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Latest news from Compensation Pack, keeping you informed about your right to claim compensation.

Tuesday 03rd September 2013 'I'm still waiting for my deposit after two months': Your first lesson as a student - how to avoid a renting rip-off
More than a million students heading for university this month will be moving into private rented accommodation – many for the first time. But before moving into a flat or house-share it is important to know your rights as a tenant. The Mail on Sunday explains how to ensure your tenancy goes without a hitch. 

 

 

YOUR BASIC RIGHTS 

 

Most students who rent their accommodation do so through an assured shorthold tenancy. This gives tenants the legal right to live in the home, either for a fixed term or on a rolling contract, without being disturbed by the landlord, who must seek permission to visit – typically at least 24 hours beforehand.

 

 

PROTECT THE DEPOSIT 

 

A dispute over the return of a deposit is one of the most common problems students face when renting. Deposits are often not returned at the end of a letting because of alleged damage done to the property.



Sociology and criminology student Harry Davies, 20, is still waiting to get his money back after moving out of his shared house at the end of June. 

Last year, Harry, who is about to start his final year at the University of Kent, decided to live with four friends after spending the first year in halls of residence on the campus in Canterbury. But what was a great experience has turned sour financially after he failed to get back his £325 deposit.



Harry, of New Malden, South-West London, says: ‘We’re still waiting, despite moving out two months ago. ‘There was some minor damage done to the house, including a broken blind and a cigarette burn in the sofa, but nothing we thought was too serious. We left it with the landlord to value the damage, but since then we’ve heard nothing.’ 

He is now about to move into a new house-share but says: ‘It’s difficult getting together a new deposit when you’re still waiting to get the old one back.’

 

‘I managed to do so, but only because I work part time as a kitchen assistant in term, which let me save a bit of a war chest. Many of my friends have had to borrow from their parents.’

 

The law requires all deposits to be kept in one of four Government-backed deposit schemes – Mydeposits, the Tenancy Deposit Scheme, the Deposit Protection Service or Capita Tenancy Deposit Protection. This is to make sure deposits are secure and returned if tenants have kept a property in good condition. All four provide a free dispute resolution service.

 

Landlords or letting agents are required to protect deposits within 14 days of receiving the money and tell tenants which scheme they used. But a recent report by the Office of Fair Trading found tenants were still confused about where their deposits were held. 

Solicitor Nick Owens of Manches, a national law firm, says: ‘The deposit must be held with one of the tenancy deposit schemes. Landlords who fail to do that can face fines of up to three times the amount of the deposit.’

 

At the end of the tenancy the letting agent or landlord will check the property is in the same condition and order it was at the beginning of the lease. They should then return the agreed deposit, normally within 10 working days.

 

Tenants are advised to take photographs of any cracks, stains or damaged items when they first move in to protect themselves against any dispute later on. 

 

 

GET REPAIRS DONE 

 

Deciding who is responsible for repairs can cause arguments between tenants and landlords. Harry says his landlord was not bad at looking after the property, but it wasn’t all plain sailing. ‘The house had two toilets but one was broken nearly the whole time and no one bothered to come and fix it,’ he says. This is not uncommon.

 

The OFT report says many tenants’ complaints are to do with damage and upkeep of the property. Landlords have a legal duty to undertake essential repairs. This includes repairs to the exterior of the property, keeping gas, electricity, heating and water equipment up to scratch and making sure furniture is fire resistant.

 

By law they are required to ensure gas boilers and appliances are checked annually by a Gas Safe Registered professional. In return, tenants are responsible for day-to-day upkeep, such as changing light bulbs and keeping the garden tidy.

 

Owens says: ‘You have to apply a bit of common sense. If you break a light fitting during a party it is your responsibility to fix it.’

 

Contacts: Mydeposits, Tenancy Deposit Scheme, Deposit Protection Service, Capita Tenancy Deposit Protection. To make a complaint, speak to your local trading standards service .

 

 

WHY SHARING CAN BE A MINEFIELD

 

Renting can be a minefield, particularly if you have to share the space – and responsibility – with other students. It is important to choose your flatmates carefully. Typically, most tenancy contracts state that all tenants are ‘jointly and severally’ liable for covering the rent. This means that if one cannot pay their share, the other tenants will have to pay it.

 

Nick Owens of national law firm Manches says: ‘The landlord could sue everyone or any individual for any arrears in rent.’ Depending on how many people live in the household, it might be difficult to put down all names on utility bills. If that is the case, it is best for flatmates to put down in writing what share of any bills they are individually responsible for.

 

Insurance is worth considering. The average student takes between £2,000 and £6,000 worth of belongings with them to university. Most students think that they are covered under their parents’ home insurance policy, but this would typically only cover them if they live in halls of residence.

For adequate cover they need to get insurance that includes cover for house shares. Many insurers offer this type of cover, including student specialist Endsleigh.

LIVING IN A SHARED HOUSE? KEEP YOUR BILLS AS LOW AS POSSIBLE

If you are moving into a shared house, it can be a bit of a shock to the system when you have to shell out for internet, energy and phone bills on top of your rent and food costs.



But, if you are clever about it, you can keep your bills low by shopping around for the best deal.

It is likely that the previous tenants in the house you move into will have already signed up with a utilities or broadband provider.

 

It might seem easier to stick with the same company but you could find that switching could save you money.

 

You should also consider using a website such as Quidco or Top Cashback which will pay you cash for buying your contract or energy tariff through them.


Posted on September 03rd 2013 on 12:44pm
0 Comments
Labels: housing, student
Monday 02nd September 2013 'Thomson won't pay up for 16-hour ordeal': Why you can get 2,000 if your flight is delayed by a blocked loo - but not if it's hit by a bird

It was the third excuse from the glassy-eyed airline staff at a packed boarding gate that caused something to snap inside the previously patient passengers.

Shortly before 9.30pm in a stuffy Gatwick departure lounge, travellers weary from a sweaty five-hour delay to their flight to Gran Canaria had just been told by Thomson staff they would finally take off.

But there was a snag: it would not be for another 11 hours.

Many of the cabin crew earmarked for the trip had just spent too many hours in the air to be able to fly, it emerged — and replacements weren’t available.



Worse, this bombshell landed after an earlier excuse that an ‘aeroplane with a technical fault’, had forced the new late-evening departure time.

At boiling point, families struggling with exhausted children — along with fellow travellers — began to shout and yell at the airline’s staff. Fraught and furious, some tried to push past barriers in a vain attempt to get on the aircraft at any cost.

Anxious at the growing melee, airport staff frantically called security in a bid to quell the crowd’s anger.

But the attempt to defuse the situation failed. The arrival of security guards prompted others to clamber onto the counter to avoid being pushed back — and get to the plane in a desperate yet fruitless move



Ina Harmer, her husband Paul and six-year-old daughter Emily had a ringside seat to the mayhem.  



‘Everyone was frustrated, but being told that the airline hadn’t got the right number of crew available tipped people over the edge,’ she says. ‘The staff had to call in security because people were so desperate to get on the plane. 



‘In the end, once things calmed down, we were put up in a hotel near the airport for the night. It was so awful for Emily, who was weary, miserable and exhausted. That morning, we’d told her all about the lovely hotel waiting for us and the sunny weather in Gran Canaria — so when we ended up in a nearby Gatwick hotel, barely half an hour from our home, she was distraught. She just didn’t understand what was going on.’



The fiasco, which took place in June 2010, meant the Harmers lost a day of their week-long holiday.



When they tried to claim compensation in the following weeks, Thomson said it would have to wait until the EU had drawn up a final ruling on payouts for delays.



That meant a two-year wait until last October when rules were passed that say passengers delayed for more than three hours are entitled to compensation of up to €600 (£516) per person, or £2,064 for a family of four.



However, the Harmers have also had to spend the past ten months battling Thomson, which still refuses to pay up.



The company claims the delay was caused by a technical fault, which it could not have prevented — releasing it from any responsibility to pay. The Harmers refuse to accept this and are taking their complaint to court. 



Mrs Harmer says: ‘The delay was awful, but how we’ve been treated since is even worse. I’ll never use Thomson again. We’ve been fobbed off at every turn and made to jump through hoops in the hope we’ll just go away.'

‘They have demanded boarding passes from three years ago as proof of our flight and even claimed it has had no record of us being on it! But we won’t give up.’ 



Their sentiment is being shared by thousands more holidaymakers, including many returning from overseas trips this summer, who are battling to get compensation after experiencing a delay of more than three hours.



Every day, more than 100 disgruntled travellers lodge an official complaint, according to the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). 



A record 20,000 are expected to take an airline to the authorities this year, it estimates — compared with just 3,200 last year. 



Many of these complaints date back as far as six years. 



All have been spurred on by the new EU law on compensation for delays of more than three hours.



They have also been given impetus by two recent court cases, which have seen holidaymakers successfully win compensation for delays from travel agent Thomas Cook — which runs a fleet of aircraft — and airline Monarch.

But despite the new law, many airlines are trying to avoid paying out. 



They are exploiting a loophole in the rules that states that if the delay is caused by an ‘extraordinary circumstance’ outside the airline’s control, they don’t have to cough up.



Frequently, airlines won’t give an explanation to passengers of exactly what has happened but refer instead to something vague such as a ‘technical fault’.



You may be told the airline could do nothing about it but, in reality, the setback can be of the airline’s own making.



Working out who’s right and who’s telling the truth is proving a major headache for holidaymakers — and leaving many confused.



Figures from consumer campaign group Flight-Delayed reveal only one in ten delayed passengers who complain to the airline are awarded compensation. 



Yet the CAA says it rules in favour of the passenger in around half of all cases it subsequently sees.



Now, fed up at the airlines’ stubbornness and consumer confusion, the EU has had to publish new guidelines less than a year after introducing the original law.



If you’re just back from a trip abroad and have experienced a delay or are about to set off on an end-of-summer break, here’s where you stand . . .





Why have the rules been revamped? 



Five weeks ago, regulators in Europe attempted to clarify once and for all what counts as an ‘extraordinary circumstance’ — something that lets the airline off the hook from a payout if you’re delayed. 



Critically, blaming a lack of flight-worthy crew for a delay will no longer let airlines wriggle out of compensation. So, too, must they pay out when maintenance checks over-run, or technical issues hold back take-off because of poor overall service levels. From examples seen by Flight-Delayed, this means if shoddy maintenance has led to a broken bulb in the emergency floor lights or a blocked toilet being overlooked until the last minute — which causes a delay — the airline won’t be allowed to call it a ‘technical fault’ or ‘extraordinary circumstance’.



And if an airline is late because it failed to get the right paperwork in order or an inspection by an outside safety body finds a technical problem, it also has to pay passengers.



There is now a list of 30 examples of an ‘extraordinary circumstance’ when an airline is not at fault and, therefore, does not have to provide compensation.



These include obvious examples such as civil unrest, strikes, terrorism threats, natural disasters and bad weather.



They also include if a bird strikes the aircraft or a poorly driven airport vehicle collides with the plane.



And if an engine part fails before it is due to be replaced, then the airline doesn’t have to pay up.



So will all cases now be paid in full? 



It’s unlikely because many of the 30 extraordinary circumstances are too vague.



For example, it allows an airline off the hook if it encounters a technical defect ‘immediately prior to departure’. 



But what does ‘immediately prior’ mean? Ten minutes, 30 minutes or an hour? It’s likely to be a horribly contested grey area.



Raymond Veldkamp, founder of Flight-Delayed, which investigates claims, is concerned the new guidelines do not go far enough.



He says: ‘It’s a step forward, but airlines will still be able to get around them. To a passenger, the word ‘immediately’ might mean five minutes, but to an airline, it could be three hours. They still have too much room for manoeuvre.’ 

Similar confusion is likely to arise over just what counts as a poor standard of maintenance service. 



Who decides what is and what isn’t acceptable? And how can it be proved that what is said to have happened actually took place?



It could end up with the CAA’s word against an airline’s, and a contested service report.



The lack of an independent body to oversee this is likely to cause further problems.





What's scuppering so many valid claims? 



Airlines don’t want to dig deep for expensive compensation claims. 

The rise of budget airlines also means that, in many cases, the sums awarded in compensation are greater than the cost of the flight.



As a result, experts fear passengers will continue to be fobbed off despite the new rules.



Getting to the truth of what really happened is also tricky. 



Airlines can say one thing without yet knowing what has actually happened, further muddying the waters.



An airline may also tell you the delay is down to a technical problem, but not know if it’s one that will result in them paying up — hence the vagueness of their responses.



Hardly any passengers have the knowledge or experience to know what the problem actually is, or to be able to corroborate it.



There is also confusion over how far back you can claim. All airlines have been told by regulators to deal with claims from up to six years ago, in line with UK court rulings. 



But, so far, Thomson has refused to play ball.



Instead, it is refusing to look at claims older than two years, and that includes the Harmer family, despite their making a first complaint in 2010.  



A spokesperson for Thomson says: ‘The law in this area is complex and many situations will not result in an entitlement to compensation.’



It means Thomson passengers who fail to bring their claims within two years will have to take their case to a small claims court.  



The EU has also ruled that — in a bid to ease some of the pressure on the CAA — using the new rules, airlines have to look again at complaints they have previously rejected. This is holding up claims and adding to frustrations.



Not having enough clear information on how to make a valid claim for delayed flight compensation is also a major problem.



A spokesperson for the CAA says: ‘It’s vital for airlines to give passengers more detailed explanations of exactly what caused the delay and the steps they took to prevent it. To help customers, they can’t just say there was a technical fault, which is what we’ve seen in the past. They need a clearer explanation.’



How much money can you get back? 



Under EU law, you are entitled to compensation for flight delays. To qualify, you must be delayed for more than three hours before landing at your destination, and either travelling from an EU airport or on an EU airline.



So delayed passengers due to fly into Heathrow from New York on a BA aircraft would be able to claim; but those on American Airlines wouldn’t.



How much you get depends on how long you are delayed and how far you are travelling (see table above).



For example, if you’re flying from London to Paris and are delayed for three hours you can claim €250 (£215). 



To get the maximum €600 (£516), you need to be travelling more than 3,500 km and be delayed for four hours or more.



The EU is in talks over whether to alter the amount of compensation you get for different-length delays, but any changes are unlikely before 2015.



Remember, if you are delayed, your airline is obligated to care for you regardless of whether you are entitled to compensation or not. This means providing you with vouchers for food and drink and putting you up in a hotel if you are delayed overnight.





How do I get my compensation? 



From the minute you’re held up by more than three hours at a UK airport, start collecting evidence.

Note down what airline staff tell you about why you’re delayed, the time it is said and any later changes to this if they occur. Keep hold of any letters or information leaflets staff may hand out.



Then, when you return from your holiday, complain to the airline citing the EU Regulation 261/2004, and explain you are writing to  request compensation.



Include your name, booking reference, flight number, when you were travelling and the flight length. 



You should also include any boarding passes, receipts and confirmation emails you have.



If your airline rejects your claim, you can then lodge a complaint with the CAA by phoning 020 7379 7311, visiting its website at caa.co.uk or writing to CAA House, 49-55 Kingsway, London WC2B 6TE. 



It will investigate whether it thinks you have grounds to make a claim.



However, when an airline performs a U-turn and pays out, it does not have to contact everyone else on the flight who should also have received compensation.



Others may already have made a successful claim, so don’t delay.



The CAA says it will deal with complaints dating back to 2007 (although, with Thomson, passengers face a court action if it’s more than two years ago).



It can’t force the airline to pay out, but it can strongly recommend that it looks again at your case.



In the last resort, if the airline still refuses to pay, you can take it to a small claims court.



If the delay happened outside the UK, you must take your complaint to the equivalent authority for that country — not the CAA. For example, if you are delayed in Spain, you will have to contact the Agencia Española de Seguridad Aérea (AESA); or from France, the Direction Generale de l’Aviation Civile. The CAA will be able to help you with contact details.



And watch out even when you are successful: some airlines are trying to pay compensation in vouchers for further flights. However, the CAA says you can reject this as you are entitled to cash.



Some airlines also encourage passengers to make a claim on their travel insurance for delays. 



But most insurers will cover only the food and accommodation expenses incurred — which are covered by your airline anyway — and only stump up for long delays.  





[Source - http://www.dailymail.co.uk/money/holidays/article-2403199/Why-claim-compensation-holiday-planes-delayed-blocked-loo--hit-bird.html]


Posted on September 02nd 2013 on 09:34am
0 Comments
Labels: delayed flights, holiday claims
Thursday 29th August 2013 'We made 2,500 by using a cashback website': How to slash your bills in the cashback revolution

Millions of people are joining the money-for-nothing revolution as they cash in on schemes that save - and even make - them cash as they shop



No longer satisfied with simple half-price pizza vouchers or BOGOF (buy-one-get-one-free) supermarket offers, they are rapidly turning cash rebates worth a few pence into hundreds or even thousands of pounds a year.


The Mail on Sunday shows you how to boost your spending power for free.
 

GET PAID JUST FOR SHOPPING

Quidco and TopCashBack are the two biggest players in paying you to do your shopping online. They direct customers to big- brand retailers which pay them for the leads and then let you share in the profits.



Less than 10 per cent of Brits have adopted this tactic – meaning armies of shoppers have yet to discover the benefit of getting paid for purchasing items they would have bought anyway.



It is easy to do. Simply create an account, which takes just minutes, log in, find cashback rates for anything from a broadband deal with BT to clothes shopping with Debenhams, and click on a link taking you to the shop’s website, where you make your purchase as normal.



Patience is required as it takes weeks – sometimes months – for the rebate to land in your online account. This can be siphoned into a current account or used to make further purchases online. 



More than 3.5million members shop via Quidco, which says 90,000 new customers join every month – each earning an average annual sum of £280, with a family accumulating about £780 a year.



Andy Oldham, Quidco managing director, says: ‘Recently we found that shoppers dedicate around 30 minutes a week to using money-saving tools, including cashback sites, which adds up to a saving of £18 a week.’



More than two million people use rival website TopCashBack, which says an average £316 is paid out to members each year. But a growing number of customers are pushing the boundaries even further by ‘compounding their cashback’ – earning cashback on their cashbacks. 



They do this by using credit cards that also pay a small percentage of spending back into a customer’s account as a reward for their business.



For example, this can be done with American Express Platinum Cashback and Sainsbury’s Cashback credit cards and by RBS and NatWest customers who have registered their debit cards to earn 1 per cent at certain shops. 



When these cards are used in tandem with Quidco or TopCashBack, customers get money back into their account a second time but for the same purchase.



Canny users can aim for a triple payout by also ordering a cashback credit card through one of the money-back websites. For example, TopCashBack members can earn £21 for taking out an American Express Platinum Cashback Credit.
 
 
 

BEST CASHBACK CREDIT CARDS

  Provider Cashback*
1 Barclaycard 6%
2 Amex Platinum 5%
3 Capital One 5%
4 Sainsbury’s 5%
5 Santander 123 3%
*introductory offer periods vary
 

LINK UP DISCOUNTS

Jordon Cox – the 16-year-old known as The Coupon Kid – made headlines recently after his prolific use of vouchers enabled him to whittle down £106 worth of food shopping to less than £2. 



Such success is hard to beat, but other shoppers have come up with impressive money-making and saving techniques. 



John Housden, 60, an actuary from High Halden, Kent, has applied his mathematical skills to bolster his savings. By regularly shopping through TopCashBack since the website was in its infancy in 2007, he has earned more than £2,500. 



He prudently converts his repayments into Amazon vouchers and by doing this boosts his spending power by 5  per cent because of a deal struck between the website and the online retailer. But John’s cleverest trick to date earned him more than £40 in free rail tickets.He achieved this by boosting £20 of cashback into £21 of Tesco Clubcard points, which has its own Clubcard Boost scheme, allowing him to double the value of points to £42 worth of rail fares with RedSpottedHanky. 



But once he converted the points, he visited the train fares website via TopCashBack before spending them, coming full circle and earning him another payout. Even though the second rebate was only a matter of pence, he says the payout he has earned so far speaks for itself.


John, married to Judith, 54, says: ‘People new to cashback websites shouldn’t expect to receive money back too quickly; it does take a while. But once that momentum is there, it doesn’t matter so much. And if you don’t take the payout as cash, but as vouchers or points elsewhere, it can be worth more.’ 



To maximise his discounts John pays for shopping with a cashback credit card, sending 1 per cent of all spending back into his own pocket, and he also uses TopCashBack’s voucher codes. Used alongside regular cashback offers, these codes offer the chance to save more money – known as ‘double dipping’. 



Quidco also allows customers to double up with discount codes and calls the method ‘stacking’. Both websites have smartphone apps allowing you either to earn money back by taking pictures of till receipts or rebates just for walking into a shop.
 

OFFERS JUST FOR YOU

The idea of personalised advertising was seen as futuristic when it featured in the popular 2002 science-fiction film Minority Report, starring Tom Cruise. But now it is for real. 



Barclaycard’s new service Bespoke Offers monitors individual spending patterns to determine offers and discounts you are likely to be interested in, then sends them to your smartphone or computer. A mix of retailers are signed up to the service, which anyone can use for free. 



You do not need to be a Barclaycard customer. David Herrick, managing director of Bespoke Offers, says: ‘It’s a challenging time with people spending less and looking for value every day. Meanwhile retailers are looking for smarter ways to reach customers. ‘There is a scattered approach at the moment, with discounts going out to everyone. But Bespoke provides consumers with offers that are relevant to them individually.’



Shopitize – a free smartphone app – does something similar but with grocery shopping. You scan barcodes of products using the phone and take a picture of the till receipt. Your account is then credited with cashback, which can be withdrawn when the sum reaches £5. You can earn up to £15 a week and over time exclusive deals will become more relevant to you based on your typical shopping habits. Fledgling website iLikeOffers also uses a special algorithm – an elegant and technical computer process – to understand users’ likes and dislikes to cut down time spent hunting for bargains and deliver recommended offers based on an individual’s favourite brands and interests.



WHERE TO GO FOR HELP

Bespoke Offers: bespokeoffers.co.uk or 0844 824 5093.



Crowdology: crowdology.co.uk or email Crowdology@redshiftresearch.co.uk.



National Rail: nationalrail.co.uk / 08457 484950.



Quidco: quidco.com.



Rant and Rave: 66099.co.uk or text 66099.



Swagbucks: swagbucks.com. 



TopCashBack: topcashback.co.uk.


MAKE TRACKS FOR RAIL REFUNDS

Rail fares only ever seem to go up in price, but too often the service is poor. Where punctuality is slack, the best course of action is to claim a refund – but many travellers simply do not bother. 



Fares for cancelled or delayed trains must be refunded if a customer decides not to travel – but even if they do, they can still apply for compensation from the train operating company. This applies only when the train company is responsible for the delay and not for circumstances beyond its control, such as severe weather.



For delays of more than an hour, the minimum refund is 20 per cent of the value of a single ticket or 10 per cent for a return ticket. Make a claim within 28 days by writing to the train company’s customer services department or go to the station’s ticket office. 



Compensation is in the form of National Rail Vouchers. Some train companies operate a ‘delay repay’ system and pay more than the minimum for delays of more than half an hour, irrespective of the cause.



For example, East Coast pays back half the price of a single ticket if the delay is between 30 and 59 minutes and a full refund if passengers are late by an hour or more. Anyone living in or visiting London can load National Rail Voucher refunds on to pay-as-you-go Oyster cards.



Vast numbers of Londoners also claim for delays of more than 15 minutes on the Underground – but millions are still missing out on refunds because they don’t bother. Claims must be made within 14 days by filling in a form online at the Transport For London website or printing it out and posting it.



You get a voucher matching the price for the single delayed journey. Alternatively, the smartphone app Tube Refund does the hard work.



'I rarely have to do much apart from giving my views': How you can make cash from your opinions

Florist Kate Maxwell, 31, gets paid to tell big brands, such as Papa John’s Pizza and National Express, what she thinks about their products and services.



Kate uses a new free smartphone app called VoxPopMe and says: ‘It’s good fun. You don’t earn huge amounts but it is money for not having to do very much except having an opinion. The videos only have to be about 15 seconds.’



Although it is a matter of pence, it can mount up. Users of the app were recently offered 30p to give their opinion on the new Dr Who – Peter Capaldi. Questions can be targeted at individuals according to their interests. As a vegetarian, Kate has given her opinion on how restaurants have catered for that. She aimed to upload one video a day and after a few weeks made about £5.



Kate, who lives in Selly Park, Birmingham, with her husband James and their cockapoo dog Brutus, says: ‘The sum paid varies depending on the question. I once got 50p and another time £1. But if more big businesses get involved, there could be bigger payouts in future.’



Meanwhile, Rant and Rave, a new company encouraging people to text, call or even send a picture of a brand name along with feedback, offers the chance to win £50 of shopping vouchers on ‘feedback Friday’.



Happy and disgruntled customers can send in their thoughts before the last Friday of every month for the chance to win Love2shop high street vouchers. For a definite payout, you could sign up to a survey site, such as Crowdology, which pays between 40p and £10 depending on the length of the interview.



Alternatively, join Swagbucks via Facebook and earn virtual currency for answering surveys. Once you have earned enough Swagbucks you can exchange them for gift cards to spend at the likes of Marks & Spencer and PizzaExpress.



'Browsing on Facebook got me cheaper car insurance'

Michelle Watson, 42, from Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, was the first person to buy car insurance through a Facebook ‘quote app’ launched by Sheilas’ Wheels. The married mother-of-two, who is a kitchen supervisor at a primary school, was quoted a cheaper premium than the one from her previous insurer and was attracted by the promise of a £20 charitable donation if she used the app.



She bought fully comprehensive insurance on her Renault Laguna for just under £500, with extras thrown in. She says: ‘The premium included motor legal protection, personal injury benefit, key cover and Green Flag breakdown assistance.



‘My previous insurance policy was more expensive without any of the extras.’ 



While other insurance companies appear on the social networking website, Sheilas’ Wheels claims to be the first to sell a policy this way. The innovation comes on the back of research showing that British women are particularly savvy and save an average of almost £1,500 a year through online deals and voucher codes – and also cut the time taken by a day-and-a-half a year by ordering over the internet.



Despite setting a potential trend for buying insurance through social media, Michelle says she used to be wary of hunting internet discounts and buying online and only now feels confident enough to change her shopping habits.



But 16million other people over the age of 15 lack basic online skills and are in danger of always paying more for essentials and entertainment, according to research by charity Go On UK. In response, the Tinder Foundation manages a national network of online centres helping people to improve their computer skills and adapt to the digital age.



To find your nearest centre call 0800 771234. Guides about shopping and banking on the internet


 

 


Posted on August 29th 2013 on 09:13am
0 Comments
Labels: cashback, money
Tuesday 27th August 2013 Martin Lewis: how to get cash for flight delays

It sounds like a flight of fancy, but if you’ve been delayed on a plane at any time since 2005, you may now, by law, be entitled to compensation. The amounts aren’t trivial, either, possibly £1,000 per family, and I’m swamped with success reports. So strap in, and prepare for the ride.

Last October the European Union’s Court of Justice passed a judgment that many consumers who arrived over three hours late at their destination would be due compensation. This clarified a long-standing rule which airlines had previously challenged. As is my wont on such occasions, we quickly put together a MoneySavingExpert guide to test if frustrated flyers with a legitimate case would get the cash. The answer is a resolute ''yes and no’’. Many simply write a letter and within a week or two are sent wads of cash by the airline – yet others hit a brick wall of rejection. It seems binary; there’s little in between.

Among the sizeable chunk of people who have succeeded is the gracious older gent who, with his wife by his side, interrupted my filming at a Costa del Sol cash machine (about overseas ATM charges, but that’s a story for another day). He delightedly told me that “We were held up by BA in Miami in 2010”, and that he’d followed the info, banged off a letter and a couple of weeks later received £1,074.

Some stories stretch back much further, like last week’s young tweeter who was bursting to announce: “Mum said wait till the cheque [clears] but I can’t… £1,014 off Monarch for flight delays from over five years ago!”

 

Flight delay compensation – the key rules

Now of course, this isn’t a willy-nilly have delay, get-compensation arrangement. There are important qualifiers:

 

It’s only for EU flights

The flight can be any leaving an EU airport, or an EU airline arriving at an EU airport – whether these are scheduled flights, chartered, or part of a package holiday. So a delayed Manchester to Miami flight qualifies, regardless of airline. Yet for Miami to Manchester, you are entitled to compensation flying Virgin or KLM, but not on Air India.

 

The cut-off is 2005

You can apply for this compensation not just for flights delayed from now on, but any past delays stretching back as far as February 2005.

Yet in the UK, due to the statute of limitations, if you need to take the airline to court to get the cash (not too common; don’t be unduly worried), you can only go back six years (five in Scotland), so older claims can be tricky.

 

Delays must be more than three hours

Compensation for delays is only due on flights arriving three hours or more late. Yet if the delay is due to flight cancellation, compensation should be available – the later you arrive, the more you get.

If you’re struggling to remember if your delay passed the crucial three-hour cusp, try flightstats.co.uk. It’s a free site, though you need to register to use it. It’s worth noting the site’s terms and conditions, which say it can’t be used in any passenger rights claims actions, so best to consider it a belt-and-braces check that your memory of the event is correct. After all, the airline will hold its own data on flight delays.

 

Connective flights

For flights with connections, what counts is how late you arrive at the final destination. If you fly to Cape Town via Johannesburg and the first leg arrives two hours late so that you miss the on-time connecting flight – arriving four hours late at your final destination – that counts. However, if you booked those two flights separately, then as the first flight wasn’t more than three hours delayed, and your second flight wasn’t delayed at all, you’re not entitled to anything.

 

It has to be the airline’s fault

You are only entitled to compensation if the delay was something within the airline’s control. Staffing problems, under-booking and not having the aircraft in place all count. But political unrest or bad weather don’t.

Of course, remembering the cause of a delay years ago can be tricky. But the airline certainly won’t have forgotten, and will disclaim responsibility if it can.

 

The compensation is fixed, regardless of flight cost

This is compensation for a delay, not a refund on the ticket price. The amount you are due is fixed in euros and dependent on how long you were delayed and the distance travelled.

Some airlines will offer compensation in vouchers, but you don’t have to accept this; you’ve a right to cash, as laid out by the EU. The compensation is per person, so for a family of four, quadruple it.

 

Flight length 

Arrival Delay 

Compensation 

Up to 1,500km (eg UK to Paris) 

3 hours plus 

€250 (£220) 

1,500 to 3,500km (eg UK to Istanbul) 

3 hours plus 

€400 (£350) 

3,500km plus (eg UK to New York) 

3 to 4 hours 

€300 (£260) 

3,500km plus (eg UK to New York) 

4 hours plus 

€600 (£570) 

 

How to reclaim

If you’re feeling the burn to take on a nagging injustice, here’s what to do.

First gather any evidence, including proof you were on the flight, such as receipts, emailed confirmation or, better, the boarding pass. Even if you don’t have all these things, as long as you know the flight number and length of delay, the airline should have passenger logs. Ask it if it has confirmation you checked in – some people tell me they’ve succeeded on this alone.

Then write to the airline, quoting the ruling “EC Regulation 261/2004”, listing your delay and the compensation request for each of those in your party. Full help on this and free template letters are available at moneysavingexpert.com/flightdelays.

If the airline you flew on has been taken over, it is likely the new parent company took on its liabilities, so write to it.

If it’s gone bust, I’m afraid you’ll need to claim off the administrators as a creditor, and frankly that means you’re unlikely to see much back.But if you paid using a credit card and the flight cost over £100, then the card company is jointly liable, so you could try that.

In your complaint, briefly explain what went wrong and state what you want in terms of compensation and/or reimbursement. Use our template letters, which are based on information from the Civil Aviation Authority.

 

What if your claim is rejected?

There is no Ombudsman here, but you can ask the Civil Aviation Authority (or the European Consumer Centre in certain non-UK departures) whether it believes you are entitled to compensation. This ruling isn’t binding on the airlines, but it may be enough to swing the balance to let you push the airline to pay up. If not, the last resort is to take the airline to court.

These claims should fit within the small claims limit, so you won’t need a lawyer.

 

[Source - http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/personalfinance/consumertips/10054434/Martin-Lewis-how-to-get-compensation-for-flight-delays.html]


Posted on August 27th 2013 on 09:00am
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Labels: flights, holiday
Friday 23rd August 2013 Banks Hit By 1.5bn ID Theft Mis-Selling Bill
Britain’s banks will face up to another major mis-selling scandal on Thursday when the City regulator announces details of a compensation scheme for insurance customers that could cost the culpable lenders up to £1.5bn.
 
Sky News has learnt that the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) is finalising a statement that will set out the terms of a redress scheme for consumers who bought identity theft and credit card protection from CPP, a York-based company, over a period of several years.
 
The FCA is to announce that about a dozen financial institutions – including all the major high street names, such as Barclays, Lloyds Banking Group, HSBC and Royal Bank of Scotland – have signed up to the deal.
 
Insiders said the figure contained in the FCA statement, which will be timed to coincide with the credit card insurer’s half-year results announcement, would fall between £1bn and £1.5bn – slightly lower than some recent estimates.
 
Some of the banks involved will make separate announcements detailing their individual financial exposure.
 
Under the terms of the agreement, the banks which sold CPP products will write to customers to inform them that they may be eligible for compensation.
 
The industry along with CPP and the FCA will then administer a mechanism called a solvent scheme of arrangement, sanctioned by the courts, to deliver the funds.
 
The initiative will be unusual because CPP customers will be asked to vote in favour of it before it can get underway.
 
Although the £1.5bn payout pot is significant, it is tiny by comparison with the deluge of funds that banks have had to set aside for compensating customers who were mis-sold payment protection insurance.
 
Recent additions to the provisions by the biggest banks have taken the total to more than £15bn, while they are also confronting a multibillion pound bill for mis-selling products designed to protect against sharp movements in interest rates.
 
Details of the CPP compensation scheme will emerge almost a month after it secured its immediate future by negotiating a new financing deal with its lending banks.
 
The agreement involves deferring £23m of commission payments due to be paid to the banks over the next year, and a £13m borrowing facility.
 
The agreement with Barclays, HSBC, Royal Bank of Scotland and Santander UK came as a relief to hundreds of CPP staff employed who have faced an uncertain future during on-off talks about a takeover of the company.
 
Under the terms of the new financing deal, however, CPP would be in default if more than 25% of its customer base successfully applies for compensation as part of the redress scheme. CPP, which calls itself an "international life assistance provider", operates across more than a dozen countries and expanded rapidly after listing on the London Stock Exchange in 2010.
 
It was accused by the regulator of overstating the risks of identity theft, and of providing expensive insurance policies which were effectively already provided automatically by the banks.
 
The company sold more than four million policies to customers, many of which were the result of introductions by the major high street banks.
 
It recently disposed of its US business in an attempt to raise funds following a £10.5m mis-selling fine imposed by the City regulator last year.
 
CPP is one of several specialist insurers to have fallen foul of regulators in recent times. Homeserve, which provides insurance against household mishaps, was also the subject of mis-selling allegations in 2011.
 
CPP, the FCA and the major banks all declined to comment on Wednesday.
 
 

Posted on August 23rd 2013 on 09:11am
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Tuesday 14th June 2011 Sony Playstation Data Loss Launches Sony to Top 10 in The Largest Data Breaches of All Time
If you're anything of a gamer, or just read the news once in a while, we're sure that you would agree that it has been difficult to avoid hearing about the problems that Sony have been having in terms of data loss.  
 
For those that need a re-cap, Sony lost the details of over 77 million accounts from the PlayStation Network, along with almost 25 million user accounts from Sony Entertainment Online, and that is just the start of their data loss problems. 
 
That being said, we came across an interesting article online recently, titled the Largest Data Breaches of All Time. Interestingly Sony now occupies the 4th and 10th spots on the countdown of the greatest cases of data loss.
 
Sitting a number 10 in the chart, is the data breach of 2nd of May 2011, which saw the Sony Corporation hacked for 24 million data records, and at number 4 is the hack of the 26th April 2011 aimed at users of the Sony Playstation Network. 
 
There are plenty of other notable names on the list, including:  
  • Bank of New York, which lost 12 million records in September 2008
  • T-mobile, which lost 17 million records in October 2008 
  • HM Revenue and Customs who let 25 million records
Sitting at the very top of the list is Heartland Payment Systems who, in January 2009, were hacked and lost 130 million records, leaving the subjects of those records vulnerable to fraud and identity theft. 
 
Many of the victims of these cases of data loss have been entitled to compensation. If you have been involved in any of the data loss cases listed in the largest data breaches of all time, you could be entitled to compensation too. 
 

Posted on June 14th 2011 on 04:35pm
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Labels: data loss, sony playstation network
Tuesday 31st May 2011 Sony Playstation Network Hack was Only the Beginning of the Data Loss Scandal.
Sony have yet more bad news to deliver on the data loss front, as they reveal that more than 8,500 Sony user accounts have now been hacked in countries including Greece. 
 
Sony recently had to shut down the entire Sony Playstation Network and Qriocity services due to a massive case of failing to protect the data protection rights of it's users. It is now apparent that there has also been a breach in the Greek Sony Music Entertainment website, adding to the number of Sony services which have to now suffer downtime as a consequence. 
 
Sony have been scrambling to make a come back from the previous hack and data loss problems on the Sony Playstation Network, in which data was lost from more than 100 million user accounts. Amongst the data that was lost were names, passwords, and addresses, all of which can easily be used in cases of stolen identity and financial fraud. 
 
On top of this, Sony have also been unable to confirm that the credit card data of those 100 million plus users was untouched. 
 
The Japan-based company have reported that they're likely to see around a $3.2 billion net loss for this fiscal year, which includes the insurance and damages that they will have to pay out to Playstation users who feel that Sony is in breach of their data protection rights. 
 
If you are a Playstation user, and feel that you have a case in regards to data loss, due to the Playstation Network hack, download our data loss pack to find out more information, and whether you are able to go about claiming compensation. 

Posted on May 31st 2011 on 05:02pm
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Labels: data loss, sony playstation network
Wednesday 17th November 2010 Mobile Phone Contract Disputes
The mis-selling of mobile contracts has been a serious problem in the UK. It has led to many mobile phone disputes, and many consumers being put out of pocket due to a contract they didn't intend to sign up for.
 
Complaints to Ofcom, the UK telecommunications regulator, concerning the mis-selling of mobile communication services, rose from 50 per month in 2004 to 200 per month in 2006. While tackling mis-selling is a priority for Ofcom, it still occurs.
 
Dishonest Sales Staff Hungry for Bonuses
 
It's unfortunate that some telesales staff and mobile phone retailers are providing customers with false and misleading information to earn bonuses and hit sales targets. This leads to situations where customers who think they have agreed to a 12 month contract have actually signed up for 18 months, or where customers who think they only bought a phone have actually bought a phone and a contract.
 
Even if you've not had to deal with dishonest sales staff, there have been instances where mobile phone companies have changed a customer's billing tariff mid-contract without letting them know. Then suddenly they would get stung by £200 per month bills.
 
In an ideal world, you would be able to complain to your mobile phone company or retailer, and they would sort out the problem. Sometimes this happens, but other times your complaint can be met with rude behaviour -- in some instances people have been told they are a liar and that they should live with their contract.
 
Your Rights concerning a Phone Contract Problem
 
Since September 2009, mobile providers are legally obligated to protect consumers in the following ways: 
They must provide customers with all the information they need.
They must make sure a customer is able to enter a contract.
They must make sure that all retailers selling their services offer fair terms and conditions for any cashback scheme.
They must carry out many other checks on all retailers that sell their services.
 
Solve Your Dispute As Painlessly As Possible
 
Solving a mobile phone contract problem doesn't necessarily have to involve lawyers and court rooms, regardless of whether you went to a mobile phone retailer or contacted a mobile provider directly. 
 
As one example, you can solve a dispute through a Alternative Dispute Resolution (or ADR) scheme. Every mobile phone service provider must be signed up to one of the two ADR schemes available. Their services are free for consumers who haven't been able to resolve their dispute with their mobile phone provider. They can make your provider apologize and explain its actions, and force them to pay up to £5000 in compensation.
 
If you've been unable to settle the problem and don't know where to turn, our Mobile Contract Dispute package goes into detail how you can resolve a dispute, even if you're stuck with a stubborn mobile phone retailer or service provider.
 

Posted on November 17th 2010 on 02:14pm
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Labels: mobile phone dispute
Wednesday 10th November 2010 Lost Your Tenancy Deposit? It Can Be Saved!
It's unfortunate that many landlords and letting agencies aren't as honest as they should be. Your tenancy deposit can be seen as a way to make a quick bit of cash, even if it is taken illegally.
 
Thankfully, new laws came into effect on April 6 2007, as part of the Housing Act of 2004, allowing tenants to more easily protect their deposit. Knowing how to deal with a troublesome landlord, in some cases, can now mean you get more than just your deposit back! These laws also means there are clear steps you can take to protect yourself, in the eventuality that your landlord or letting agency should ever turn sour.
 
The Villainous Landlord Toolkit
 
There are several ways a landlord or letting agency can cheat you out of your deposit:
 
Withholding Your Deposit -- They can claim that you've damaged the property or its furnishings when you haven't. Legally, a tenant doesn't have to pay for damages that have occurred over time through normal use (or "fair wear and tear"). Alternatively, they could simply deny they've taken a deposit at all.
 
Disappear from the Radar -- You might call, only to have them hang up on you over and over, or not be able to get in touch with them at all!
 
Letting Agency Goes Under -- In rare instances, your letting agency may go out of business, potentially putting your deposit in jeopardy.
 
Tenancy Deposit Protection Schemes to the Rescue!
 
You don't need to worry if you are suffering from any of the above problems. If your tenancy is an assured shorthold tenancy (if you're unsure, then it probably is) then it is likely that you can recoup your deposit.
 
Tenancy deposit protection (or TDP) schemes, as their name suggests, ensure that your deposit is protected. Landlords and letting agencies have a legal obligation to protect your deposit by using one of the three TDP schemes available.
 
They were created to protect tenants. In the past, resolving deposit disputes could be a big headache, which resulted in many landlords getting away with stealing deposits. TDP schemes put a framework in place that allows tenants to recover their deposit more easily.
 
You Can Recover Your Deposit
 
Within 14 days of your tenancy commencing, your landlord or letting agency must send you details of the TDP scheme they are using. If they don't, you can take them to court and get three times your deposit back. That might make you glad they didn't use a TDP scheme!
 
If your landlord or letting agency has used such a scheme, but is still tried to fiddle you out of your deposit, then the dispute can be dealt with by using the alternative dispute resolution process that is provided for free through any TDP scheme. This means that the courts don't have to be involved. 
 
Whatever your situations, getting the right advice and taking the right action can help you to solve a current dispute or protect yourself should a dispute ever arise.
 

Posted on November 10th 2010 on 02:49pm
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Labels: tenancy deposit dispute
Thursday 07th October 2010 Law Firm in Trouble Under Data Protection Act
It has been reported in the press over recent weeks that law firm ACS Law is under investigation by the Information Commissioners Office after they lost the personal data of thousands of private individuals. The details, which included names, addresses and credit card details were hacked and then leaked online, leaving questions about the firms data security measures.
 
The Information Commissioner will be responsible for investigating the circumstances surrounding the leaked data; circumstances which include claims of illegal file sharing and media downloads on the part of those whose details have been leaked, and determine what action is necessary. Steps taken against the law firm will be qualified under the provisions of the Data Protection Act. 
 
A spokewswoman for the Information Commissioners Office said:
 
“ the ICO takes all breaches of the Data Protection Act seriously. Any organisation processing personal data must ensure that it is kept safe and secure. This is an important principle of the Act. “
 
The story is a prime example of why data protection is such a big issue and why it is important that organisations and companies have data protection measures in place, and take them seriously. As a result of the loss of data by ACS Law, there is now the fear that those people whose data was lost could be targeted by criminals who have downloaded the data. The victims of the data loss could see their credit cards being used fraudulently or even being targeted personally by people who have taken note of who they are and where they live. 
 
The Data Protection Act was put in place for a reason and the Information Commissioners Office is at the ready to police and punish anyone who fails to abide by the legislation. 
 
 

Posted on October 07th 2010 on 10:52am
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Labels: data loss
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