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since 18/07/2000


Vodafone 13/04/2002

Why I Stick to Vodafone and VF Retail

Vodafone Vodafone was the first network in UK and has seen been the market leader. I had my first mobile phone as a One2One phone but was very disappointed with their customer service and have since switched to Vodafone and stick with them for a long time. Service Provider Many people do not aware that when they buy a contract mobile phones, they actually deal with the network (Vodafone) and the Billing Company (e.g. Vodafone Retail, Singlepoint). Why Vodafone provides the network service and is responsible for quality of service and general customer service assitance, the billing company is the one who decides the price of the calls and handle the billing. When I first switched to Vodafone, I bought a phone with SinglePoint via Dial-A-Phone and was very annoyed by the billing company customer service which I could never get through. Also, when I tried to switch to Vodafone Retail (another billing company) but still on Vodafone, then Singlepoint started to bug me with sales call. Since then, I have sticked with Vodafone Retail who usually answer Customer Service calls within 30 seconds. International Call While Orange and Virgin offer cheaper International Call, I have recently found a way round it and get very very cheap international call with Vodafone. The service is called Since call to 0870 number is considered as a standard voice call by Vodafone (but not by One2One - another reason I like Vodafone), I simply dial into the 0870 number ...

Just-Dial 18/03/2002

Just Dial and alternatives

Just-Dial Most of the details about just dial service has been covered by John.SW and I thought I just provide a little bit information about the service. For those who experience occasional difficulties, it may be worth trying an alternative service, and (NOTE: 0871 number is "named" as national rate but is actually 10p/min at all time. Different from 0870 numbers, it is also rather expensive to call 0871 from mobiles). The way JustDial works is via the telecom interconnection agreement. When you dial their 0870 number, you pay your telephone company for a national call. Your phone company then pass a portion of the charges back to the 0870 service provider. The upsite is of course extremely cheap or FREE (if you have appropriate free minutes on your mobile phone plan). Also, your are billed per second as compared to phonecards / prepaid services that bill per minute. It will no go further as it has been described by other Ciao members. The downsite is that you have to pay from first second which you do not normally do if your call doesn't get through. From their website. 0870-dial provide service to the following destinations : Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil Rio De Janeiro, Brazil Sao Paulo, Canada, Chile, China Beijing, China Shanghai, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece Athens, Hawaii, Hong Kong, Ireland, Italy, Japan Osaka, Japan Tokyo, Luxembourg, Netherlands, New Zeland, Norway, Portugal, Russia ...

Capital One Premier 28/10/2001

Build Credit Rating Scoring with just GBP1

Capital One Premier As many other members have mentioned, Capital One Premier is a good card for people who have no credit history and wish to get a credit card so that their credit performance can be properly recorded. I will keep it brief here due to limited space and for ease of update reason. The sceneario in UK is very much different from the USA where there are many secured credit cards where one can deposit some money and secure those money against the card. These cards are great as they are easy to get (as there is no risk to the lender) and allow one to rebuild one's credit because by credit card ownership is one of the major criteria when lender decides whether to lend or not to lend. Woolwich used to have one but unfortunately they do not issue those cards anymore. Therefore, Capital One is now the only credit issuer in UK who will issue a credit card to anyone regardless of credit history by setting the suitable APR. The whole game about credit scoring is all about having some history being recorded in the credit reference agency file. And Capital One Bank is brilliant in this area as they diligently report your credit performance to the credit reference agency. So, if you maintain your account well, you will see lots of (0 - i.e. paid on time, A+ grade) on your credit file and your credit rating will shot up in no time. Some other banks particularly the big high street banks often neglect to report one's good performance to ...

Halifax Moneyback 28/10/2001

Good value and Flexible Card

Halifax Moneyback Halifax Cash Back card is the most competitive cash back card in the market at the moment after Egg cuts the cash back to 0.5%. This is an all around good card with no annual fee, good benefits and reasonable APR. Also, their lending criteria is considerably more relax compared to other lenders so if one have difficulties gaining gold card/cash back card elsewhere, Halifax may be a good place to start. Especially when you are Halifax customer, they seems to take into account more on your current credit circumstances instead of some partial credit data supplied by the credit reference agency when making the decision to issue the card. (If you are interested, I have written an article on credit reference and how to work around it on ) The statement clearly indicates the points you have obtained that that allows you to keep track of the point you have earned. Their credit limit is flexible too and there was one time I was on holiday and ran close to the credit limit and Halifax gave me a raised to prevent me from running into trouble. Their customer serive could be a bit difficult to get through at times but considering the benefits, I think it is worth it. While they do not allow payment to the card to be made over Halifax counters, they allow Online debit card payment which is a feature I love. Also, detailed transacion are provided online and are easy to be keep tracked of. The only think I am a little bit ...

HSBC Combined Card 28/10/2001

Helpful bank, but bad for credit rating

HSBC Combined Card I acquired a HSBC Combined card while as a student and I found the bank help and couteous. The card does not carry an annual fee or other charges but neither does it offer any benefits. Differ from many other cards, HSBC does not automatially increase the credit limit on the card even though you have good payment history unless you asked for it. This is not good as you will need the credit limit in order to move on to HSBC gold card which will offer better benefits. Therfore, one should really ask for credit limit incease every six month even though you don't need the extra credit. Citing "more flexibility" is usually a good enough reason. Any problem with this card is that the bank is not very diligent in reporting one's (good) credit performance to the credit reference agency. Therefore, after 3 years as a student and pay back every single monthly payment ontime, one STILL has a blank credit history and will have difficulty in obtaining credit else where ! They don't even report the performance on a gold card account unless specifically asked to do so. Therefore, it might be useful to get another card besides HSBC combined card such as Halifax Card in order to build up your credit record while one is still in the university. If you decided not to use the Halifax card, leaving it in £1 credit would be a good way to do so. An article about credit scoring which I hope will be useful to Ciao members can be found at ...

Nationwide Building Society 28/03/2001

Good for mini cash, bad for Maxi

Nationwide Building Society Like all other banks and building society, Nationwide also offers ISA. While I agree with other memebers opinion on Nationwide cash ISA, I think they offer very limited choice on equity ISA. The only offer their own tracker ISA which prevents broader based investment to be made (see egg ISA supermarket). While this is a fairly save investment as it tracks the broad-based FTSE ALL share index, this will only provides moderate growth. If we do get into bear market after this, the investment return in short to medium term may even be lower than saving in Cash ISA with smile ! However, they do provide good customer service and is one of the most reputable building society. There website is also very helpful and innovative.

Portman Building Society 28/03/2001

Good rate and resonable on credit rating

Portman Building Society Portman is one of the building society that does credit-checking instead of credit scoring. They will make sure your credit background is clean and they judge their lending based on your circumstances in a humanly manner. This is different from some lenders such as Natioanl Wide Building society which placed more importance on computer-based scoring then human wisdom. For those who have been unfortunately branded as 'credit-unworthy' by those unworthy computer scoring system, you should check out with portman building society. They offer very good rates and has very good customer service after the mortage has been arranged. Also, there is not penalty for over payment (up to a certain amount) for most mortages. They only weaknesses is that Portman do not provide full range of financial services - e.g. current account and open-financial plans, such as those provided by intelligence finance IF and Woolwich. ...

Capital One Platinum 28/03/2001

Credit reference and high-hand tactics

Capital One Platinum Capital one is the largest credit card issuer in the USA and is actively pursuing the UK market. One thing alarming according to BBC watchdog is that they are not a member of any UK Banking society and hence is not obliged to comply with any of these code of practise. During application, the information they collect for credit rating is not as complete as some other provides and hence may not actually reflect one's circumstances - which is unfair. Then, they started to offer the so-called "personally priced" credit card offers which charged an staggering interest rate of 20-30%. Also, in such circumstances, their customer service department is less than interested to let you present other evidence to support your credit status. Nevertheless, they are one of the few provider that offers cash back and low APR and a 0% introductory rate. However, as being complained on BBC watchdog, some customers have been receiving the statements later and later so that they would not have enough time to pay. This will enable them to charge the late payment fee. Actually, this is nothing new, this tactic has been used in the states for years. Combined with this is credit scoring criteria which MAY be aimed at identifying customer who will likely NOT be able to pay back the amount after the 0% interest free period has lapsed. Also, if they have fully adopted the 'American Credit card industry strategy', cheque payment sent to them which is stapled may also caused late payment charges ...

Egg 28/03/2001

Egg ISA much cheaper than other provider

Egg The reason I put this down as the title is that usually, non-CAT standard ISA such as those technology/high growth fund provided by Jupiter, Fidelity, Aberdeen etc carries a intial charge of 3-5%. What this means is that there is a 3-5% differences in bid-buy price. i.e., if you buy those unit trust into your ISA and sell it immediately, you will loose 3-5% immedieately as these 3-5% has translated into the commission to the broker. Egg ISA supermarket has lowered, if not removed all together the initial charges and hence make these ISA a lot more attractive. Another website that offer this kind of discounted service is Take an example of a £100/month montly ISA saving plan over 10 years, a 3% initial charge would have cost you a capital amount of £360 AND the growth associated with it, which may be 1000%. This pretty much translates to £3600 into the pocket of the broker. Combined with Egg saving account, you will also enjoy 7% interest on your saving - which is the best available at the moment. The only thing I am not so happy about Egg is that although their customer service department is very friendly, they are not particularly competent. Sometimes your email get routed round and round and when they finally tell you something is done, the problem is still there ! ...

AMD Duron 21/09/2000

Brilliant processor

AMD Duron I have recently upgraded to a AMD Duron processor and it was superb. Coupled it with a powerful ABIT KT7 motherboard, it delivered suprb performance and beats Pentium III of the equivalent rank. Having an unlocked processor and a bios that supports soft clock speed setting, I could deliver the maxium performance out of the processor with little risk damaging the processor. The speed of the processor can also be varied according to the season - I can run a bit faster when the day is cooler and vice versa. The price is also very competitive compared to Celeron or Pentium III. With good performance and good price, this is the processor I would go for. Also, Duron/Althon has much better upgrability compared to INTEL counter part as AMD is going to support Socket A for a reasonable amount of time to come. 01/09/2000

my favourite search engine Yahoo is my favourite search engine as its offer several features that other engines do not have. Its multi-level category provides an easy way to access information and to find the related information. The interface is particularlly clean, easy to use and quick to load. YAhoo also provides a much better relevancy than other search engine. The extra services such as mail, news and finance information provided by Yahoo added the more reasons to use yahoo. The downside is that the database could be smaller compared to Altavista which has the largest database.

Nissan Micra 1.3 01/09/2000

very reliable car

Nissan Micra 1.3 I bought a SECOND hand nissan micra 1.3gx about a year ago and is completely satisfy with its performance. It has always been a faithful vehical that brings me anyway without problem. Even in the winter, it did not even sneeze a bit when I tried to start it. By sending it to the service centre according to the manufacturer recommendation, I have no mechanical problem so far. The accessories in the car is adequate and the temperature control works pretty well. Also, it is one of the safest car in the mini range. On the down site, it has a rather small boots which sometimes make it impractical to carry things around. 01/09/2000

good ISP but unprofessional sales staff As one of the largest web hosting company in US and UK, PSINet has a range of advance technologies and reliable system. However, the sales staff are not well trained enough and are ignorant of many technical terms and web technologies. Also, their sales staff tend to push forward what they want to sell instead of what the user wants to buy. My experience was that I stated what I want and then they started to talked my through all their product and insisted me to try some other product instead of the exact solution I need. On the upsite, they have 24 hours technical support which can be useful for more mission critical websites. Of course, all of this go into the price and they are defitely not the cheapest ISP to go for.

Red Hat Linux Professional 6.2 Complete package 01/09/2000

very user friendly

Red Hat Linux Professional 6.2 Complete package RedHat linux is to be considered the most user friendly Linux OS out there in the market. They are the first company to pioneer GUI based installation in Linux world. A wide range of tools is also bundled with the OS and their website provides a good range of information and links to various utilities. Redhat also shares the benefit of other linux such as a wide selection of free tools on the internet and numerous newsgroup and support forum. It is the next generation OS that will become the primary OS in the internet lead computing world. It is an OS that must be learned. 01/09/2000

Good auction site QXL is perhaps the most popular auction site in UK and is visited by ten of thousands of people. Most of the time, the site offer a wide range of product at a bargain price. However, as the size of the market is big, both novice as well as professioanl uses the market, sometimes new user should be careful not to be ripped off my some unscrupulous trader. Navigation wise, ebay and yahoo offers much better interface. I took me much trouble to find the feedback form on QXL website. Also, the bid increment is always in fixed unit and that takes the fun of out it as odd-amount bif can be useful sometimes.
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