Saving energy and water costs you more money... why?

Fact: Saving energy and water costs you more money.
I want to save energy, the more I save energy and change the way we do things in our house, the more I find that I am paying more money out of my pocket!

There are those that say, yes the initial payments for products and installations may come out of your pocket, but once they are up and running the savings are there for all to see.
Well I'm not so sure... as I will point out, on some items, the initial over-inflated costs to your pocket is not recovered within the lifetime of the product, using their own figures!
All the "experts" and industry promoting bodies, never mention or factor in the costs associated with insuring products against repair or for servicing do they?
Why not?

There are also questions about exactly how much "energy saving" goes on as regards making products - in todays throw away society, can it not be the case that repairing things with a part rather than buying a replacement machine would be the best way of saving energy? How much energy is used up to make products? To dispose of products?
These factors are never mentioned, again, why not? 

Look at what the so called experts/media are saying about energy saving measures;

Installing a new boiler to replace your G rated boiler will save you money on your fuel bills.
- Not according to British gas billing department it won't!
When gas bills remained expensive after a new "Energy efficient boiler" was installed, I contacted British gas about it. They stated twice... "A new boiler does not use less gas than an old boiler!"

- According to the energy saving trust's own figures, a new boiler "could" save you upto £230 a year on your energy bills.
The energy saving trust's own figure of average cost to buy and install a new boiler is £2500.
Taking the maximum you could save per year and dividing it by the average cost of buying/installing a new energy efficient boiler, it would take you 10 years 8 months to break even!
A vital cost to your pocket, is significant by it's absence in the energy saving trust's figures - boiler maintainance and repair costs! (They do not mention it once when saying a new boiler will save you money on your energy bills!)
Taking the minimum contract cost of £8 per month (British gas) and not counting the first £50 for parts that you have to find for each repair, you would have to pay out another £1152 (This is £8 per month over a 12 year period)
When added to the energy saving trust's own average figure for buying/installing a new boiler of £2500, this brings the total outlay you have to find out of your pocket to £3652

Taking the maximum the energy saving trust say you "could" save each year on your energy bills by having the new boiler fitted and maintained, of £230 per year, it would take you 15 years and 8 months to break even!

The average lifespan of a boiler today according to the energy saving trust, is 12 years - later than this parts become obsolete, harder to repair, etc.
The boiler would need replacing after 12 years, but the projected estimated savings (based on industry data from manufacturers selling you the boilers and energy companies which sell you the energy, ie, not independant) would mean you are seriously out of pocket. Your boiler would need replacing again and you'd still have another 3 years 8 months of bill savings to go, just to get your money back from your initial outlay!

I thought saving energy was supposed to save the customer money? It doesn't look that way according to figures published by the energy saving trust - who tell us that we will save money if we replace a G rated boiler with a new energy efficient boiler.

Saving water is another big plus point we are told - yet our new energy efficient boiler uses up five pints of water each time before hot water comes out of the tap, that's all waste water!
Whilst the water is going from cold - warm - hot, it is also using electricity and gas, none of these factors are included in "energy" studies.

Fitting double glazing will save you upto £140 a year on your energy bills.
- Our house was kitted out in the latest energy saving double glazing just three years ago. Total cost came in at £2800
At the projected savings on our energy bill rate, of £140 per year (energy saving trust), it would take a staggering 20 years of maximum bill savings to recoup the money we paid out to have the entire house double glazed.
It would take that long to break even with this energy saving measure, that the warranty for the windows and doors would have lapsed 10 years previously (yes a full decade before they pay for themselves)
This makes the 10 year guarantee on the double glazing we bought and had fitted, not worth the paper it was written on. (Again the warranty is never mentioned when stating costs!)

I thought saving energy was supposed to save me money?

Shop around and switch your energy provider/tariff.
- The top price comparison websites are marketing anything and everything about getting people to use their website and change tariff/energy provider to "save money" with promises of savings of anything between £100-£200 per year on energy bills.

Take a step back and look at the reality of this practice.
Every single customer of the big six energy companies, is subsidising the millions of pounds they are paying out each year to the top comparison websites.
According to which? around 60% of your energy bills are for wholesale energy costs, 5% is VAT, leaving 35% of what you pay for your energy every month/year, for services, pipework, and for their profits, marketing, schemes and the biggest elephant in the room, price comparison website commission payments!

When you try to breakdown your bill, the companies make it as difficult as possible to do. Statements are misleading, prices quoted on price comparison websites differ from your statements/bills as they do not include VAT, etc.
The energy companies' staff cannot agree on how they arrive at the prices they charge (Can they british gas!) as the energy companies don't allow them access to simple basic information, such as what the company are using to work out each account's usage, eg, the CV figure.

Yet strangely, you get as close as you can to getting factual figures to see how your bill is worked out and it almost balances, based on energy use!
Very bizarre, as 35% of your bill is not based on your energy use!
Why else do you think that both the top price comparison websites and the energy companies are resisting opening up their books to scrutiny so that the British public can see what our money really goes on?

If you ask a seller how much commission they are receiving for a particular product or service, by law they have to tell you prior to a sale being made.
Try asking a price comparison website how much they receive of the energy companies when you use them to switch... I wouldn't hold your breathe!

Indirectly, many people do not realise that by using price comparison websites, they are inadvertantly pushing up the price of energy for everyone.
"But I'm saving £150 per year if I switch!" - have you factored in the extra costs of energy to recover the price comparison website's commission payments that everybody is paying for?
Have you considered any early termination fees that your former energy provider may try to impose upon your wallet? It varies between energy suppliers, but on average it is around £60 per switch. Are we to seriously believe that the energy companies do not pass these "costs" on to customers?
Next add in any "admin" fees to your total bill. How much are people paying as a whole, for leaving energy contracts early? Are these "admin" charges recovering actual loss, or loss of profits that they would have had, had the customer stayed full term of their energy contract?
All is not what it would at first appear... why do you think the price comparison websites push you into switching with articles and forum questions (started by owners of the website to generate interest) that are loaded with keywords so they appear on the first page of search engine results, etc.
It's a marketing trick - they couldn't give a monkeys about you or I, all they want is as many people to hit their websites so that they receive a nice commission payment and increase their own profits. They also make big profits from selling your information on but that's for another post.

The sooner people wise up and realise that price comparison websites put up the prices for everyone the better. Although it's a different post all of its own, just look at everything that's rocketing in price - Insurances, loans, gas, electricity, water, holidays, mortgages, etc, all flying up in price and are the main income earners for price comparison websites. Coincidence? I don't think so!

Buy A rated energy efficient appliances.
- Two tumble dryers, one is a condenser dryer with a plastic tub at the bottom so that every two or three cycles, I can pull out the tub and pour the water down the sink and back into the system.
The other tumble dryer has a huge tube which is hung out of the window or via a pre cut hole in the kitchen wall. The water vapour is put back into the atmosphere, where it will gather in rain clouds and fall as rain much later or in another country, etc.
The ordinary dryer with hose, costs £180-£200. The condenser dryer that I empty to save water and put it back into the system, costs anything from £280 upwards (ours cost £320).

Why is the energy/water saving model more expensive?
Where is my incentive to help the planet, energy and water companies?
Both dryers use the same amount of electricity, both dry the same load of clothes in the same time, the only difference is that the condenser model puts 5 litres of water back into the system.
I am collecting the water here, giving it to water companies that are filling in reservoirs ready for sale to developers, at the same time as connecting more new builds and converted houses into flats to the water system and putting up their charges.
Three weeks without rain in some eastern counties are being given warnings that drought notices maybe issued shortly if they don't get considerable rainfall.

We pay in higher charges, we pay more for our appliances because they have a sticker giving them a high rating on them. When do the people benefit?
The less we use, the more they charge to maintain their level of profit.

Recycle as much of your rubbish as possible.
- To help the planet each home is seperating its rubbish as never before. Reducing landfill is a major factor.
In recent years the amount of landfill needed and used has fallen dramatically. When do we ever hear from the media that this is the case?
When are our council tax bills going to be reduced? Yes that's right reduced!
The less we use landfill, the more they put up their price, we cannot win.
What are those in power and supposedly those that are lecturing us all on what we should be doing, actually doing to stop the businesses that are producing all this waste?

How many recycling centres do supermarkets have? The "waste" in them is sold to other countries, so it still ends up in land fill, only in other countries so it's not our problem.

One of THE biggest producers of waste is the supermarket.
How many times have they been fined or closed down for producing this waste, that WE have to pay increased taxes to put into landfill?
I haven't even touched upon the amount of CO2 emissions that are pumped out when supermarkets are allowed to grow things abroad and keep it chilled whilst it travels halfway around the world!

Make less trips in your cars, use public transport!
- That's why public transport costs have more than trebled in recent years is it?
A short 12 stop bus ride I made recently, to and from a town no more than 2 miles away, cost £4.40 - I could have used my car and made the same trip for much less. Surely if it's the way forward to use public transport, to save carbon emissions and energy, shouldn't the price to use it be, at the very least, reasonable?

Where's the incentive to get out of the car and use the train/bus?

Don't even get me started on trains, take five minutes to view a few of the #ripoffbritain posts on twitter, the prices of using our trains is astronomical.
How are workers supposed to use public transport to get to their place of toil, when half the time buses don't even go there, or the worker has to get one bus 2 miles in the opposite direction, to catch a bus that will get to the small town where they work? Extra costs in ticket prices are extortionate.
What about all those workers who graft on an industrial estate where buses never go?

When will we hear of "energy" and "climate" campaigners using their pressure groups to pressurise the government of the day to provide bus services that get to where people want/have to go?
When was the last time you read a god knows how much costing report, that pointed out that workers are being neglected at the same time as paying record prices for, public transport?
I cannot recall a single instance of this, why not?

So why do we bother at all?
I say again - I want to save energy and money - so why do they make it so damned expensive and difficult to do so?
Did you know that the electricity system in the UK is set up so that with simple equipment, energy can be generated and put back into the system/on the grid, using a simple 3 pin plug.
Why are companies sitting on this basic technology?
I'd wager that an entire gym could be powered by linking their gym machines to equipment that could put electricity back into the system... so why aren't we told about this?
Every energy saving measure/equipment is designed to promote the industry and increase turnover.
Put simply, the more energy we save, the higher the price of energy rises. It's not good enough!

Centrica (Owners of British Gas) have confirmed that consumers are being financially punished (punished is the right word for it) the more we save energy, via the price we are all charged for heating our homes, cooking and hot water.
In an interview given to the daily mail, Centrica quoted three reasons for the need for future price rises in energy, one of which was, "because of lower consumption"

Providing energy for homes, should never be, an opportunity for any energy company to make good profits.
The majority of profits for the energy providers should come from other sources of business, such as replacement boilers, boiler insurances/servicing contracts etc.
The actual energy provision, energy companies would do well to remember, is a service that every home requires and is essential to the entire population.

It cannot be morally or ethically right, for an energy company to put up the price of energy we all use and need, for reasoning that we are all using less energy, whilst at the same time, being encouraged by the very same energy company, spending yet more money (that comes from OUR pockets via our bills) on promoting that we should all use less energy!

This would explain why the Energy saving trust and British Gas are keeping very quiet about it and not answering questions over on our twitter feed!

Consumers beware of boiler scrappage scheme claims

Regular readers of this website will know that saving money is something I take an interest in. We all work damned hard for our money, it amazes me how easily people give it away to businesses, in this mass marketing world we live in.
You will also be aware of my obsession in investigating business marketing claims before doing anything.

A major issue I have had for some time, is with the whole "Save energy - save money" marketing con, in particular, the boiler scrappage scheme.

Formerly a government scheme, it has now been adopted by british gas for the month of June.
Don't ge
t me wrong, I'm all for cutting household energy bills, but boiler scrappage schemes I think, are in some cases, a complete waste of money!

The energy saving trust:
They claim to be a "not for profit organisation" and were assigned the task of implementing the last government's boiler scrappage scheme, whereby a home could get £400 off a spanking new boiler to replace their broken or G rated energy efficient boiler, saving them money in the process on their energy bills.

On the face of it, this looks a very good idea, a money saving scheme that will reduce carbon emissions for an initial outlay of your cash, but will pay for itself over the life of the new boiler.
Would the energy saving trust's claims actually save you money?

Here's what the energy saving trust tell people on their website;

- Changing a G rated old boiler for an A rated boiler "can save you upto £225 per year in reduced fuel bills" - marketing's favourite phrase is "upto"
- The current lifespan of a boiler is around 12 years
- The average cost of installing a new boiler costs £2500 (Energy saving trust data from the old boiler scrappage scheme)
The new boiler would have to save £208 per year to break even over the 12 years.

Sounds like a good deal?
It would be ok, if they had included the costs of servicing and maintaining your new boiler on their website, they do not.
At present servicing your boiler will cost you between £8 - £15 per calendar month, with an energy company.
Taking the bare minimum amount with British gas - £8 per month - and add this into the workings out.
- 12 years at £96 per year (£8 per month) equals an extra £1152 you have to pay out.

£2500 for your boiler PLUS £1152 to service and maintain it equals a total cost to you of £3652
Taking the very maximum the energy saving trust say you can save on your heating bills per year of £225 - it would take you more than 16 years to break even!
Subtracting the £400 off you get as part of the scrappage scheme offer, leaves you with a bill for £3252 for your new boiler - again using the maximum you can save according to the energy saving trust £225 - it would take you more than 14 years to break even!

Wait a minute, according to the energy saving trust, the lifespan of a new boiler is "around 12 years" (No mention of the environmental costs of disposing of your old boiler) - Suddenly the energy saving boiler scrappage scheme doesn't look good value does it?
Factor in the extra 2 years to break even, that you won't be running your new boiler (2 yearly energy bill savings of £225) and you are £450 WORSE OFF!
How much is the boiler scrappage scheme supposedly saving you? £400?

Looks suspiciously like a marketing con trick to me.

According to the energy saving trust's twitter profile, they are a "Not for profit organisation, funded by the government [read taxpayer] which offers free and impartial advice on how to stop wasting money and energy at home"
Free? - we pay for them via our taxes so they are not free at all!
Impartial? - a quick look at their wikipedia page (written by their own staff) reveals they are not as impartial as they claim, they are also funded by the following companies;

Baxi (Boiler making company)
Centrica (Owners of British gas - energy company)
EDF energy
Firmus energy
National grid transco plc
Northern Ireland electricity
Phoenix natural gas
RWE Npower plc
Scottish and Southern energy
Scottish power plc
Royal Dutch Shell
Worcester, Bosch group (Boiler making company)

Is this what you would consider impartial? I certainly wouldn't!

I asked consistently, over four weeks on our twitter page, how much money Centrica (aka British gas) have paid the energy saving trust during 2010/2011?
For the first two weeks I got no reply, I did get a few replies from people who support saving energy, saying they were "a non profit organisation and did not take funding from private companies"
Eventually, the energy saving trust replied, "British gas are an energy saving trust member, paying a nominal fee equal to other members"
I got no reply at all from British gas on twitter.

I asked again, how much money did the energy saving trust receive from British gas?
Again I got no reply.
After another week of repeating the same question, I asked if I should have to use a Freedom Of Information request to find out how much british gas paid the energy saving trust in 2010/2011?
The energy saving trust replied, "We are not a public body, so are not subject to Freedom of Information requests"

So if the energy saving trust are not a public body, then they must be a private company!
This explains why they ignore all requests to reveal how much funding they are receiving from companies within the energy and boiler making sectors.
Why don't they want consumers to know how much they are receiving from companies within the industry?
The boiler scrappage scheme was an exercise to generate more business within the industry - not my words, but those of the last government's energy secretary Ed Miliband, who said at the launch, "The boiler scrappage scheme will provide an important boost for the British heating industry!"
The energy saving trust said the same thing in their review of the how the boiler scrappage scheme had done.

Even after all this, surely fitting a new boiler will use less gas than our old back boiler that's 30 years old?
British gas billing department's own words on two occasions this winter, "A new boiler uses the same amount of gas as an old boiler, it will not cut your gas bills!"

Exactly the opposite of what the energy saving trust are telling people to get them to purchase a new boiler (that they'll never break even on because of the inflated costs)

With staggering cheek, British Gas are today launching the boiler scrappage scheme again for the month of June 2011.

The boiler scrappage scheme - nothing more than a marketing exercise to generate more business within the heating/energy sector.

From some of the feedback I've received since this post (All feedback is welcomed thankyou) that some people are still not convinced that the energy saving trust's new boiler promotion figures don't add up.
This update uses one piece of evidence as its source - The Energy saving trust English boiler scrappage evaluation document (Final) - as published in February 2011.

The scheme had three main objectives;

  1. Help sustain work for the 130,000 installers and over 25 UK based boiler manufacturers throughout the economic recovery. (Which is what I said the scheme was about from the start!)
  2. Save money. A householder's energy bill "could" be cut by between £200 and £235 a year. (First the EST website lists energy savings of "as much as" £225, in this report they change it to "between" £200 and a higher figure of £235 - so which is it? Hardly an accurate basis for a consumer spending thousands of pounds of their own money is it?)
  3. Save carbon. Replacing 125,000 G rated boilers "should" save "in the region of" 140,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions per year. (What, no factual evidence? What is the energy saving trust conclusion based upon? Boiler manufacturer's estimates? Any independant research the public could look at?)

"To evaluate the scheme, a survey of successful claimants was undertaken." - Only more limited research was carried out on unsuccessful applicants.

Reasons for take up of the scheme:
"The environment was not a major driver in the uptake of the scheme, although most people were keenly aware of the environmental rationale of the scheme." - This is stated in the opening summary, further reading reveals that most people were keenly aware, ONLY after prompting! (See page 11)

Identifying the impact of the scheme:
The average time by which boiler replacements were brought forward to coincide with the scheme, was estimated [there's that word again] to be 1.4 years.
In terms of environmental benefit, it is estimated to have saved 240,000 tonnes of CO2.
This is £34 Million of bill savings annually for the scheme overall, or £290 for each household.
- Sadly, the energy saving trust's own figures do not add up!
The energy saving trust's website advises that a new boiler "could save as much as £225 per year" in bill savings by reducing carbon emissions - this is increased to "up to" £235 per year in objective 2 of the boiler scrappage scheme final report - now we are to believe that bill savings per year for each household are on using less gas/being more efficient, are £290.
Simple question, which is it?

Other benefits included that 29% of people "felt" (that's thought to you and me) that they had seen a reduction in their heating bills (even during the spring/summer period).
- That means that 71% of people SAW NO REDUCTION IN THEIR BILLS, during the 6 months after having a new boiler fitted.
The other 29% only felt they had seen a reduction in their heating bills, at no point in the 30 page report does it make reference to a single person, who replaced their boiler, actually having saved any money because of doing so!

Cost of works:
Average cost of works was £2450, of which the boiler replacement cost was £2050.
- I have yet to see an A rated wall fitted boiler like the vast majority of homes have, that even comes within £500 of the £2050 quoted in this report. Remember that a central heating engineer will be buying the boiler at cost price, so will be even cheaper than is available to the public through a retail price.
All this shows, is that the prices of boilers were grossly over inflated as a result of the scheme, generating more profit for the installation companies.

Value for money:
When calculating/estimating savings in other sections, the per household figure is given (albeit different ones) for some bizarre reason, the energy saving trust's final report explains value for money in terms of per tonne of CO2 saved?
The cost to the taxpayer for this scheme is estimated at £204 per tonne of CO2 saved.
Other data is used and compared, revealing that it costs a mere £6.20 to save 1 tonne of CO2, if people insulate their homes properly.

Insulation I have no argument with at all, lofts, cavity wall insulation, etc, are far more beneficial to saving money on your heating bills.
Remember though, we are questioning the so called advice given that says installing a new boiler will save you money. As I have tried to explain here, it does not.
The figures just don't add up.

One final nail in the coffin...

In objective 3, the energy saving trust state, "Replacing 125,000 G rated boilers, should save in the region of 140,000 tonnes of CO2 per year"
Yet with a maximum of 118,618 vouchers claimed for boiler replacements - over 6300 LESS boilers replaced than quoted in objective 3 - by page 4 of the report, the amount of CO2 saved has shot up to 240,000 tonnes.
This allows the energy saving trust to headline a saving in money to each household of £290 annually on their heating bills, or £34 million annually for those taking part in the scheme.

Replacing a boiler to save money on your heating bills is just a marketing gimmick, designed to generate more business for the industry at the public's expense.
The costs of installing/buying a new boiler does not pay for itself with savings over the life of that new boiler, even without factoring in your insurance/repair costs to keep it going and have it serviced.

With today's news that British gas are INCREASING energy prices by an average of 18% - the energy saving trust's own figures fall down even more!

This means a British gas customer will now be paying, on average (so some will be paying more), another £18 per £100 of their bill.
For a pre payment customer, with a bill of more than £800 per year - that's an extra £144 to find out of already overstretched household budgets.
What happened to inflation? At 4.5% it's really difficult to manage things, when facing an 18% rise in energy costs, it's impossible.

One of the most disturbing things about british gas bringing this in is the statement the boss of centrica gave to the daily mail last week.
One of the three reasons given about possible future price increases, was said to be, "because of lower consumption" - so the less energy we use, the more the energy companies charge us.
What chance have we, the consumers, got?

For days now, over on our twitter feed, we have been asking the energy saving trust to condemn energy companies which increase their prices because of people "saving energy" - which has been answered by a wall of silence. That's right, not one single word from them about it.
We have also been asking british gas (via twitter) how can they promote (using customer's money) saving energy at the same time as punishing customers with higher prices for their energy, when they use less - again, not a single answer or word back has been received.

The energy saving trust state that fitting a new boiler could save a household "upto" £225 per year in lower fuel bills - when replacing a G rated boiler with an A rated energy efficient boiler - not only is this an estimate, but now on average £144 of those maximum estimated savings is swallowed up by british gas' energy price increases.
Factor in service contracts/insurance for the new boiler, which they say will last around 12 years, and the length of time for the boiler to pay for itself (if energy saving trust's guess that maximum fuel savings of £225 per year apply) and you are looking at more than 16 years!

I say again, the energy saving trust are NOT impartial, they receive funding from the energy companies and boiler makers, savings for updating equipment are complete estimates and disputed by british gas senior billing staff.
Their silence on british gas price rises from August 2011 shows them for what they really are - a marketing tool for the industry, nothing more!

Dad diary - Cat's tails, escapology and an £85 Million pound lottery win?

If you enjoy reading your daily newspaper, you won't believe how much better it can be to read them with hindsight, weeks, sometimes months later on down the line.
I buy just one single newspaper every other week, the times. I only buy the Saturday edition (as I am not a big reader) which usually takes me a full week to get through, with all its magazines and pull outs.

Last week I was reading a piece about baby development, some doctor with a book out I suppose, talking about how babies shouldn't be expected to do certain tasks at certain ages.
One that stood out for me was that in the author's opinion, children under three years should not be taught to hold or use a pen/pencil. Once at this age they will start to develop these skills or should be taught.
Of course every child is different, but sprog2 here is currently approaching 20 months old and has been handling a pen/pencil correctly for the best part of 6 months now. Another skill that I am personally impressed with is that sprog2 only appears to draw on paper. Be it a magazine/old catalogue or a clean sheet of paper that I got out.

Should the thought of scribbling anywhere else, such as a wall, occur, I get "baby eyes" prior to starting. Sprog2 can recognise the sharp end of a pencil, putting four pencils back in its thin pencil box every mealtime helped with that, whilst being used as a distraction so that she would scoff her cheesy pasta stars or cottage pie.

Another barrier I am fairly pleased about, is sprog2's approach to animals. To be more exact, our two house cats who only potter outside when we are all in the garden.
From torrorising them into a mad frenzy to get away, sprog2 has been visited by said cats, even hanging around her as much as possible when she plays in the front room.
Sprog2 is just discovering "gentle" and how not to stroke a cat with the force of a blunt instrument used to knock a door in.
The cat's tail is used as a convenient lead, sprog2 twitters away to herself as she takes the cat for a walk?
I'm fully aware that if I wasn't in the room there's a good chance the cats would lash out, but for now, sprog2 is slowly getting used to them being around her and the novelty of making all of a cats fur stand on end is wearing off.

We can no longer leave the key in the front door as now sprog2 can insert a key, twist it, and open the door!
I found this out when she deliberately locked me out as I put the rubbish out. All babies get to a stage of escapology, whereby they watch exactly what you and others do, then mimmick the actions. How much longer before we have to hide the keys?

Sprog1 asked me today what I would do with an £85 Million pound lottery win?
My answer was simple, I'd give most of it away.
Imagine the good you could do with it, I'd keep about £10 Million for my family and I, dishing the rest out.
Walking into my sister's house and handing her a cheque for £1 Million would be the icing on the cake, she's the kind of person that has never had nowt, but would give you her last penny if you were struggling.
I could buy land by where I live, knock down the buildings on it and put in place a skate park, a bmx track, a zip line and a stack of park rides for the local kids, who have seen their area destroyed by constant buildings that sit empty for the most part.
I'd include an outdoor stage and have special events throughout the year, imagine a mother and daughter day/weekend event, with stalls, fair rides, all the park activities with take that doing a gig!
I'd also build a sports club and set up a playing field, with netball/basketball court, tennis courts in grass and concrete, a cricket wicket. I could leave the football posts out, with nets, etc.
The whole thing would be fenced off and have security, with free access to children who live locally and a small token fee for children coming from further afield.

I would involve all the local swimming pools, in return for a donation to improve their facilities, free access was given to anyone under 16 and over 60 who lived in the area. I'd have them full of apparatus and big inflateable toys, I'd pack them out.
I would redevelop my local area as much as I could, along with local businesses, making the area one of THE most family orientated places to live in England.

Sprog1 said he'd probably move away or go on holiday.... wasted it would be on him, wasted.


Ban business use of "Up to" and "From"

Ban business use of "Up to" and "From"
Can a "Sale" be trusted anymore?

In the history of retail and marketing, never has two simple phrases done so much damage to the consumer.
The two phrases/words are:

"Up to" and "From"

The removal of these, would do more to help the consumer overnight, than any amount of the spurious pap put out by trading standards, consumer direct and consumer focus (how many millions of pounds spending quangos do we need to regulate the same things?)
The use of the asterix (*) should also be banned instantly!

It cannot be right that the individual can see an advertised price on point of sale material, displayed by a shop/store/website and cannot purchase the product advertised for that price!

The total price an individual pays for a product or service MUST be the price advertised, without exception.

The holiday/flight "Sale" price:
Back in January 2011, a well known travel operator was advertising that a holiday to San francisco was in their "20% off" sale.
The advertised price was "From £580"
In the last week of January 2011, an email came through stating that it was beneficial to frugal ways, to advertise that there was to be "An extra 10% off January sale prices for the last week of the sale" yet the price of the same San francisco holiday was now "From £630"
How can that be allowed? What are trading standards doing about this blatent misleading of customers?

It is now common practice, to advertise the price of flights, for which the amount you see is rarely if ever charged. The marketing prices from is for the first 10 seats on the plane, after that they increase in price dramatically. The travel agents blame the airlines, the airlines blame the travel agents. The customer loses out.
Many online sales of flights don't even bother to add the "Up to" or "From" anymore!
I rang up in January 2011, for flights advertised at prices ranging between £399 and £480 - for a planned holiday in August 2011.
Not a single flight I enquired about would have cost me less than £700 - how can this be allowed?
I got nothing but excuses from the businesses and website owners;

"It's the summer holidays for schools"
"It's our peak time!"
"Everybody wants flights in August"
"The price advertised doesn't include taxes"
"The headline price was available only for flights in January" (Even when it did not state this on the website)

High street stores:
The wonders of ordering white goods through a well known catalogue firm!
We needed a new dryer, the price was the same at a number of high street companies (how convenient) but when it came to picking the goods up, it was a very different story.
£320 was the price advertised, so I asked which store would it be best to pick one up from?

"You can't, it has to be delivered!" was the reply.

In the small print, on page god knows what, was a disclaimer saying that the price did not include delivery charges. (£25 back then)
So where can I purchase this product for the £320 that you are advertising it for?
"Online or at any of our stores, it will be ordered and delivered within 5 working days" the assistant stated.

So I cannot purchase the product for the price advertised?
"Yes, but there will be a delivery charge of £25 to pay"
This makes the minimum price I can pay to have this product from your company £345 and NOT the £320 you are advertising it as!
"No, the price is £320"
No, the minimum price HAS to include your compulsary delivery charge of £25!
Clear misrepresentation at the point of sale, regardless of any small print in the back of their catalogue!

How many times have you been into a shop/store, with huge "Sale" cards splattered in the window and around the store, only to find that the "Sale" is limited to a few things shoved on a rack or shelf?
Then we have the headline sale advertising "From" when in fact the item or service cannot be purchased for the headline amount?
Other business/marketing scams include raising the prices by considerable amounts for 28 days, sometimes less than this (even though it's illegal!) and then screaming about the huge "Sale" they have, despite the customer paying the same prices as they would have, if the products had not been increased in price beforehand.
Some stores only increase the price of goods/services at one of their stores, so that they don't take the hit of customers not buying at over inflated prices, in the run up to an imaginary "sale"

What are trading standards doing about it?
Nothing, is the simple answer.
Customers are getting kicked from pillar to post by businesses up and down the land, online, in catalogues and on the high street.
Seldom do they even return calls or land on companies and enforce consumer laws on the requirements to have a certain amount of products available at the advertised prices, or forcing companies to change their headline prices when the few available at them are no longer.

Customers are people of Britain - we demand that the millions of pounds we give to trading standards and other quangos in this area (consumer direct?), be put to good use and carry out the job they were brought in to do, PROTECT PEOPLE from bad business practices and stretching of UK consumer laws!

The road to being frugal - day trips out

To business, you are a cash cow to big profits whenever you decide to venture on a day trip out.
Your guard to being thrifty and protecting your hard earned money, naturally drops, when it should be at its most alert!

The ice cream van in the park on a sunny day, that adds 50p on every ice cream it sells, to the ice cream shop at the side of lake windermere (for example) that charges over the odds for regular ice creams and cans of drink because of the position of its kiosk.
We have all experienced it, but is there an alternative?

Here are some of my tips, if you know of any others, please add a comment (you don't need to be "a member" - just make up a name!)

You can expect at least a 20% mark up in prices in motorway outlets, especially in fast food places.
Make sandwiches and eat them whilst you travel, even little quartered ones. For those that don't visit the services, this will save you money, as once you get to your destination for your day trip, you won't have to waste time finding somewhere to eat - the prospect of being disappointed at the food is negated - plus you wont be left with a big bill for three family meals plus over priced drinks.
This also allows more time to do what you want to do at your location.
Take with you some bottles of pop, it's not unheard of for a small bottle of pop to be approaching the £1.50 - £2 mark at services/cafes. There is no reason for them to be this much, when even your corner shop sells them for less.
You can have a drink in the car (saving time) and once at your destination, you won't be paying over the odds.

The biggest sting on visitors has to be the on site souvenir shop!
At so many of these "shops" the only way out is via the business' marketing.
Even when you can escape an attraction without going through their shop, they still present a real danger to value for money!

We visited the lowry gallery on Salford quays in Manchester, I'm a big fan of his work, but the prices in the Lowry shop for framed prints were astronomical.
You could buy a print for as little as £15, but to buy the same print framed was a staggering £40!

It didn't end there, we nipped across the water to the Imperial war museum north, in its big impressive modern art shaped building, an even bigger sting was in place.
Free entry is one thing, but the staff were badgering people for donations before they even had a chance to look around!
The prices in the gift shop were obscene!
Posters from the war, such as "dig for victory" were a jaw dropping £6.99 each.
A cup with a poppy print on it - £9
Books, DVDs, etc, were way overpriced.
The museum itself wasn't that impressive at all, far more worthy of a donation would be the Science and Industry museum in the centre of Manchester, so big and with that much to do, in a full day you'd struggle to get round it all and see everything and of course, it's FREE!

The tip with souvenirs is simple - you can visit the attraction's website and order from there, the Lowry prints, I order for Christmas presents, in the cold light of day, in my own time, way less chance of being caught out paying well over the odds.

Carry a day trip kit!
If you have sprogs, then a definate has to be the day trip kit.

It consists of a wet cloth wrapped up in carrier bag (sticky fingers!) - a small towel - 2 or 3 empty carrier bags (for catching little accidents or if you collect things) - couple of headache tablets - some plasters.
You do not need a special travel kit or first aid box, everything in them you can just pack at home before you set off, most things in it, you wont use and can be reused when you get home.

Another catch all marketing trick, is having the toilets right at the back of establishments, many people tend to buy something just to use the toilets/wash room.
Don't be worrying about not buying anything, just use the facilities and walk back out.

Post us your tips!
You can post us your tips via the feedback link on this post (No registration required) - via our facebook group (Just click on the button) - By Twitter ( or by good old email ( and I'll add them to the post.