tories versus the BBC, wherein the political party finds it slightly unfair that they’re unable to sell it off and make money out of it.
The appeal, which has been led by – always the way – backbencher Andrew Bridgen, urges Culture Secretary Sajid Javid to spearhead a government review of BBC funding.
According to a letter that Mr Bridgen has sent to Mr Javid, he accuses the current funding of the BBC as “becoming unsustainable and out of keeping with the modern media environment”.
“The corporation should be planning for a future without the licence fee and investigating subscription-based payment options, as well as the wealth of further opportunities that exist for its worldwide operation”.
Seemingly unaware that for £145 a year you get a total bargain and somewhere relatively free of Simon Cowell, advertising and Keith Lemon, the licence fee is what separates one from the animals.
But Mr Bridgen is a backbencher Tory and so claims that the fee is “the most regressive taxes in the UK today”.
Bridgen has been previously involved with the Government to review whether non-payment of the licence fee should be classed as a civil offence, after people had been given jail terms.
Bridgen reckons: “The BBC should move to a subscription model as soon as it is practicable. The sheer pace of technological change will render the licence fee redundant. It is a matter of when the fee goes, not if.”
So. Turning the BBC into Netflix essentially. A BBC spokesman said that the subscription, which costs £2.80 a week, had risen in support by 22% since 2004, and said that “It’s vital that programmes like EastEnders, Strictly, Sherlock, Doctor Who and Match Of The Day can been watched by everyone, not a select few.”
BBC haters – you know where the comments are.
Thanks to the increasingly heated rivalry between all the supermarkets, the price of a turkey and the trimmings has fallen. If you’re feeding eight people, the price of your Christmas dinner will be £2.66 a head.
You can recalibrate the cost per head if you’re the kind of person who does Christmas properly and feeds four people with eight people’s worth of food where you all force it all down you like a hoard of gluttons.
Funnily enough, this cost of a Christmas dinner is actually cheaper than a Meal Deal from Tesco.
Anyway, this is the kicker: If you want a turkey, cranberry sauce, four types of vegetables, stuffing and three different desserts, if you shop around you can buy it for £21.31. Last year, according to the Good Housekeeping magazine, it would’ve set you back £21.84 and, in 2009, it would’ve cost £24.
Soon enough, the supermarkets will be so desperate for our custom, they’ll just fire pre-cooked turkey dinners directly into our mouths for free with a t-shirt cannon. Here’s hoping.
Good Housekeeping found that the best priced turkey was £9.99 from Lidl while Aldi are cheapest for sprouts and carrots. As for your Christmas pudding and mince pies, the best is to be found at Sainsbury’s, while Tesco is the place to buy your cranberry sauce. Morrisons, Asda and Tesco all offered stuffing for the same price.
If you can’t be bothered going to all those different shops, then the cheapest single-basket shop is Peter Andre’s Iceland, where you can buy the lot for £27.84, which is £20 cheaper than the most expensive, Marks and Spencer.
Good Housekeeping said: “Budget supermarkets are making a real difference to the cost of our shopping,” adding: “It’s a constant struggle for many to keep family food bills under control, but the current battle between the traditional supermarkets and the discounters is pulling prices down.”
All you have to do now is sharpen your elbows for the inevitable rush in the supermarkets. Remember, Christmas is all about one thing: NO MERCY.
When someone dies, it can be really tricky getting a company to believe you. And so, to T-Mobile, who consistently refused to believe a widow when she’d told them that her husband had passed away. The mobile company wouldn’t cancel his monthly contract, so she decided to prove a point.
She took his ashes into one of their stores.
Maria Raybould had been threatened with bailiffs by T-Mobile and told she had to pay a cancellation fee after her husband David died. As if she wasn’t dealing with enough. After showing T-Mobile a death certificate, funeral bills, she decided to show them an urn full of remains.
Still, T-Mobile weren’t having it and wanted some money from a woman who was clearly grieving.
She said: “I’ve been up to the shop with the death certificate, with a letter from the crematorium, the funeral bills – even his ashes. I took in everything I could. I lost it in the shop. I gave them 20 minutes to sort it out. I went outside and had a panic attack. When I went back in the girl told me she had spoken to the manager and they were going to stop the contract. Then I had another letter about the bailiffs.”
Mrs Raybould said that her son had got in touch with T-Mobile on the day after her husband’s death, trying to cancel the contract, but clearly, seeing a death certificate and everything else, it was all to no avail. Even after visiting with his ashes, she still received demands for bills and cancellation charges.
She added: ”How dare they put me and my sons through this after all we have been through already. I wouldn’t want anyone to go through what we have gone through over the last few months. It was easier for us to bury him than sort this out.”
T-Mobile have now said sorry for all this, blaming it all on an automated process that cancels the balance, which meant that letters were still being sent out.
A spokesman said: “We apologise to Mrs Raybould for any distress caused at this difficult time. We can confirm that the account has been closed and the balance cleared.”
Which!!! have been looking at some of the sneaky-ass tricks that retailers have been doing and they’re most irked by ‘Poor-value gift sets’, which means getting a bundle of toiletry items that cost most than buying them separate. You’re actually paying for some lousy box that you’ll just throw in the bin.
They found that a £6.50 Dove gift set can be bought separately for £4.40. That’s £2.10 for some poxy packaging.
The consumer rights mag also has the hump about ‘tiny portion sizes that make products look healthier’ and ‘Light’ products that aren’t actually healthy. Which!!! looked squarely as Flora Buttery Light (for some inexplicable reason) which “contains high amounts of both fat (45g per 100g) and saturated fat (10g per 100g)” to which Unilever replied with the fact that their product “complies with labelling regulations.”
Which!!! have missed the worst of them all – crisps. Ever bought a packet of crisps, where the packing is larger than your head, yet when you open it, there’s only about 10 crisps inside? It is enough to make you stab. Or wolf down 37 packets of crisps in one go while you’re watching How I Met Your Mother for the millionth time.
There’s also got to be a shout-out to cereal boxes, which give the impression of loads of food inside, when in actual fact, the bugger’s half empty when you buy it.
Anyway, feel free to shout at us about the packaging that gets your goat.
Andy Clarke, who just happens to be the head honcho at Asda, has said today that things have slowed down for the Wal-Mart owned retailer and that, like everyone else, Aldi and Lidl are eating into their customer base. He’s vowed to turn things around as the company recorded their first significant slump in sales since the discount supermarket onslaught began.
The supermarket chain’s sales had fallen in the third quarter of this year, which is of note because Asda’s sales haven’t seen a drop in like-for-like sales since 2010.
So what are Asda going to do? Well, Clarke isn’t impressed with the other retailers attacking the German supermarkets, and he said: “We won’t be knee-jerked into reacting to short-term tactics. Vouchers can win quarters, but strategies win decades.”
“The last quarter has seen a shockwave go through our industry and others are starting to respond to the challenges they face. I expect that we will see another tough quarter and I’m under no illusions that the battle continues to rage.”
That means Clarke will oversee price drops, a revamping of big stores and doing something meaningful with their digital side of the business. Clarke wants it delivered “with agility and pace”.
“We have more to do on the discounters,” said Clarke, “but we continue to close the gap on price and offer 10 times the range across stores and online. A new reality is upon us and, although we were the first to adapt, we need to do everything to remain ahead of our traditional competitors while removing reasons for customers to go to the small discount shops.”
“A year ago we took clear action to tackle the changes in our market and implement a five-year strategy to redefine value retailing. That is a long-term strategy that won’t be delivered overnight. But our early, decisive action has seen our business outperform our traditional competitors in a market that is in unprecedented distress.”
So there you have it. Asda are feeling the pinch too. Can they outwit their rivals?
Sainsbury’s have got ’round to noticing the “unstoppable growth” of discount supermarkets like Lidl and Aldi and, as a result, have announced that they’re going to be doing £150m worth of price cuts, as it funked its way into a first-half loss.
And worse still, they predict that underlying profits will be lower in the second half of the year than the first.
The price cuts mean that Sainsbury’s will be cutting back on spending on new stores, according to Mike Coupe, the new chief executive of the retailer. Of course, with all this, their shares are falling, down 4%.
Mike Coupe added that, after doing a review of the company, he’s found that customers and staff want a “better, brigher, sharper Sainsbury’s”. What customers want, in plain English, is a reasonable price for decent products. Also, it’d be nice if bosses at supermarkets stopped being so pessimistic and sounding for all the world like they’re going to top themselves in the veg aisle. All we want is a good price and non of that emo business, thank you very much.
John Ibbotson, director of the retail consultancy Retail Vision, told the Guardian: “Just like the old British empire, the big four are now in an irreversible decline. The middle classes are on the move, and their destination is Aldi and Lidl. Does Sainsbury’s have the market savvy to stop the grand exodus, and retain a core customer? The upheaval will go on for years, and the low-cost discounters look set to be the main winners. The only limit is how many stores they can open.”
Regulators from the US, UK and Switzerland have doled out $3.4bn worth of fines on five banks including Royal Bank of Scotland in the first of the smackdowns that are coming about after a global probe into rate-rigging in the foreign exchange markets.
HSBC, RBS, Swiss bank UBS and American banks JP Morgan Chase and Citibank have all been fined… and the probe into Barclays in ongoing.
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) boss Martin Wheatley said there’s more to come: “This isn’t the end of the story. The individuals themselves will face the consequences.”
“At the heart of today’s action is our finding that the failings at these banks undermine confidence in the UK financial system and put its integrity at risk.” the FCA added as a whole.
The American regulator, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), were cracking their knuckles too. Boss Aitan Goelman said: ”The setting of a benchmark rate is not simply another opportunity for banks to earn a profit. Countless individuals and companies around the world rely on these rates to settle financial contracts.”
The combined regulators found that hoodwinkery had been going on for some years and that certain foreign exchange traders at the banks had teamed up and coordinated tradings with each another in a bid to manipulate foreign exchange rates.
Groups that were up to no good called themselves, irritatingly, ‘the players’, ‘the A-team’, ‘the 3 musketeers’ and ’1 team 1 dream’, according to FCA documents. They should’ve been fined for those names alone. Using chatrooms and slang, they were found to have attempted to use clients’ stop loss orders for their own gain as well.
The FCA said the banks had not “exercised adequate and effective control” over their forex trading businesses, and that training was “insufficient” and that the “right values and cultures” were being ignored.
RBS have six people going through the disciplinary process and suspended three while HSBC said that it “does not tolerate improper conduct and will take whatever action is appropriate”. George Osborne said that this ”tough action” is just what is needed to “clean up corruption in the City by a few.”
As well as all this, the Serious Fraud Office is in the middle of their proceedings and preparing potential criminal charges. Big talk. Hands up if you think this is going to change the attitudes of any of the banks.