New Travelodge Policy on Room Cleaning

Written by Karen Bryan

I recently stayed at Travelodge Ayr for two nights, I’ve stayed at that hotel recently and reviewed it on Help Me To Save. When I arrived in my room, one of the first things that I noticed sitting between the pillows on the bed was a pink sign to hang on the door knob.

Initially, I though that Travelodge had finally upgraded their do not disturb and please make up my room sign. However on closer inspection, there appears to be a new policy on room cleaning if your stay is for more than one night.

If you wish to have your room serviced, you need to hang the aforementioned sign on your door before 11am.

I assume that the new policy has been implemented to ensure that housekeeping staff can focus on cleaning the rooms from which guests have checked out from, by the latest check out time of noon, to be ready for new guests arriving by the earliest check in time of 3pm.

What if you are staying for more than one night and you’d like your room to be serviced, but you are not going out until after 11am?

Tough luck!

Anyone Else Fed Up of PPI Claims Firms?

Written by Karen Bryan

I am getting so fed up of being contacted by Payment Protection Insurance (PPI) clsim firms. I’ve had numerous calls on our fixed line at home and on my mobile phone.

I had never signed up for PPI as I never thought that I needed it. I always set aside any money spent by paying with credit card in my current account to pay of my credit card in full by direct debit every month.

Quite often staff calling from the PPI claims firms have been extremely persistent and or verging on rude when I’ve said to them that I have never purchased PPI.

Even if I had bought PPI, I would make the claim myself to avoid paying fees to the PPI claim firm. From July this year, the maximum fee that could be charged for recovery of misoold PPI is 20% plus VAT. In the past, I had read about much higher fees.

I recently received a large brown envelope through our letter box which had the text ‘Customer Refund Service’ and a logo of the scales of justice emblazoned at the top left hand corner. In the envelope window. there was a claim reference number and a potential claim amount of £3,175.

I knew immediately that this was a mail shot, as it wasn’t addressed to either myself or my husband. But it was certainly doing it best to look like an official letter. 

There was also a delivered by Royal Mail postage franking mark a top right hand corner of the envelope. I was a bit dismayed that Royal Mail are making money from the PPI claim industry, but Royal Mail are now a private company and focused on making a profit

At the bottom right had corner of the back of the envelope, there was text saying ‘Marketing Information Enclosed’. The text clarifying the true nature of the letter had been placed in a position where it was unlikely that it would spotted. In my opinion, it should have been on the front of the envelop in the same size of text as the ‘Customer Refund Service’.

The Roundabout Glasgow Day Ticket

Written by Karen Bryan

The Roundabout Glasgow day ticket costs £7 for adults and £3.50 for children. You can buy the tickets at staffed Scotrail stations, or from the conductor on the train.

The ticket is valid for travel by Scotrail  between more than 100 stations within the Strathclyde area, from Croy in the north, Largs in the west , Neilston in the south to Holytown in the east. It is also valid all day on the Glasgow subway. You can use the tickets for travel after 9am, of anytime at weekends.

When planning a day out in Glasgow recently, I reckoned that the venues which I wanted to visit were a bit far apart to walk between. That made me decide to buy a Roundabout Glasgow day ticket, so that I could travel by Glasgow Subway between the venues.

An off-peak day return from Stirling to Glasgow costs me around £7, as I get a 20% discount with my Scotrail Club 50 membership if I purchase an off-peak ticket online. Therefore, a Roundabout Glasgow day ticket would cost around the same as an off-peak day return from Stirling to Glasgow. The big advantage of the Roundabout Glasgow day ticket is that there are no afternoon off-peak restrictions. With my day return between Stirling and Glasgow. I can’t catch a train home between 4.30 to 6.15pm.

The down side of using a Roundabout Glasgow day ticket is that it entails me driving from our home in Stirling to Croy.  I opted for Croy as I’d read that it had a large car park. Stirling railway station is around one mile from our home, which is walkable. But not ideal if it’s raining. The problem with driving to Stirling railway station, is that even if you are willing to part with £3.50 to park at the station, there are never any spaces left is you arrive around 9am to catch the first off-peak trains.

It took me around 25 minutes to drive to Croy station from home, the same time it takes me to walk from home to Stirling station. There were still quite a few spaces left when I arrived at Croy station around 8.45am, in order to catch the first train departing after 9am.

When I purchased the Roundabout Glasgow day ticket at Croy railway station, I was given one ticket. I assumed that I could use this ticket either at the barrier in a Scotrail or Subway station. However, I couldn’t get through the barrier at Buchanan Street Subway station. When I went to the ticket window, I was informed that I needed to show my Roundabout Glasgow ticket and I would then be given an all day Subway ticket. It would have been useful to have been informed of this by the Scotrail ticket clerk.

There are four trains per hour between Glasgow Queen Street and Croy which is really convenient.

On arrival back at Croy. I thought that I had found the best way to get to Glasgow from Stirling on a weekday. If the things which I wanted to do were mainly around the city centre. I would just buy an off-peak return from Croy, costing £4, with my the 20% discount offered by Scotrail Club 50. If the venues were further out, I’d buy the £7 Roundabout Glasgow day ticket. Purchasing a Roundabout Glasgow day ticket would also mean that I could catch a train back to Croy at anytime in the afternoon or early evening.

However on walking back through the car park to the car, I saw some signs saying that the upper car park would be closed for one month from resurfacing starting in mid January 2019. I reckoned this would mean that I wouldn’t be able to find a space in the car park arriving around 8.50am. Rather annoying as I am booked to attend some events outside the Glasgow city centre in January.

The best laid plans!

Travelodge Edinburgh Central Rose Street

Written by Karen Bryan

I paid £31.50 for a Thursday night stay in mid November 2018 at the Travelodge Edinburgh Central Rose Street. The room was originally priced at £37 on the non-refundable Saver rate. As I booked during a 15% off promotion, the price was discounted by £5.50.

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I’d Prefer Lower Fares for Everyone to Railcards

Written by Karen Bryan

There is a plethora of UK national railcards including:

  • Senior Railcard – for travellers aged over 60.
  • Family Railcard – the travellers must include one of the two named adults, plus one child aged over 5.
  • Tw0 Together Railcard – two named adults must travel together.

Most of the UK railcard offer discounts of one third on many fares. But you need to read the terms and conditions carefully prior to purchasing a railcard.

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Appliances Not Built to Last

Written by Karen Bryan

When we moved to Stirling last year, I purchased a Russell Hobbs kettle and a Sharp microwave. I didn’t go for the cheapest products.

I liked the shape of the Russell Hobbs kettle, plus you could boil as little as a cupful of water. Also, the silver finish matched for our toaster.

As we do a lot of cooking in our microwave versus just heating up food, we need a large, powerful microwave. I did a bit of research. The Sharp microwave fitted the bill and received good reviews.

Well around 18 months after purchase, both appliances broke. The microwave turntable stopped rotating. The kettle didn’t come on when the on button was pushed down.

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The True Cost of Car Hire

Written by Karen Bryan

Hiring a car should carry a danger to your wealth warning. There are so many possible trip wires which trigger extra payments e.g. insurance excess of hundreds of pounds, daily fees for an additional driver and being charged a refuelling fee if you don’t adhere to the fuel policy.

My husband was researched car hire for his trip to Greece. He was pickin up a rental car at Thessaloniki Airport.

He thought that he had found a reasonable quote for 8 days hire which included insurance excess cover, an additional driver and a fair fuel policy. However, as he arrives at Thessaloniki Airport at 22.00, he was going to be charged an out-of-hours fee of 26 Euro at the car hire office, as the opening hours of the Autounion car hire office are 07.30 to 21.00.

In my opinion, the airport offices of car rental firms should be open 24 hours a day. Lots of flights are scheduled for arrival after 21.00. There’s a fair chance of flights due in before 21.00 being late. Also, it can take more than one hour to disembark from the plane, pick up your luggage at the carousel and get through passport control.

Changes to Scotrail Club 50

Written by Karen Bryan

Scotrail like to trumpet their offer of a £17 flat return fare within Scotland to members of the Scotrail Club 50. This perk is now going to be available three times a year. It was twice a year until now.

Whilst it is a good offer, it’s pretty rare for me to make long trips by train within Scotland. Most of my rail usage is off peak day returns from Stirling to Glasgow, which cost around £7 (after the 20% Scotrail Club 50 discount).

But another Scotrail Club 50 perk of a free small bottle of water or a carton of orange juice and a sweet treat, has now been ditched. It has been replaced with a 50% discount on hot or cold drinks.

I doubt if I will renew my annual membership of Club 50 when it expires next March. As I will 60 years old in April next year, I will be able to buy a Senior Citizen’s Railcard which will give me a 33% discount on all rail fares. The Senior Citizen’s Railcard costs £30, double the price of the £15 charged for the Scotrail Club 50. But I reckon that I will more than the recoup that additional £15 bu the larger discount offered.

Review of Travelodge Ayr

Written by Karen Bryan

Over the years I have been a fan of Travelodge. They generally offer rooms of a reasonable standard at competitive prices.

Their room prices were lower in the past. Around ten years, I used to be able to regularly book rooms for £15 and even £9 during their sales. The cheapest room were always on the Saver non-refundable rate.

However, Travelodge prices have crept up over the years. It’s quite hard to find room priced under £30 a night, even if your stay is during low season and you book well in advance on the Saver rate.

I was keen to go down to Ayrshire to visit Dumfries House, the Burns Museum and a textile exhibition at the Maclaurin Gallery. It was too much to fit in one day, so I looked for a reasonably price hotel room. I thought that Sunday would be the cheapest night on which to stay.

I searched for a room one week before my proposed stay.

I found a room at Travelodge Ayr for £35 a night on the flexible rate, meaning that I could cancel free of charge until noon on my day of arrival.

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Renewing My Car Insurance With Direct Line

Written by Karen Bryan

Last year I took out our car insurance with Direct Line. They offered the lowest price of £234 which included no claims protection, a guaranteed hire car and a zero voluntary excess. I didn’t require breakdown cover as that is included as a benefit of my Nationwide Flex Plus current account.

This year, I received an automatic renewal letter from Direct Line informing me that the premium had gone up to £253.

I did a search on a couple of price comparison websites to see if I could beat that price. I did find a price of £237 for the same level of cover.

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