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mandyhaley

mandyhaley

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Reviews written

since 30/11/-0001

66

British Airways - BAW 08/03/2003

My favourite airline

British Airways - BAW British Airways markets itself as the “World’s favourite airline”. Having spoken to many frequent travellers, opinion appears to be very much divided. In fact, when you listen to the sentiments expressed, there does not seem to be any middle ground. People either love them or hate them. And what is my opinion? Overall, I “like” them. I would not go as far as to say I “love” them, but I do consider them to be a cut above the rest. I have been fortunate enough to travel Business Class on British Airways to America, which was a wholly pleasurable experience. I have also travelled Business Class on several other airlines, and far prefer British Airways. The standard of service was excellent, and the cabin staff were polite and professional. I have heard some people say that the cabin staff can be “stand-offish”. I disagree. I once travelled on a rival airline where the cabin crew lived up to the cruel nickname “trolley-dollies”. I would not have liked to rely on them in an emergency. Due to my lack of finances and desire to travel as much as I can, it is fair to say that I have a much greater experience of economy class travel. Again, I consider British Airway’s economy class service to be perfectly adequate, and compared to its competitors, one of the better ones. To be honest, I can’t get as excited about travelling economy class. It is much more functional, a means to get me from A to B. To summarise, compared with other airlines, what I like about British ...

Cape Town (South Africa) 06/03/2003

Tips for tourists

Cape Town (South Africa) Last September we visited Cape Town and had a fantastic value for money holiday. South Africa is becoming a popular destination for British tourists, although many people are still put off by its high crime rate, particularly violent crime. We followed the advice we were given, avoided walking at night and returned safely with lovely memories. When we were there, we got over 16 Rand to the pound, so prices were incredibly cheap. Many things cost us less than half of what they would in Britain. There’s so much to do in the area. We spent just over a week there, which to be honest was not long enough. Here’s my suggestion of “must do’s” 1. READ NELSON MANDELA’S “LONG WALK TO FREEDOM” This is a moving account of Nelson Mandela’s life, the struggle against apartheid and his hopes for South Africa in the future. I recommend that you read this before you leave the UK, or on the aeroplane. 2. VISIT ROBBEN ISLAND This, of course, houses the prison where Nelson Mandela spent a significant amount of his time. It is now a tourist attraction, and visitors are shown around by former political prisoners. This provides an interesting insight, as you actually get to see inside the prison and hear first-hand accounts of prisoners’ lives. You cannot help but be moved by their experiences. And, if you’ve already read Nelson Mandela’s book, your visit will be more poignant. You can even stand inside his former cell. I recommend that you book beforehand, as it is a popular trip, and ...

Goldfish Accounts 11/01/2003

You have to be QUICK

Goldfish Accounts Two months ago, I received the usual assortment of leaflets with my Goldfish card statement. One immediately caught my eye – details of the new Goldfish savings account, offering interest rates up to 4.33% AER (Annual equivalent rate). Since I am only getting 4% on my Egg savings account (see my earlier opinion for more details), I decided that Goldfish was worth a closer look. However, I encountered a few teething problems when I tried to obtain more information online. Goldfish were in the process of updating their web site, and I initially had difficulties finding the relevant part of the site. However, I persevered and eventually managed to find the application form. This was easy enough to fill in (although fairly time-consuming), and asked the usual assortment of questions. Security is controlled by a customer number (given to you by Goldfish) and a pass number (a six digit number that you create yourself). All in all, the process took around 10 minutes, but because my husband and I wanted a joint account, we had to go through the same thing again for the second applicant. Once the information was received by Goldfish, we were sent e-mails confirming our Customer Number. So far, so good.... The final stage of the process was to print a page for signature and to send two proofs of identification to the “freepost” address given. I believe this is standard practice when new accounts are opened, and is part of the money laundering rules. However, this is ...

Avis Rent A Car 14/12/2002

Want to avoid being overcharged

Avis Rent A Car Do you want to avoid being overcharged? If the answer to this is “yes”, then read on.... You would think that the price you are quoted for something would be the price you pay, wouldn’t you? Wrong – in the case of car hire from Avis. Let me explain. In September this year we went on holiday to Cape Town in South Africa. We needed to hire a car for 9 days, so I naturally did some research on the internet. I obtained quotes from all the major companies, and Avis came out as one of the cheapest. I was quoted 1937 Rand (approximately £129) for the total cost of the hire. I confirmed that this included insurance, VAT, etc.. Because Avis is a well-known company with a good reputation, I decided to make the booking. The booking form on the internet was easy to use, and I received an e-mail confirmation of my booking the same day. I was given a booking reference number which I could use to cancel the booking if I needed to. Collecting the car at the airport was a breeze. The collection point was next to the terminal building, the staff were extremely helpful and friendly, and within a few minutes we were on our way. They even knew the guest house where we were staying and provided excellent directions. The car was what we had ordered, and was spotlessly clean inside and out. We had no problems during our rental, and dropping it back at the end was even easier than collecting it. No complaints, so far. My discontentment started when I received the final invoice ...

Vodafone 18/11/2002

Mobile phones, made easy

Vodafone I am amongst the millions of people who have a mobile phone. Perhaps I am not the best person to write an opinion on a mobile phone company, as I only use mine for occasional calls and emergencies. However, I thought an opinion from a “low-user’s” perspective would be useful for others in a similar position. So, for any of you who are still unsure about mobile phones, read on............... In today’s world it is difficult to imagine life without a telephone. Although I don’t use my mobile very often, it is reassuring to know that it is there when I need it. VODAFONE (in common with the other service providers) gives you two options: A CONTRACT - whereby you sign up for a period (typically twelve months) and pay your monthly bills by direct debit. There is a confusing choice of contracts available, depending on your needs. The advantage is that you will get the telephone handset at a subsidised rate; the disadvantage for a “low-user” is that you will more than pay for this in the long-run. PAY AS YOU TALK - whereby you prepay for your calls by putting credit on your phone. Again, there are a number of choices available, but the basic idea is the same. You pay in advance for your calls which means you can control costs, but the disadvantage is that you could find yourself cut off if you suddenly run out of credit. As I said at the beginning, this opinion is for those who like me make very few calls. I am on the PAY AS YOU TALK ALL CALLS tariff, which I am ...

Rowntree's Fruit Pastilles 13/11/2002

I'd LOVE to chew

Rowntree's Fruit Pastilles The TV advert claims that you cannot put a Rowntrees Fruit Pastille in your mouth without chewing. When I was a child, I tried many times, but on every occasion I failed miserably. Although I told myself the sweet would last longer if I didn’t chew it, I couldn’t resist. Still, it was fun trying, because fruit pastilles were amongst my favourite sweets. Correction, they probably WERE my favourites, particularly as I grew up and left behind the “penny sweets”.. I may be cheating a little for writing this opinion, but I must confess that I haven’t had a fruit pastille in years. Every now and then I get a real craving, but choose not to have one. Why not? Unfortunately, like many sweets, particularly chewy ones, they contain gelatine. As a vegetarian I avoid this wherever possible (as it is made from animal bones). How I wish that more sweets (and fruit pastilles in particular) could be made with a vegetarian substitute! Vegetarianism has made its mark on so many other parts of the supermarket shelves, but not confectionery. Sadly, this is something that the confectionery manufacturers are doing their best to ignore. Anyway, enough of my protest, and back to the opinion! The pastilles are made by Rowntrees (now part of Nestles) and are available in different sizes: ~~ a tube of sweets that are just over a centimetre in diameter (costing around 30p) – the most common way of buying them ~~ a smaller version of above (containing about 5 sweets) available as part ...

Pears Soap 12/10/2002

UPDATED More than a soap

Pears Soap When I was a child, soap wasn’t very interesting topic to me – let’s face it, what child is interested in soap? To be honest, I regarded it as a functional product, that I was more interested in avoiding using. I don’t remember there being a wide choice of products available to consumers, although perhaps due to the power of advertising many of the brand names still stick in my mind. A real treat for me in those days was Pears. It was very cleverly marketed and effectively ran beauty contests for children. These “Miss Pears” competitions used to be won by extremely pretty children, who, so the advertisers would have us believe, used Pears soap to maintain their beautiful complexions. Perhaps in order to enter the competition you had to sign a declaration that your child did actually use the product – I can’t remember. We didn’t always buy it (perhaps that’s why I wasn’t a Miss Pears), but when we did I was always fascinated by its colour and smell. I used to spend ages holding it up to the light. I also loved its oval shape, which was much more interesting that an oblong bar of soap. Today, even though I’m grown up, Pears soap is still a particular favourite of mine. Perhaps it still has something to do with the beautiful colour and smell, or am I just being nostalgic? Nevertheless, it is a soap I can highly recommend. It does everything you expect a soap to do: it cleans thoroughly, doesn’t dry your skin and has a nice, light fragrance. It is good value for ...

Egg Accounts 14/09/2002

Want to make some money

Egg Accounts - Do you have access to the internet (I assume the answer to this is “yes” as you’re reading this online)? - Do you want to earn a good interest rate on your savings? - Do you want a guarantee that this rate will remain competitive? - Do you want a savings account that’s easy to use? - Do you want your savings to be safe with a name you can trust? If the answer to all those questions is “yes” I recommend that you open a savings account with Egg, which is owned by Prudential. They have an internet savings account, which currently pays 4% gross interest per annum (or 3.2% if you’re a basic rate tax payer, or 2.4% if you’re a higher rate tax payer). You only need £1 to open the account, so there’s no excuse not to start saving. The good news is that the interest rate on this account is guaranteed to match the bank base rate until 31 December 2007. This is a valuable guarantee as it means that interest rates on this account will remain extremely competitive, as savings rates are usually below base rates. (That’s how banks make their money – by charging borrowers a rate above base, and giving savers a rate below base.) Opening an account is easy. You simply fill in the form online (on a secure part of the site). It is easy to complete, and doesn’t take long. You then set up some simple security details that enable you to access your account at any time. PAYING IN Paying money into your account is easy. There are a number of ways you can do this: - by debit ...

Goldfish Card 30/07/2002

UPDATED We get along swimmingly

Goldfish Card I’ve had my Goldfish credit card now for several years, and have found it to offer the second-best return. It gives you the equivalent of 1% back on what you spend, although admittedly not in cash. As an aside, the GM Visa card is still the best value credit card for rebates, giving you up to 6% of your spend back off a Vauxhall. If you want to know more about this, please see my earlier opinion. Anyway, back to the Goldfish card – here are the important facts… · it’s available as either a Visa or a Mastercard. · it’s FREE · you get 1% back in rebate points which you can redeem for Boots gift vouchers, money off your British Gas Bill, and a wide variety of other useful items. · you pay no interest if you repay in full 25 days after your statement date, otherwise the interest rate is currently 1.24% per month (15.9% APR) · cash advances are subject to a cash handling fee of 1.5% (minimum £2.50) · you can pay by post, at a bank, online or by direct debit To find out more, call their customer services on 08705 111 444 or visit the website www.goldfish.com. The website is really easy to use, and once you’ve registered you can view your account on line, make payments, redeem you points, etc.. This facility is very handy as you can monitor your expenditure throughout the month. I quite often have foreign currency transactions, and I find it useful to know exactly what the exchange rate is. The card is widely accepted, and it is nice to know that I ...

Simple Exfoliating Body Wash 22/07/2002

Exfoliate, exfoliate, exfoliate

Simple Exfoliating Body Wash Now that summer is well and truly upon us (and we’ve even had some sunshine as a treat to prove it), I’m very conscious of the need to improve texture of my skin. I recently tried Simple Exfoliating Body Wash, which in addition to being a shower gel is also a gentle exfoliator. Anyone who is sensible and chooses fake tan instead of risking skin cancer will tell you that it is important to exfoliate your skin before applying. I have used this product before applying my tan and it has proved to be an excellent preparation. However, even if you are just looking for a good shower gel to refresh and rejuvenate your skin, I highly recommend this product. It is easy to use, and is gentle enough to use every time you shower. I tend to have at least one shower a day, and have been using it consistently for several weeks. I have already noticed an improvement in the texture of my skin. It removes any dry flaking skin, and leaves your skin very smooth afterwards. Who is it suitable for? I would say all skin types, particularly as it is a “simple” product. It is likely that those with dry skins will see the greatest benefit from using the product. It is not really a shower gel aimed at children, and may be a little rough for their delicate skin. Is it messy to use? No, not at all. You simply use it as you would any “normal” shower gel. Does it hurt? No, it is a very gentle product, and is much kinder to your skin than a salt loofah! What is the cost? Around £2.49 ...

Scholl Deep Moisturiser 30/06/2002

Summer feet

Scholl Deep Moisturiser Now that summer's well and truly here (well at least according to the calendar if not the weather!), my attention has turned to my feet. After wearing shoes during the winter, I noticed that my feet needed a little attention. Wanting to try what I thought would be the best, I bought a tube of Scholl Deep Moisturiser. And, I'm pleased to report it did not disappoint. After less than a week of use (at night) I really noticed the difference. Now my feet are definitely much softer, and there is no more dry skin or cracked heels for me. It is very easy to use. It absorbs quickly and is not at all messy. Other advantages: It has a nice pleasant smell - not too strong, but leaving your feet refreshed. It's fairly rich, so you don't need to use lots of it. The only downside is its price, as you are paying several pounds for the Scholl name (and quality). But, I do believe that you get what you pay for, and it is MUCH better than the supermarkets/chemists own label versions. ...

Loot 30/06/2002

UPDATED Making money with Loot

Loot UPDATED JUNE 2002 When we lived in London we used Loot to sell unwanted items. We managed to sell all sorts of things, from cars to computers. Everything we had for sale sold within a matter of weeks. It was very convenient and FREE. We moved away from London 4 years ago, and thought that it would be the end of this! Fortunately we discovered Loot.com, which is the on-line version. So how does this work? In order to advertise on Loot, you need to register. This is free and simple, and similar to many of the other on-line registration forms. Your e-mail address is your username, and you are given a password. Of course, if you only want to browse advertisements, you don’t need to register. Once you have registered, you can log into the site. This enables you to place an advert. There are a number of stages to this: 1. Chose whether you want to place a FreeAd or a free AuctionAd. State whether it is an item offered for sale or wanted. All adverts will appear on-line, but you need to decide whether you also want it to appear in a printed version, and if so, which. 2. Write a heading for your advert (maximum 3 words) and the text. You can then state the price, and choose whether you want the price to be as stated, or nearest offer, etc. You can then select whether you want your telephone number and e-mail address in the advert. You are asked to give a contact number (which doesn’t appear in the advert) in case of query. 3. You are then shown a preview of your ...

Member Advice on Money 30/06/2002

Money, money, money

Member Advice on Money UPDATED JUNE 2002 Anyone who purchases travellers cheques nowadays is wasting their money. There are many more convenient (and cheaper!) ways of obtaining holiday money. I have travelled to many countries in the world, armed only with a credit and debit card, and have had no problems obtaining foreign currency. Here are my suggestions... The cheapest way to withdraw money is from your own bank current account. Banking is changing rapidly, and many banks now allow you to withdraw foreign currency from your current (or even savings) account. Make sure you have a PIN before you travel. I bank with Citibank, and I can withdraw cash from cashpoints worldwide. This is commission free, and at the market exchange rate. (I highly recommend Citibank - see my earlier review). By doing this, not only do I get the best exchange rate available, I also leave my money in my current account until I need it (earning an albeit very small amount of interest!). The next source I would consider is to take a cash advance from a credit card (preferably one where you always pay the balance in full). You will be charged a handling fee (usually a minimum of £1.50), but this again is cheaper than many commissions paid to a UK bank when buying currency. Again, you will probably get a better exchange rate. Finally, I would take sterling (or US$) in cash and change it at a local bank or hotel as needed. I suggest you take clean notes in small denominations. I, personally, don't worry ...

thisismoney.com 16/12/2001

UPDATED - All you need to know about money

thisismoney.com If you want to gain quick and easy access to probably all the financial information you’ll need (explained in easy to understand language), I recommend that you visit thisismoney.com. I have been using the site for a number of months, and it is one of my favourites. I have tried many other financial sites, but keep coming back to thisismoney.com. This is probably because it is aimed at the private individual, and contains information of use to most households. The front page contains financial headlines with links if you wish to read more on a particular story. There is also a money watch table which shows at a glance the latest FTSE 100 and share prices for key shares. The site is very easy to navigate around, and is divided into the following categories: News and markets Savings and investments Mortgages and homes Pensions Insurance Taxes Small Business Borrow and spend Ask the experts Power portfolio Message boards Advice bank It is part of the Daily Mail, The Mail on Sunday, Evening Standard and Metro media group. In practical terms, this means that you can log onto the site using an existing user name if you have already registered with any of these sites. So what’s the benefit of logging in? The answer is probably the most useful part of the site if you’re a shareholder. Thisismoney’s power portfolio allows you to keep track of your shares and unit trusts. Setting up a portfolio is very easy, and you can amend it at any time. You can ...

Sally Hansen Triple Strong 16/12/2001

UPDATED - A mega product

Sally Hansen Triple Strong I finally bit the bullet and paid £5.95 for a bottle of Sally Hansen’s mega shine. I had seen an advertisement for it in a magazine, and was very tempted to try it, but had been put off slightly by the price. The practical side of me also recognised that I already have a cupboard full of partly used bottles of nail polish and products, so I shouldn’t really add to it. However, mega shine is different. It claims to protect your nail polish by providing a mirror shiny top coat, which lasts for up to 8 days. I must say that I agree! I used it almost a week ago and am very impressed with the results. My nails have a smooth and shiny surface, which HAS DEFINITELY prevented my nail polish from chipping. This may sound like an advertising promotion, but I have found mega shine to be the best top coat product I have tried. My nails still look as good as when I painted them, which is exactly what I wanted! It is very easy to apply (you can even apply it over wet nail polish), and it dries quite quickly. The instructions say you can apply either one or two coats - I found one to be sufficient. You can also reapply it between manicures if necessary. It’s available in most major drugstores - I bought mine from Boots. However, I have not seen it any cheaper than £5.95. In conclusion, I find this to be an excellent product that does exactly what it claims to do. Whilst it is not necessarily the cheapest product available, it is certainly good value for money as it means ...
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