How to Shop the Boxing Day Sales (and live to tell the tale)

sale shopping

You might think we are getting ahead of ourselves, reporting on the post-Christmas sales already, but the fact of the matter is, sale shopping after Christmas is a very serious business that requires a special set of skills. Expect crowds like you’ve never seen before as people head hurriedly to their local city centre to see what bargains can be found with any money they might have required over Christmas. The most notorious boxing day sale of them all is probably the Next Sale which sees queues in the early hours of the morning every year  of hopefuls looking to save some money on their reduced clobber. Personally, I’d rather be at home tucking into leftovers of epic proportions, but hey, each to their own. Everyone in the boxing day sales are no doubt out to buy something they had their eye on before Christmas but have frugally saved their money until it was reduced (often by up to half price) and so you can expect nothing other than chaos. If you are planning on taking  a trip into the sales on boxing day, but are, like many, slightly apprehensive, then read our guide to making sure that you grab the bargains that you are after and, well, stay alive.

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Preparation is Key

So if you have officially shaken your turkey coma and decide that shopping is what you want to do the day after Christmas then you need to have a plan. You can’t just treat this like any other regular shopping day where you can have a leisurely stroll around browsing and trying on items. Oh no. As soon as you hit the city centre (that’s if you’ve managed to park in the first place – public transport very rarely runs on boxing day) you will be met with crowds and crowds of people so a route of what shops you want to go in and what order will prevent you getting caught up with the wandering masses. Planning each shop in a certain order means you don’t have to do circles in town as getting through the crowd might be tough.

Go Early!

In some cases (ok, not all) shops begin their Boxing Day sales on Christmas Eve and some even as early as the 23rd. Not only does this mean you could potentially buy some reduced last minute Christmas presents, it also means you can stay in bed on Boxing Day having already caught all the bargains and watch the Royle Family on repeat with a box of Quality Street and a Christmas cracker hat. The crowds are likely to be reduced significantly before Christmas Day and it also means that you can get a fresh pick of all the reduced stuff, as by lunchtime Boxing Day we can’t guarantee there will be even much left!

Go on, have a coffee break

The season of indulgence officially doesn’t end until January begins so the ‘eating everything in sight’ attitude should still be in full swing. Stop for a festive coffee, some lunch or a piece of cake because shopping on an empty stomach is never fun! There will be plenty of great cafes, bars and restaurants open on Boxing Day to choose from, and don’t forget to smile at your server – going straight back to work the day after Christmas is slightly soul destroying!

Check the Refund Policy

Always a good one to remember in a sale situation. Although the same policy should generally apply for sale and non-sale items (usually returns are valid within 28 days if the item has not been worn) there may be changes made when a sale is in place that means you can’t return an item or can only exchange it for store credit. If you are panic buying and not trying items on (as sometimes happens in a sale) then you might be counting on returning some of your items. Check first.

Keep your Dignity

Just basically don’t be one of those pushing and shoving maniacs that can often be seen wreaking havoc and will stop at nothing to get what they want. There’s a time and a place for that and it isn’t in a crowded shop on Boxing Day…#justsayin.

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Don’t Buy Crap

Of course, everything reduced in a sale causes huge temptations to buy things we really don’t need, or even want. Ask yourself before you buy an item – would you buy it if its sale price was its original price? A good way of avoiding buying crap is to look in your wardrobe before you leave the house assessing what additions you would like for it and seeing whether there is anything that you absolutely need. This way you can avoid buying clothes similar or the same to the ones already in your wardrobe.

Shop Online

Bit of an obvious one – but if you want to avoid all of what is mentioned above and don’t mind paying a cheeky delivery charge, then stay in bed and get ordering!

 

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Avoid Being Scammed this Christmas

avoid being scammed

It’s easy to get caught up in the Christmas spirit and spend a little more than we maybe should have when it comes to Christmas shopping for our loved ones (and ourselves). This can be all well and good until you fall victim to one of the many scams that are around at Christmas time as they aim to take advantage of our nation’s frivolous spending habits during the festive season. There is always someone out there to spoil all of the fun, but if you’re careful with where your money is going (yes, buy that pair of shoes, it’s only Christmas once a year) then you’ll be able to have a scam free Christmas. Here are a few precautionary measures you should take to protect your finances when you need them most.

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Keep Track of your Statements

According to a study put in place by Nationwide Building Society, out of 2000 UK adults, nearly half of them admitted to not checking their current account as much as they would during the Christmas period, and whilst it is the season to be jolly, it is definitely still worth taking a look to see that your statement matches exactly what you have spent, to avoid missing any fraudulent activity that might have occurred, particularly if you are ordering a lot of goods online. It is thought that fraudsters strike at Christmas due to the fact that people are less likely to check their statements and therefore they are less likely to be discovered. Whilst looking at your statement during December might be scary enough as it is, you will thank yourself come January when you know that the reason your bank account is empty is because of you, and you alone.

Check the site is legit

The biggest place for scams is the world of online shopping, especially when shoppers enter their details into untrustworthy websites, without knowing what they are truly letting themselves in for. Not only can you be scammed out of more money than you bargained for, you can also fall victim to counterfeit, which means you will be sent a fake version of an item you ordered, even though you were under the impression that the product was 100% genuine. 38% of adults out of the same study claimed they did not know how to tell if a website was real or not. If you fall into that percentage then listen up. To check that a website will securely process your transaction you should look for the padlock symbol and HTTP in the URL at the payment stage. If not, give it a miss. If you see an offer that is too good to be true, the chances are, it is and you should avoid it. Too many people fall victim to either receiving fake goods or in fact not receiving anything at all, losing the money that they spent.

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Shield your pin

This may seem like basic security, but carelessness really can cost you when you are using ATM machines. If you are hitting the high street to shop this Christmas and getting cash from a hole in the wall, or purchasing an item using chip and pin, be sure that no one is looking when you enter the details. This crafty way of thieving is known as shoulder surfing, and it happens all too often.

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Keep your plans to yourself

Christmas is a time to spend with friends and family, and this might mean travelling to places far and wide to spend the holidays. Whilst this is all well and good, posting too much on social media about being away from home may have disastrous results. Anyone looking to break into your home might put two and two together and realise that your home is vacant and therefore see the perfect opportunity for a break in. Don’t give them that opportunity.

Update your anti-virus software

…If you haven’t in a while. Even e-cards spreading Christmas cheer can contain all kinds of malware that can be potentially harmful to your computer and if your computer has a virus, they can pick up on any card details you might be entering. Not only this, but your device can also be harmed beyond repair, depending on the severity of the damage. Anti-virus software will prevent these issues.

Conductors of the study, Nationwide, have informed consumers that if they do order something online with their credit card and it has not arrived when it said it will, then they could be entitled to their money back under the section 75 rule of the Consumer Credit Act. In some cases, there may be a joint liability between the credit card provider and the seller. If this is the case, the customer’s loss can be compensated for amounts of up to £300, to avoid themselves and loved ones being disappointed at Christmas time.

The 10 Most Common Banking Complaints (and What You Can Do About Them)

banking-complaints

Banks are the universal constant – everyone living in the modern world needs a bank account or five, many of us have mortgages, overdrafts, loans, savings accounts, alternate accounts and direct debits, and many of us even do our banking on our smartphones!

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With banks being such central figures of our lives, we hope that they won’t let us down, since they are important enough to fall a long way – and the people running the banks are, in the end, only people, so they do mess up occasionally. Or more than just occasionally.

These are the top 10 most common banking complaints, and a little bit about what you can do if they happen to you.

1. Terrible Customer Service

The number one complaint in every industry, at all times, across the board. If customer service is bad, nothing else will be good enough – the greatest product will fall flat. Banks like Barclays can stumble at this hurdle, especially when the customer is calling for a reason which is difficult to resolve. One of the biggest complaints we hear about banks is their customer service departments seeming to flail incompetently at a problem, transferring customers around like a hot potato, without any real movement towards resolution, and often with lengthy hold times included. It can feel like the customer service department is simply hoping that you’ll get tired and go away, but this isn’t the case – try to calmly direct the conversation towards management or get around the issue entirely by calling the bank’s Head Office, where the staff have more authority and can transfer you higher up the food chain.

Doing a little research online is also a great way to prepare for calling customer services – if you know what your problem is, and have some idea of what you need in order to fix it, you’re bound to have an easier time on the phone to customer service, no matter how lousy the bank.

2. Sneaky additional charges

Banks exist to help the customer, that’s true – but they also exist to make money. As a result, many customers trust them completely, and wind up paying more than they need to, or more than they should. Optional charges like overdraft protection are not clearly labelled as optional, and many additional services and coverages are never revealed to be optional bonuses unless you ask directly. The alternative is that you will be told up-front that the charge is optional, but very strongly recommended, pressuring you to take it.

If you’re concerned about falling victim to this phenomenon, we recommend that you call your bank to ask them for more information on the fees that could be applied to you, or to challenge fees which you have just noticed and which you don’t recall having opted to take on – in many cases calm pursuit of these unnecessary fees can result in them being dropped altogether.

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3. Mortgage problems

Mortgages are one of the most important financial services available, and one of the most ubiquitous. Essential for most homeowners, and an important source of equity, when a mortgage experiences problems, it can be a disaster, and the fact that complaints about mortgage issues are on our top 10 total complaints list means that they do happen, and more often than they should. If you are experiencing mortgage troubles, phone the bank’s customer service department immediately, preferably in their head office, and report the problem to them.

If they can’t help, you may need to refinance your mortgage – applying for a new mortgage with your new circumstances and increased equity taken into account. Refinancing lets you take advantage of a number of potential changes, like the ability to reduce monthly payments, shorten the repayment period entirely, ditch a tracker mortgage for a fixed-term one or free up some cash value stored in the house – but make sure to talk to a financial advisor at your bank before committing to it.

4. Payments being rejected, or cheques bouncing

If a bank transfers its accounts to new holdings, if it is bought over, or if it undergoes a rules change, it is possible that accounts which were previously healthy will be “locked” without the owners knowing, or will have their account information altered. If the customer is not made aware of these changes, attempted payments will be unsuccessful, and cheques will bounce. This can be much more harmful than simply saying “oops, better buy it next time instead.” Essentials cannot be bought, time-sensitive payments will be missed – probably incurring fees or losing the product, and if the customer has a deposit down on something which they then cannot buy, it is lost.

If you notice cheques bouncing, the best thing to do is get on the phone to customer services – you can do this in-branch if you like, as the end goal is just to find out why your accoutn won’t pay out. Make sure to keep records of the calls and correspondence. Once you know, a call to the head office should sort it, but it might take some patience – with a problem like that, you may be passed around for some time (see “Bad Customer Service at point #1 above).

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5. No consideration of customer loyalty

When so much of your life and your material success is entrusted to a bank, it is easy to wind up feeling a certain attachment to them, as they have “taken care of you” for so long and helped you through so much by carefully guarding your money. However, the banks themselves often don’t look at this loyalty the same way, despite how much sense it makes to take care of your loyal customers.

Even though it may be frustrating, telling your bank about how loyal a customer you have been for the duration of your many years together may not sway them in dealing with you. Instead, make sure that you have solid, cold evidence to deal with them – facts and figures, written evidence of problems, bank statements, whatever else you feel you need to prove that there has been a problem and convince them to react to it. If worst comes to worst, escalate your complaint to the financial ombudsman.

6. Unkept promises

Incredibly, it is more common that we’d like to think for banks to fail to follow through on promotional offers or deals made. This may be the result of an oversight, a miscalculation of your deals, or the result of the collapse of the structures that made that promise necessary – it doesn’t matter the source, you should feel free to complain. If you were promised something by the bank, and you did not receive it, you can escalate that complaint to whatever level you feel is necessary to get the closure you need.

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7. Disadvantaging small Businesses

It isn’t the most common complaint by any stretch, but small businesses often have better luck with community banks, credit unions and building societies than they would with large international banks – that said, all major banking institutions include systems and rules which make small businesses viable and let entrepreneurs take their idea to the world. For more information, get in touch with your bank and talk to them about what they can offer – but don’t forget to shop around and see whether you’d get a better deal elsewhere.

8. Charges going from most- to least-expensive

This one is slightly more niche, but when overdraft charges apply, they will be levied any time a transaction is made past the point of a £0 account balance – and taking the most expensive transactions first, even if they did not occur first in real life, may throw off the account-holder’s financial planning, pushing them into their overdrafts earlier than expected and incurring fees that were not accounted for.

While this may seem like a sneaky tactic to swindle customers out of money, from the bank’s perspective it makes sound sense – handling the larger and more impactful costs first, then dealing with the smaller purchases from the remaining funds. To combat this tendency, the best thing to do is develop a cushion of cash to fall back on above your overdraft – not only will this keep you solvent, and dodge overdraft charges, it doubles excellently as a small “Emergencies” fund.

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9. Large-scale mistakes

As we talked about before, banks are trusted with the most important facets of our financial lives – all our assets and worldly wealth is tied up in them, and so a mistake on their part can be catastrophic. Unfortunately, these mistakes happen.

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Bank errors can lock an account, drain it unjustly, credit it with money that must then be removed and accounted for, close it completely, or cause any other problem imaginable – some customers have come to the point of ruin as the result of a bank error. As soon as the error is noticed, you need to get in contact with the bank – preferably their head office. You should also gather as much evidence of your finances as possible, and, depending on how the conversation with the bank goes, may need to retain a lawyer to ensure that you are not damaged by the error.

10. Terrible experiences in-branch

Once again, it comes back to this crucial point. Customer service trumps everything.

A bad experience in-branch can really sour a customer on the bank as a whole, but thankfully these problems are decreasing as banks take a more customer-focused approach to branch banking. With branch banking as a whole under threat from internet banking, big banks can’t take any chances, and the biggest of them are working hard to overhaul their image and provide a much more customer-friendly approach. If they are to survive over internet banking, they will have to.

Dealing with a Broken Boiler this Christmas

dealing with a broken boiler at christmas

If there’s one thing to complain about at Christmas, it’s the cold weather that us Brits endure come December. A picture perfect white Christmas is all well and good from inside your cosy, warm home, but what happens when your boiler goes bust? Aside from it being just another cost to pay for during the most expensive month of the year, there are only so many pairs of pyjamas, dressing gowns, blankets and hot water bottles you can wear  and cold showers you can take before seeing your breath in the air whilst eating breakfast becomes too much. Unfortunately, it seems that cold weather and boiler failures come hand in hand, along with burst pipes when temperatures plummet to below freezing. Heating and hot water are essential to all of us during the winter months, and getting something like a broken boiler fixed as soon as possible is at the top of everyone’s wish list. However, things don’t always operate as efficiently as they normally would during the build up to Christmas, and although energy companies such as British Gas and NPower have pretty good boiler cover packages available to purchase, there is no guarantee that your boiler will get fixed before the big day. If you are unfortunate enough to be in this position, you might want to read the following survival tips to ensure you can still enjoy Christmas.

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According to a study conducted last year, the 1st December is the most common date of the calendar for boiler breakdowns, and other common dates following that fall on the 8th, 15th and 22nd of December. EDF Energy, who carried out the survey, concluded that over 7 million homes in Britain suffer a broken boiler between Christmas Eve and New Year’s Day and on average it’s a whole working week until things are back to normal.

Be Prepared

If you are reading this, it’s Christmas and your boiler has already gone into meltdown, you might want to discard this part. However, as it’s still November, there is plenty of time to prepare for disaster, should it strike. Writing down a list of emergency contact numbers is a great way to make sure you are not calling numbers taken from obscure websites in desperation for some hot water in your home or accepting the help from any old plumber who will in fact only make the situation worse and the bill higher. If you have a list of reliable, emergency contacts you can make sure that you are fully stocked up and likely to receive reliable help, should something occur. There are websites of verified plumbers that you can visit, to make sure the ones that you are choosing from your area are approved. A professional plumber will be able to give you a quote before the job, and although prices might be increased on Christmas Day or around the Christmas Period, you still have a right to know how much you will be charged.

If you have a Major Water Leak

Major water leaks can destroy everything that they come into contact with and so it is important to stop the leak as soon as possible. To do this, you will have to turn off the water supply completely at the stop tap, which in most homes is located in the kitchen or if it is a boundary stop tap, next to the water meter. If you have an old home, you might want to consider alerting your neighbours as well, because sometimes operating the stop tap can affect them as well.

…or a Minor Leak

Whilst not as urgent, still a huge inconvenience and can sometimes develop into a bigger problem. Dealing with a minor water leak which is usually an internal issue, can be tricky. The leak can be stopped using isolation valves next to the relevant appliance. This means that you can deal with the issue without having to actually shut off the entire water supply, which is always a bonus. The leak should stop when turning the lever, but you may need to use a screwdriver for smaller valves.

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Managing a Gas Leak

Although you can’t see it, a leak of natural gas is definitely the most dangerous problem to occur with a faulty boiler, and it is important that you deal with the problem quickly, even if you are left waiting for professional help. First of all, turn off the gas by using the emergency control valve located at the meter. Once the gas is off you need to take a number of safety precautions such as fully ventilating your house (no matter how cold). Open windows and doors and no naked flames until the area is completely cleared (this includes smoking). You will need to call the emergency services to report the leak, and wait until someone can come out to fix it ASAP.

Although broken boilers do need to be fixed as quickly as they possibly can be, panicking and potentially calling our a rogue trader can land you in a bigger mess than you were to begin with. Take our precautionary methods into account, and research for a certified plumber, who will solve your problem efficiently.

 

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How to Make Sure Your Post Arrives Before Christmas

Christmas Post

Christmas is definitely the craziest time of year for the Royal Mail as everyone urgently seeks to send letters and parcels to loved ones all over the world, wishing them Seasons Greetings. Due to how hectic things can get in the post and sorting offices, there are certain cut-off times for post and after a certain point, the Royal Mail can’t actually guarantee that your post will arrive before the big day. Timing your post is a tricky art to master, send it too soon, and you risk Christmas being ruined by someone opening their present too early because it’s been sat staring at them since November, send it too late and it’s an after-thought, you might as well have not bothered, or even sent them a letter informing the recipient that you were simply otherwise engaged when it came to thinking of them at Christmas. Yes, it really can get that personal. And so to make sure that you remain in everyone’s good books (including Santa’s) this Christmas, we have provided a handy guide to making sure you get your post into the Post Office and out the other side before Santa mounts his sleigh.

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Don’t Get Left Behind

If you are a scrooge that still believe Christmas is a million years away or simply a busy bee that time passes by in the blink of an eye, you may need reminding that whilst you still have a month to panic buy for your nearest and dearest at home, the Royal Mail deadlines are getting nearer and nearer and now might be the time to think about the parcels and letters you want to post. Assuming there are plenty of you that are planning on leaving it until the last minute (happens every year), it might be worth noting the very last days that will mean your post os delivered before Christmas. Anything after that you’ll either have to deal with becoming extremely unpopular – or deliver it personally by hand. For the Second Class posters, your cut off date will be Tuesday 20th December, and if you leave it a day later you will have to send your mail 1st Class, with their cut off point being Wednesday the 21st. Special Delivery will mean you can post your items on the 22nd and still have them there by Christmas, and if you really have left it until the very last second, you can post it on Friday the 23rd December and request for a Saturday delivery, meaning your parcel will arrive on Christmas Eve.

Posting Abroad

Of course, if your package or letter is going to sunnier (or colder) climes, you will need to give it a bit more time to get there. Please note that unfortunately, the Surface Mail postage dates have been and gone (at the beginning of November), there is still time to send your things via Airmail. To send post to Malta, Turkey, Greece, Eastern Europe and Iceland you will have to get down to the Post Office by the 10th December. For Africa and the Middle Eat, time is of the essence but you still have time to grab a Black Friday bargain and have it packaged and sent by the 3rd December. If your friends are in Central America or the Caribbean for Christmas then you will need to send them gifts by December 8th. For Australia and New Zealand its Saturday 10th, Czech Republic, Italy, Poland and Germany its December the 14th. Canada, Finland, Sweden and the rest of the USA you need to send mail by December 15th, for Austria, Switzerland, Spain and Denmark you’re safe until Friday, December 16th and for Luxembourg, Belgium France and our Irish relatives you can do it last minute on the 17th December.

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If you have loved ones serving in our armed forces who unfortunately won’t make it home for Christmas, they’ll need all the Christmas cheer that they can get from home. If they are stationed internationally and are currently in operation, the last chance you have to get mail to them is the 28th November. For static BFPO’s you have a little longer, and won’t need to post until December 12th to spread the Christmas cheer.

Posting to the Big Man Himself

Of course, it’s extremely important not to forget about what you want this Christmas, and what better way to make sure you get everything that’s on your list than to send it to Santa himself – that way there can be no mistakes or mix-ups come Christmas morning. But, you don’t have much time because sooner or later your lists won’t reach the North Pole in time for you to get a reply and if you don’t get a reply, how do you know it’s even been read?! If you want a reply from Father Christmas (or your children do) you need to send your letter to Santa by Friday 9th December (Royal Mail, I mean, Santa, will reply free of charge).

 

What to do if your Christmas Party Dress hasn’t arrived

What to do if your Christmas Party Dress hasn't arrived

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We’ve all been here. You leave it until the last minute to order the perfect party dress. Sometimes, work and life get in the way, and you completely forget to order a dress altogether! Have no fear, here are our last minute party dress ideas for when your dress hasn’t arrived in time, or even if you are struggling to find the perfect dress just days before your office party.

When your Christmas Party Dress hasn’t arrived

So, it’s now two days before your office Christmas party, and you need to look amazing to impress your co-workers. “why am I so bothered about this?” you ask yourself, and then you realise that you literally dress like a slob 99% of the time and need to prove to people that you can look nice. What do you do?

Well, there are a few options if your Christmas Party Dress hasn’t arrived in time. If you have a few days, why not visit shops local to you. This way, you can buy a dress there and then, or at least find the style you definitely want for the party. Debenhams and Marks and Spencer currently have a great range of party and Christmas dresses for every style. You can browse their online stores and ring their customer service lines in order to check if an item is in stock before even stepping foot in their store.

Alternatively, you can find online stores that offer next day delivery for cheap or even for free. ASOS and Boohoo offer next day delivery, with Boohoo offering Next Day delivery for £1 on certain days. They are both well known for delivering on time.

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Getting a refund

If you have ordered your dress or outfit, and it arrives after the Christmas party, you have every right to return it, especially if the company promised delivery in time. If the company dispute your refund with you, explain to a member of staff that, despite them promising you delivery on time, your item did not arrive on time. You should be entitled to a full refund. If not, who hasn’t told lied about refunding an item in the past… Some companies are more likely to accept a refund if you tell them the item is either damaged or not your correct size/style.

Finding the best dress for you

If you haven’t even bought a dress yet (which is totally fine, we don’t judge) and need one quickly, there are a number of websites and stores which can help you find the perfect dress or outfit for you. We recommend sites that are well known for their delivery rates. This is important, especially if you’re thinking of ordering a dress from China that will almost definitely not look like the picture on the website… Many dress sites online are reliable, however, research the company before ordering your outfit.

If you have some time before your party, why not scour the sales pages of some of your favourite websites? Next, ASOS and Boohoo have Black Friday sales all week this week, so we definitely recommend taking a look at some of the amazing outfits on offer from them.

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Last minute panic

If today is the day before your Christmas Party, and you’re still sat in your onesie watching Eastenders crying your eyes out, well…Okay. So! Your only option is to upcycle this situation. We’re not saying wear the same dress you wore last year – because people will definitely notice. But, that outfit you wore to your mum’s 50th? Hello! Add some heels and some earrings, get a curly blow from your hairdressers – and you’re ready to go! Re-wearing dresses with different accessories can really spruce up a look and make it on-trend.

The important thing to remember is that panicking gets you nowhere. You will look fabulous on the day no matter what you wear, as long as you believe it yourself. So have fun, drink, and be merry! After all, Christmas is meant to be a time of enjoyment, not panicking over lost parcels and last minute outfits…

 

Apple Scam Emails: How to spot them

Apple Scam Emails: How to spot them

Hackers love to try and scam Apple, and even non-Apple, users into handing over their money. Throughout 2016, hundreds of thousands of emails have been sent to emails around the world claiming to be from Apple Inc. Here in the UK, both Apple and HMRC scams are very present at the moment. If you come across these emails in your inbox, try not to panic. There are a number of ways you can spot these fake emails. Firstly, however, make sure you do not click any links in the email. If you have, your laptop or device may have warned you of malware on the site you have been redirected to. From here you will be able to head back to the safety of your inbox without any personal information stolen from you. If you are asked to enter personal login details or bank details, do not enter them.

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So, here are the telltale signs of a false scam email from Apple:

The Email Address

As you can see with the example below, the name of the sender is Apple. However, if you look closely (sometimes this may be concealed), you can see the address is a jumble of letters and names. This is a red flag straight away. Sometimes, hackers will create hundreds of email accounts in order to send emails such as this en masse. This way, if one gets blocked by mail users, the hacker can simply move on to the next email account.

The Link

Next, ignore the invoice, for now, focus on the “Cancel and Manage Subscriptions” link. There are no other links on the email. This is done deliberately to send you into a panic. If you click the link, you will be taken to a site that looks very much like the Apple website. From here, you can enter your details for your Apple account. Once you have done this, scammers will have your account details. If you have unfortunately entered your details we advise ringing your bank and changing your Apple password. From there, your bank will be able to advise you further.

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The Invoice

The invoice itself looks very much like an Apple invoice. However, the items you have apparently “bought” cost far too much. These emails are usually set prices for different items. The email on the left is for a “music membership” with Apple. One, Apple do not sell memberships. Two, the phone looks as though it was plucked right from the 90’s, and three, we are pretty sure a membership with Apple would not cost £50… So, do not fret! This is a scare tactic from the scammers in order to get you to click the Cancel link.

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The main thing to remember with these emails is that you have no been charged ridiculous amounts for a Beyonce CD…Or a box set of The West Wing. Try not to panic. Forward your email to  reportphishing@apple.com, and Apple will look into the email further. From here, you can delete your original email and inform people around you of the issue. Also be aware that in the future, if you receive emails or invoices from Apple, they will only be addresses with official Apple ID. You should also never enter your Apple details onto sites without “Apple.com”at the end of their HTML address.

To make a complaint to Apple, or report a scam on your account, ring the Apple complaints number. From there, a member of staff will be able to help you further.

 

The Best Way to Switch Energy Supplier

switching energy supplier

We’ve all fallen into the trap of good salesmanship and ended up investing into something we don’t really want or need, or worse still, something that is faulty or doesn’t deliver the service it promised when you were handing over your credit card. Particularly in the winter months, as it begins to get colder and colder, a good, reliable energy supplier is something that every home needs, but unfortunately not something that every home has. An unreliable energy supplier can leave you without the ability to have a hot shower, no heating or quite literally in the dark, with no intentions of helping your situation. What exactly is the 24-hour boiler breakdown cover that falls out of your bank every month for when you’ve just had your sixth cold shower of the week and there is no chance of it being fixed anytime soon? If there’s ever a time to switch, it most definitely is now.

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Switching may seem like a complicated process, but it can be simple and hassle free if you go about it the right way. Here are a few simple steps to follow when making the switch of your energy supplier – don’t pay more than you need to for the basics.

Reasons you Might Want to Switch your Supplier

  • You have a faulty or broken boiler which has not been repaired sufficiently
  • You are experiencing bad customer service from your current supplier
  • You feel that you are paying too much on your current tariff
  • You simply want to search for a better deal somewhere else

Exit Fees

Unfortunately, depending on what contract type of contract you are on, you might be facing exit fees if you attempt to switch supplier early, particularly if that contract is fixed term. You can check whether or not you will be charged an exit fee by checking your bills and seeing what type of contract you are on. Your energy bill will usually state how far you are into your contract and how much you will be charged for an exit. You cab usually see the tariff end date in the tariff name, but if not, a quick call to your supplier should bring If you are being faced  with large exit fees and don’t have long to wait on your contract, you are probably better off waiting until the contract has finished. In the meantime, you can look for a new and cheaper tariff to switch to when your contract has ended. If you are on a tariff and feel that you are paying too much but are happy with the supplier overall, you can opt to switch just your tariff and keep the same supplier as an alternative to switching completely, which would probably mean you can avoid the extra hassle. If you definitely want to switch, your switching window will usually open 49 days before your contract is due to come to an end and you are free to switch as soon as this happens, assuming that you have not already agreed to enter another fixed rate tariff at the end of your current one. For those are on a prepayment meter, you should not be faced with exit fees and should have the freedom to switch suppliers if that is what you choose.

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Consider a Few Things First…

If you are having problems with your current supplier, you may want to shop around a bit first and choose a new supplier with a great customer service rating. No matter how good the tariff or how quickly you can switch, you are never going to be in a good position with your supplier if they provide an unacceptable level of customer service. If your boiler breaks down, you want to trust that someone will be out as quickly as possible to get it restored. If you are currently in debt with your supplier or you rent your accommodation and don’t own the property then it may not be possible to complete a switch. Ring your supplier before you begin to consider anything.

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Choosing the Right Tariff

If you are going to make the switch, you need to know that you are making a wise one so that you’re not faced with the same issues you’re facing with your current supplier, whatever they may be. Consider whether you want a flexible tariff that allows you to leave at any time, a tariff that is known to be environmentally friendly or whether you are just after the cheapest tariff available. Depending on the type of meter you have at the moment, you might be restricted on the type of tariff you can switch to. Different types of meters include;

  • Standard Meters
  • Digital Meters
  • Dial Meters
  • Economy 7 Meters
  • Prepayment Meters
  • Smart Meters

If you are unsure of what type of meter your meter is then you can call your supplier to have it explained to you, before you choose a new tariff.

Completing the Switch

Once you have decided to switch supplier, and chosen a new tariff, you can begin the process. You will need your postcode and the details of your current supplier and the name of the tariff you are currently paying. It will also help to know how much you pay or use in kilowatt per hour (kWh) (this can be found usually on your annual energy statement from your supplier, or you can work it out from your current bills). If you are planning on switching immediately and paying by direct debit, you must also have your bank details ready. Please make sure that a meter reading is taken on the day of transfer to avoid any overpayment on your part. Once the switch is in place, you must provide your new supplier with your MPRN or MPAN energy meter reference numbers to ensure that you are being charged for your tariff and not someone else’s. A normal energy switch can take up to 21 days (three weeks) to complete. You will be contacted by your new energy supplier, informing you when the switch is officially complete. If it is taking longer than three weeks, you can contact them to find out why.

Cancelling your Sky Subscription

Cancelling your Sky Subscription

Are you wondering how you can cancel your Sky subscription without all the hassle that the cancellation number can cause? Perhaps the price of your TV and broadband subscription has increased, and you would like to cancel your monthly subscription outright. Or you may just wish to change what you receive in your monthly Sky package, and are unsure on how to do so. We have compiled below a guide on how to cancel your Sky subscription in the easiest way, without having to trawl through offers or return deals from a member of customer services.

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Cancelling your Sky SubscriptionIt used to be the case that you could cancel your Sky subscription in a manner of ways. From sending a letter to the Head Office, to chatting to a customer adviser on their website chat box. However, Sky have now made it impossible to do those things. According to a rewrite of their policy regarding TV and broadband subscriptions in 2014, you must cancel your subscription over the phone with a member of staff from the customer service department.

You can contact a member of the Sky cancelling department by calling them directly. Doing so ensures that your subscription will be cancelled there in then. They may ask if you would like to take a look at your other options, such as different subscriptions which may suit you more. We advise doing so before you ring the Sky number. This will ensure that you have completely checked the options available to you from Sky, and will avoid costly phone bills.

If you would like to check which subscriptions you can change to with Sky, log into your account and view the offers available and tailored to you.

Cancelling your Sky Subscription – What to do now

Cancelling your Sky SubscriptionOnce you have checked all of your options regarding your offers from Sky, you can ring the Sky number. From here, we suggest talking to a member of staff about your current subscription. In the great words of…well, we’re not sure. But in the great words of them, if you don’t ask, you don’t get. Asking for money off of your current subscription with Sky may mean that you receive a discount – meaning that you will not be paying as much for your current subscription.

If you are looking to change your Sky subscription from Sky to another company, such as Virgin Media or another cable company, we suggest you state your interest in cancelling your account altogether. Once you have explained this, a member of customer services at Sky will be able to cancel your subscription for you. Or, alternatively, contact your new provider, and they will be able to change your services over without you having to call Sky and explain the situation.

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Changing your Subscription with Sky

If you are not looking to cancel your Sky subscription entirely, but would like to swap and change what you pay for through Sky…For example, if you would like cancel your sports subscription and add Sky cinema onto your payment plan, you can still ring the Sky number and talk to a member of customer services. From here they will be able to help you with changing your plan to suit your needs. Sky want to make sure their customers are happy, and want to do this by giving them the best possible deal for their money.

If you would like to delete your subscription altogether, you can still ring the Sky number, and a member of staff will take you through the process. You can no longer request a cancellation via letter or online. This is to ensure that Sky are talking to the person who pays for the sky bill, and ensures that your online safety is upheld in all aspects.

Unfortunately, this may mean lengthy waiting times and unnecessary questions being asked of you from a member of Sky customer services. In order to avoid this, know for sure that you wish to cancel your subscription outright. Also be aware that if you are just switching broadband or TV subscriptions, you can ring your new provider and they will sort out the rest for you. Also be aware of the deals available to you and your account on your Sky account online. Do so allows you to skip this part of the phone call, meaning less time chatting and more time cancelling.

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Sky has a range of offers and packages for and existing customers. If you are wishing to transfer to Sky as your new provider, you can also call the Sky customer service number. A member of staff will be able to give you the best deal suited to your needs. If you would like a service that provides more sports than films, you can pay for the package that suits you the most.

For more information on Sky as a company, visit our company page for them, or visit their about section on the official Sky website.

 

5 Reasons You Have Used All Of Your Data (and how to be more careful)

All of the things that can be done on your phone these days is actually pretty astonishing, and it’s all well and good watching an entire Netflix season on the bus, or using Google maps to direct you to your chosen destination, until your 4G runs out and your phone’s about as useless as a teapot made from chocolate. All you can do is call and text….and who even does that anymore? Unlimited data contracts are rarer than gold dust these days and most people will be on a limited data plan which ALWAYS seems to run out. Even if, at the start of the month, you have such a large amount of data that you think it impossible to use even half, when your bill date approaches you will be switching your phone to aeroplane mode left right and centre to try and savour that last megabyte. Why is it that you are using so much data? Here’s how to be a little more savvy with your usage…

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girl connecting her phone to wifiIs your wifi actually on?

We’ll start with a simple one, but one that surprisingly catches a lot of people out and ends up with a hell of a lot of data being used. If you are in an area where you don’t want to connect to wifi (there may be dodgy connections or simply wifi’s that don’t work and are slowing down your browsing) the quickest option is to turn off your phone’s wifi temporarily. However, when you then re-enter a zone where your phone would automatically connect to wifi, you may forget that your wifi is off and therefore your phone is not connecting to any wifi and subsequently, before you know it, you’ve used your data for a whole evening of youtube watching pointless (but funny) videos. Moral of this story is to always check that you are wifi connected. Long let the video watching continue.

Check the battery-draining apps

On an iPhone you can check your battery usage, so if your battery is draining pretty quickly, you can check what apps are using up the most battery percentage. People don’t realise, but if an app is quickly draining your battery, then the chances are it is having a good go at your data, too. The reason for this is because these apps run in the background on your phone at all times if you don’t shut them down properly, using data without you even noticing. Whilst this may only be minor amounts of data (background apps are limited to doing a certain amount of things such as only using GPRS and downloading files) it all adds up in the long run, and may be a significant contribution as to why your data disappears so quickly. The biggest culprit of background running apps are the location aware types. To turn these off, simply go to your settings and select location services. Here you will see all of the apps that are using your location and any that are doing so unnecessarily, you can turn off. Voila.

Data Monitoring Devices

If you have an Android, then you will have a data monitoring device that is built into your phone. You can see here what is using up most of your data and therefore try and reduce how often you are using this particular feature, whether it be an app or a website. Unfortunately, iPhones do not have this feature, but if you are keen to keep an eye on what you are using and when, you can download a data monitoring app which will keep you clued up on how your data is running out so fast. Of course, if you are seeing a lot of usage that you don’t understand or are not sure how it can be stopped, you can contact your cellular provider directly and they will be able to tell you how you can preserve some of that precious data. Sometimes wasted data is no fault of your own and can actually be a fault with the device – so it is always best to check if you are unsure. It is worth noting that streaming music from sites such as Spotify and Youtube whilst connected to 4G are often the biggest data killers.

controlling-your-data-usageControl Apps that Self-Update

If you have many apps on your phone (like most people do) it can be difficult to keep track of which apps need updating and which don’t. These days, apps tend to update themselves so that you don’t have to which can be useful until it uses up all of your data and you were totally unaware the whole time. Luckily, on most phones, there is a feature that you can access in the settings that allows you to either request for apps to stop self-updating, or, even better, only update automatically when your phone is connected to wifi, that way there will be no secret data usage.

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Prepare Maps for Offline Use

This, admittedly, does require a bit of organisation but if you know you are venturing out somewhere new and plan to use Google Maps to help you on your way, you can load them onto your phone before you leave wifi, meaning that you don’t need to use your data to load the maps when you are out and about. Of course, if you suddenly get lost and need your data to rescue you, this tip is far from helpful, but if you’re the planning ahead type, then you might just be onto a winner.

 

 

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