Tesco doing more than their “Fare Share”?

Well far be it for me to praise Tesco! The Complaining Cow’s history with Tesco. But give them their due here and it’s about time other supermarkets followed suit, Tesco has been doing this for years but this year I think it is back bigger and better than before.

Volunteer with donations for foodbanksFrom today (30th November) until the 2nd December, Tesco is inviting people to shop for Trussell Trust and Fare Share. If you are in store, doing your shopping, add a few things in for the foodbanks and Tesco will distribute everything. But better than that they are actually topping up the donations by 20%. That will be in money to help support the organisations with more food purchases and running costs for the year.

More from Tesco about it here.

Lindsay Boswell, Chief Executive of FareShare said:
“Tesco has demonstrated real leadership in tackling food waste. Over and above the large volumes of surplus food they provide us, Tesco should be applauded for how they have embedded FareShare into all aspects their business – from distribution centres to stores and fresh food to ambient. Tesco’s level of commitment to using their surplus food for social good, has helped provide millions of meals for vulnerable people across the UK.”

Reverse Advent calendar
You may have been involved in the Reverse Advent calendar campaign? It’s not too late you can join in this too. That link will give you more background on the need for foodbanks and ideas for how you can help and information on the variety of things you can buy.

Increasing donations at no cost to you
To make your donation go even further, sign up to the shopping apps Shopmium* and Checkoutsmart. Install these apps on your phone and next time you go shopping have a look to see what is available for free or discount. (You buy the items then send picture of barcode and receipt and get refund). It’s to encourage you to buy more obviously! But items change regularly and you’ll always be able to find something you can get for free. Get these in addition to anything else you do and pop them in the Tesco trolley and it will be worth that 20% more! I have been getting lots of babyfood for free and donating that! Imagine if we all did that and Tesco gave a further 20%!

Check out Zeek* before you shop. You can sell and buy gift cards with a discount on Zeek for any retailer in store and online. Sometimes you can get supermarkets so worth a look and indeed for any of your other Christmas shopping.

*These are affiliate links which means that if you go through and sign up you and I will get £3- 5 and when you shop at Tesco in this short period, foodbanks gain some extra items and Tesco will lose a few pounds with everything you buy.

Wins all round!


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Think before you sign – top 10 tips for saving on subscriptions

Think before you sign

Don’t fritter away your hard-earned money on unwanted subscriptions

top 10 tips for savings on subscriptions with picture of contract

It’s National Consumer Week and this year’s theme is “Before You Sign.”

Citizens Advice research revealed this week that in just three months consumers spent an average of £160 on unwanted subscriptions, including gym memberships, television and online streaming services. The consumer organisation also found that between June and August 2017, 9 out of 10 people were initially refused by companies when cancellation of an unwanted subscription was requested.

So what are your rights and the best ways to deal with these subscriptions? Here are my top 10 tips.

1) Be aware of the “free” and very cheap trials of subscriptions. Most, if not all, will ask for payment information when you sign up. Set yourself a reminder to cancel a day before the first payment is due.

2) Check the cancellation rights before signing up to anything but be aware that you may still be able to challenge these in certain circumstances.

3) Under the Consumer Contracts Regulations 2013, you are entitled to a 14 day “cooling off” period, so if you have signed up to something off premises (e.g. online) you can cancel with no penalty.

4) Under the Consumer Rights Act 2015, consumers are protected from unfair contracts. So, for example, if a company says that you must give 6 months’ notice to cancel a subscription, that would be unfair.

5) The Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2014 state that companies must provide accurate and sufficient information for consumers to make a purchasing decision. For a practice to be unfair under these rules, they must harm, or be likely to harm, the economic interests of the average consumer. For example, when a shopper makes a purchasing decision he or she would not have made had he or she been given accurate information.

6) If you are going to sign up to a subscription, try and use Direct Debit where possible. With Direct Debit, a company cannot change the regular payment amount. Using a Direct Debit or credit card is known as a Continuous Payment Authority which can be of varying amounts which can be changed without your consent.

7) When you cancel with the company, also inform your bank to ensure that the subscription payment is cancelled. You will then also be covered by the Direct Debit Guarantee, which ensures a full and immediate refund of the amount paid from your bank or building society if a mistake is made.

8) Check that the site is genuine. The website address should begin with “https”, have a padlock symbol, a full correspondence address (not a PO box number) and any trade logos should be genuine. Also, search the Internet for reviews and check for warning signs like lots of grammatical errors or a domain name that uses a well-known brand/product but isn’t the official website or ends in .net or .org as these are rarely used for online shopping sites. You can also check who registered the domain via the com website.

9) If you want to cancel, do so quickly and in writing so you have evidence. If you are prepared to discuss the matter because you want to haggle for example, telephone helpline numbers cannot cost the consumer more than the basic rate, so no 084 and 087 numbers. If companies do use these then they are in breach of the The Consumer Contract (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013 and Ofcom regulations.

10) When writing to cancel, provide all details of the policy/memberships etc., dates of subscriptions and request that the cancellation is made with immediate effect. Name the laws above and describe how the company is in breach, if relevant.

More at How to challenge terms & conditions (even those you’ve agreed)

Top 20 Tips How to Complain!

How to Complain: The Essential Consumer Guide to Getting Refunds, Redress and Results!


For masses more information, advice, tips, consumer laws and template letters get the GET THE BOOK! How To Complain: The ESSENTIAL Consumer Guide to Getting REFUNDS, Redress and RESULTS!




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The Advent of Folly

Zoella 12 day advent calendar and others and legal rights



The Zoella Advent Calendar has gone on sale, priced at £50.

£50 for crying out loud… Now, to be honest, when I heard about this I had to look her up on Google. She’s a beauty vlogger for teens. Anyway, the cost is ridiculous. Guess what you get for £50? You never will so here’s the list:



candle 130g
cookie cutter x 2
jotter pad
key ring
room spray 30ml
stickers and
a votive)

I thought it was bad enough that it cost £50 when I thought it was 24 or 25 days but it’s only 12! Half a calendar! HALF. Many people have costed out the items and it comes to less than £20 if you bought the items from places like Primark and eBay.

Twitter is an amusing place. Put in #Zoella and there are some very amusing and poignant tweets and masses of them.

Boots is a respected brand. It should have thought twice about this before joining up with Zoella to con, for that is what it is, kids, young people and their parents out of so much money.

Half a calendar
So 12 days huh? Someone can’t count. Or indeed doesn’t understand the word “advent”. The Oxford English dictionary describes it as “The first season of the Church year, leading up to Christmas and including the four preceding Sundays”. (One could argue that other advent calendars with only 24 or 25 days may not have 4 Sundays but actually very few say “December Advent calendar”! So no-one has to start on the 1st December you should actually start on the 1st day of advent. Anyway, I digress…).

But it may be good to share this little idea. Perhaps all the customers of the Zoella advent calendar might like to return theirs with all the contents and demand a refund under the Consumer Rights Act 2015 because it is not as described. It is not an “Advent” calendar. Go on do it and let me know how you get on!

Other advent calendars
Many other advent calendars are available. But see if you can beat the advent calendar at Fortnum and Mason. This gem, priced at £165, plays music when you open each of the doors. But….. it comes unfilled!!

Sad really, seeing the development of commercial advent calendars. (Remember the days when you loved the 24th because that day it was a double door nativity picture?!) Then there’s the WH Smith “calendar of erasers”, an advent calendar filled with rubbers. Just why?

Andy Webb from BeCleverWithYourCash.com asked and hasn’t yet found an answer, although this was my favourite response:

I suppose some little kids love collecting them. But everso slightly unimaginative?

Even Greggs are coming out with advent calendars! But the Greggs calendar isn’t filled with yummy chocolates, it’s filled with paper vouchers to exchange for pastries and sausage rolls!

I suppose there is the line “Never miss an opportunity”, but it’s not clear yet whether those vouchers equal more, less or the same as the amount they cost yet! Much as I love pastry and cream cakes and much more so than the next person, do I really want to be encouraged to go to Greggs every day?! The walk won’t burn off the calories!

Really the only good one has to be the Aldi 24 days “bottles of wine” advent calendar for a penny less than Zoella’s half advent calendar. It’s already sold out though…

The advent alternatives
1)    Consider making your own advent calendar for your offspring. You may like to do what we are doing in our household, which is the Reverse advent calendar. It’s a campaign supported by UKMoneybloggers where we put some food or toiletries each day in a box and at the end of the month give it to our local foodbank. Perhaps Boots might like to think about donating a whole load of beauty products and toiletries to all the food banks local to their branches?

2) You could also try Cass Bailey, Frugal Family blogger’s Alternative Christmas Advent Calendar. I absolutely love this idea, It’s about making your own traditions and doing something for yourself/family/friends etc. You can put in your own ideas, it is great. Check it out.

3) I’ve just printed a Kindness calendar from Eileen Adamson Your Money Sorted They are such easy simple little things that are just lovely.

Frankly, I find the rise in beauty product advent calendars and their prices staggering. That’s maybe because I need more than an advent calendar’s worth of products to make me look human. But that aside, I think consumers need to consider very carefully what’s inside these things before buying. Seriously, Google “beauty advent calendars” it’s shocking and in these days when people are struggling to feed their families, sickening. Looking around, it’s clear that Zoella’s isn’t the most expensive, although it may be the poorest value.

One 5 star review of the Zoella product surely has to be sarcasm. SURELY? “So I bought this for my 7 year old daughter and she loves it, she had hours of fun with the star cookie cutter and don’t forget the confetti and its cheap as well really helps a single mother!” Seriously? I’m just donating a box full of Play-Doh stuff to the charity shop, loads of cutters in there, probably cost you a few quid!

Superdrug has excellent reviews on their same priced make up calendar whilst Boots are dreadful! Go look! Lots are being reduced too so clearly aren’t selling well. It took rather a lot of condemnation on social media and the media to get Boots to reduce this one for another reason. Apparently, as of a few hours ago today (14/11/17) Boots responded to the criticism of the calendar:

“We are sorry to hear that the price of the Zoella 12 Days of Christmas Advent                          Calendar has disappointed a number of customers, we always listen to feedback.”

a spokesperson for Boots told Digital Spy. Maybe they thought half price because it is HALF A FLIPPING CALENDAR?!

The Zoella’s advent calendar review
This amused me. If you don’t mind swearing and can sit through an 8 minute long review, this is brilliant. Let it be a lesson to anyone else wanting to rip off kids, young people and their parents! An honest review of everything inside, have a look before you are tempted to buy!

I think I’ve only subscribed to a couple of consumer organisations on Youtube and no-one else. Today I subscribed to JaakMaate‘s channel. His witty sarcasm is right up my street!

My favourite is his review of number 8. Obviously. If you want to take on his idea for number 8 see Tips and if you want to write to the Boots bosses the contact details are here

Zoella response
Here is Zoella’s video response to the criticism. Please don’t torture yourself by watching it all I have set it to go from her response to the criticism of her half advent calendar. You will see that Zoella says that she only had input regarding creativity on “great products” (remember many of these products are available in Primark and Wilko for less than £1) and worked on it for a year and had nothing to do with the pricing. Here are my thoughts on this:

1) She has ownership of the brand name, so why would she allow a contract to go ahead where she has no say in the pricing which reflects on her brand?

2) She’s made quite a bit of money in the past, are we to believe that she doesn’t know how business works?

3) No business, Boots and hers included, would discuss development of a product for a year without talking about projected sales and profits.

So, either Zoella doesn’t have a clue about business and is only making £1 a calendar or her response is just everso slightly disingenuous?

Boots response
I asked Boots to comment on the 12 days and on Zoella’s claims in the above video. Boots failed to comment on this and a spokesperson for it added to the above with only…

“We will be offering the product at half price during our Christmas promotion, where             the calendar will be on sale for £25.00 from Thursday 16th November.

The Zoella lifestyle advent calendar is full of 12 exclusive treats which are all clearly               listed on boots.com and cannot be purchased separately.”

Have you bought her product? Are you happy with it? If so, you must have more money than sense. Hopefully, if you were happy, you are now outraged that not only was she part of a campaign to fleece children, young people and their parents, she is now trying to wriggle her way out of it by pretending she knows nothing about how business works.

Show us the contract, Zoella. Put your not so hard earned cash where your mouth is.

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Make Light Work of Black Friday

Black Friday is coming around again, that day in the calendar which marks the beginning of the Christmas shopping season.

Black Friday is 24th November this year, but are there really bargains to be had? Last year a Which? investigation into Black Friday revealed that 49% of products on offer were actually cheaper in the months before or after Black Friday and the prices it checked last year showed that only 8% of the Black Friday deals were actually the lowest prices. In September Argos was lambasted for its 3 for 2 toy offer where many of the toys worked out cheaper if you bought them the day before.

So how careful do we need to be of Black Friday? Are there really bargains to be had or is it all hype?

1) Write a list! Write down all the things you need to buy. This can include: the people for whom you have to buy presents, possible ideas and a budget. This will help you not go over a budget if you are easily carried away with possible bargains and gives you choices.

2) Do your research. Armed with your list, look up the likely stores for those people/items. Make a list of the prices that you find.

3) Use comparison websites. Do an Internet search on specific items and use sites which will compare prices. You may find that there are other stores which stock the items you are after and some may have a better deal regardless of Black Friday!

4) Get right ahead! Put items in baskets! Go online and put things in baskets and don’t checkout. Make a note of what stores you have done this with! Then when Black Friday comes take a look at all the online baskets and see who has what for the cheapest. This way, not only will you have done all your research but you’ll be ahead of others shopping that day for popular items likely to go out of stock!

5) Black Friday isn’t just about gifts for others! Often people will say it’s only a bargain if you need it. Twaddle. We don’t need half the clothes and shoes etc. that we own, but if we see a pair of boots reduced it makes the purchase far more attractive. So, have an idea of what items you would like for yourself, if they are reduced.

6) Check for further discounts. Internet search your items with phrases like “discount codes” “discount offers” and “vouchers” to see if you can get more discounts. There are a number of sites that provide discount codes for numerous stores.

7) Check out Zeek*. You can buy and sell gift cards on Zeek. Choose from a range of monetary value gift cards for hundreds of stores with varying discounts.

8) Black Friday is not just for Christmas. Many retailers spread their deals over the month and others throughout the year. The idea is that consumers will spend the same amount over a year whether the majority is across all year or concentrated over a few weeks. So don’t just look for bargains on Black Friday. There will be Cyber Monday and places like Amazon have daily deals which also need to be checked. Use the Camel Camel Camel website which is a price tracker that provides price drop alerts and price history for products sold by Amazon.

9) Emails and social media. Sign up to newsletters now. You can always unsubscribe later but often newsletters are the best way to be the first to learn of any discounts and offers. “Like” Facebook pages and follow on Twitter as many retailers will announce their offers and discount codes through these methods too. Follow money bloggers who will frequently share discounts and deals. Join forums and money saving groups if you really want to get everything going and check with others if so-called deals are really deals. You could set up a separate email account for all these emails and then allocate some time each day to look at just the deals!

10) Store versus shops. If you intend to go to the stores on Black Friday take your list with you and check the online prices either with that or on the phone. Then you have the double whammy, as sometimes items are in stock online only or in store only.

11) List upcoming events. Think of future, parties etc. You can pick up some bargain toys for children’s parties that you know you will have in the year and just put them away. (But remember toys will be discounted a lot in the run up to Christmas and after Christmas sales too).

12) Avoid the mobs. Possibly impossible?! Certainly if you are setting out early for certain stores! But this is where you need a) your list so you don’t get carried away and b) to be sure that that store will have items you want. Remember too that offers written on doors are often just a way to get you in and there may be limited stock!

13) Take care on seasonal items. Things like Winter coats are likely to be in the sales and discounted further when retailers want to get rid of their stock and Christmas decorations will still be cheaper after the event!

14) Use Cashback sites. Sites like Topcashback*, Quidco*, Free Fivers*, Kidstart* (Kidstart cashback goes to your nominated child’s bank account). Others that I’ve not used are  Imutual, Give or take and there are others. They all provide cashback when you go through their sites and make purchases from the stores listed. Check them all, as they have different retailers and different percentages! Do this before filling your online baskets so you’re all set to go! Most have apps so you can do this whilst out shopping when you see a bargain and can order and get it delivered instead! Don’t rely on this though as there may be terms and conditions that you miss (such as using vouchers) negating the cashback.

15) Make sure that a promise is a promise. Some places have a price promise which is great. But read the small print! Some stores such as John Lewis won’t match an online price, for example. Others will only match the price if it was on sale that exact same day and most, if not all, will tell you it has to be exactly the same item/bundle. So, exactly the same colour, make, model, free gift, warranty etc. (Although remember your consumer rights provide more protection than any “free warranty”).

16) Check the model. Black Friday is usually good for getting the latest technology, but check the release dates for the next model. Will you still want that ‘phone or laptop if the newer version comes out a week later?

17) Stay up late! If you have done all your preparation, be ready to go online just after midnight on Black Friday morning, so you get your bargains before things go out of stock.

18) Security. Check that the site is secure and bona fide to prevent any fraud. Don’t just click on the first site that comes up in a search engine query unless you’re sure where you’re going.

19) Add ons. A lot of the items may need additional things such as batteries. Don’t get these at the same time, you will more than likely get these cheaper when you do research on that at a later date!

20) Articles. Every so often Google “Black Friday offers 2017”! This will bring up store pages and online newspaper articles which reveal where some of the best bargains are.

Remember your consumer rights are just the same when buying items in the sales.

Should you have need to complain see Top 20 Tips How to Complain!

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Here’s a genuine offer! Get 25% off signed copies with code which will last until the 28th November 2017 BFCOW


*Referral links.  I’ll get a few pounds if you sign up once you’ve made more than whatever their minimum is. (Topcashback is the one I really use and that’s £10) Depending on when you click on this link you should receive a bonus too but that depends on the offer on at the time. You can then use your own referral link and send to friends too! Free money!

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How to challenge terms & conditions (even those you’ve agreed)

The One Show today covers Terms and Conditions. Who reads them? Would you follow them if told?

There are pages and pages of small print. How many of us tick the box that says “Agree to terms and conditions”, only to fall foul later when we need to complain?

The Government thought so too and there was a call for evidence from the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills for consumers to provide feedback regarding their experiences. The open consultation ended on 25 April 2016 but there is still no response. I’ve requested details of when this will be forthcoming but as yet not heard anything.

So what can you do in the meantime if you feel that the terms and conditions you agreed to actually turned out to be unfair? Don’t worry, all is not lost!

Consumer Rights Act 2015 and unfair contracts
The Consumer Rights Act 2015 (CRA) creates a ‘fairness test’ to stop consumers being put at unfair disadvantage. A term is unfair if it tilts the rights and responsibilities between the consumer and the trader too much in favour of the trader. The test is applied by looking at what words are used and how they could be interpreted. It takes into consideration what is being sold, what the other terms of the contract say and all the circumstances at the time the term was agreed. There is an exemption for the essential obligations of contracts – setting the price and describing the main subject matter – provided the wording used is clear and prominent. There is also an exemption for wording that has to be used by law. If you have been misled into making a decision that you would otherwise not have made then the company is in breach of this law.

The Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 (amended 2014) (CPUTRs)

For a practice to be unfair under these rules, they must harm, or be likely to harm, the economic interests of the average consumer. For example, when a shopper makes a purchasing decision he or she would not have made had he or she been given accurate information or not put under unfair pressure to do so.

The regulations prohibit trading practices that are unfair to consumers. There are four different types of practices covered:

A general ban – on conduct below a level which may be expected towards consumers (honest market practice/good faith).

Misleading practices  a practice misleads through the information it contains, or its deceptive presentation, and causes, or is likely to cause, the average consumer to take a different transactional decision specifically; general misleading information, creating confusion with competitors’ products or failing to honour commitments made in a code of conduct.

Aggressive sales techniques using harassment, coercion or undue influence– significantly impairs, or is likely to significantly impair, the average consumer’s freedom of choice or conduct in relation to the product through the use of harassment, coercion or undue influence – and  thereby causes him to take a different transactional decision.

31 specific practices (that would be two long boring pages of  post! It is pretty thorough though and all of them are listed in the book ). 🙂

How to use
Say for example, your mobile ‘phone is constantly losing signal and you can’t use it like any customer would want to, that is a breach of the Consumer Rights Act 2015 because it has not supplied you with services carried out with reasonable skill and care and you have every right to terminate the contract. If however, the company tells you that in the terms and conditions of the contract that you signed, you can’t break a contract early under any circumstances, that’s a breach of the above laws, because they have not kept to their side of the bargain! In fact, the telecoms sector is downright awful for customer service so here is some more advice on them. All you need to know about complaining to telecom providers.

Another example. You were told that you could have a free cup of coffee and cake for giving your email address. You signed up. You had your coffee and cake they then tell you that in the terms and conditions you have to clean the floor. You argue that you didn’t know but they say “It’s in the terms and condition”. Tough. For them. Under the CRA it could be an unfair contract, because cleaning the floor could be considered as worth more in payment than the coffee and cake (maybe it would depend how big the floor was?!) But under the CPUTRs it is a big fat breach. You would argue that you were misled into giving your email address.

When you complain use the Top 20 Tips.

To keep up to date with the latest information about consumer rights sign up to the newsletter. You won’t be bombarded with emails because I can’t be bothered to set up all those automatic weekly things trying to sell you Stuff! I probably only get round to doing a couple a year!


For more information, advice, tips, consumer laws and template letters covering the majority of issues you might incur with most sectors  GET THE BOOK! How To Complain: The ESSENTIAL Consumer Guide to Getting REFUNDS, Redress and RESULTS!





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