Increased Train Fares Leave Commuters Out in the Cold

Increased Train Fares Leave Commuters Out in the Cold

Happy New Year, railway commuters! Your travel costs just went up again. Unions and Labour politicians are protesting this increase in train fares at around 40 stations across the country today. As of the beginning of the year, average train fares increased by 3.4%, with season ticket costs rising by 3.6%. This is above the consumer price index inflation rate and the biggest increase in train fares since 2013.

Many commuter routes have increased by over £100 a year, such as Maidenhead to London and Liverpool to Manchester. For many people, train fares pushing up to £4,000 a year are just too much. Plenty of commuters to London are searching for new jobs outside the city to avoid these high transport costs. Even with lower wages outside the capital, workers will still save money without the expensive train journeys.

Protesting the “Pricing Off” of Commuters

The general secretary of the Rail, Maritime, and Transport Workers Union, Mick Cash, noted that people who rely on trains are being pushed out of using the services by the mounting costs. The union advocates for public ownership of the railways. Privatisation led to poor and unreliable services, with customers still expected to pay more for them.

As a result of the price increase, protests are happening outside major train stations across England and Wales. As today is a bank holiday in Scotland, protests will take place there tomorrow instead. The shadow transport secretary Andy McDonald joined protesters at King’s Cross in London earlier today. In an interview, he pointed out that fares have risen three times faster than wages since David Cameron was first Prime Minister.

McDonald was also meant to speak at a protest in Leeds later today, but was unable to make it after his train ironically broke down. According to reports, train services in the north of England are actually the worst in the country. You might already know this, in the likelihood that National Rail has let you down before.

The Defense of Rising Train Fares

The chief executive of the Rail Delivery Group, Paul Plummer, tried to explain the price increases. He said that the fare costs will go towards much-needed upgrades and service improvements. Whereas fares used to cover around half of the cost of running trains, this has also risen. Now 70% of the money to run train services comes from ticket sales.

After “decades of underinvestment” fares are rising to support “massively required” railway developments, according to Plummer. He emphasized this by speaking from London Bridge station, where five newly opened platform will double the station’s passenger flow. Most of the money from fare increases will go towards multiple projects across the country.

 

What to Do When Yodel Fails to Deliver

Yodel Delivery Complaints

With Christmas creeping up, delivery companies will be feeling the strain this time of year. More and more people are buying their gifts online, relying on the courier chosen by the retailer to deliver their orders in time. Whether ordering presents to their own addresses or sending them to the recipient, customers will expect delivery conditions as promised. However, some couriers frequently let retailers and their customers down. Due to the increase in demand, it’s likely to only get worse at this time of year.

The Problem With Yodel

Despite consistently negative feedback over the last several years, many retailers still use Yodel to deliver their goods. Yodel won the not-so-coveted title of Worst Parcel Delivery Firm in a poll of 11,000 consumers on MoneySavingExpert.com following the Christmas 2016 period. There’s been no end of news coverage for ridiculous scenarios involving incompetent Yodel workers. Sometimes there can be some humour in the situation, like leaving a parcel “under the doormat” as a safe place. Most of the time, customers are left dismayed by the shoddy service, and empty-handed as parcels often go missing.

The poor service even led to the creation of a website named “Yodel Hell” which documents the company’s worst offences. Recently, Yodel made the news yet again for more delivery driver shenanigans. These included dumping a parcel over a fence and shattering the contents, as well as carelessly trying to throw a parcel onto a balcony. It seems like Yodel drivers didn’t learn after one threw a parcel onto a roof two years ago. Last Christmas, a Yodel driver even stole other parcels when delivering to a customer’s address.

If the problem is the behaviour of the drivers, then should the company itself be getting all this bad press? Well, yes, because no matter how many customers complain, Yodel does not seem to care. The company doesn’t appear to have made any effort to improve either their delivery services or their hiring and training process. Many people who complain using the customer service helpline feel the response was inadequate. An apology or a bouquet of flowers doesn’t fix a broken or missing item.

Know Your Consumer Rights

So, when Yodel’s delivery service inevitably fails to impress, what do you do? A lot of the time, Yodel refuses to claim responsibility in the case of a missing parcel. If they refuse to help, what you need to remember is that your contract as a customer is actually with the retailer. When the delivery service damages the goods or fails to provide them, the retailer will be liable to refund you or provide a replacement.

The founder of MoneySavingExpert.com, Martin Lewis, says customers need to “complain to the retailer and make them justify why they use firms with dire reputations. If they won’t, we must stop buying online from firms using crap services.” However, this isn’t always an option. The specific item you want to buy may only be available from a retailer who uses Yodel. Retailers usually choose Yodel to keep their costs down. Yet in the long run, the amount these companies pay out in refunds and replacements surely must create a loss. Not to mention the poor service putting customers off ordering from them ever again.

Remember that you also have the right to return goods for a refund within the seller’s returns policy. Whether you ordered from Amazon, Argos, Boots, or any other retailer using Yodel, always contact the retailer directly to inform them of your situation. Even if the goods aren’t damaged, but the packaging was, you should still be entitled to some kind of compensation. Sometimes, unfortunately, retailers won’t accept your word that you never received your parcel. If Yodel marked it as delivered, even though there’s no sign of it, you may end up out of pocket.

In the case of a missing parcel and no support from the retailer, you’ll have to escalate your complaints. The website Resolver will give you information on your rights and how to complain to Yodel. If you’re not having much luck, follow MoneySavingExpert’s useful guide for complaints escalation. Even if you end up taking them to small claims court, you deserve compensation. Don’t let careless companies ruin your Christmas! If you need to make a complaint to a delivery service besides Yodel, you can find out how here.

What to do if you parcel doesn’t arrive in time for Christmas

Like most people, you are probably ordering many if not most of your Christmas gifts online this year and it’s almost inevitable that at least one of your Christmas gifts won’t arrive when they are due to leave you very stressed and worried. Below is a list of how to complain and inquire about missing packages with different courier companies.

man wearing a Christmas hat with parcel and alarm clock

Royal Mail

If your parcel is due to be delivered by Royal Mail and it has not arrived yet you can track your delivery on the Royal Mail website here. If there is no information available when you enter your tracking number or if you didn’t receive a tracking number you should contact Royal mail by phone call on 0844 826 8010 or by filling out the claims form here.

Hermes

You can also track your parcel if it is being delivered by Hermes as they should also send you a delivery tracking number which you can enter onto the site here. If your parcel hasn’t arrived or it arrived late you can contact Hermes by the online chat option here or by calling 0843 208 2273 to speak to someone from customer services about finding your parcel in time for Christmas.

Parcelforce

For parcel that was meant to be delivered with Parcelforce, you can track your parcel here. If you have no luck tracking your parcel it is best you call Parcelforce on 0843 557 4879 to speak to a member of the customer service team about finding your parcel or to ask about receiving compensation for a late or lost parcel. If you would prefer to not talk on the phone to customer services you can contact the customer service team on the help form available here.

DPD

As DPD is one of the main courier services, you will most likely end up using it for one of your deliveries this Christmas – if your delivery has not arrived on time or it has not arrived at all you can contact DPD by calling the customer service team on 0843 557 3392 to find out where your parcel may be. If you haven’t already you can try and track your parcel here.

UPS

If your parcel has not arrived and it was due to be delivered by UPS you can try to track your parcels whereabouts here or you can directly contact UPS regarding you late or missing parcel by calling 0843 557 3634 to speak to a member of the customer service team about your package. You can also contact them by using the online chat feature here.

Yodel

If you need to track down your yodel parcel you can do so by entering your tracking code here on the website. Alternatively, if you believe you need to speak to a member of the customer services team regarding your package you can call 0844 556 4733 or use the chat feature on the website here.

Amazon Key – a new reason you’ll never need to use any other store again

Amazon has introduced a new feature to their services that means you’ll never want to shop anywhere else again, since they’re becoming increasingly accessible for every situation. As if it wasn’t already amazingly easy to access your future purchases with Amazon’s same-day delivery, their robot-deliveries and their idea for a click and collect supermarket that removes any need for cash or aisles. And now, they’ve decided to push the boat out even further, and have decided that they want to bring their couriers into your home.

Yep, you read that right – Amazon has decided that nothing would be better for you than if a random member of their courier team would be able to be let into your home to leave your parcel inside whenever you’re not there to collect it yourself. Amazon believes that their new lock-and-camera system can make gaining access to your home while you’re out a lot more secure, so you can always receive your parcels.

Amazon Prime members can buy the Key edition of the Cloud Cam as well as a smart lock for a total of $249 – and it will all be installed for free. When you get one of the locks on your door with the indoor security camera monitoring your doorway, the in-home kit will allow any authorised people into your home.

When Amazon delivery employees arrive at your home they won’t be given a passcode to your home, they will instead have request permission to enter your home. From here, Amazon’s records will verify that their employee is at the right address at the right time, and then by using their encryption process the Cloud Cam will begin recording and your door will be unlocked so that the employee can enter.

Amazon customers will even be able to stay on top of their in-home deliveries with real-time alerts, where they can watch the video of the delivery in real time or after it has been completed.

As well as being able to let Amazon employees enter your home, you can also give your friends and family temporary, recurring or permanent access to entering your home. You’ll also be able to allow other service employees like cleaners, dog walkers and others to enter your home on specific dates and times.

This is just another way Amazon is making it easier for customers to receive their orders in a quick and secure manner. The company has also recently announced Hub, which will be a locker-like system that you can use if you’re living in an apartment complex and want to make sure that all of your parcels are delivered safely and securely.

Amazon Key will be launching on the 8th November 2017, and will initially run through 37 cities in the US, and will work with same-day, one-day, two-day and standard delivery orders.

This Years Best Beauty Advent Calendars

This Years Best Beauty Advent Calendars

As we enter the colder half of the year, we start to see the beginnings of Christmas’s emergence, and with that, we see the entrance of beauty advent calendars.

Beauty brands all over start to tease us all by making advent calendars full of tiny versions of their products so that we can fawn over the brands we love every day through December. It is a much-beloved time of the year, and honestly, makes the run-up to Christmas that much more exciting. It’s like when you were excited to eat your chocolate advent calendars as a kid, but now you get to open new products that you can put on your face and body to make you look and feel amazing.

All kinds of brands have jumped on this bandwagon, meaning that there is always a mix of luxury brands mixed in as well as the standard brands you would expect. With this in mind, we decided to compile a list of the best luxury and standard advent calendars that you can purchase this year!

Luxury (over £100)

This Years Best Beauty Advent Calendars
Picture Copyright: Cosmopolitan

John Lewis

This is John Lewis‘ first ever beauty advent calendar, and as a start-off point it looks like they’re coming out strong. With 25 items available in the calendar, ranging from brands like MAC, Benefit and even a Hermes fragrance, this calendar could definitely be worth the £149 that John Lewis are asking for. This calendar is available now, so make sure you don’t miss out!

This Years Best Beauty Advent Calendars
Picture Copyright: Cosmopolitan

Charlotte Tilbury

Charlotte Tilbury’s Naughty and Nice Magic Box lets us try out her best-selling products in an adorable travel size version of themselves, meaning that we can get an idea of the products we love before we head out to buy them all in an after-Christmas splurge. This calendar includes 12 items and is available soon for £150.

This Years Best Beauty Advent Calendars
Picture Copyright: Cosmopolitan

Selfridges

Selfridges are offering an amazing 24 items in their beautifully designed calendar this year, with a wide range of products from brands like Lancome, Victor & Rolf fragrances and Urban Decay as well so that you can really get a full idea of the products that they work with. Their calendar is currently available and is being sold at £120.

This Years Best Beauty Advent Calendars
Picture Copyright: InStyle

Jo Malone

Jo Malone’s advent calendars are always famous for smelling delicious and providing an amazing collection of her fragrances, and this year is no different! The Georgian townhouse-designed calendar will hold 24 items ranging through mini perfumes and body creams in all of our favourite scents. The calendar does come in at the hefty price of £300 and is only sold exclusively in Harrods throughout November until it is released nationwide in November.

This Years Best Beauty Advent Calendars
Picture Copyright: InStyle

Estee Lauder

Estee Lauder’s impressive calendar includes 25 items this year, with a wide range of drawers in its star-shaped design holding all the best Estee Lauder brands, like Clinique, Origins, MAC, Bobbi Brown and so on. There have only been 1,000 of these calendars created, so if you want one you’ll have to fight for it! At £125 per calendar, they’re offering a great deal as the collection of products inside are worth around £197. This calendar will be available at the end of October.

This Years Best Beauty Advent Calendars
Picture Copyright: InStyle

Fenwick

Fenwick’s gorgeous advent calendar, with its delicately painted doors, generously includes 25 items that are a mix of bath treats, makeup and skincare. The calendar includes popular brands like Lancome, Nars, Clinique and This Works, and is priced at £150 for sale in mid-October.

Standard (under £100)

This Years Best Beauty Advent Calendars
Picture Copyright: Cosmopolitan

The Body Shop

The Body Shop have been incredibly generous with their advent calendar this year, as they have created not just one but three calendars for us to choose from, which means you can decide just how much you feel like treating yourself this year. With the prices for the calendars starting at £45, each calendar includes skincare, bath & body products, fragrances and makeup from The Body Shop. Each version of the calendar will give you the chance to save an amazing amount on the products, with the standard calendar saving you £40, and the luxury option saving £113 from the price you would pay separately in store. The calendars are available for sale now.

This Years Best Beauty Advent Calendars
Picture Copyright: Cosmopolitan

Soap & Glory

Soap & Glory’s calendar, which is available for sale in Boots stores, has 24 products for you to test in the lead up to Christmas, and provides items from their makeup and skincare ranges so that you’re looking and feeling good, as well as smelling amazing! The calendar is available now for only £40.

This Years Best Beauty Advent Calendars
Picture Copyright: Cosmopolitan

Benefit

Benefit’s calendar manages to sell out every year that they offer it, as it includes all of the fan favourites that you would be looking for in the calendar. The 12 items that are offered in the calendar include the famous Hoola bronza and their ‘They’re Real’ mascara, as well as a great selection of other products. All of the products sold separately would cost around £76, yet Benefit sell their calendar for £34.50. The calendar will be available to buy on the 12th October.

This Years Best Beauty Advent Calendars
Picture Copyright: Cosmopolitan

ASOS

ASOS’s calendar shows their connections to multiple brands that they sell through their online store, and provides 25 items including products from brands like Zoeva, Smashbox, Cowshed and St Tropez as well as many others. The calendar is available for £55 and can be bought now.

This Years Best Beauty Advent Calendars
Picture Copyright: Cosmopolitan

NYX

NYX is known for their incredible products at low prices, and this translates into their calendars as well. The calendar includes 24 items and has lipsticks and creams, highlighters and eyeshadows among the products it offers. You can buy the NYX advent calendar now for only £50.

This Years Best Beauty Advent Calendars
Picture Copyright: InStyle

Amazon Beauty

The Amazon Beauty calendar displays all of the impressive brands that Amazon are working with, and has 24 items from brands like Laura Geller, Bourjois and John Freida. As well as typical beauty products, they also have a few bath treats included, and are offering the calendar for only £50. The calendar is available to buy now.

This Years Best Beauty Advent Calendars
Picture Copyright: InStyle

M&S

Marks and Spencer‘s advent calendar has 24 items from brands like Eyeko, REN and Rodial, and is designed in a beautiful Christmas display, so you know you’ll be excited for the festive season with this calendar. The calendar is available to buy now for only £35, but all customers have to first spend £35 on clothing or homeware in a Marks and Spencer store first before they can buy the calendar.

This Years Best Beauty Advent Calendars
Picture Copyright: InStyle

Feel Unique

Feel Unique’s advent calendar has 12 items from popular brands like NYX, Elizabeth Arden and Jurlique, and will make you ready to go out and shop for full versions of all of the products the minute Christmas is over. The products would cost around £90 in retail prices, but are only £30 when sold in the calendar. Feel Unique’s calendar is available from the 19th October.

 

From making this list, we’ve had so many ideas about the calendar(s) we want to buy! Let us know which calendar you’re going for, or even if you think we’ve missed a great calendar off our list!

Russia’s Burger King try to ban IT – saying he looks like Ronald McDonald

Russia's Burger King try to ban IT - saying he looks like Ronald McDonald

The newly-released revival of Stephen King’s IT has been praised through the box office for its refreshing reprisal of the inter-dimensional villain who takes the shape of a clown among other things to terrorise the people in the small town, Derry.

However, with every great thing there will always be someone who disagrees with it existing, and in this case, the Burger King operation in Russia is the culprit. Representatives from the company have complained to Russia’s FedeRussia's Burger King try to ban IT - saying he looks like Ronald McDonaldral Anti-Monopoly Service (FAS), as they state that the titular character, IT (also known as Pennywise the Dancing Clown) looks like Ronald McDonald, the avatar from their rival fast-food company.

The company have argued that Pennywise has been designed to look like Ronald McDonald, citing the colours of the clown and his use of balloons to lure children as obvious references to McDonald’s mascot and have claimed that the widespread attention from the film could be free advertisement for the fast-food chain.

Now obviously, if the terrifying clown from IT was supposed to be a form of subtle advertisement for McDonald’s, we wouldn’t be able to say that it has worked very well, as our first thoughts after watching the film weren’t an intense hankering for a Happy Meal. In fact, after watching IT we’d prefer to stay away from any clown-themed advertisement, so perhaps you could even say that it works in Burger King’s favour more than McDonald’s.

However, as ridiculous as the complaint seems, the FAS has stated that they are reviewing the complaint, although they have suggested in an interview with the Hollywood Reporter that it would be hard to prove that there is any deliberate promotion of McDonald’s within the film, stating that they can’t judge the content of the film as the writer and director will have their own interpretation of the character, but they can check for any hidden product placement in IT.

Since IT’s release in September, the film has already grossed over $502 million worldwide, with $14 million of that alone contributed by viewings in Russia. The film is still available in over 100 cinemas in Russia, proving that removing its presence will be a difficult task to undertake.

The first ever McStrike is happening, and people are conflicted

The first ever McStrike is happening, and people are conflicted

Over 200 people have gathered by Parliament to support the first ever strike action in the UK against McDonald’s (which has been labelled the McStrike), including members of the Labour party like Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell and Emma Dent-Coad. The strike action has also produced praise from Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, as he posted on his Facebook his hopes that all fast food workers would organise and join trade unions to improve their working lives.

The strike action has been organised and is represented by the Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union (BFAWU) after several members from London-based McDonald’s restaurants joined the union after being left unhappy with bullying and misconduct from management. The strikes have been called to tackle this mistreatment from management as well as concerns about low-paid and job insecurity with their zero-hour contracts.

A McDonald’s spokesman stated that the strike is solely related to internal grievance procedures and not over concerns surrounding pay or contracts – yet refused to go into detail on the internal grievances as they didn’t want to single out any specific cases. However, many have stated that this is untrue, as multiple workers taking strike action have singled out their need for better job security and pay that doesn’t leave them within the poverty line.

The strikers have originated from two McDonald’s restaurants within London, in Crayford and Cambridge where members of staff have frequently experienced problems with management as well as their struggles over pay and their contracts. Some staff have provided stories of sexual misconduct and bullying being breezed over by management as well as the refusal to allow staff members to call in sick – while holding the security of the few hours that they have available to them over their heads. Many others have discussed how their low pay means that some are left without a permanent roof over their heads, while others cannot afford to pay for their own meals aside from the meal that the company provides them in their shifts.

The fast-food employees within the restaurants had voted in favour of industrial action following their concerns around the zero-hour contracts that they were offered with their roles in the company, and also requested that a minimum wage of £10 an hour was applied – following Jeremy Corbyn’s pledge to raise the national minimum wage to this price during his election campaign. The BFAWU also said that McDonald’s had failed at their attempts to become fairer employers, and also stated that they believed the fast-food chain had yet to introduce any working conditions that could be deemed acceptable, as well as job security or even an affordable living wage.

McDonald’s announced earlier this year that they were allowing 11,500 workers that lived in the UK the option of switching from zero-hours (or flexible) contracts onto fixed ones, as well as increasing pay three times since April 2016 which has increased the hourly rate by 15%. Yet, many within the union do not believe that these movements have been enough, or even doubt the existence of these offers in the first place.

Over the last few years, there has been a global fight back by fast-food workers to get organised and create unions so that they can demand decent living wages and their right to union recognition. And in some countries it has proved successful – workers in Denmark have managed to higher their working wage so that they earn over $20 an hour, as the company was forced to recognise their trade union. There are also fights happening with the US and New Zealand, with The Fight for $15 winning significant pay rises for over 22 million workers in the US, as workers linked with community groups to fight for their justice. In New Zealand, zero hour contracts have been abolished by the UNITE union – all of which have helped begin the strike movement seen within the UK.

And this is only the beginning of the strikes in the UK. Already workers in Scotland and other areas have seen the strike movement started within the two London restaurants and have began to speculate on their ability to fight back against the unfair treatment of fast-food workers in chain restaurants. With plenty of people being left homeless or in poverty from the existence of zero-hour contracts – a fate that is exacerbated by the existence and combination of the minimum wage – it is time to fight back against the difference in wages between the real workers in McDonald’s and those on the top. McDonald’s boss Steve Easterbrook took home a combined wage of £11.82m last year – while a 17-year old on minimum wage working in the blistering heat of a McDonald’s kitchen would be earning £4.75 an hour – a touch over the national minimum wage for someone of that age in the UK which stands at £4.05 for under-18’s currently.

It’s beginning to look a lot like autumn! The return of the PSL

pumpkin-spice-starbucks

For many coffee crazed fans, the release of the seasonal Pumpkin Spice Latte from Starbucks marks the beginning of Autumn and this year most definitely isn’t any different. This year the Starbucks marketing team went a bit overboard on the PSL 2017 release by hosting a 72-hour Facebook Livestream for the grand reveal of the Pumpkin Spice Latte. This Livestream consisted of a pumpkin sat in a nest in the middle of what looked like a barn and a whole other array of crazy, spooky, autumn themed activities and entertainment such as ‘did you know’ cards appearing on the screen every now and again with seasonally hilarious jokes such as ‘trained pumpkins can tell the difference between the paintings of Picasso and Warhol’ whilst a magical pair of arms painted the pumpkin and its companion the orange bouncy ball in great detail. These magical hands would also appear to play with the pumpkin by bouncing the ball to it as well as holding up signs and feeding the pumpkin. Half way through this live stream the magical hands put up a sign saying they were looking to rehome the bouncy ball and giving updates about the bouncy balls adoption including one that informed the audience of the bouncy ball being with its new family and asking for the audience to send the pumpkin extra love. Some of the other things that the people who watched this Livestream witnessed was the pumpkins ultrasound scan (a drawing of the outline of a pumpkin with a latte cup inside of it), the ‘barn’ being filled with cats and then dogs, the pumpkin listening to music on a radio/watching TV/having a live musical performance, a ghost flying around the barn, the pumpkin doing yoga and guided meditation, the pumpkin receiving fan mail drawings, poetry and pictures that were submitted by the people watching the live stream and an aeroplane flying around the barn with different things written on a flag flying on the back of it with the room filling with bubbles. Oh and a creepy old man in a window (I’m guessing he was the pumpkin farmer?). Finally, after 72 hours of non-stop pumpkin craziness, the room started to fill with a fog like smoke until it revealed the barn crowded with a party of pumpkins, a banner saying ‘ PSL is here!’ and a latte cup with the name ‘Fall’icia’ on it (chosen by the audience, of course).

The reveal Livestream started on Friday the 1st of September leaving some Starbucks fans rather confused as well as many Starbucks employees, which led to most Starbucks stores in America to start serving the iconic PSL on Friday. The official release of the PSL was Tuesday the 5th September which means you can fulfil your autumn fantasy and order your Pumpkin Spice Latte now in Starbucks stores all across the country and this year you can not only get the PSL, Starbucks has also released the new caramelised pecan latte that is made from coffee and pecan syrup being topped with whipped cream and a drizzle of burned caramel sauce. Starbucks isn’t just great at marketing they’re also the best at making coffee.

All About Alton Towers Scarefest 2017

smiler-alton-towers

On selected dates in October, the resort of Alton Towers is transformed into a Halloween horror festival that is sure to scare and surprise anyone who dares to enter. Named Scarefest, the festival is taking place this year on the 7th-8th, 14th-15th and 20th-31st October. You’ll get to enjoy all of the rides until 9 pm, plus a ton of extra entertainment. There is live entertainment for everyone, from young children to older families. Those who are feeling brave can enter the scare mazes, but beware – you might not make it out in one piece. Here’s all you need to know about this year’s Scarefest.

For Families

For families, there is no shortage of entertainment at Scarefest. At the House of Monsters (located in Cloud Cuckoo Land), you’ll join a vlogger-turned-monster-hunter as he heads to a disused house to discover if the rumours of ghouls lurking within its walls are real. Every morning during the Scarefest, the Alton Ancestors will be taking to Towers Street to perform a flash mob. Plus, there are three different shows to see throughout the day on the Trick or Treat stage – Skelvin’s Spooky Storytime, Patch’s Trick or Treat Party and Phil and Franklyn’s Ghoul School. There’s even a fancy dress competition to take part in. If the live entertainment wasn’t enough for you, you’ll be able to enjoy the rides until 9 pm – including selected rides in CBeebies Land.

For Thrill-Seekers

If you’re feeling brave, enter one of Alton Towers’ four scare mazes during Scarefest. First up, it’s the award-winning Terror of the Towers, which won Best Halloween Scare Attraction in 2011, and has had a revamp (pardon the pun) for 2017. It’s located in the Gothic surroundings of the Towers and is sure to scare all who enter. Next up, it’s Sub-Species: The End Games. This centres around a post-apocalyptic community who live in a sewer, sacrificing innocent people to a mysterious otherworldly creature in order to survive. However, the demise of the innocent people (aka you) has become the entertainment for the community, and you must escape via a series of underground tunnels. Thirdly, it’s Altonville Mine Tours:  a deep underground tour, where you’ll hear all about the legend of the Skin Snatchers, and experience their hospitality for yourself. Lastly, it’s a new maze for 2017 and billed to be the scariest yet – The Welcoming: Be Chosen. The woods surrounding Alton Towers are rumoured to be home to a group who are angered by technology and the lack of respect for natural resources. Each year, they host their own celebration of Halloween, celebrating the crossover between the living and the dead. This year, they’ve invited the ‘outsiders’ to celebrate with them – but beware of their friendliness.

Once you’ve escaped the horror of the mazes, head to the Freak Show: Scare Zone, which is the home of a travelling circus. You’ll find it near the Spinball Whizzer.

How to Get Tickets

The best (and most affordable) way to buy tickets for the Scarefest is online. If you just want to go on the rides and have access to the Freak Show, you can buy a standard online saver one-day ticket from £32. To enjoy the theme park and three of the scare mazes, it will cost you £50. For the theme park and all four mazes (the Welcoming: Be Chosen isn’t included in the 3 maze ticket), it’s £58. If you wish to simply enter the mazes, you can do this for £20, or £28 including the Welcoming: Be Chosen. If you are a Merlin Annual Pass holder, you will get a 20% discount when you book in advance online.

So, if you’re looking to be scared this Halloween, why not head to Alton Towers? You may never look at the park in the same way, but it’s a thrill to be there after dark.

 

Nike are Back at it Again With the Sweatshop Controversy

sweatshop workers

Nike has been dealing with accusations and complaints about their use, or misuse of sweatshops since the 1970’s and now almost 50 years on they are seeing a new wave of activism from students worldwide. In the 1970’s most of Nike’s factories were located in Taiwan and South Korea but about 15% of their products were made in American factories, this changed in 1984 when Nike packed up and left its American factories to move to Asia’s cheap labour.

When the economy started to grow in the countries that Nike’s sweatshops were located in (Korea and Taiwan) and workers started demanding better pay and more humane working conditions Nike once again just picked up their stuff and moved to locations that enabled them to continue operating at an extremely low cost with horrible working conditions and ridiculous pay for employees in countries that prohibited labour unions.

Now, most of Nike factories are found in China, Vietnam and Indonesia these countries have no protective labour laws over their factories allowing the factory owners to force labourers to work over 9 hours a day, in horrible working conditions for very little pay and sometimes even employ children as young as 8.

The problems started for Nike in the early 90’s when the conditions that workers in Indonesia had to deal with started to be exposed by a man called Jeff Ballinger, Nike decided to respond to this by releasing their factories code of conduct which triggered Ballinger to fully expose Nike’s factories by highlighting how workers were paid less than about 70 pence an hour which is less than the minimum wage in Indonesia as well all the abuse the workers had to endure.

The protests started outside the Barcelona Olympics in 1992 and continued when CBS released interviews with some Nike factory workers in 1993 and Ballingers organisation ‘press for change’ created a surge of mainstream media attention. In 1996 Nike creates a department for improving the lives of their factory workers but their product promotions became events for public outrage and the increase in ‘Niketown’ stores seen another wave of protests and sports media started to question spokespeople such as Michael Jordan.

More and more stories emerge of the abuse workers were experiencing and in 1997 thousands of college students across America started to protest and boycott Nike. Nike finally realises it needs to make steps towards change in 1998 when they faced poor demand and were forced to lay off workers, the CEO of Nike at the time Phil Knight made a speech announces they will be raising the minimum wage of their workers.

In 1999 they begin to create the fair labour association to combine human rights representatives and companies to establish independent monitoring of factories, including a minimum age and 60-hour working week, Nike then encourages other brands to join too. In theory, this would have completely cleared Nike’s image of horrible sweatshops but in recent years hundreds of accusations have been bubbling under the surface of mainstream media.

On July 29th 2017, students in cities such as Bangalore, Washington, Boston and San Pedro in Honduras started demonstrating in a day of protest against Nike, organised by the United Students Against Sweatshops (USAS). Some of the allegations that caused this protest include claims of wage theft, verbal abuse, working for hours in temperatures over the legal limit of 30°C to the point that workers would collapse at their machines, Nike pulling jobs from a factory with a strong union presence and also allegedly refused the WRC entry to their factories for inspections.

One former Nike factory worker spoke out about her experiences at the factory, describing the fears employees felt as they could have faced being fired or reprimanded for sitting down, going to the toilet, drinking water or even just yawning. They are not allowed to join unions as they are threatened with wage reductions and are forced to live in tiny shared spaces and work 14 hour days, 7 days a week with a monthly salary of only £115.

Nike has denied many of the accusations and has tried to make excuses for leaving certain factories but they have not made a formal response to the new wave of protests, it will be interesting to see how they will try and cover this one up.