Category Archives: Money matters

What a con offer from BT!

Received a letter through our letter box today about a Summer Deal offer from BT. Thought it’s really cheap, £15.99 a month for BT Total Broadband, plus unlimited UK landline calls. And it’s free for the first three months of service. But it is only after looking at the small prints more carefully, and repeatedly, when I realise that this £15.99 actually does not bloody include the line rental, which is currently about £10 a month! How is it such an exciting deal I wonder, almost in disbelief that they actually have the guts to send out such weak marketing offers.You see, I’m currently paying only £7.50 for my broadband with O2, as I’m also their mobile phone customer. Yes, I’m only getting up to 8Mbps, as opposed to up to 20Mbps. But I don’t have a usage cap of 10GBytes per month! For these I’ll have to shell out almost twice what I’m currently paying to go with BT. How silly does that sound? And what I don’t like about BT is it seems that they deliberately try to make their offers sound better than they actually are. Wasted my time having to look into the small prints to get a full view of what the offer actually meant. So not impressed with these marketing people, and BT!

Rubbish HSBC, yet again

The thing with customer services in the UK is, the labour cost is so expensive that they can’t afford to pay the bank staff to work on the weekends. In this case, the HSBC staff from the “lending team” for business accounts. What’s the point of setting up customer service department when these people can’t bloody make decision?! Oh, it’s weekend and the “lending team” is not working, you’ll have to wait till Monday. For god’s sake, I just want to find a way to pay for my next purchase now that my credit limit is exceeded. I have already transferred money to my credit card account in an attempt to offset some of the money outstanding. But hey, you can only spend the amount equal to your credit limit in a month. If you want to spend more, tough, you’ll HAVE TO speak to our lending team. Even paying money into your credit card account won’t work either. Lending team, is the answer!If they are so important in the decision tree, then bloody get them to work on weekends as well! It’s not good enough to have a bunch of staff sitting around answering phone calls when none of them can make decisions! It’s just pathethic.

£2 a minute call using 3 network

How 3, a UK mobile operator, can justify charging its customers £2 a minute when they are overseas is beyond me. Even many years ago, it used to only cost us the price of a local call when we make a call using our mobile phones while in Malaysia. After many years of lobbying and pressures from the regulator to reduce mobile phone operators’ roaming charges, overseas call charges etc, I would have thought that call charges when overseas have reduced by a great deal. What a ripped off! To be honest everyone knows that their network coverage in the UK has been dismal, most likely the worst among the five mobile network operators. The reason one of our phones is contracted to them is because the price plan we are offered is comparatively cheaper than the cheapest offered by other operators. And we do know very well “you get what you pay for”. But what we don’t know is they are also in the business of ripping off customers! Making a phone call in Malaysia using O2 instead costed us half of what is charged by 3. Unbelievable. So my advice for you is remember to read all the small prints and their price guides before trying to use your mobile phones overseas.

Home broadband with O2

Connecting our home to the O2 ADSL broadband service seems unbelievably easy! After we had a fresh BT line installed to our premise, we placed an order with O2 to become their home broadband customer, as it is much cheaper to use their service when we are already their existing customer through their mobile phone service, at about £9 a month for their Premium service. We then received a couple of text messages, telling us that our line will be activated in six days time, and we will receive the broadband modem cum wireless router package two days before the activation date.As promised, the package arrived in the evening of the delivery date (hence not with Royal Mail). Three days later, when I finally got the time to install everything, it was painless, almost perfect, and everything just works. Amazing. Including setting up our laptop to connect to the wireless router. This is how home products or services should be, user friendly. And we are also entitled a copy of the McAfee security software!On the broadband speed, we should be getting up to 20Mbps for the downlink. Tried peer-to-peer and FTP downloads, but seems that we are not even close to that “magic” number. Think we can at most hit 8Mbps. Anyway it does not feel that normal web browsing is that much quicker either than my previous 2Mbps connection, although it IS quicker. To be honest we are not too fussed on this as we are not hard core users of broadband, and we seldom download large movie files etc 🙂 But had it not been the initial 3 months free offer, I think we probably would have phoned in to “downgrade” from their Premium service, as their Standard service can provide up to 8Mbps too.All in all, we are very pleased with O2’s service so far. And we are also using their mobile broadband service, for our laptop, when we are on the move. Hope they are able to keep this up.

Investors’behaviours

An excellent analysis into investors’ behaviours. I’m certainly one who is always filled with regrets when I have “missed” opportunities, to buy or sell stocks when the prices are good, quite often with hindsight 🙂 And I’m not willing to cut my losses, even though it makes sense to cut them and then buy back when the prices are lower. I guess it is also to do with not knowing that the stock prices are going to be much lower. But having said that I have never cut any loss with the strategy to buy back at a lower price. Instead I always prefer to average out the positions of my stocks. This strategy can work too, provided that I have more money to pour in. But not so much if I’ve already gone all out. And I certainly agree on the Prospect Theory, as I’m one of many who is willing to take more risks when I’m losing money, although not quite to an insane level which I’ve seen some people do. Anyway if one is not comfortable about losing money, even if it is just paper loss at the time, it is best to only invest money you can afford to lose. Otherwise, be prepared for any potential anxiety over your portfolio, particularly at this kind of uncertain economic climate, when all is not going according to plans.

Bloody Virgin Media

They think the services they are offering are the best, and that their existing customers can never live without them. I have just placed my order with Sky *two fingers up their arse*.I called them to complain about the latest increase in my current price plan, which includes Telephone size M, Braodband size M and TV size XL. But they were not bothered in the slightest way that I was unhappy about the price increase. So I suggested that I want to downgrade the services I’m receiving from them, as I want to keep the cost down. But they just wouldn’t listen. Instead kept telling me that the price I’m paying is the best deal they can offer. And that downgrading my services can only make it more expensive or that is not value for money. Ridiculous isn’t it, that a customer can get stucked in such position? Told them that I saw better deals advertised on their website, but unfortunately they are only interested in offering them to new customers. Good, penalise existing customers to bring in new ones. We should have left them half a year ago for taking 3 months to connect our phone line back due to some problem I don’t exactly know what. Big mistake.So glad that Sky is footing the bill to connect a fresh BT line to our flat, as it normally costs just over £120! With Sky it works out that we will be paying £10 a month less from next month onwards, how about that!I have some respect for Virgin’s owner Richard Branson. But if his people continue to think that their services are the best in the market and then act as though they have the biggest cork in the world then good luck to him and his Virgin Media business. I’m having none of their antics.

Feeding the tame Robin, on video!

Finally recorded down the tame Robin on video. Quality is a bit poor, I know, as I only have a mobile phone that can record video 🙁 Initially the Robin didn’t want to feed from my hand, which you’ll probably notice, my chasing hand 🙂 It was too busy looking at the tub of meal worms which was located just below my feeding hand. Bad idea. In fact it actually flew to the tub, rather than to my hand! But nevertheless, it finally feeds from my hand! Hurray!

HSBC Business Direct

Damn HSBC. They just wouldn’t tell you when they have introduced better products! These banks are so good at profiting from people who are not financial savvy. I think HSBC realise that their Business Current Account is not attractive to new start-ups anymore so they started introducing this Business Direct Account which is without monthly maintenance fee to start competing with other banks. But they don’t make an effort to tell existing customers that they have this new type of business account which might benefit them. Talk about giving free professional advices, this and that, just cheap marketing gimmicks. Don’t be fooled into thinking that they will really act in existing customers’ best interests. Once again, very disappointed with HSBC.

Five-point palm global panic crushing technique

So this time the industrialised nations have pledged action to tackle the financial crisis in a “united front”. And according to US Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, they have issued a five-point plan of “decisive action” to unfreeze credit markets. Specific details on how this can be done is yet to be revealed. Liquidity seems to be their main focus along with plans to protect savers to calm the market. It will be interesting to see how the market reacts come next week. But I think the main problem is people’s lack of confidence in financial institutions, whether or not they are really failing, and governments’ ability to get them out of the financial crisis. And as rightly pointed out by my colleague, if the media could stop fueling people’s imagination with all the bads that are happening, the situation we now have could be a lot better than people realise. Anyway let’s see if this five-point palm global panic crushing technique will work miracles next week 🙂

Such volatile stock market

The stock market took another tumble despite the latest bank rescue plan announced by the UK government, and a coordinated 0.5% interest rate cut across the world, involving Americas, UK and European Union. Never have I seen these countries working together at the same time. Just goes on to tell you the scale of the financial problem we are now facing. Property bubble, subprime problem, inflation, bank liquidity problem, now leading to increasing unemployment. The economy is definitely heading for the worse. Has it turned the corner? Apparently not yet, as goverments are still coming up with rescue packages to try and help various sectors – property, bank, insurer, manufacturing etc.Few days ago I thought the banking sector might have already reached the bottom. We started moving into the stock market, acquiring bank shares. That was before the US finally approved the $700 billion rescue plan to buy up toxic debts. Yet that did little to stabilise the market. Today’s announcement from the UK to part-nationalise banks I feel is welcoming, as it should help strengthen the banks, bring some sanity back to how bank should be remunerated, and get the bank to operate more sensibly. Unfortunately, investors are still uncertain and the stock market continue to slide.To be honest, I still feel the banking shares are unbelievably low. If people have cash to spare, it is at this kind of turmoil that you start investing in the stock market, to maximise the return on the meagre sum of money we have got. Often people will question about the timing. Yes, we don’t know how low the market can go, and people always want to catch the absolute bottom. But can we always get the “best” deal?