Monthly Archives:July 2017

Confusing labels mean food worth millions goes to waste

23 Jul 17
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  • Every day, we throw away one million bananas and a million unopened yogurts
  • A major reason for discarding food is the confusing hotchpotch of labels 
  • The biggest waste in terms of cost is meat and fish followed by fresh veg

Supermarkets are frightening shoppers into throwing away hundreds of pounds of perfectly good food every year by using ‘best-before’ labels. Here, The Mail on Sunday reveals some of their sneaky secrets – and how you can beat the shops at their own game and cut your grocery bill by a third. We also report on how a crackdown on the scare tactics adopted by supermarkets could revolutionise the way we food shop.

More than seven million tons of unused food is scraped into kitchen bins every year, more than half of which is still good enough to eat.

Households spend an average £57 a week on groceries – £3,000 a year – according to the Office for National Statistics. But a family of four is thought to throw away £700 of this food as waste.

Waste & Resources Action Programme says the seven million tons of food that are wasted each year costs shoppers £13 billion. Every day, we throw away an astonishing one million bananas

Waste & Resources Action Programme says the seven million tons of food that are wasted each year costs shoppers £13 billion. Every day, we throw away an astonishing one million bananas

A major reason for discarding food is the confusing hotchpotch of labels that tell us when we must eat it by. Behind these ‘sell-by’, ‘best-before’ and ‘display until’ labels is a multi-million pound sales ruse where shops encourage us to buy more food than we need.

The Government aims to crack down on this deception. The Food Standards Agency and the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs have joined forces with the not-for-profit Waste & Resources Action Programme to draw up a blueprint for change.

A spokeswoman for the Food Standards Agency says: ‘We want better food labelling as there is far too much food thrown out that is perfectly edible.’

Earlier this year, the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee criticised supermarkets for their role in creating food waste – by misusing ‘best-before’ dates and throwing out good fruit and vegetables not deemed to be the right shape.

It concluded: ‘We believe the current date labelling on food is potentially misleading and unnecessarily confuses customers.’

In response, the British Retail Consortium, representing retailers, says: ‘Anything that creates a better understanding of best-before food labelling and helps stop food waste is welcomed by the industry.’

A major reason for discarding food is the confusing hotchpotch of labels

A major reason for discarding food is the confusing hotchpotch of labels

Crack the code of best-before labels

Shoppers need only take note of ‘use-by’ and ‘best-before’ labels. The ‘use-by’ information should be heeded as it is reserved for highly perishable food such as poultry, red meats and fish. If you sniff the contents and they do not smell right then go no further – you could suffer a dose of food poisoning.

‘Best-before’ is more an indicator of quality than a health alarm bell. It is used for frozen, dried and tinned food and once it expires the food may lose flavour. Under European Union law it is illegal for shops to sell produce that is beyond its ‘use-by’ date but they can sell produce past its ‘best-before’ date.

You need not take any heed of food labels such as ‘display until’, ‘consume within’ and ‘sell-by’. These are simply added for shopkeepers to shift stock. It is expected that as a result of the Government review only ‘use-by’ dates will survive, on perishable goods such as eggs, dairy products, meat and fish. Their shelf life may also be extended by a day or two.

Throw perishables a lifeline

Waste & Resources Action Programme says the seven million tons of food that are wasted each year costs shoppers £13 billion.

Every day, we throw away an astonishing six million potatoes, three million apples, one million bananas, a million unopened yogurt pots and almost half a million ready meals. The charity’s Kirsty Warren says: ‘You can cut waste easily. For example, storing potatoes in a dark cupboard rather than a fridge makes them last much longer and if they grow sprouts they will taste just as good.’

For apples a fridge is the best storage area as it can extend their life by several weeks. Bananas should be kept separate from other fruit and can be frozen if they are not going to be eaten quickly. Yogurts can be turned into ice cream if they are close to their use-by date.

The biggest waste in terms of cost is meat and fish – accounting for almost a fifth of all food needlessly thrown out and worth £2 billion a year. This is followed by fresh vegetables and salad. Warren says: ‘The freezer acts like a pause button on food. So do not forget it is there. Try to have a freezer meal one day a week.’

Saving a packet: Heidi Brown, with son Fin, uses online shops which discount food

Saving a packet: Heidi Brown, with son Fin, uses online shops which discount food

The best way to bag a best-before bargain

A growing number of shops offer discounts on food near the end of its shelf life.

Heidi Brown, 34, from Eastbourne in East Sussex, knocks £500 a year off her food bill by shopping this way.

She lives with partner Chris Tuppen, 37, son Fin, aged four, and daughter Emmie, four months. Heidi, an office administrator, uses online shop Approved Food. It sells products close to – or past – their best-before date; food that could otherwise be dumped in landfill sites.

Rivals include Clearance XL and ‘social supermarket’ Niftie’s which runs online store Don’t Waste The Taste.

Kirsty Warren of charity Waste & Resources Action Programme says: ‘Often with food it is the packaging that has dated. For example, a cereal box advertising a major sporting event once it is over can be hard to sell so is often sold at a discount store.’

Beat inflation with supermarket sweep

Buying groceries when supermarkets reduce prices can keep a lid on food bills. Most supermarkets slap a yellow ‘reduced’ sticker on food at specific times of the day – a great way to pick up a bargain. Both Tesco and Co-op often start such sales – 25 per cent reductions – at 8am while Sainsbury’s and Asda commence at midday. By 5pm, the reductions can be as much as 50 per cent.

The biggest discounts – up to 75 per cent off – are from Morrisons and Co-op, between 7 and 9pm.

Support a food bank 

Despite a third of the country’s food going to waste we are still charitable enough to stock food banks which feed more than a million people a year.

The majority of food banks are run by charity Trussell Trust. It has a 400-strong network of food banks countrywide. It relies on donations made through schools, churches and supermarkets.

Volunteers sort through the items and pass them on to vulnerable families – usually giving them three days’ worth of non-perishable food.

Those targeted are usually picked on the advice of health or social workers and are given vouchers to claim their food. For details of your nearest food bank – as well as how to help – visit website The Trussell Trust.


For current account rewards and interest conditions may apply eg. using provider’s full switching service, min deposits and direct debits. For savings, access maybe limited, min/max deposits may apply. See T&Cs.
Representative example: If you spend £1,200 at a purchase interest rate of 18.95% p.a. (variable) your representative rate will be 18.9% APR (variable). *price increases to £59.50 after 18 months ** Not FSCS protected

Courtesy: Daily Mail Online

Respecting Indigenous treaties is mandatory in draft Compilation of citizenship Manual

23 Jul 17
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Filling out the census, paying taxes and respecting treaties with Indigenous Peoples are listed at a draft version of a study guide for the citizenship examination as obligations of citizenship.

The copy indicates the book used by Canadians to prepare for the test has been overhauled by the government.

The present “Discover Canada” direct dates back to 2011 when the previous Conservative government did its own reform made to provide additional information on Canadian history and values.

A few of the Conservatives’ insertions attracted controversy, including improved detail concerning the War of 1812 and a warning that particular “barbaric cultural practices,” such as honor killings and female genital mutilation, are crimes in Canada.

Eliminating both those components was when he said early the book was up for a rewrite what Liberal Immigration Minister John McCallum had in mind. But although work has been underway for more than a year, there is no date.

In the draft version, the reference to practices that are barbaric is gone, as is the addition of obtaining a job.

Instead, the new guide breaks the responsibilities of citizenship down into two categories: mandatory and voluntary.

Voluntary responsibilities are listed as participating in the process, understanding bilingualism and respecting the rights of others.

Serving on a jury obeying the law, paying taxes, filling out the census and respecting treaties are mandatory.

“Today, Canadians, by way of instance, can own their own homes and purchase land thanks to treaties that the government negotiated,” the draft version says. “Every Canadian has responsibilities under those treaties also. They’re agreements of honour.”

The draft guide delves extensively including references to a section on what happened at those schools and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s report on schools. The guide comprises a paragraph.

The draft also devotes sections that are substantive to chapters of history when the South Asians, Jews and disabled Canadians were discriminated against, references which were limited or absent .

The new version also documents the growth of sexual minorities, in addition to the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender groups. Bureaucrats had sought to include themes that were similar but were overruled by minister Jason Kenney, with their efforts reduced to a line on gay marriage.

There’s also an entirely new section called “Quality of Life in Canada” that delves into the education system — including a pitch for individuals to save money for their children’s schooling — the history of medicare, descriptions of family life, leisure time, effects of the environment on Canadian arts and culture and just a paragraph trying to explain Canadian humour.

Canadians like to make fun of themselves, the book notes.

“Humour and satire about the experience of Indigenous, racialized, refugee and immigration peoples and their experiences is growing in popularity,” the section says.

The rewrite is part of process that’s underway and a renewal of citizenship laws. In June, legislation passed that changed the age for people who must pass the knowledge test for citizenship.

Notes obtained from the draft copy show every government department is being consulted . However, the team inside the Immigration Department did look there.

They were taking cues sharing copies of his remarks to incorporate.

One of Trudeau’s often repeated mantras — “Canada has learned how to be strong not in spite of our differences, but because of them” — appears to be paraphrased directly in the opening section of the book: “Canadians have learned how to be strong because of our differences.”

The briefing notes say elsewhere although the guide is to be released to mark the 150th birthday of Canada note that production time is at least four months once a final version was approved.

A spokesperson for the Immigration Department stressed the importance of the consultations that have gone into the guide.

“While this may take more time, this broader approach will lead to a final product that better reflects Canada’s diversity and Indigenous history, as recommended by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission,” Lindsay Wemp said in an email.

Also on the Planet and Mail

Trudeau: ‘ squabbles ‘airing with Khadr campaign (The Canadian Press)

It Is not the turban that Is the NDP’s Difficulty in Quebec of Jagmeet Singh

22 Jul 17
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Hélène Laverdière, his campaign team put an end about whether a Sikh could win votes from this state since Jagmeet Singh this week declared his acceptance from a Quebec MP.

Fat chance, at this point.

Concerns among New Democrats about Mr. Singh’s viability in the state that catapulted the NDP to its best-ever election result six decades back, which were generated voluminous punditry in the official languages because Le Devoir reported them earlier this month, are not likely to be abated by one of 16 Quebec caucus members coming aboard. Nor is Ms. Laverdière’s backing, useful though it can be, likely to change the minds of those Quebeckers — a vast majority of the electorate there, a recent Angus Reid poll suggested — that wouldn’t vote for a Sikh, or anybody sporting religious headwear.


The threat to Mr. Singh’s hopes of winning the NDP’s fall leadership vote isn’t so much that many Quebeckers could come out to cast ballots against him Despite Quebec accounting for almost half of the New Democratic caucus, the party doesn’t have enough members there to count for much in a one-member, 1 vote system. It’s that New Democrats elsewhere in the country could be skeptical of picking someone who would make it more difficult to return toward the 59 seats they won in 2011 in Quebec.

As clear as that worry could be, this could be a fantastic time for New Democrats to ask themselves: Is it really in their interests to attempt and remain in the good graces of individuals who would never vote for a proud member of a religious minority, even if this includes a reasonable number of people who voted for them at least once before?

To raise that question isn’t to discount as a bigot anyone who’s uncomfortable with the overt religiosity of someone like Mr. Singh. Without doubt, as press in the rest of the nation often bend over backward to point out, some of the distress stems from a liberal secularism that only intimate familiarity with the Quiet Revolution can describe — even when the giant cross in the National Assembly, and the exact same poll showing higher relaxation with evangelical Christians than with Sikhs or Muslims, suggest other factors are also at play for a few Quebeckers.

But setting aside the reasons for some Quebeckers’ sentiments, the problem for the NDP is compatibility between their fans in the rest of the nation and also there.

New Democrats have to have a chance of winning at least twice the amount of ridings in the rest of Canada as in Quebec, if they are to challenge for authorities. Yes, a chunk of the electorate in other states shares the distress with practising Muslims, Sikhs or members of prominent minorities in leadership positions. But those on the left side of this spectrum are likely to decide if the celebration is perceived by them as intolerant toward those minorities not to vote NDP.

That is true in the suburban and urban areas that dominate the map, where the NDP would like to challenge the Liberals’ dominance. And it applies to populations and growing minority-religion themselves, the NDP should work out the way to court if it is to prevent status that is perennial, and which are things in battlegrounds particularly.

In the conditions, the NDP could win over voters in Quebec and the rest of Canada who have views. That is arguably what happened in 2011, although gains in areas like the Greater Toronto Area and B.C.’s Lower Mainland were still short of what is necessary to win government.

However, the history of parties which newspaper over important ideological fault lines to create coalitions of Quebeckers and non-Quebeckers indicates it’s a recipe for long-term tragedy even if it attracts short-term achievement — Brian Mulroney’s alliance of Quebec nationalists and Western populists (among others), culminating in the collapse of the Progressive Conservatives and the increase of the Bloc Québécois and the Reform Party, being the most obvious example.

Those fault lines may change with time. It’s been long enough that federalism might not be as divisive a subject as it was. Minority rights, in a state continued to experience profound demographic change, today seem more like the type of subject where a party will suffer if it attempts to have it both ways — as the NDP got a whiff of in the last campaign, as it was able to cede defence of niqab-wearing girls to the Liberals outside Quebec and alienate Quebec fans by belatedly taking that side.

Because foregoing Quebec looks like a route to Official Opposition or back to authorities pessimistic New Democrats might see a Catch-22. But the Liberals demonstrated it is possible to acquire most seats in Quebec posing as a party aligned with minority populations and sympathetic to.

Whether the Liberals’ fans in 2015 were fully on board with accommodation, or simply ready to overlook it, a lot of them are available to a NDP.

It shouldn’t necessarily be Mr. Singh leading it. There are loads of reasons that are defensible, from lack of experience to thinking he lacks policy material to being put off by the manner in that New Democrats could pick he is not their guy.

But those winds up as their leader ought to be careful of trying too difficult to keep within the tent anybody who would deny Mr. Singh because he wears a turban. It’s a way to have the tent collapse.

Also on the Planet and Mail

NDP leadership candidate Jagmeet Singh takes aim (The Canadian Press)

Nationwide travel insurance bans cyclists without helmets

21 Jul 17
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  • Nationwide Building Society says bike riders without helmets won’t be covered
  • Angry consumers take to Twitter to voice their concerns over the rule change 
  • Cycling UK says the move is clearly ‘not an evidence based change’
  • The building society has made a raft of changes to the Flex Plus account
  • The new rule will apply to anyone with a trip booked on or after September 21 

Nationwide has sparked a travel insurance row after changing its policy to mean that those riding bikes while on holiday will only be covered if they wear a helmet.

The building society’s move will apply to customers with the worldwide family travel policy, which comes free with the Nationwide FlexPlus account.

The change is being made on September 21 and will only affect trips booked on or after this date.

Nationwide travel insurance customers now have to wear a helmet when cycling abroad

Nationwide travel insurance customers now have to wear a helmet when cycling abroad

The building society is making a number of changes to the travel insurance policy from the end of September, which have been sent out to customers and are listed online.

Angry Nationwide customers took to social media to complain about the change, with some using the building society’s @AskNationwide Twitter account to take it to task. Other Twitter users supported it, however.

Meanwhile, a cycling expert said that Nationwide appeared to have made the change without evidence to back it up as safer – and pointed out that in some countries, such as the Netherlands, helmets weren’t widely worn and that this also covered cycling on forest tracks.

Several people took to Twitter to voice their anger and concerns around the helmet change:   

Roger Geffen, policy director at CyclingUK, said: ‘This is clearly not an evidence- based change. It is far from clear if helmets provide a benefit for safety when cycling, in some cases they can help and in others they can be counterproductive.

‘In certain countries such as the Netherlands, wearing a helmet is completely unheard of. The message that helmets must be worn is out of kilter with reality as it assumes cycling is a dangerous thing to do.

‘By enforcing this rule it will also put people off cycling and the health benefits of getting on a bike are far greater than the safety a helmet provides.’  

Policy wording: The change will apply to anyone with a trip booked on or after September 21

Policy wording: The change will apply to anyone with a trip booked on or after September 21

A spokesperson for Nationwide said: ‘The change made to the policy concerning the wearing of bicycle helmets while cycling is intended to provide greater clarity regarding the ‘reasonable care’ we expect our customers to take while on holiday. 

‘This change is intended to help to protect our members’ welfare.

‘Whilst we accept an individual’s choice to wear a helmet or not, there is an increased risk of head injury for those people who choose not to wear a helmet. 

‘As an insurer, we feel the requirement to wear a helmet when cycling is a responsible approach to encourage safe cycling for our members. The change in wording applies only in cases where an injury resulting from riding a bike would have been avoided or minimised through the wearing of a helmet.’

Cycling UK says the decision to insist  helmets are worn is 'clearly not an evidence based'

Cycling UK says the decision to insist helmets are worn is ‘clearly not an evidence based’

We asked some of the other major insurers what their policies were when it comes to helmets.

LV told us: ‘LV travel policies cover various forms of cycling; whilst we expect customers to take sensible precautions to protect themselves, we do not insist customers wear a helmet, other than for mountain biking.’

Avivia had a similar rule: ‘For Aviva Travel insurance policy holders we assess each claim (including those who do not wear a helmet when cycling) on its own merits. 

‘We wouldn’t decline a claim simply because the customer had not worn a helmet whilst on a bicycle. Rather, we’d assess whether or not the customers had taken all reasonable precautions to protect themselves and prevent accident and injury.’ 

While Tom Bishop, head of Direct Line travel insurance, said: ‘Although we do not enforce the use of helmets for holidaymakers when cycling abroad, the safety of our customers is important to us, which is why we strongly encourage the use of helmets.’ 

The worldwide insurance policy from Nationwide is a family policy and it includes adults up to the age of 74. Winter sports and businesses trips are included and all family members at the same address are covered.

From September it will also cover those aged under 19 (or 22 if they’re in full-time education) if they’re travelling on their own and not with their parents or guardians.

Nationwide also announced this week that it was increasing the fee on its Flex Plus account by £36 a year.

Customers currently pay £10 a month for perks including mobile phone insurance, travel cover and car breakdown assistance but from September 21st this will rise to £13 a month.

The free overdraft is being increased, from £100 to £250, customers will be able to claim on the mobile phone insurance four times a year instead of two and the extended warranty and special helpline for those who lose their cards or fall victim to identify theft is being scrapped.


For current account rewards and interest conditions may apply eg. using provider’s full switching service, min deposits and direct debits. For savings, access maybe limited, min/max deposits may apply. See T&Cs.
Representative example: If you spend £1,200 at a purchase interest rate of 18.95% p.a. (variable) your representative rate will be 18.9% APR (variable). *price increases to £59.50 after 18 months ** Not FSCS protected


Courtesy: Daily Mail Online

As Conservative Party deputy leader, Lisa Raitt hopes women will ‘see themselves’

21 Jul 17
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Conservative MP Lisa Raitt considers herself a feminist. The leader of the Conservative Party, a mother with private – and public-sector expertise of two, says she has been concerned with women being treated equally and fairly on the job.

But unlike Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, do not expect her to broadcast it broadly.

“I am not going to run around saying ‘I am your feminist deputy leader.’ I am a feminist. I have lived it all of my life,” Ms. Raitt, 49, said this week during an interview at a downtown Ottawa coffee shop.

“I do not think it’s about me. I believe it’s about our policies”

Ms. Raitt, who ran unsuccessfully for her party’s leadership, was appointed deputy leader this week. She’s currently the MP at the caucus of Leader Andrew Scheer — and the only one of his competitors to earn a place on his group. Born in Cape Breton but representing the Toronto-area of Milton because 2008, Ms. Raitt will behave as Mr. Scheer’s lieutenant in Ontario and the all-important Greater Toronto Area, as well as Atlantic Canada, where the Conservatives were wiped out in the 2015 election.

But perhaps most significant, Ms. Raitt will help to serve as her party’s conduit to women — both in encouraging qualified women to run for office and expanding the Conservative base to include more people like her. “I am hoping what girls see is they can see themselves in me, and the understanding that I understand what they are going through,” she said.

The Toronto Port Authority’s chief executive, who composed the first policy of the port, used her campaign.

“My fiscal agent was a girl, my campaign manager was a girl. Anyone write a story about that? No. You know why? Because I did not lead with this. Trudeau could have contributed with it, since he is all about symbolism,” she said.

A practising Catholic, Ms. Raitt said she stands with the “status quo” on abortion, even though she’s personally against it.

“I am not going to avoid another girl from making that decision. And I do believe it is her decision to make,” she said. “As a concept, do I like abortion? No. And the reason is that I believe that life begins at conception. That is exactly what I was taught, that I was brought up. I still feel that.”

Ms. Raitt has been rewarded on Mr. Scheer’s team not because of her results, but for her possible. Despite her diverse ministerial experience and strong communications skills, Ms. Raitt finished eighth in the leadership race, with just 3.74 percent of the vote. The result is attributed by her of a entrance in the difficultly and race fundraising at the very same areas as Erin O’Toole and Ontario leadership contenders Kellie Leitch.

“I wish I could have raised more money,” she admits. Although she said she is continuing her language course three times a week she struggled with French.

However, she and Mr. Scheer shared a bond on the campaign trail that lasted after the ballots were cast. “I admire him. He knows that we will need to cultivate our base, and he sees I will help. And he also knows that I’m loyal,” she said.

Part of her role, also, are to assist Mr. Scheer with caucus management after what was, occasionally, a heated leadership race. “Some people went after each other. And our job is to bring everyone together. He, to me, was more unifying than anyone else,” she said.

Specifically, some members of Maxime Bernier’s camp throw doubt on Mr. Scheer’s razor-thin victory over the Quebec MP. Ms. Raitt said Mr. Bernier has since vowed to become a team player, though it is not clear what role he’ll play.

“If it had been weighed in how well people did at the direction, I would not be sitting as deputy leader,” she said. “What Andrew watched was that I did connect with folks. And that is valuable.”

Ms. Raitt is also facing a special situation in the home: Her husband, Bruce Wood, was diagnosed last June with early onset Alzheimer’s. Mr. Wood’s condition has remained steady since last year, she said, but admits they are entering a “grey area.”

“Things are still working and I am not exhausted. However, every caregiver will tell you that a route is that you follow, and at some point in time I will need support. And I am not ashamed to say I will need support,” she said.

Above all , Ms. Raitt said she appreciates her party for allowing individuals to express themselves openly. By way of instance, she’s walked in gay pride parades, while Mr. Scheer has indicated he won’t participate because they have become too politicized.

“If I had been the leader at the moment, and someone said they wanted to go on a pro-life march, I would not tell them to not go,” she said.

“You have to have the ability to exercise what you believe is the truth. But in that House of Commons, unless it is a free vote, you are going to be voting .”

Also on the Planet and Mail

Tories reject idea Khadr effort in U.S. will affect NAFTA (The Canadian Press)

British Gas pays thousands £90 compensation payments

20 Jul 17
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  • British Gas approached the regulator Ofgem last year when it noticed the issue 
  • The firm failed to pay 12,000 customers compensation for missed appointments 
  • Customers are meant to get £30 for every missed or delayed appointment
  • A further £30 is also paid if the initial money isn’t paid within 10 working days 

Energy giant British Gas has paid out £1.1million to around 12,000 customers after its employees missed or were late to appointments.

The energy firm is supposed to compensate customers £30 within 10 days if they miss appointments at a customer’s home or office. But British Gas told the regulator earlier in the year it had noticed a series of errors in the compensation payments.

The energy firm says around 12,000 customers have received compensation and within that number there are 10,000 business and 2,000 domestic customers. 

British Gas approached the regulator Ofgem last year when it first noticed the issue

British Gas approached the regulator Ofgem last year when it first noticed the issue

There are a number of reasons why energy firms make appointments to visit a customer’s home or business, such as taking a meter reading or installing a new boiler. When an appointment is booked customers are given a four-hour window in which it should take place.

British Gas says its appointments are carried out by a third party and if they are missed or delayed, if the initial £30 isn’t paid within 10 working days the firm is supposed to pay an additional £30.

It says it has now compensated those customers in full and included an extra £30 bringing the total amount paid to between £60 and £90 per customer.

Ofgem says it has been working with the energy firm to help it improve its process for paying compensation and in April this year it changed its customer service process to make sure in the future customers receive the compensation they are entitled to without delay.

As British Gas came to Ofgem when it noticed the error, and has paid those affected the compensation due, no formal action is being taken against the provider.

Martin Crouch, Ofgem senior partner for improving regulation, said: ‘British Gas did the right thing in coming forward to report this issue, and has since improved its processes to make sure that, when appointments are missed or not kept on time, all customers receive the compensation they’re entitled to.

‘It’s crucial that suppliers keep appointments on time, and make amends when things go wrong.’

A British Gas spokesperson said: ‘We discovered the error last year and reported it to Ofgem. We have apologised to the affected customers, given them all compensation and an additional goodwill payment.

‘In April this year we introduced new system checks to ensure this can’t happen again.’ 

Mark Todd, co-founder of Energyhelpline, comments: ‘Like when trains are late, British Gas has paid out compensation of between £60 and £90 for its representatives missing or turning up late for appointments relating to customer’s energy.

Energy customers are meant to get £30 automatically for  missed or delayed appointments

Energy customers are meant to get £30 automatically for missed or delayed appointments

‘We applaud British Gas for coming clean on these issues and putting in better practises for the future. Let’s hope they don’t miss 12,000 appointments next year.’ 

If you’ve booked an appointment with your energy firm, whether you are a domestic or a business customer, and it fails to turn up – or it’s late arriving, you can claim £30 compensation from the firm and a further £30 if this isn’t paid in 10 working days.

Suppliers are supposed to automatically compensate customers – either through a credit to their account or by sending a chequ.

If this happens to you and you’re not paid, call your supplier and ask it for the money back. If you run into problems, you can always make an official complaint and if you’re still getting nowhere you can escalate the problem to the Energy Ombudsman.

This isn’t the first time a big six energy provider has run into trouble for missed compensation payments. In September last year Eon paid out £3.1 million after it failed to compensate customers for missed appointments.

The amount paid out changed at the start of last year and before this energy firms were supposed to pay out £20 for a missed gas and £22 for a missed electricity appointment.  


Energy firms are constantly battling to pinch customers from each other.

Shrewd consumers can take advantage of this by reviewing deals every year to ensure they are on the cheapest deal. Even moving every other year will save you significant amounts.

If you are one of the millions of people who have NEVER switched (i.e. stuck with your original supplier), then you should save a big chunk of cash. A tenth of switchers saved £616 in the first half of 2016, according to energyhelpline. 

You only need to be interested in the tariff that is going to be cheapest where you live, so do your own postcode comparison in minutes using the tool above – or here – to find the best price.

Read more about other quick tricks to make sure you are getting the best deal on your household bills here

Courtesy: Daily Mail Online

NAFTA talks ‘important’ for partisanship says

20 Jul 17
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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau claims the renegotiation of the North American free-trade agreement is “too important” for partisanship, after federal Conservatives went on a crossborder effort to criticize the Liberal government for paying $10.5-million to former Guantanamo detainee Omar Khadr.

But Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer pledged to maintain the condemnation of the settlement of his party, stating any consequence lies with the authorities.

Tories reject thought Khadr effort in U.S. will affect NAFTA (The Canadian Press)

Senior Liberals this week suggested that the Tories’ campaign against the government’s settlement with Mr. Khadr could affect trade talks with the Trump government, set to start Aug. 16 in Washington.

Mr. Trudeau addressed the controversy on Thursday, saying Canadians have been happy that different levels of government and different political parties are working together on the Canada-U.S. file.

“This is too important to fall into partisanship,” Mr. Trudeau told reporters during a press conference in Barrie, Ont.

“Canadians expect their agents, whatever party they be a part of, to be standing up for Canadian interests and making certain that we’re creating the proper deal for Canada as we move forward on modernizing NAFTA.”

Mr. Scheer, however, said he rejects the connection that the Liberals are making involving the payment to Mr. Khadr and free-trade negotiations.

“The only people now who want to make this assertion would be the Liberals themselves. And this comes on the heels of them desperately trying to deflect blame to others,” Mr. Scheer said at a press conference in Ottawa, where he was introducing five members of his senior team, including new deputy leader Lisa Raitt.

“If they were so worried about the backlash, I would ask, ‘did they give anyone in the U.S. a head’s up? Did they let their team in Washington know that it came? Did they talk to the State Department?’ “

The Trump administration has so far been quiet and a State Department official declined to comment when contacted on Thursday.

Still, Mr. Scheer said Conservatives will continue to present a “united front” in the USA on trade problems.

“I have instructed my members of Parliament … to speak with one voice as Canadians, to be certain we’re doing what’s in the best interest of Canadian businesses and Canadian workers,” Mr. Scheer stated.

Mr. Khadr, a Canadian citizen, was sent to Guantanamo Bay at age 15 after he was accused of throwing a grenade that killed U.S. army medic Sergeant Christopher Speer and injured Sergeant Layne Morris in Afghanistan. The Supreme Court of Canada ruled in 2010 that the actions of Canadian officials who participated in U.S. interrogations of Mr. Khadr had offended “the most fundamental Canadian standards about the treatment of detained youth suspects.”

Before the settlement, Mr. Khadr’s lawyers had filed a $20-million lawsuit against the federal government.

Mr. Trudeau again defended his government’s decision on Thursday, saying it would have cost much more to settle the case in court.

“Obviously, people are troubled by the settlement, and as was I. And that’s why we settled. If we had continued to fight this in court, we would have been spending three or four times as much money on a payout,” he said.

“Previous governments systematically and deliberately neglected to defend, and were even complicit, in the violation of a Canadian citizen’s rights. This isn’t about the facts of what Mr. Khadr did or didn’t do. This is about what the government didn’t do or did. And when a Canadian’s rights are violated, everyone pays.”

Mr. Scheer disputed Mr. Trudeau’s argument about cost-saving, noting the Liberals settled out of court and have never publicly disclosed or explained the reported $10.5-million sum.

“Nobody believes that Justin Trudeau made this payment to save taxpayers’ money,” Mr. Scheer stated. “We’re running massive $30-billion deficits. The quantity of money he’s claiming he would have saved would be a rounding error.”

He added that the Conservatives accept the Supreme Court’s ruling that Mr. Khadr’s rights were violated, but said the matter of compensating Mr. Khadr “was worth fighting for” in court.

“Compensation was already supplied to Omar Khadr. He was brought back to Canada, and ready to enjoy the very rights and freedoms that he was fighting against in Afghanistan,” Mr. Scheer stated.

On Sunday, the Wall Street Journal published an opinion piece from Conservative MP Peter Kent, called ‘A Terrorist’s Big Payday, Courtesy of Trudeau’, and Conservative MP Michelle Rempel appeared Monday on Fox News, the same day the U.S. administration released its sweeping list of over 100 negotiating objectives for NAFTA. The Conservative Party also launched a website, “Khadr Questions,” which invites visitors to tweet to Mr. Trudeau’s government with questions and concerns about the payment. Even though a spokesman said it’s not a fundraising initiative data collects from visitors.

Mr. Khadr, now 30, spent more than ten years in U.S. and Canadian custody, much of that time in Guantanamo. After accepting a plea deal once the detainee there, he was transferred. He later recanted.

Where can you get the best value sports TV bundles?

19 Jul 17
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Football fans across the country will be gearing up for the start of the Premier League kicking off on August 11 with Arsenal vs Leicester at the Emirates.

If you want to catch the season from the comfort of your own home however, it means investing in a sports package that often comes with a notoriously high price tag.

Sky has however today revamped its Sports line up with the option to buy individual channels which could help cut the cost of supporting from your sofa.

We have done the hard work for you and taken a look at how the new Sky deal really stacks up against rivals plus we have rounded up the cheapest deals to get your sports fix this summer, whether you are a football fanatic or boxing is more your bag.

Premier League: Arsenal opens the season this year against Leicester on 11 August

Premier League: Arsenal opens the season this year against Leicester on 11 August


Die-hard sports fans may feel they can’t do without their sports TV package, but a third of subscribers actually end up watching less than two hours of sport per week, according to research by Freesat.

This is despite paying an average £50.50 for their sports package. 

Many of the major sporting events this summer are aired on free channels including Wimbledon Tennis (BBC), The Tour de France (ITV and Eurosport) and The London World Athletics Championships (BBC). 

FreeSat has come up with a list of the top sporting events this summer. 

 Paid for 

  • Golf  Open Championship held on July 20th – 23rd. Broadcast on Sky Sports. 
  • Cricket – England summer cricket tests happening throughout July. Broadcast on Sky Sports. 


  • World Athletics Championships on August 4 – 13th. Broadcast on the BBC. 
  • Rugby League – Challenge Cup final on August 26. Broadcast on the BBC 
  • Formula 1 – British Grand Prix on July 16. Broadcast on Channel 4.
  • Cycling – Tour de France happening until 23rd July. Broadcast by ITV and Eurosport (available for free with Freesat). 
  • Tennis – Wimbledon Championships from July 3rd -16th. Broadcast on BBC.

Broadband, TV and Phone package Monthly cost Set up fee Yearly cost
Sky Sports Bundle +Fibre  (free £75 prepaid MasterCard) £69.50 for 18 months £39.95 £873.95
Sky Sports Bundle +Broadband Unlimited (free £75 prepaid MasterCard) £73.49 for 18 months £39.95 £921.83
BT Starter +Unlimited Infinity 1+ Weekend Calls (free £80 BT Reward Card) £33.49 for 12 months £69.99 £471.87
NOWTV Sky Sports Pass+Brilliant Broadband Combo £51.90 for 12 months £22 £645.88
Virgin Media Full House Bundle £55 for 12 months £20 £680.00
TalkTalk TV with Fast Broadband and Sky Sports £28.50 for 18 months £342.00
TalkTalk TV with Faster Fibre and Sky Sports £35 for 18 months £420.00
Source: Broadband choices, correct as of July 18       


What you get 

Sky has long been the only option for hard-core sports fans and it still offers the biggest choice of channels (both sports and entertainment) – but it has one of the biggest price tags.  

It previously offered a range of channels including Sky Sports 1, 2,3,4,5 plus Sky Sports News HQ, F1 and Xtra.

However from July 18 it has scrapped its original line up in favour of a more themed approach. There will be 10 channels:

  • Sky Sports Main Event
  • Sky Sports Premier League
  • Sky Sports Football
  • Sky Sports Cricket
  • Sky Sports Golf
  • Sky Sports F1
  • Sky Sports Action
  • Sky Sports Arena
  • Sky Sports News 

Existing customers will see their channels switched over automatically. They will also let you buy individual channels rather than the whole line up if you want, cutting down on the cost. 

These packs will be broken down into Premier League, Football, Cricket, Golf, F1 play an Action & Arena pack which will include the  Main Event, Action, Arena and News channels.

Choose one of these and you will pay £18 per month, you get two for £22 or 3 for £26. 

In terms of actual sporting coverage for every Formula 1 race, England’s Summer Test Series, ICC Champions Trophy, golf Majors as well as the European, PGA Tours and the 2018 Ryder cup, Rugby Union and Rugby League, boxing, darts, NFL and tennis.

The cost

Adding Sky Sports to an existing package will cost £27.50 extra a month, or slightly cheaper at £18 if you have Sky Cinema.  This will be frozen for the next year. 

If you want to buy individual channels it will cost from £18 a month, £22 if you only want two channels and £26 for three channels.

New customers taking out a bundle deal for 18 months will pay from £69.50 per month with a one off £19.95 set-up fee. 

This includes all the sports channels, broadband speeds of up to 34Mbps (25GB cap), the Original TV Bundle (which includes 270 channels) and free evening and weekend calls. 

If you want to add anytime calls it will cost you an extra £4 per month and adding the movies package costs another £10. 

Truly dedicated fans can also access MUTV, Chelsea TV, LFCTV each costing £7 per month.  This does include a SkyQ 1TB box which lets you record three shows and watch a fourth. Plus the Sky Q app means you can stream TV live and watch on demand on your tablet or mobile.  

Getting BT Sport on Sky –  

You can get BT Sport on your Sky box if you have BT broadband for £7.50 (£12.50 in HD) per month or £22.99 (£27.50 in HD) per month if you don’t have a BT connection. 

Fore: Golf fans could watch Brooks Koepka winning the US Open last month on Sky

Fore: Golf fans could watch Brooks Koepka winning the US Open last month on Sky


BT offers fewer sports channels and a smaller selection of Premier League games, but it has a dedicated boxing channel and exclusive right to the UEFA Champions League.

It does come with a much lower additional cost than Sky but BT has a smaller selection of channels.


A quarter of sports TV customers say they only watch football, according to FreeSat.

The 25th anniversary season of the Premier League opens with the first game on Friday 11 August. BT Sport and Sky secured the rights for matches until 2021.

You can find out which games are broadcast on which channels here.

The majority of games (126) will be broadcast on Sky with a handful of the bigger clashes shown on BT Sport and a total 42 games over the season including the 5.30pm Saturday evening slot. 

The BBC and BT Sport have the rights to the FA Cup until 2021, and BT has exclusive rights to 351 UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League until 2021.


What you get 

BT offers BT Sport 1,2 and 3 plus Box Nation and ESPN.

Fans can watch all 351 UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League games with exclusive rights until 2021, plus some games in the Premier League, FA Cup, European Rugby Champions Cup, Ultimate Fighting Championship, MotoGP.

You will get a YouView box, YouView+ or YouView+ Ultra HD box depending on which TV package you take out. All let you pause and rewind and catch up TV but the two beefed up boxes can record as well.

What it costs –

The cheapest add-on is the Starter TV kit with BT Sport. This gives you 80 channels and costs £3.50 per month plus it includes access to the app and online streaming.

If you want to bump up your TV channel options, the Entertainment Plus deal (110 channels) costs £10 and Total Entertainment (141 channels) currently costs £13 (usually £18) – both also come with Sport.  

When it comes to wrapping up all of your costs in one contract, the cheapest option including BT Sports with 17Mbps speeds is the  Starter deal with Sport and Unlimited broadband which costs £29.99 per month with a £59.99 set-up fee and a £40 BT giftcard.

If you want faster speeds the The Starter +Unlimited Infinity 1+ Weekend Calls includes up to 35Mbps speeds costs a total £33.49 per month with a £69.99 start-up cost and a £80 giftcard.

Sky Sports on BT

BT customers will still be able to buy Sky Sports through their existing package. It currently costs £22 per month and you get Sky Sports 1 and Sky Sports 2.

Under the new Sky revamp you will instead get Sky Sports Main Event and Sky Sports Extra at a cost of £27.50 per month. 

Formula 1: Fans can catch the action on Sky's dedicated F1 channel

Formula 1: Fans can catch the action on Sky’s dedicated F1 channel

Now TV

Now TV is aimed at those who want access to Sky channels but don’t want to commit to an expensive contract and it is owned by Sky itself.

The benefit is they offer the option to mix and match packages from month to month – but you can’y buy individual sports channels through the off-shoot.

Watch out, while flexible, you will need to remember to cancel your monthly passes or they automatically roll over and you will be charged for the next month. 

The sports packages offer the whole Sky Sports packages. It gives you access to 250 box sets on demand. It’s Now TV Roku box lets you pause and rewind TV.

What it costs

There is a 14 day free  trial, once that’s up you pay £6.99 per month for a rolling contract.

Add Sky Sports for a day for £6.99, £10.99 for a week or £20 for one month (this is at a 40 per cent discount – usually it costs £33.99). 

It does offer a Combo deal with Brillant Broadband at 17Mbps, 92 entertainment channels, pay-as-you-go calls and Sky Sports for £51.90 per month (£56.99 for 39Mbps speeds). 

There is a £22 set up fee on a 12 month contract or £44 if you choose for a monthly rolling deal. 

To add a calls package it costs £8 for anytime calls or £4 for evening and weekend. It’s an additional £6.99 for the Entertainment pass, £9.99 for Sky Cinema and £2.99 for a Kids Pass.


While you buying your sports package direct from Sky or BT is cheaper, once you factor in the costs of broadband and phone packages – you could actually end up better off choosing either Virgin or Talk Talk. 

In fact Talk Talk has landed a knock-out blow when it comes to Sky Sports – with the smallest monthly fee.   

Talk Talk 

Talk Talk offers the full Sky Sports channels apart from Sky Sports Mix for just £8.50 per month on top of its broadband package.

The basic 18Mbps Fast Broadband package costs £19.95 per month for 18 months, and the 32Mbps costs £26.50. 

Adding Sky Sports brings the bill to £28.45 per month and £35 per month respectively.

The contracts also promise no mid-contract hikes with guaranteed prices for the whole contract. There currently is no set-up fee.

But watch out at the end of the 18-month deal the price of Sky Sports jumps dramatically to £34 per month.  

Talk Talk also offers BT Sport 1,2,3 and ESPN. A month’s pass costs £21.99 with a £30 activation fee for a rolling contract or £15 when adding it for a year. 


You can add BT Sport and all of the Sky Sports channels to a Virgin TV bundle.

You get Sky Sports the whole Sky Sports bundle for £31.75 per month extra and you can pay an extra £7 for HD channels.

As of yet there is no option to take out single Sky Sports channels. 

Adding BT Sports and ESPN on to your package costs £18 per month.

Virgin also offers Premier Sports for £8.99, Liverpool FCTV for £7, Racing UK for £22, MUTV for £7 and Box Nation for £11.

The Full House deal combining TV, broadband and phone plus BT Sports costs £55 per month. To Add Sky Sports the cost then jumps to £82 per month


BT-owned EE, doesn’t actually offer either sport package itself, but you can get access to both Sky and BT channels elsewhere.  

EE’s most basic package offers  17Mbps and free weekend calls for £32.50 for 18 months (then £33.50 a month), with a £7 router delivery charge. 

It will boost your mobile phone data plan by 5GB per month for fee (worth £10).

You get 70 channels and 11 in HD and a set top box (1TB storage) which allows you to pause, rewind and record with access to catch up and on demand services.

The box comes with NOW TV installed so customers can buy the same Sky Sports passes. EE mobile customers currently get three months free access to the BT Sport app.  




Courtesy: Daily Mail Online

Premiers want more clarity from government

19 Jul 17
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The premiers of Canada say as they work to craft rules about legalizing marijuana, the government should provide more clarity — or Ottawa will face a call for a delay.

“It is great that the prime minister would like to stick with his deadline. That is super-duper,” Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister said Wednesday at the final news conference of the leaders’ annual summer meeting.

“He wants to hear what the premiers of the country — our country — have said we want help with. There are a range of public policy issues that are serious and significant . They have to be addressed. They ought to be addressed co-operatively.”

The government intends to pass legislation which would legalize cannabis as of July 1.

The premiers have formed a working group to identify common issues, seek answers on how best to move forward and to provide recommendations.

It’s up to the states to create rules in their jurisdictions on cannabis sold and is going to be distributed, what the minimum age should be and what public areas it will be allowed in.

Pallister on Tuesday pushed for a delay given what he called the quantity of work and unanswered questions over Canadians could be affected by marijuana.

In the long run, the premiers didn’t involve a delay, but said in a final communique that the states might request an extension if Ottawa doesn’t help them solve the issues of justice, security, taxation, supply and public education.

“We will work to the deadline, but as things stand right now there’s work that also has to be accomplished by the national government in order for us to fulfill it,” said Alberta Premier Rachel Notley.

“It hasn’t yet been done.”

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne said the issues are crucial.

“The starting point is: Have we fulfilled the public security concerns? Are we sure we have the provisions in place to safeguard youth (and) do we know what the highway traffic consequences are?” she said.

“We need to be certain we can keep people safe.”

When there’s a flexibility to the July 1 deadline Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was asked at a stop in Quebec City. He replied that the objective is to have the legislation passed by summer.

He said roads gangs and offenders are making millions through sales and right now individuals have access to marijuana when they should not.

“We will need to put a stop to this policy that doesn’t work,” Trudeau said. “We’re continuing to work with the states to guarantee that the framework will be set up a soon as possible”

The Canadian Association of Chiefs concluded a conference where president Mario Harel cautioned when cannabis becomes lawful that crime wo withdraw from the marijuana market.

Harel said funds will be needed and to train officers to detect drivers.

Harel, who’s police chief in Gatineau, Que., proposed about 2,000 such specialists will be needed and estimated that there are about 600 across Canada now.

During their two weeks of meetings, the premiers also discussed upcoming talks with the U.S. to renegotiate NAFTA.

They resolved to keep their harm reduction approach to fighting the opioid crisis, to work collectively on a national pharmacare program and to reevaluate minimum sentences and hire more judges in light of the Supreme Court’s conclusion that instances have to be tossed out if they’re overly delayed.

The meeting went forward without B.C. Premier John Horgan, who wasn’t sworn into that state’s top job until Tuesday.

The premiers meeting is set for next July.

Also on the Planet and Mail

Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall weighs on NAFTA talks (The Canadian Press)

Plans to make switching with a bundle are ditched by Ofcom

18 Jul 17
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  • 79 per cent of consumers switching between bundles have had problems
  • Plans to simplify the process and boost switching were proposed last year
  • Ofcom says it would cost too much with a price tag of £110m over 10 years 
  • Industry experts criticise the move  as a ‘massive blow’ to consumers 

Changes to make it easier for consumers to switch TV, broadband and phone bundles have been scrapped by the telecoms regulator.

Under the proposed plans consumers would only need to contact the company they were moving to which would then arrange the switch with their current provider.

But Ofcom says the costs of making these changes are ‘significantly higher than originally estimated’ and would not at the moment be in consumers’ best interests.

Ofcom says proposed plans  aren't in consumers best interests and could cost £100 million

Ofcom says proposed plans aren’t in consumers best interests and could cost £100 million

Ofcom estimates around 884,000 of these switches are made every year, but with no formal switching process in place, it is up to consumers to contact their existing provider and their new provider if they want to switch. 

It had proposed that consumers would only need to speak to the company they were switching to – as is the case with switches between broadband and landline providers – but it has confirmed it is not going forward with these plans.

A statement from Ofcom read: ‘On the basis of the evidence currently available, we no longer consider it proportionate and justified, overall, to pursue reform in this area.’

It says these reforms would cost around £110 million over 10 years and could lead to higher costs to consumers. The reforms would also only help two fifths of consumers and are therefore not in the customers’ best interest at the moment.

But earlier this year Ofcom’s own research of 2,529 consumers showed that 79 per cent had encountered problems when switching with a bundle.

These problems included issues with cancelling their previous service, reported by 38 per cent of consumers it asked, while 17 per cent lost service for an average of one week and one in five had also paid an average of £22 extra due to contracts overlapping

The move to scrap these plans has been slammed by industry experts.

Richard Neudegg, head of regulation at uSwitch, said: ‘Ofcom’s decision not to sort out cross-platform and triple play switching is a massive blow to a sizeable proportion of consumers. 

‘The communications sector is now firmly falling behind what consumers have come to expect when they move to a better deal in other sectors. The big fear, as we see a push towards more bundling, is that the door will be opened for even more consumers to feel unfairly locked in.’

Plans to simplify the process of switching TV, phone and broadband were proposed last year

Plans to simplify the process of switching TV, phone and broadband were proposed last year

While Alex Neill, managing director of home products and services at Which?, said: ‘The use of telecoms services are vital to our daily lives, yet we know that the complicated switching process often puts people off.

‘Although providing better information in a clearer more transparent way is welcome, it is unlikely to stimulate the switching levels needed.

‘When someone switches provider, the process should be handled entirely by the company gaining the customer, so it is disappointing that the regulator has ruled out this process as this remains one of the main barriers to more people switching.’

Ofcom is also asking for input into how it can boost consumer engagement in the sector. It published research earlier in the year showing low levels of consumer engagement with just 7 per cent of stand-alone landline customers being engaged with the provider and contract they have.

It has outlined three potential reasons for the low levels of consumer engagement and why consumers fail to shop around.

Ofcom is now asking for input on research around how to boost consumer engagement

Ofcom is now asking for input on research around how to boost consumer engagement

The first looks how contracts work if a customer has more than one service from a provider as in some cases they may have to pay a penalty fee if they switch and are still within their minimum contract on one of the services.

The second looks at the confusion which exists around when consumers should review their existing deal as it says many people remaining on pricey contracts when they could have saved money by switching.

The third reason identified is that some consumers lack the confidence to work out which package is right for them based on their usage.

Lindsey Fussell, Ofcom’s consumer group director said: ‘We want to help telecoms and TV customers take full advantage of the products and deals out there.

‘Too many people are deterred from shopping around, often staying on contracts that don’t suit their needs. So we plan to make things easier, by breaking down the barriers that prevent customers from engaging in the communications market.’  

It is asking for industry experts, the public, consumer groups and companies within this field to get in touch. The final decisions will be published next spring. 

Courtesy: Daily Mail Online