Browsing "Commentary / Editorial"

The Price of Being a Superhero

Oct 23, 2012   //   by Daniel Morris   //   Commentary / Editorial  //  Comments Off on The Price of Being a Superhero

This year has definitely been the year of the comic book hero, with outings for both Batman and the Avengers throughout the summer.

And amongst the super-strong, the incredibly strong and the near Gods that have graced the screen are two heroes that have bought their way to the big leagues; Iron Man and Batman.

But could anyone actually afford to become a superhero in this day and age? Read More »

Security Is No Laughing Matter

Oct 18, 2012   //   by Daniel Morris   //   Commentary / Editorial  //  Comments Off on Security Is No Laughing Matter

When it comes to security, the British public are generally quite uptight about the “what if?”s regarding their data being accessed.

This is why, when compared to Australia, we as a nation are reluctant to take on services such as contact-less payments and mobile banking with the Aussies 65% more likely to try these than we are.

However, we’re not all deadly serious about our security, especially in regards to our wireless internet network names.

Complaining About the Neighbours

It’s a very rare thing that we manage to get on with everyone around us. Especially neighbours. And it would appear that people have been finding new and inventive ways to display their annoyance at the – mostly noisy – people living next door. Read More »

Star-broke? Coffee Chain Claims Poverty to Pay Less Tax

Oct 18, 2012   //   by Keith McDonald   //   Commentary / Editorial  //  4 Comments

I don’t wonder that I’ve always preferred coffee from smaller chains and independent shops. It certainly doesn’t tend to come with the bitter aftertaste of corporate greed.

And I can’t be the only one, because poor old Starbucks is supposedly suffering from a massive caffeine overdose, making substantial annual losses of £33 million in the UK. We haven’t suddenly given up on coffee, of course, but Starbucks has given up on the idea of paying tax.

Despite muscling independent coffee shops and smaller chains out of the market, the coffee giant has been using a string of inventive measures to avoid paying corporation tax in the UK. The chain hasn’t paid any in three years, and it’s paid a meagre sum of just £8.6 million in its 14 year history of trading in Britain despite revenues topping £3 billion.
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Time for Change – Should the UK Ditch Pennies?

Oct 9, 2012   //   by Daniel Morris   //   Commentary / Editorial  //  Comments Off on Time for Change – Should the UK Ditch Pennies?

It has been said that Britons lose close to £60m in loose change per year. Whether it’s dropped in the street, left in a vending machine or that old cliché of being down the back of the sofa, it’s a lot of money that could make a big difference to many people’s lives.

I recently took a trip down-under and the Australian monetary system has inspired me to raise the question: Do we need to carry on producing ‘coppers’?

Removing from Circulation

One option that we have as a nation to combat this, is to remove the 1p and 2p from circulation – a system that has been adopted by the Australians, who only go as low as a 5 cent piece – which would eliminate this problem.

So what happens when you reach a total of £6.01 in a store? It’s a simple matter of rounding to the nearest pound when paying by cash. If we take the example of a £6.01 charge being required in store, this value would simply become £6 if the customer were to pay by cash. However, this value would remain at £6.01 if the consumer was to pay by card.

It ends up being a bit of a give and take system. Okay, if you’re a couple of pence over the cost of the product you get a slight discount (4p) then you’d end up paying a little more.

But in the long run, this would save consumers an average of around £1.50 per year, which will add up over time and become a very substantial saving which outweighs the couple of pence you may have to pay over the price of an item.

Drawbacks of Losing those Pennies

While this sounds all well and good, there’s still a matter of the millions that are hidden around people’s homes and on the streets. What do we do about them? These millions will become worthless in stores (especially 99 pence stores!).

Well this could be easily combated through the use of the, already popular, change machines that are situated in many supermarkets. These machines sort your loose change and give you the equivalent in a larger valued coin or note (at a slight charge).

Having these machines in banks would be an elegant solution to the problem and also means that banks are taking more money in than they would be should the coppers remain in circulation as many more people would be able to dispose of these coins into a banking or saving account.

For or Against?

Would you like to keep the traditional 1s and 2s so that you can always have a little bit of change in your pocket? Or are you on the side of scrapping coppers in favour of a rounding system and never having to think about the lost change hidden under the rug or under the fridge?

Let us know what you think by leaving a comment below.

Salespoints, Selling and Scandals: Lloyds TSB

Sep 11, 2012   //   by Keith McDonald   //   Commentary / Editorial  //  6 Comments

Trying to sell high value products has been a pressure-cooker for banks for many years. Admittedly, it’s taken quite a while for the extent of the payment protection insurance (PPI) mis-selling scandal to become apparent. Worringly, though, the consequences are still manifesting themselves, and the culture that has encouraged this over the years is showing no signs of abating.

Ombudsman NewsFirstly, let’s look at the recent PPI situation. Ombudsman News has revealed that the service is now receiving as many as 1,500 new related complaints every day. This has taken the total number to over 400,000, with PPI related issues now comprising over half the total number of referred cases.

Many customers who took out credit cards, mortgages or loans have complained that they were unduly pressurised into taking out the additional insurance, or else that they were sold policies that did not accurately reflect their situation. And with banks rejecting a vast number of complaints, disgruntled customers continue to take their cases to the Financial Ombudsman Service, which becomes the legal arbitrator.

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Inflation and the Great Train Robbery

Aug 15, 2012   //   by Keith McDonald   //   Breaking News, Commentary / Editorial  //  3 Comments

The unexpected rise in inflation announced for July, on the face of it, shouldn’t offer too much to panic about. And yet it has, since most train fares are now expected to rise by at least 6% in the New Year, while some could rise by up to 11%.

The Consumer Price Index measure of inflation rose to 2.6% in July, from 2.4% in June, while the Retail Price Index measure leapt to 3.2%. The modest rise in CPI inflation has been attributed to the cost of air fares, which rose by over 20% during Euro 2012 and in the build-up to the Olympics.

Naturally, residual concerns about the squeeze in living standards are being reprised. It’s hardly encouraging to see inflation climbing while wage inflation remains low. And it’s yet another blow for savers, who had only recently been able to make real-term gains from the best instant-access savings accounts.

Perhaps reassuringly, the upwards pressures are not all-encompassing. It’s not so much the price of food or petrol that is propagating this rise (contrarily, the price of petrol has fallen); rather, it’s the cost of flying during a summer laden with high-profile sporting events.

Inflation Chart July 2012
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