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since 16/07/2008


British Gas 28/11/2008

Money burned by British Gas

British Gas UPDATE 28.11.08 When I wrote the review below, prices had gone up by 50% since January 2008, with British Gas agents profusely blaming rise in oil prices for rises in both Gas and Electricity. Fair point? By July oil was at a record $147 a barrel at its peak. Since then oil has collapsed to a 2 year low of $52 a barrel and still falling, I spoke to British Gas about this -- they say that gas is already in the system paid for at the old prices! On Radio 4's Today program, they continued along this line when pressed about price rising the moment oil goes up, but stubbornly high when oil comes down. Remember, not a penny has come off gas or electricity - yet when the first wave of oil price rises began in January 2008, gas prices went up by 15% and a further rise of 35% in August. It is now five months on, and British Gas are giving away gas since they have no storage capacity, but the consumer has to pay, Moreover, all sectors of the economy which are linked to oil have seen their prices fall eg food, petrol - but not a single penny of Gas or Electric. Yet their direct debit schemes, after YEARLY assessments more than double your monthly payments without any regard for anyone's ability to pay. In my view, this is a profiteering scam, and the beneficiaries are the private owners of what should be public enterprise. END OF UPDATE --------------- --------------- --------------- --------------- ------- --------------- ----------- British Gas - part of Centrica ...

Bell Direct 11/11/2008

Ding Dong, Bell Direct

Bell Direct Bell Direct is an insurance company part of the Admiral Group offering insuring services Service Naturally if you are looking for car insurance you would shop around to look for the cheapest deal. In my opinion the greatest thing the Bell offered when calling around was a complete comprehensive detail of the facts in a highly commendable manner. The only downsite was they use 0870 or 0844 numbers which aren't exactly cheap. But generally I found the staff very useful. Price Bell, are cheap and offer good invitation prices with perks thrown in. Except, I found that whatever promotion to get you to sign up is getting a cheap quote, that cheap policy does not last. And they are cheap to under 25's, the odd penalty points and non- NCB's compared to competitors. When I first took out a policy, they were efficient and cheap offering monthly instalments or pay in full. Policies Policies are the usual straightforward underwritten car insurance. That is 3rd Party and Comprehensive. Provided you do not make a claim or incur penalty points you tend to get a good deal especially if you take out legal and personal assisstance. I have had both 3rd party and fully comprehensive insurance with them and generally have been impressed by the clear and concise places of reference for claims and procedures. All your documents are all in one pack ie certificate, schedule, and othe information. One of their policies is that they have is their 10 month accelerator policy ie giving ...

Panasonic TH-42PZ800B 15/10/2008

Panasonic Plasma TV - 42 inch Viera One Glass

Panasonic TH-42PZ800B When looking for TV's these days, it helps to have research done as what the TV's are all about these days, what you get for your money, and how technically minded you are, Today, you either get Plasma or LCD with most of the old Cathode Ray Tubes(CRTs) phased out. One such model is PZ800B model 42 inch made by Panasonic. This range of TV is claimed to be the top of the award winning VIERA range from Panasonic. If you do not want to comprimise on quality, then believe this is the TV you want to go for. SIZE This model is 42 inch and also available in 50 inch. So when choosing any TV, make sure it fits! Unless of course you hang with a wall bracket on the wall. APPEARANCE Panasonic call this design 'one sheet of glass' and boy you can really appreciate it when you place it on the purpose built stand, where it appears extremely thin. For this purpose, it can go flat against the wall if need be, making it look like a stunning decoration piece as well as a TV. One of the key features of this Plasma TV, is that you can play HD images directly from an SD card reader built in. So if you have full HD on a card, you can easily reproduce this. FULL HD 1080p One thing in all TV's to be noted is the difference between FULL HD 1080p and HD ready and upscaling. True HD is 1080p, HD ready is 720p upscaled to 1080i. But you can never get the same quality. This TV, comes with full HD 1080p capabilities, suitable for watching Blue-ray or true HD 1080p broadcasts at the ...

Tresemme Vitamin E Moisture Rich Shampoo 29/09/2008

Salon hair, Tresemme Moisture Rich

Tresemme Vitamin E Moisture Rich Shampoo Tresemme is a UK brand founded by stylist Alberto Culver, himself working on hair for over 40 years. Tresemme have advertised continually for 'Salon hair' - so I gave it a go. ''Tresseme Moisture Rich Shampoo.'' After many attempts at finding the right shampoo, (vidal Sasoon, H&S, Timotei, Johnsons etc,) we thought this a go. I often used to have dry flaky hair and often dandruff to boot. This was caused by the relative drying of my scalp. Head and Shoulders effect was short-lived, dandruff came back after a few months. ''Size of Bottle/price'' First thing that strikes you compared to many other products is the design of the bottle - its huge (900ml) for a £3.99 price - that is amazing value for money. Moreover, Asda and Tesco have at times been selling this product at 2 for £5 - so naturally I was tempted to see what was all fhe fuss about. ''First Purchase'' It was from Asda, about 2yrs ago, yes at the 2 for £5 price. I bought the moisture rich shampoo with vitamin E and a conditioner. Boy it lasted months! ''First use'' Both myself and my wife tried the shampoo. Immediately my hair was feeling much softer and less itchy. My wife also expressed similar sentiments - and she has long black hair, which after one wash, she felt it was really clean. Then applying the conditioner, my wife's hair was really professional looking - as if she really did step out of the salon. When I put my fingers through her hair, it was just really gentle and soft with ...

Dyson DC 22 Allergy 25/09/2008

Not clean with out DYSON DC22

Dyson DC 22 Allergy Dyson, ahh, what can I say? We owe alot to James Dyson the founder of these beautifully engineered machines. This guy has developed products worth over £3bn dollars. Whenever I thought of Dyson vacuum cleaners 10years ago, I used to think, fancy colours, pricey and a good reputation. Nothings changed then and hence 10 years on I will review the DC22 Allergy. The first thing you notice about this little machine is how little it actually is. You wonder how the technology actually fits in the machine. TOOLS It comes with 2 extra tools - one for cleaning sofas and larger raised areas, and the other a longer tool with a brush attachment for curtains, siderailings and other hard to reach places. With the telescopic holder you can literally hoover the ceiling! STANDARD TOOL AND HOSE One of the brilliances of this machine is the super flat head tool which connects to the main telescopic handle. When you switch on the machine the first you notice is that when holding the handle, you can hardly move it! Such is the power, it literally sticks to a flat carpet, and if you hold it upright with the head vertically below, it will not be possible to move. For ease, you have to vacuum at least at 45 degree angle depending of course how tall you are. However, if the head is sticking, there is an air button which releases the power and allows the head to move more freely. You get used to playing with this. QUALITY OF PERFORMANCE Well, I have just mentioned how it ...

Ofwat 25/09/2008

Regular water is so irregular

Ofwat Since I am passionate about services provided to the people, I thought I'd stumble upon writing about (following on from my earlier Severn Trent review) the Water Services Regulations Authority or OFWAT. Before, I go into this, I was actually suprised that a review had not been written about this government body set in 1989 to protect us from the 10 monopolies and their natural practies that may entail since the privatisation of Water itself from the safety of the taxpayer. But when you dig into OFWAT itself, then one realises, in my opinion why possibly this body is not what it seems. OFWAT Water Services Regulations Authority, set up in 1989 as a government body to protect the consumer interest from the monopoly practices set up by the 10 private firms created as a result of privatisation. These were different to the 'water only' companies which provided water services privately before 1989, but not dealing with sewarage or other aspects of water. Up until April 2006, regulatory powers rested with the Director General of Water Services. The 'office' from which he/she worked was known as Office of Water Services - hence the abbreviated name OFWAT. After April 2006, the Director was replaced by the Water Services Regulation Authority hence the Office was disbanded but OFWAT is still used. Ofwat is the body which monitors prices charged by the companies and has a board of around 9 members. These people carry out reviews on pricing and structure of the ...

Rhyl (Wales) 04/09/2008

Rhyl, brings back memories

Rhyl (Wales) Rhyl has many memories from my childhood since I have been back there as long I can remember. Its living population is around 25,000 and this can climb (at least it used to) over 100,000 in the summer tourist season. It is a coastal town on the North Wales coast and has neighbouring towns of Prestatyn to the East and Kinmel Bay, Towyn and Abergele to the West. These are all popular tourist attractions. SHOPPING In the very old days- early eighties, Rhyl had a drive through high street where you could park in the town and shop in the usual high street shops. Nothing unusual here - except when the built the White Rose Shopping centre and the pedestrisation of the high street. This greatly improved the shopping experience and attracted bigger names to Rhyl such as Currys, and Dixons (remember them) as well as expansions of Woolworth's and other High street retailers. The high street itself opens on one (north) end on to the promenade and towards the beach, whilst to the South is 'old Rhyl' including the Apollo cinema where the original Back to the Future and ET are some films I have seen there. THE BEACH FRONT If you were to drive from East to West along the coast road, the attractions are like a minature version of Blackpool except there is no pier and no spikey tower. However, there is a lift tower which is like an revolving lift capsule which is the tallest structure on the North Wales coast. On a clear day you can see Blackpool tower and even the Isle of ...

Kwik-Fit Tyre & Exhaust Centres 23/08/2008

Kwik Fit misfit

Kwik-Fit Tyre & Exhaust Centres Kwik fit with their signs and glorious advertising 'you can't get better than a Kwik fit fitter'- you'd think well, I must give them a try, because one of the beauties of Kwik Fit is that they are literally everywhere, yes literally everywhere. Last count there were at least 600 of them around the country. An attractive proposition if your looking for a garage. Or is it? Kwit Fit, founded by Tom Farmer, and its first centre opened in Edinburgh in 1971. In 1999 it was bought by the Ford Motor Company for a cool £1bn only to be sold in 2002 to CVC Capital Partners and again in 2005 to the French company PAI Partners. Kwik Fit prides itself on customer service, you notice this on their flyers which reads 'customer satisfaction' but with satisfaction struck through and replaced by 'delight' above. Question is, how far is this true? Certainly, the availability of garages are not an issue. I live in North Birmingham, and I know there is one in Great Barr, Sheldon, Erdington, Walsall, Perry Barr etc. But is this enough? Also, some of the setups are not very busy while some are busy. SETUP Kwik fit generally do tyres, brakes, MOT's, servicing, exhausts, batteries and other bits and pieces. Only some of the large garages, do the MOT. There is generally 'waiting area' with sofa type seating with a drinks machine and toilet facilities and friendly staff. This clearly adds to the atmosphere of the 'feel good' factor. And staff are most certainly trained to capitalise on ...

Tesco (Shop) 21/08/2008

Tesco rhymes with Al-Fresco (lilly allen)

Tesco (Shop) Tesco, the supermarket we all know, and its British! Jack Cohen is the founder of this great company back in 1919 when he sold surplus groceries in the East End of London. The name of course wasn't there, until he came across T.E Stockwell, where a new consignment of tea was labelled. Hence TESCO name was created via this partnership, TES(tockwell) and CO(hen) formed the name. In Burntwood, Edgeware North London, came the first store in 1929. By 1947 it floated on the stock Exchange, and opened its first supermarket in 1956 in Maldon. In the 1950's and 1960' Tesco grew, it tookover many smaller retailers such as 70 Williamsons stores, Harrow stores and many others. Jack Cohen signed up to the Green Shields stamps in 1963, but was adament on his piling it high and selling cheap strategy which invetibaly gave Tesco a low quality 'in your face' cheap market.. Jack Cohen finally resigned in 1973 and replaced as Chairman by his son in law, Leslie Porter who redesigned the strategy, Porter had realised that Tesco needed to move forward and was 'stuck' in some old values. By 1977, operation checkout and the phasing out of Green Shield stamps was implemented, Buying was now done centrally and price reductions similar across all stores. This resulted in Tesco gaining a market share of 4%. In the 80's and 90's Tesco continued its march on for acquisitions, many of them hostile, but by doing so created a network stragically placed across the country. For example, in 2006, ...

Severn Trent Water 09/08/2008

Severn Trent - the water purer than the company

Severn Trent Water Severn Trent Water is one of ten privatised water companies supplying water in the UK. It was was the Water Act of 1973 which created Severn Trent from the amalgamation of at least 25 publc authorities incuding Birmingham and Nottingham water boards. It supplies water to 8 million plus people and is regulated by OFWAT. In 2005, it was ordered to repay £4m back to customers for over-charging. Further fraud investigations and fraud allegations and substantial fines have followed. The company showed its better side when during the floods of 2007, it actively placed bowsers, in local areas. It currently operates 11 resevoirs. It employs over 12000 people and a turnover of £1.48billon, netting £269 million as after tax profits. However, like the figures above suggest, obscene amount of money is made by the company, yet it increases its water bill, both metered and unmetered by 6% on average. This is higher than the majority of the council tax increases who are required to alot more than deal with water. So it is beyond me how these increases are justified when clearly the leaks and other problems have not been resolved and we still have huge profits made by this company. The problem is the monopoly status of Severn Trent. For example, they will send a bill out in six month intervals and expect you to pay all of it within 10 days of the date of the letter! When I questioned this to them, they referred me to the law and how credit might be affected if you don't pay on ...

Philips 28PW9525 07/08/2008

Philips TV

Philips 28PW9525 Ahh Phillips CRT TVs were one of the best of their kind, in both picture quality and sound. Picture is all important to me and other than Pioneer and Panasonic modern LCD/Plasmas, not many others have reached the picture quality standard as the old CRT TV's did. However, this is superseded by Blu-ray and true HD for obvious reasons. You can connect external sound to it but you would not be able to use Phillip's own sound circuitry to control the volume unless it is a Philips brand. Motion and crispness of picture is second to none, with no flicker, it seemlesses plays documentaries at excellent detail. Add to this 100hz technology and possibly Phillips pixel plus, you have an excellent TV which, in my view, lasts and perfoms better than modern LCDs. Nevertheless, it is a great buy, and great to watvh in the comfort of your own home. Features: Pixel plus (on specific models) - enhances the picture by increasing the pixels by 33% creating sharper cleary pictures. 100hz - flicker free Dolby digital, virtual 3d surround and auto volume level as well as graphic equaliser. Dynamic motion - for more smoother feel to movies. Dynamic contrast : compensates the lighting conditions of the room to adjust the picture accordingly This is a great TV of its time, and if you are not fashion conscious or even concerned of HD at this stage, then this offers a basic good value for money plus a brilliant picture to boot. Remember, with the push on HD and large LCDs/plasmas ... 07/08/2008

Expert exceptionale Martin Lewis Martin Lewis - the moneysaving expert. What a man. I first heard of this site on the Jeremy Vine show on Radio 2 where he has a regular Friday after 1pm slot called 'Your Money or Your Life'. What strikes you first about Martin is how quick off the mark he is. Whether it be credit cards, IVA's, mortgages, utilities, savings accounts, you name it he is there. One of the biggest pushes by him and his website was the aid he gave to the snowball of claims which developed regarding bank charges. In many ways his team led the payback which ultimately led to a referral to the Office of Fair Trading. Bascially, banks had been charging customers typically £35 plus for unauthorised overdrawings or other charges. Under an old law, this was deemed to be unfair by Martin. So he tested this with advising members to try claim charges after some members reported success. After realising that banks would pay the full amount rather than go to court, Martin and his team went full throttle for everyone to do the same thing. This eventually led to a court cases which the banks lost. The Website This has all you can think of as far as finance is concerned. However, this is no price comparison site. It looks at all aspects of finance and for the sole purpose of saving you money. For example, credit cards - these are complicated with hidden charges, the website explains away most of these eg cash withdrawals, balance transfers, interest payments etc. The same is true for loans and it ...

Argos (Shop) 05/08/2008

Why Shop for it ARGOS it?

Argos (Shop) Argos is the largest general-goods retailer in the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland with over 700 stores. It's uniqueness is apparent amongst major retailers in the U.K. because simply its method of displaying goods to customers is via a catalogue. Browsing through the Argos catalogue, selecting the items to purchase, paying for the items, and then collecting the items from the in-store collection desk or have the item delivered to their home are the general standards of sellng. Argos owns several brands including Elizabeth Duke, Mikomi and many others. Argos began life as the Green Shields Stamps catalogue which rebranded to Argos in 1973. It started with 1000 employees. In 1979 it was bought by BAT for £32million. By 1980, Elizabeth Duke was born, named after the Director's wife, and became the 4th largest jewellery retailer in the UK. Its main feature is the catalogue - everthing it sells is in there. They are published twice a year and in 2006 Argos Home was introduced as a separate catalogue. The catalogues are complemented with flyers and various promotional offers via mini catalogues in store. There is also taken into account the 200 Argos Extra stores, which tend to have all of the equipment of the smaller stores but a wider, larger range. At one time, the size of the catalogues used to be different reflecting the larger product range of the Extra stores. ie Extra store's items were not in smaller stores catalogues. This is changed now, with a ...

Microsoft Xbox 360 Elite 04/08/2008

Xbox 360 elite

Microsoft Xbox 360 Elite Description The Xbox 360 Elite is the premier Xbox 360 console package coming with a massive 120GB hard drive, a HDMI port, and HDMI cable, all with a premium black finish. It also includes a black wireless controller and a black Xbox LIVE headset. Incredibably this Xbox 360 Elite has enough space for a whole library of Xbox LIVE Arcade games as well as downloadable high-definition TV shows, movies, music, and all the other content available from Xbox LIVE Marketplace. Xbox 360 Elite console: The console is equipped with an HDMI port, HDMI cable, a black wireless controller and black Xbox LIVE headset. It also comes with three powerful core processors, 16:9 cinematic aspect ratio, anti-aliasing for smooth textures, full surround sound, and DVD playback with upscaling capabilities right outof the box. The huge 120GB detachable hard drive allows gamers to save their games and store television shows, movies, music, pictures, trailers, extra game levels, demos and other content available from Xbox LIVE Marketplace. You could buy this seprately if you wished. The hard drive is a major incentive to buy this product. Xbox 360 Wireless Controller (black): The sleek black finish of this high-performance wireless controller matches the style of the Elite Console. It has a range of up to 30 feet and a battery life of 30 hours on two AA batteries. Neat in design and can be utilised in a large room with a large TV easily Xbox 360 headset (black): This headset allows you ...

SKY HD BOX 31/07/2008

SKY HD, true High Def or not?

SKY HD BOX High definition by sky. Well you wouldn't expect anything from Sky since they usually at the forefront of new technology. One of the reasons why Sky is as big as it is is because there is very little satellite competition which has a developed, almost teresstial standard. Naturally, HD would come easily for SKY. But has it? THE BROADCAST Let's be clear - it is not cheap to upgrade to HD in the first place, but before we get into that, is SKY HD, truly HD? For all intents and purposes, it is potentially a great picture with the right equipment to receive and you will immediately notice the difference on SKY HD channels. But, this is the big but, SKY broadcasts on 1080i, a somewhat poorer version of the true HD of 1080p. It actually upscales the 720p HD ready to mimic the true HD. So as technology moves forward, you have to buy basic equipment making the advanced feature on your TV redundant. Moreover, if you try watching normal channels with SKY HD on a HD TV, the downscaling is very notable when comparing with either the CRT's or even the freesat pictures. THE EQUIPMENT In any HD scenario, the TV is important as well as the HDMI cables. But SKY HD, cannot reproduce to the quality of say a Blue Ray simply because of the nature of the broadcast. For example, if you were to buy a 1080p latest Panasonic Viera or Samsung Series 6 with contrast ratios of 30000:1 (ie the higher the ratio, the deeper the colours and the more 'real' the picture becomes), you will notice ...
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