Monthly Archives:February 2017

BT sold me broadband but I don’t own a PC!

28 Feb 17
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  • Broadband packages typically at least £5 a month more than landline-only deals
  • We found companies don’t always check customers need the extra service
  • Experts say baffling pricing and confusing terms contribute to the problem

Elderly people who don’t own computers or mobile phones are being signed up to broadband packages.

Telecoms firms and price comparison websites are flogging expensive internet deals to pensioners who can’t even use them, a Money Mail investigation has found.

Broadband packages are typically at least £5 a month more than landline-only deals — but we found companies don’t always check customers need the extra service.

Experts say baffling pricing and confusing terms and conditions contribute to the problem. And some customers are being hit by basic administrative errors.

Deal shock: Colin Porter discovered in December that he had been signed up for BT broadband without his permission

Deal shock: Colin Porter discovered in December that he had been signed up for BT broadband without his permission

Pensioners have complained to Money Mail just as the telecoms watchdog reveals plans to make BT cut line rental costs by £5 for customers who don’t use the internet.

Changes announced by Ofcom yesterday should benefit 2.3 million customers with phone-only deals, who will pay £13.99 instead of £18.99 in line rental. 

Retired pet shop owner Colin Porter, 72, discovered in December that he had been signed up for BT broadband without his permission.

He has never owned a computer and does not have a mobile phone.

Colin, of Rustington, West Sussex, believes he was moved to a new deal without his permission after a cold call in September.

He says: ‘BT called and said they had a special offer on broadband. I told the woman on the phone that I wasn’t interested because I didn’t have a computer, and I thought that was the end of it.’

When he called with a billing inquiry three months later, he discovered he had been moved to broadband anyway.

Colin’s monthly bill was now £26.74 instead of £26.22 for a landline-only deal — not a lot, but more than he needed to pay.

He had also been signed up for a new 12-month contract with BT which he was locked in to until November 2017. His landline-only contract with BT had been due to end this month.

‘They couldn’t explain how I ended up on a broadband contract,’ he says. ‘If I hadn’t called them about my bill, I might never have known.’

Last month, Colin received a letter from David Currie, of the digital care team, who apologised and admitted ‘an order was lodged without your knowledge’.

A spokesman for BT says: ‘We’ve listened to the call and Mr Porter is quite correct. He didn’t want to sign up for broadband and the order shouldn’t have been placed.’

The bill for broadband has been refunded and he has received £30 as a goodwill gesture.

Brian Norris, 78, was signed up to TalkTalk’s broadband when he called price comparison service SimplifyDigital to switch from BT.

He has not used a computer since he retired as manager of a menswear shop in Redditch six years ago.

TalkTalk does not offer landline-only packages — and has not done so for three years. Despite this, SimplifyDigital pointed the widower to a TalkTalk broadband deal for £23.50 a month, even though he told them he doesn’t use a computer.

This was around £4 a month less than he was paying with BT, but Mr Norris believes he could have secured a cheaper landline-only deal elsewhere. 

Research shows landline-only packages start from £16 with the Post Office, and £18.99 from BT, with unlimited anytime calls.

A few days after switching to TalkTalk, a router arrived in the post. He assumed this was a mistake until he received a letter from them which mentioned broadband. To add insult to injury, he was charged £6.75 for delivery. He has posted the router back to them.

Brian, from Malvern, Worcestershire, says: ‘I phoned them to protest. I’ve never owned a computer and I made that clear on the phone to the company.’

TalkTalk has reduced Brian’s bill to £18.70 a month as a ‘goodwill gesture’.

SimplifyDigital says Brian should have been advised it couldn’t offer landline-only packages, and adds it was made clear that the bundled package included broadband and remained good value as it included free calls to France, which was important to him.

Widow Frances Moffatt, 94, who does not have a computer and rarely watches television, ended up paying £35 a month for superfast broadband and extra TV channels after a call with internet provider TalkTalk in December 2014.

There is no suggestion TalkTalk did anything wrong and the mistake has been put down to confusion.

A TalkTalk spokesman says: ‘We are sorry Mrs Moffatt was unhappy and have agreed to put her on a regular deal with no TV.’

James Walker, founder of free complaints website Resolver, says: ‘It’s vital that telecoms businesses recognise that not all of their customers need, want or understand developments in technology.’

l.eccles@dailymail.co.uk

 





Courtesy: Daily Mail Online

Senate criticizes national structure system as too advanced

28 Feb 17
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A Senate report on Ottawa’s way of structure spending cautions it’s extremely difficult, with income spread across 31 diverse companies no apparent, national program.

After having a yearlong report on the Generous government’s method, the Senate’s Nationwide Finance Committee introduced a written report Tuesday that calls on Ottawa to improve the application form method to ensure that provinces and cities possess a “single screen,” or office, to show to when seeking national structure income.

“With 31 different sectors a part of structure, points get scattered and you also drop the position as well as the target,” Conventional Senator Larry Smith, the couch of the board, mentioned in a appointment.

The board stated concern the government’s method is apparently more dedicated to testing whether income is used instead of testing perhaps the spending has attained certain benefits, including increasing business.

“The performance indicator must become more than start and end,” Mr. Smith stated.

The federal Liberals have committed $186-thousand for paying for infrastructure between today and 2028, under five broad classes – public transit, natural infrastructure, societal infrastructure, business and travel, and rural and northern areas. That income involves structure plans that have been in-place ahead of the Liberals were selected in 2015 along with fresh spending assured considering that the selection.

The senators advise that by further splitting these classes into smaller, program-centered plans with diverse principles and deadlines, it generates it harder for your income to have out the entranceway. Smaller cities specifically may well not possess the sources to learn how-to correctly use for your accessible income when many sections may take place, the survey cautions.

The Senate fund board has began to observe national structure spending in a repository and its own associates want to proceed overseeing the government’s programs. The board mentioned it had been too soon to make an obvious view around the merits of the government’s assured Europe Infrastructure Bank, that is anticipated to release in 2013 in a attempt to share public funds with income from exclusive-structure buyers for example banks and pension funds.

Brook Simpson, a spokesman for Structure Minister Amarjeet Sohi, mentioned in a record Tuesday the government will soon be delivering the full, longterm structure program inside the spring. The master plan should include a vision statement along with fresh procedures on what the predicted benefits is going to be assessed.

“The Senate report proposes the plans sent by Structure Canada be efficient and we’ve previously began this,” he explained. “Municipalities around the world as well as the [Federation of Canadian Cities] have suggested the convenience of the newest plans we’ve sent and we’ll proceed to utilize them, along with parliamentarians, even as we design our longterm plan.”

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In a statement Liz Truss said: ‘The law is absolutely clear – as Lord Chancellor, I must make sure the right rate is set to compensate claimants.

‘I am clear that this is the only legally acceptable rate I can set.’

But the insurance industry has slammed the rate change. Huw Evans, director general of the Association of British Insurers, said it was an unnecessary review into a broken and outdated formula that does not reflect how claimants actually invest the money they receive.

In a statement he said: ‘Cutting the discount rate to -0.75 per cent from 2.5 per cent is a crazy decision by Liz Truss. Claims costs will soar, making it inevitable that there will be an increase in motor and liability premiums for millions of drivers and businesses across the UK.

‘We estimate that up to 36million individual and business motor insurance policies could be affected in order to over-compensate a few thousand claimants a year.

‘To make such a significant change to the rate using a broken formula is reckless in the extreme, and shows an utter disregard for the impact this will have on consumers, businesses and the wider operation of the insurance market.’

The discount rate assumes that if a person invested the lump sum they were given, they would put it in a low-risk investment.

If a claimant chooses to take the lump sum as cash, instead of investing the money given to them, the discount is applied to that amount of money.  

But the change from 2.5 per cent to -0.75 per cent now assumes that instead of an investment making a 2.5 per cent return, it will now decrease over the claimant’s lifetime. 

The ABI said in practice most people who invested a lump sum would seek professional financial advice and invest in a mixture of investments and the rate needs to reflect this.

Price hikes to car insurance premiums have been predicted by the insurance industry

Price hikes to car insurance premiums have been predicted by the insurance industry

Simon McCulloch, director of comparison website Comparethemarket, said prices could rise by an average of £60 for drivers. This is on top of the rises already seen to car insurance from hikes to Insurance Premium Tax, which has risen three times in around two years.

He said: ‘The Ogden discount rate has been changed in a far more drastic way to what insurers had been expecting and motorists will feel the effects through sharp increases to their premiums.

‘Premiums could increase on average by almost £60. However,? those that can probably least afford it will be hit hardest. Young drivers, who are already spending 2.5 times more than the average policyholder for car insurance, are likely to have their premiums increased by around £107 a year.’

Insurer Direct Line has said ahead of its full-year results on 7 March that its pre-tax profit for 2016 will be reduced by between £215 and £230million as a result of the change.

In a statement it said: ‘ The group is committed to ensuring claimants receive appropriate compensation.

‘The group is disappointed at the Lord Chancellor’s decision, but will take the time to review the full statement of reasons given. The group welcomes the consultation to consider options for reform to achieve a better and fairer framework for claimants and defendants.’

Along with price hikes to premiums, public services who pay out compensation, such as the NHS, are also expected to see compensation bills increase and the ABI estimates this could be by around £1billion.

Evans added: ‘We have repeatedly warned the Government that this could lead to very significant price rises, with younger drivers in particular likely to find it much harder to get affordable insurance. 

‘It is also a massive own goal that lands the NHS with a likely £1billion hike in compensation bills when it needs it the least.

‘We need a fairer deal for consumers and claimants. We cannot wait until Easter -the Ministry of Justice must commit to alternatives immediately so changes to the law can be included in the Prison and Courts Bill.’

The Government made four pledged around the rate change today with the first committing to ensure that the NHS Litigation Authority has enough money to cover changes to hospitals’ clinical negligence costs.

It also said the Department of Health will work closely with GPs and Medical Defence Organisations to make sure funding is available for the additional costs to GPs.

A consultation will be launched to look into if there is a better or fairer framework for claimants and defendants and Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond will meet with members of the insurance industry to assess the impact of the rate change. 

The Government has tinkered with insurance in recent times, including hiking the rate of Insurance Premium Tax three times in two years. 

It went up from six per cent to 9.5 per cent in July 2015, and then up to 10 per cent in March 2016. From June 2017, this will rise to 12 per cent.

IPT  is a tax on insurers and is added to general insurance products such as car, home and travel cover. This cost has largely been passed onto those taking out policies. 






Courtesy: Daily Mail Online

O’Leary bails on Conventional control argument in Edmonton, mentioning structure

27 Feb 17
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Conventional leadership prospect Kevin O’Leary suggests he won’t indulge in Tuesday’s standard occasion argument in Edmonton, mentioning the structure.

Nevertheless the media will be approached with cries of foul from competing individuals who ignore O’Leary’s declare that one of them declined to consent to modify the structure.

O’Leary claims he feels the party’s chosen structure of experiencing all 14 prospects onstage addressing the exact same inquiries permits almost no time for tips to be discussed.

He suggests he caused different prospects assured they’d consent to embrace the exact same small-group structure employed as of this past weekend’s Manning Heart convention, but one plan declined to really make the move.

A few of his adversaries, nevertheless, declare these were never previously greeted from the occasion about building a change.

Lisa Raitt, that has been right approaching O’Leary’s candidacy for days, is looking him “chicken” for declining showing up in the bilingual celebration.

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O’Leary chided for time used in U.S. at Tory control argument (The Canadian Click)

How to surf, chat on the phone and watch TV for less 

25 Feb 17
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  •  The cost of line rental has gone up by around 40% in the last five years
  • But, by switching providers there are still decent deals available  

Shopping around for the best broadband, television and phone deals is essential. Prices are on the move. 

The cost of landline rental, still needed for most fixed line broadband services, has increased by 40 per cent in the past five years while Sky will increase line rental charges on Wednesday.

Emma Spencer, broadband expert at comparison website Money- Supermarket, says getting the most competitive deal can result in big household savings, especially since the combined cost of broadband, television and phone bills represents the biggest monthly outgoing after the mortgage and energy bills.

Switched on: Movie fan Clare Stevens swapped Sky for a Freesat box

Switched on: Movie fan Clare Stevens swapped Sky for a Freesat box

Switches, she adds, are now less hassle. She says: ‘Under new rules providers must make switches seamless. There are also plenty of deals with no set-up costs.’

BUNDLES

Big providers, including BT, Sky and Virgin, sell television, broadband and home phone deals as a package, known as bundles.

Ewan Taylor-Gibson, of comparison website uSwitch, likes Sky owned newcomer NOW TV’s Combo offer.

For an introductory £29.99 a month you get unlimited fibre broadband and 97 television channels. 

Package deal: Big providers, including BT, Sky and Virgin, sell television, broadband and home phone deals as a package, known as bundles

Package deal: Big providers, including BT, Sky and Virgin, sell television, broadband and home phone deals as a package, known as bundles

The price includes landline rental but call costs are extra. For an additional charge you can bolt on a call package. There is a £44 set-up fee and after 12 months the monthly charge rises to £42.98.

Taylor-Gibson says Sky’s Fibre Unlimited & Box Sets bundle is another good option for households who want a broad selection of channels and unlimited broadband.

It costs £68 per month for an 18-month contract but it includes a ‘free’ 32-inch television, Samsung Galaxy tablet or £100 reward card.

Both the NOW TV and Sky deals have onerous penalties if you leave during the contract term.

STANDALONE DEALS

TalkTalk has one of the cheapest broadband offerings at £20 per month with no set-up costs. Consumers must sign up for a minimum 24 months but the deal includes line rental.

TenTel’s Hello Broadband Unlimited is just £16 per month for the first six months and £22.99 for a further 12 months. There is no set- up cost and it includes line rental but not calls.

Broadband: TalkTalk has one of the cheapest broadband offerings at £20 per month with no set-up costs

Broadband: TalkTalk has one of the cheapest broadband offerings at £20 per month with no set-up costs

Experts say Netflix and NOW TV are an option for those who want the latest television shows. 

Netflix offers a 30-day free trial for new customers and then charges £5.99 per month. 

NOW’s Entertainment Month Pass is £14.47 if you sign up for three months and £6.99 a month thereafter. Neither service ties you in to a contract so you can leave without penalty.

CHEAPER TELEVISION

For consumers who do not want to be tied into lengthy contracts Freesat is an option. 

There is a relatively high initial set-up cost – about £180 for a new Freesat box. Also you must have a satellite dish installed if you do not already have one, with costs starting from £80. 

But then you have nothing more to pay, other than your annual TV licence.

Movie fan Clare Stevens is pleased she took action over the cost of her television watching as she has saved herself £360 a year.

Clare, who lives in Winterton, Lincolnshire, cancelled her monthly subscription to Sky and bought a Freesat box instead.

She had been a Sky television customer for more than ten years but had noticed costs creeping up, particularly as she liked to watch the latest films at an extra charge.

Researching the market she discovered she could buy a refurbished Freesat box online for £169 which could be plugged into her existing Sky satellite dish.

Clare can record live TV and has access to more than 200 channels with nothing more to pay. Clare says: ‘When I told Sky I was leaving it gave me three months for free, not once but twice.

‘So the money I saved paid for the Freesat box.’

 





Courtesy: Daily Mail Online

Kevin O’Leary blocks Dragons’ Den show where he moved a woman’s rear

25 Feb 17
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Conventional leadership prospect Kevin O’Leary once moved a woman’s rear during an bout of Dragons’ Den on CBC, but mentioned on Friday that she wasn’t hurt by his shift during the time.

An applicant from Alberta seemed around the present using a proposition for an expenditure in her business, Monjeloco Trousers, helping to make kind-fitting slacks. The item was utilized by designs who seemed around the present.

“Let’s view these bums,” Mr. O’Leary mentioned as he heard the frequency and went toward one of many designs. “Can itouch one? I wish to feel one for sure.”

In 2013, Nora Furber, the master of the business who had been failed in getting an expenditure from your Dragons, advised the St. Albert Gazette the judges had formerly questioned if it’d be fine to allow them to feel the designs. She identified that on tv, it seemed like the designs were consumed by shock.

Questioned regarding the occurrence after having a argument in the Manning Middle Convention in Ottawa, Mr. O’Leary stated that specific clips of his time-on tv shouldn’t be used from circumstance.

“There’s about 10,000 hours of record, I’ve had along occupation in tv, and that I feel you’re planning to locate items of it chopped-up into all sorts of incontextual times,” Mr. O’Leary explained. “Some of the record is indeed outdated I’ve hair. Thus by the end of the afternoon you’re planning to notice it drawn out by Liberals, but [voters] will manage to identify the variation between what’s fantastic tv, and what’s coverage. And that’s truly what matters.”

He added that there’s an obvious distinction between your Kevin O’Leary that’s a tv superstar and Kevin O’Leary the novice politician.

“My level is the fact that in the long run of the afternoon, that’s tv, it’s not coverage. It is a distinct earth we’re in below, we’re discussing an economy that’s collapsing, no careers for millennials, and you also desire to speak about realitytv? I do believe you’re lacking the idea,” he told journalists.

Questioned with a writer whether he’d requested approval before holding the lady, Mr. O’Leary reacted: “I seriously don’t remember, but I’m sure she wasn’t hurt. She was certainly selling a to your couple of Dragons and that I expect she was productive. By the end of the afternoon she was an entrepreneur seeking cash. I’m extremely pleased with that structure and what we did for Canadian guys and women.”

He added that in his time-on tv, he’s identified many success with female entrepreneurs.

“As a matteroffact my many productive discounts today after a decade to be a with this structure are typical organizations run by females,” he explained.

“I’m a huge advocate of females entrepreneurs.”

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O’Leary chided for time used in U.S. at Tory control argument (The Canadian Click)

Electricity customers getting raw deal as prices soar 58%

24 Feb 17
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  • Complicated and uncompetitive supply system left us with Europe’s biggest bills
  • House of Lords report also raises concern about deliverability of nuclear power
  • Peers call for de-carbonisation to be managed at the lowest cost to consumers

Electricity customers are getting a bad deal from a supply system that is complicated and uncompetitive, with UK consumers paying the biggest bills in Europe.

As a result of constant government intervention in the energy sector, electricity prices have skyrocketed by 58 per cent since 2003, a report by the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee found.

The report also raises concern about the spare capacity available and the deliverability of planned nuclear power.

Electric shock: UK electricity customers have seen their bills skyrocket 58 per cent since 2003

Electric shock: UK electricity customers have seen their bills skyrocket 58 per cent since 2003

Peers used the report to call for de-carbonisation to be managed at the lowest cost to consumers as such green policies accounted for 10 per cent of domestic bills in 2013.

The report states that the required switch of emphasis may mean waiting for new technologies to be developed to reduce emissions and making targets more flexible.

But the study insists that both affordability and de-carbonisation must not be prioritised ahead of supply.

Government interventions in the market should be reduced by ensuring electricity generating capacity is secured through a single, technology-neutral, competitive auction for electricity supply in order to obtain the lowest costs for consumers.

Committee chairman Lord Hollick said: ‘Poorly designed government interventions, in pursuit of the de-carbonisation, have put unnecessary pressure on the electricity supply and left consumers and industry paying too high a price.

‘Domestic electricity bills in Britain have gone from being second-cheapest in Europe in the mid-2000s to the seventh-cheapest today. Britain’s high industrial electricity prices have led some energy-intensive industries to relocate abroad. Low-carbon policies are a factor in these high prices.’

Lord Hollick expressed concern about investment in nuclear power and a rigid approach to de-carbonisation.

‘Hinkley Point C is a good example of the way policy has become unbalanced and affordability neglected. It does not provide good value for money for consumers and there are substantial risks associated with the project.

Going nuclear: The House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee has called on Government to set out its 'Plan B' if Hinkley Point C is delayed or cannot produce the expected power

Going nuclear: The House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee has called on Government to set out its ‘Plan B’ if Hinkley Point C is delayed or cannot produce the expected power

‘The Government must make sure that the security of the UK’s energy supply is the priority of its energy policy. Affordability must not be neglected and de-carbonisation targets should be managed flexibly.

‘We would like to see the Government step back from the market and allow all generating technologies to compete against each other. It should establish an Energy Commission to ensure competitive auctions have independent oversight and are scrutinised carefully.

‘Renewables play, and will continue to play, a crucial part in energy policy. Costs have been reduced and efficiency has improved. New clean technologies must be supported to be commercially viable. A new National Energy Research Centre would also help the UK to catch other countries up in the race to find cost-effective solutions to the challenges the world faces on energy.’

The Government should also set out its ‘Plan B’ if the Hinkley Point C initiative is delayed or cannot produce the expected power, the study says. 

A spokesman for EDF Energy, which is building Hinkley Point C, said it provided value for money and was competitive with other future energy choices.

‘By providing reliable, low carbon electricity for 60 years, Hinkley Point C will play a vital role in helping the UK move away from fossil fuels,’ the spokesman said.

‘It is already delivering significant benefits to the economy by creating jobs, boosting skills and strengthening the UK’s industrial capacity.’

 





Courtesy: Daily Mail Online

British Gas loses over 400,000 customers in a year

23 Feb 17
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  • 409,000 customers left British Gas last year and moved to another provider
  • Centrica’s British Gas UK residential branch saw profits fall 11% in 2016
  • But, Centrica’s total group profits increased by 4% to £1.5bn in the last year 

British Gas lost more than 400,000 customers across Britain last year, with increasing numbers switching providers to get a better deal.

Despite losing hundreds of thousands of customers, Centrica, the Windsor-based company that owns British Gas, saw its annual profits rise four per cent to £1.5billion last year.

On Wednesday, British Gas announced a £100million rewards scheme for customers starting in April.

Losing customers: British Gas lost more than 400,000 customers across the UK last year

Losing customers: British Gas lost more than 400,000 customers across the UK last year

Earlier this month, British Gas also announced it planned to freeze rates on its standard variable tariff until August. 

After that however, it is possible that the falling value of the pound and rising wholesale costs could push prices up.

Asked about future price hikes, a spokesman for British Gas told This is Money: ‘We never speculate about future pricing.’ 

With its customer base falling three per cent to 14.25million, Centrica’s British Gas residential energy supply arm, which covers UK homes, reported an 11 per cent drop in operating profits to £553million, compared with £623million in 2015.

Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice, said: ‘British Gas continues to make big profits while its loyal customers’ bills remain high.

‘Many people who have been with their energy company for years are paying much more than other customers because they’re on a standard variable tariff.

‘And while offering a loyalty reward scheme is something, bringing down bills would do more to help struggling households.’ 

Shares in British Gas were down nearly four per cent to 224.55p in early trading. 

No speculation: Asked about future price hikes, a spokesman for British Gas told This is Money: 'We never speculate about future pricing'

No speculation: Asked about future price hikes, a spokesman for British Gas told This is Money: ‘We never speculate about future pricing’

Iain Conn, chief executive of Centrica, said: ‘2016 was a year of robust performance and progress in implementing our customer-focused strategy. 

‘We delivered our key objectives including improved customer service and more innovative offerings and solutions – while repositioning the portfolio, building capability and driving significant cost efficiencies.

‘2016 was a busy year for the team, but we have delivered a lot, and Centrica enters 2017 a stronger company – with encouraging underlying momentum and positioned to deliver longer-term returns and growth.’

Earlier this month, energy regulator Ofgem announced a cap on charges for pre-payment customers, while the Government is also expected to publish a Green Paper in April which could place further limits on the prices energy providers can charge customers.

Centrica said Ofgem’s cap on charges for pre-payment customers would ‘negatively impact’ its revenues to the tune of £50million this year. 

In January, Ofgem published data revealing how much money consumers could save if they switch from a standard variable to a fixed tariff. 

The regulator said the average cost of an standard variable tariff for a year was £1,066, while the cheapest fixed rate tariff came in at around £870 at the end of last year. 

Between January and November last year, 46 per cent of people who switched their dual fuel bill moved to a smaller, challenger provider, Ofgem said.  

Co-op energy hikes tariff rates 5% 

Co-operative Energy is increasing the cost of its standard variable tariff by an average of five per cent.

The move will affect around 96,000 customers of the company’s standard variable Green Pioneer tariff.  

A spokesman said: ‘We try to protect customers from price fluctuations wherever possible. In recent months, however, we have absorbed a number of rising costs, including network charges and industry obligations.

‘This is no longer sustainable and we have reluctantly taken the decision to pass on some of these costs to customers by increasing the Green Pioneer standard variable tariff by an average of five per cent.

‘We are in the process of writing to customers to notify them of this change now so that they can switch to a cheaper tariff if they choose.’

 





Courtesy: Daily Mail Online

CFIA executives grossly mismanaged harassment complaints: watchdog

23 Feb 17
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Canada’s federal public sector watchdog says two senior executives at the Canadian Food Inspection Agency committed “gross mismanagement” in their handling of three serious harassment complaints in 2014-15.

Joe Friday, the public safety integrity commissioner, draws that conclusion in a report tabled today in Parliament.

He says Bruce Archibald, the former president of the agency, and Gerard Etienne, then the body’s vice-president of human resources, failed to take appropriate action to deal with complaints filed against an unidentified senior executive.

Archibald left the public service last fall and Etienne now is the agency’s vice-president of operations.

The report says the two undermined the established complaints process and decided, in less than three days, not to investigate what Friday describes as serious allegations.

In addition to complaints about yelling and inappropriate comments, four agency executives sent a memo to Etienne outlining their own concerns about the same senior executive’s behaviour.

Friday recommends that the agency ensure the complaints have been fully dealt with, review policies and training on harassment and explore whether it should turn such complaints over to an independent organization.

The agency has agreed with Friday’s recommendations.

Friday said Archibald and Etienne circumvented the existing process.

“In the public sector workplace, harassment complaints must be taken seriously, especially when made against a senior executive occupying a position of significant responsibility and authority over employees,” Friday said.

“The situation described in this case report involved three serious harassment complaints, yet no due diligence was shown in how they were handled.”

The ethics commissioner provides public servants and members of the public with an independent and confidential process for investigating disclosures of wrongdoing in the federal public sector and offers protection to whistleblowers.

Also on The Globe and Mail



RCMP issues formal apology to sexual-harassment victims
(The Globe and Mail)

British Gas launches £100m rewards scheme

22 Feb 17
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  • Existing customers will be rewarded with access to market-leading energy tariffs
  • The energy giant is collaborating with Sky to give its customers access 
  • Three new tariffs will be available with extras such as insurance and a Hive hub
  • Provider says the aim of the new scheme is to make customers more engaged 

British Gas is to launch a rewards scheme for customers in April with a range of benefits including larger energy discounts for loyal customers.

The programme, backed by a £100million investment, will be available to all customers and the provider says it is being launched to try to encourage customers to engage more with their energy usage and bills.

The energy giant is also collaborating with Sky and will give customers the chance to access its services, even if they’re not existing Sky customers.

Cheaper energy: Existing customers of British Gas will be able to access new tariffs from April 

Cheaper energy: Existing customers of British Gas will be able to access new tariffs from April 

British Gas says customers will be able to choose the benefits they want and need within the loyalty scheme.

Market-leading energy deals will be available and it says customers who have been with the firm the longest will have access to larger discounts.

It will also launch a range of ‘bundled’ energy tariffs for existing customers. 

These tariffs will include extras such as the provider’s Homecare policy and an annual boiler service, a Hive Active Heating hub, and a home insurance policy designed especially for tenants.

Customers will be contacted shortly about the new scheme with details of how to sign up.  

Mark Hodges, chief executive of Centrica Consumer, said: ‘In the competitive services and energy markets where consumers have many choices, we know we have to work hard to win new business and keep our loyal customers happy.

‘Our customer base is very diverse, and what they want and need from us varies significantly. The rewards programme we’re unveiling today is about offering customers more than just energy.

‘Above all it’s vital that we ensure customers continue to make an active informed choice about their energy tariff. We recognise there’s more to do – today’s announcement isn’t the end of our drive to engage customers, but it is a major milestone.’

The exact details of the new tariffs, discounts and access to Sky have not been published yet but the move follows on from British Gas bucking the trend of other providers and extending its price freeze earlier this year.

Energy discounts: British Gas is launching a  rewards programme in April for customers

Energy discounts: British Gas is launching a rewards programme in April for customers

It confirmed earlier this month that its price freeze on energy bills for those with standard variable tariffs would be extended until August this year.  It said that while wholesale gas and electricity prices were rising, it was able to keep prices frozen because it has cut internal costs.

EDF was the first to confirm a price rise, of 8.4 per cent for electricity prices on 1 March and it also cut its gas prices, by 5.2 per cent at the start of January. This amounts to a 1.2 per cent rise for dual fuel customers, adding around £13 to an annual bill.

Npower then confirmed a 9.8 per cent rise to dual fuel customers, adding an average of £109 onto standard bills on 16 March. While Scottish Power customers with a standard tariff will see prices rise by an average of 7.8 per cent at the end of March.

SSE and Eon are yet to announce a price change.

Mark Todd, spokesperson for Energyhelpline, said: ‘A typical home is likely to pay an extra £100-£200 a year with British Gas to get these rewards than if they switched to a cheaper tariff with another provider.

‘British Gas customers should weigh up if they are really worth the extra money to them.

‘Are they even things you want? Are they worth £100-£200 a year to you?

‘If not then switch and get the money back in your pocket to spend on whatever you want. Whether that’s heating, food or something more luxurious.’  





Courtesy: Daily Mail Online