The Importance of Knowing Your Rights As a Consumer

Written by Karen Bryan

I recently bought three new tyres for my car.

It was really annoying as all four tyres were quite evenly worn and I thought I’d get at least another year out of them. However the discovery of a screw embedded in the side of a rear tyre put paid to my plans.

I was advised that for safety reasons that it wasn’t a good idea to just buy one new tyre to use with three tyres that were past their best. This necessitated buying three tyres, using the spare (which had been in the boot since the car was purchased over five years ago) as the fourth new tyre. Then the least worn existing tyre would become the new spare.

As I wanted to replace the tyres with the previous brand, Continental Contact, I went to the Asda Tyres price comparison site to find the cheapest tyres which could be fitted as soon as possible.

The price was £80 per tyre, the same I paid when I purchased four new tyres months previously. I wasn’t happy at parting with £240 for the three new tyres, but safety is paramount.

Unfortunately, I had to wait three days for the tyres to be fitted at a local garage.

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Three Mobile’s Hands Free Promotion

Written by Karen Bryan

I received a text message from Three Mobile informing me that they had added a travel benefit for pay monthly customers called Hands Free, in conjunction with easyJet.

Three already offers free roaming in the 71 destinations. I found this to be a very valuable perk when travelling in the EU and the US, so I was curious to find out more about the new travel perk.

With Hands Free, you can drop off you cabin bag at the easyJet Plus Bag Drop Off, board the plane early and your cabin bags will be amount the first to arrive on the carousel at your destination. You will be given a free Three tote bag in which to place any items which you want to take on board with you. I assume that if subject to availability, so I’d recommend that you have a carrier bag in your pocket just in case the Three bags have run out.

I’d much prefer to take my cabin bag onboard with me, so I don’t need to bother going to pick it up from the carousel.

As for early boarding, what’s the point when all seats on the plane are now allocated?

To claim the perk, you need to text easyJet with the word ‘upgrade’ along with your flight number, date of travel and surname. Hands Free is only available on your outgoing flight.

Call me cynical, but is sounds like a ploy by easyJet to get fewer customers to take their luggage on board, in order to reduce the length of boarding and disembarkation times. I can’t see any real advantage to Three customers.

I Can’t Open a New TSB Monthly Saver Online

Written by Karen Bryan

My TSB Monthly Saver account recently matured.

I planned to immediately open a new TSB Monthly Saver online, in order to earn the fixed rate of 2% on the maximum monthly deposits of £250.

However, it wasn’t possible to open a new TSB Monthly Saver when logged into TSB. When I clicked on apply for a new savings account in the right margin of my TSB home page, I was taken to another page which informed me that “to build a better bank for you, we’re currently upgrading our systems. You can still open a new savings account in our branches and we’re introducing our products online over the coming weeks”.

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Nationwide Not Increasing the Interest Rate of Loyalty Single Access ISA

Written by Karen Bryan

I am astounded that in the wake of the recent 0.25% increase in the Bank of England Base Rate, that there will be no increase in the interest rate paid on my Nationwide Single Access Loyalty ISA. The rate will remain at 1.4%.

Nationwide is supposed to be a mutual, run for the benefit of its members i.e. borrowers and savers.  Nationwide claims to reinvest profit back into the business to improve customer service, develop new products and offer better interest rates to more of its customers.

This just doesn’t seem to be the case for savers such as me.

Nationwide is rarely spotted in best buy tables for savers. You can often earn a higher rate of interest in standard savings products from other provider than in Nationwide’s loyalty saver accounts.

Despite being of the opinion that best course of action is to vote with your feet, i.e. move my Cash ISA from Nationwide to another provider. There seems little point, as I can’t earn a higher rate of interest from any other provider, as none of them have upped the rate of interest paid on the their accessible Cash ISAs.

Virgin Money Increase Fixed Rate of Interest on Regular E-Saver

Written by Karen Bryan

I received an email from Virgin Money informing me that, from 1 September 2018, the rate of interest paid on my Regular E-Saver accounts would increase from 2.25% to 2.5%.

I was doubly surprised by this.

Firstly. many financial providers have chosen, either not to increase the rate of interest paid on their savings accounts at all, or to increase the rate paid to savers by less that the recent 0.25% increase in the Bank of England Base Rate.

Secondly, the Virgin Money Regular E-Saver was a fixed rate product, so Virgin Money was not under any obligation to increase the rate paid to savers.

I was already happy with my Virgin Money E-Saver accounts. Every other provider I’ve seen offering one year term regular savings accounts, only allow you to open one regular saving account per 12 month period. With Virgin Money, you can have one account per issue. As there is usually a new issue every two months, this permits you to hold up to six Virgin Money Regular E-Savers concurrently.

BT Increase Prices Again

Written by Karen Bryan

I received an email from BT to say that the price for our broadband was increasing by £2.50 a month from the following month.

BT last increased their prices in November 2017, only ten months ago. At that time, I phoned BT to say that I wasn’t happy with the price increase.

If signed up for a new 18 month contract, BT offered me a reasonable deal which, to my understanding, included a 18 price partial price freeze which only applied to the broadband part of my contract (but not the line rental or calls package).

That’s why I couldn’t understand why BT were telling me that the broadband price was going to increase by £2.50 a month from September 2018.

I phoned BT to query this. Upon checking my account, I was told that there was no price freeze on any part of my account. I said that I was pretty certain that there was a price freeze on the broadband element. I requested that the issue be investigated further.

The customer service rep asked me to hold saying that he would see if he could save me money on my current price, before he initiated the complaints procedure.

He came back with a price for broadband and anytime calls which was £3 lower than the price I was paying. Again that price was only available if I signed a new 18 month contract.

I am certain that BT will increase their price at least once, more probably twice, in the coming 18 months. But as I will be paying a lower price from next month, than I at present, I decided to sign up for another 18 months with BT.

If I hadn’t phoned BT to query the price increase, I would have been paying £5.50 a month more from next month.

Saving Money on Mobile Phone Contracts

Written by Karen Bryan

A consumer’s mobile phone contract is now a considerable part of their monthly spend. The national average salary is £539 per week, £2,335.66 per month making the annual average wage £28,027.99. The average monthly mobile phone bill in the UK is £45.60 per month. That’s a whopping £547.70 UK consumers spend on average on their mobile phone bill per year.

Quick guide to Reducing bile Phone Bills

Minutes, texts, cost of device and data allowance is how networks build their monthly tariffs. Understanding what you need helps guide you to the right tariff for you.

Most contracts now come with unlimited minutes and texts, it’s the data usage that drives the monthly tariff. Check out your previous 3 months usage on your device to understand your average monthly data usage. Most consumers are now within range of a free WIFI device so overloading your data plan can lift your monthly bill for no reason.
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Don’t Be Lured Into Spending By Supermarket Vouchers

Written by Karen Bryan

Despite cautioning about the temptation to spend money to save money, sometimes I still succumb to the lure of supermarket vouchers.

When I filled up the car at Sainsbury’s, I received two Nectar vouchers. One for triple Nectar points on my next Sainsbury’s shop within the following three weeks. The other offered 8p a litre off the price of fuel, if I spent a minimum of £15 at Tui (Sainsbury’s clothing brand).

I was tempted by the Tui fuel offer. I reckoned that I usually put around 40 litres of diesel in my car, so 8p off a litre would equate to a saving of around £3.20 at my next visit to fill up the car.

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I’m Disappointed by Charter Savings Bank

Written by Karen Bryan

I’ve generally been happy with Charter Savings Bank. At times, they have offered market leading interest rates on their savings account. I have also found them to be very efficient.

However, I am disappointed by their recent actions.

I had £1,000 in a two year fixed rate savings account which was due to mature earlier this month. Around three weeks before maturity of that account, I received an email from Charter Savings Bank asking me if I would like to transfer the proceeds of my soon to mature savings account into a new fixed rate account with them.

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Wumtu from Three Mobile

Written by Karen Bryan

I was prompted to download Three money saving app Wumtu to my mobile phone when I received a text message from Three informing me that I could claim a free Costa Strawberry Frostini that Friday.

I had an appointment that Friday at the Santander branch in Stirling top open a Regular eSaver account. It’s really annoying that I can’t open that account online, as only business savings accounts come up as I log into Santander through my business account. But I thought that free cold drink on a warm day would offer a bit of a pleasant distraction.

After downloading the Wumtu app. I had to register my phone. Three checked that my SIM card was a Three SIM. Then I was able to get into the offer.

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