Category Archives: Rip-off Britain

Wilshire heads off into a lucrative sunset

So David Wilshire has been found out and forced to stand down. Despite his best bluster, in the end the truth came out. He will still have the last laugh. As he has managed to stay on until the end of this government sometime next year, he will still be entitled to the usual standing-down handout, he has one more visit to the trough at our expense.

It may be two. It is possible his reward for going quietly will be a knighthood if David Cameron wins the election.

In his constituency, the Conservatives will be breathing a sigh of relief. The Liberals has been making gains, although the odious characters they chose to represent them on the local council will hardly have helped their cause. With Wilshire there was every chance of an upset.

Now the Conservatives will pick a new candidate without the baggage Wilshire brought with him.

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Why you should never fly Ryan Air

This is a quite superb summary of all that is wrong/disgraceful with the odious Ryan Air, the low-cost and even lower-quality airline.  Courtesy of The Times.

1. 1p flights are never 1p

Even if you strike it lucky and find a 1p flight you actually want to take, Ryanair charge you for the pleasure of paying for it. To the tune of £4.75. For each passenger. Each way.

And that doesn’t even include…

2. The check-in charge

If you want to book a bag into the aircraft hold you must check in at the airport, which will cost you £4.75 per passenger, per way, if you book online and a whopping £10 per passenger, per way if you pay at the airport or over the phone. And it doesn’t matter if only one person in your party takes a bag, everyone else still has to pay to check in at the airport too.

This week Ryanair announced that it’s all change from May when airport check in will rocket to £20 per person, per way. That is a grand total of £160 for a return flight as a family of four.

All without factoring in…

3. The baggage charge

Which is an extortionate £9.50 per bag, per flight. Or £19 if you book at the airport or over the phone.

4. The sneaky weight limit

Ryanair set its weight limit for hold luggage at 15kg catching the majority of passengers off guard.

You’re not allowed to pool bags either so, even if you have a party of four sharing luggage, if the bag weighs 16kg you will be charged £14 per additional kilo. Nevermind that it makes not a jot of difference to the weight of the aeroplane.

5. Queues glorious queues

If you’re still talking to your partner following the inevitable blazing row about why you shouldn’t just pay the bloody charges listed above, you won’t be after being told to join the back of the enormous queue at the ‘payments’ desk.

6. The additional baggage charge

Probably best to wear all of your clothes at once on the flight if you are travelling somewhere for more than a couple of days (until Ryanair start charging passengers for excess body weight that is). Check more than one bag in and it will cost you another £19 per extra piece of luggage, per way.

7. The website is rubbish. On purpose.

You have no choice but to book a Ryanair flight through its website so the airline may as well make it as stressful an experience as possible. The website is ugly for starters, and it crashes. All the time.

Because you can’t easily browse for dates when cheap flights are available you have to dedicate at least five precious hours of your life to sitting in front of the screen and laboriously trying different combinations to find a good deal.

And if you don’t understand what the hell you’ve just pressed there is no one to e-mail. Because Ryanair want you to spend more money and phone its…

8. Premium rate internet helpline

Calls cost £1 a minute to speak to someone in a call centre. Be amazed if you can explain what your problem is for under a fiver.

9. You can only fly cheap mid week

To get the bargains that make the pain of Ryanair worth the gain you have to be prepared to fly on a Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday, which can rule out the bargain European weekend break. Kind of why you wanted to book with Ryanair in the first place.

10. You have to travel at obscene hours.

Not only are you travelling on a Tuesday you also have to be prepared to wake up at 2am to get to the airport two hours ahead of your 6.55am flight. Or, if you choose a more civilised evening departure time, arrive in your destination at midnight with no where to stay because…

11. The destination airports are in the middle of nowhere.

Don’t expect to fly to Frankfurt if you book a flight to Frankfurt, to name one of many examples. Frankfurt Hahn airport where Ryanair land is 120 km from the city centre.

12. A bottle of water on board costs £3

I know the moral of this story is to buy a drink from WH Smith before you board, but it’s still annoying.

13. Sweaty, plasticky seats

Whatever you do, don’t wear shorts or you might be stuck to your seat forever and forced to listen to…

14. The in-flight musak

Pray that your flight is not delayed before it takes off or you’ll have to put up with the bleepy, computer-game inspired musak that is played on loop as your board, over, and over.

15. The fanfare

Do we really need the shrill fanfare that sounds when/if the flight lands on time? Or does it just ruin the first three minutes of each passenger’s holiday?

16. You can’t book a seat

As if the British holiday ritual of crowding round the baggage carousel isn’t enough to warrant the use of blood-thinning medication, Ryanair invite you to partake in the extreme sport that is racing across the tarmac to get a seat next to your companion. Flip flops are a distinct disadvantage.

17. No refunds, ever

Unless you have a spare few days to waste do not even bother trying.

18. Poor compensation

A report by the UK’s Air Transport Users Council has found that the world’s airlines lost more than one million bags in 2007 and more than 42 million pieces of luggage were mishandled worldwide.

Guess who it named as the worst airline for compensation if your bag goes missing or is damaged?

19. You are always being flogged stuff

No we don’t want your ridiculously overpriced travel insurance, car hire or Ryanair tea-towels. Go away.

20. Michael O’Leary himself

Don’t tell me you can bear to make him any more smug?

By Laura Whateley

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Filed under Rip-off Britain, Transport

Snouts in the trough

Derek Conway is a throwback to the Tony’s who oozed round Westminster in the twilight of John Major’s time at No. 10. Self interested and sleezy. Sadly, he has offered little and left politics with any fragment of its credibility – and there’s not much left – removed. But at least he’s been stripped of the whip and forced to stand down at the next election. Good riddance.

In recent months sleeze and snouts-in-the-trough has been a Labour speciality. Blair encouraged it by his refusal to force disgraced ministers from David Blunkett to Steve Byers to Peter Mandelson out. At least Peter Hain quit on his own, but the reality is that he had run out of friends, not that he had many in the first place according to Westminster insiders. His excuses even before the matter of donations received by him was referred to the police lacked any credibility.

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Filed under Labour, politics, Rip-off Britain, Sleaze, Society

David Wilshire … the noose tightens

Now that the full list of MPs claims are revealed, David Wilshire, the Spelthorne Conservative whose protests of innocence have looked increasingly weak of late, has more explaining to do.

It now appears that Wilshire – who owns three houses – claimed £160,542 in 2007-08, including nearly £200 for newspapers, £2,000 on meals and more than £9,000 on “communications”. In March of last year he spent over £2,500 on printer ink!

Between 2004 and 2008 Wilshire was the sixth-highest claiming MP, despite having a fairly compact constituency within 20 miles of Westminster. However, he has a house in Somerset and sees nothing wrong with claiming for travelling between that and Westminster, despite also having homes in his constituency and in central London.

He has refused calls for a constituency meeting, but pressure increased on him with news that Ian Taylor, from the neighbouring Elmbridge constituency, quit this week after a string of embarrassing stories about his spending. Taylor, of course, insisted his decision was unconnected to those stories.

Rumours have been circulating that Wilshire may face opposition from a high-profile celebrity at the next election. If he does, then his explanations will have to get much better than he has managed so far.

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David Wilshire – below the radar but still milking the electorate

There’s no shortage of stories about MPs taking the electorate for a financial ride at the moment, but just below the parapet are those who have not claimed for anything absurd and who, legally, are squeaky clean. Their moral position is, however, less secure.

Everyone should take a look at their local MP and see what he or she has been up to. To pick on one randomly, just look at David Wilshire, the Tory MP for Spelthorne, on the Surrey/London border. A time-serving backbencher, he has achieved little in terms of career (which is probably better for his constituents) although proved an adequate local representative.  His various records for presenting questions and speaking are below average. He is on no select committees.

But despite representing a borough within 45 minutes of Westminster by train (which many of his constituents use to commute) he annually claims the maximum of £23,000 for his second home.  His annual costs are higher than any other MP in Surrey.

Wilshire has three homes. One in Spelthorne, another in Westminster and a third in Somerset. That’s his right, but why on earth should we pay for him to do so, and then also pay more than £7000 a year for him in travel costs?

Last year, career politician Wilshire cost voters more than £160,000 on top of his generous salary. His majority is safe, although slipping, and, like many other MPs across the country, he probably thinks that means he doesn’t have to worry about a few disgruntled voters.

So far he has not commented, presumably because, like so many of his colleagues, he sees no reason to have to explain anything to the ordinary voter. But come the next election, the likes of Wilshire will come under the spotlight and his silence will no longer be tolerated. Unless he can come up with some good explanations, he and his kind might find themselves with three homes but no job.

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Filed under politics, Rip-off Britain, Sleaze, Society

Barclays hits a new low

The latest scam of Barclays Bank as reported in the weekend press. A reader calls an insurance company to renew his car insurance and when he tries to pay with his Barclays Connect card it is refused. So he has to call Barclays to find out what is up and guess what … they try to sell him car insurance. Surely not another underhand tactic from the once-great bank?

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The great telecom rip-off

Finally OFCOM are poised to put an end to the appalling rip-off that are 0870 telephone numbers. Many companies use these or 0845 numbers, and a few variants thereof, which cost the users more than a conventional call, considerably more if you call from a mobile. Every wondered why you are kept hanging on for an age going through a myriad of options only to be held in a queue? Well, it’s in the companies’ interests because they share the income deriving from the call with BT. So the longer they keep you on hold, the more they earn.

One of the best web sites around is the superb saynoto0870.com which lists alternative landlines to bypass the national-rate premium numbers. This is one site that can save you a lot of money.

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