BT Accused of Profiteering over Nuisance Call ID Fee

BT Accused of Profiteering over Nuisance Call ID Fee
BT has been accused by an MP who heads a group set up to tackle nuisance calls of profiteering from the problem. The cross-party parliamentary group on nuisance calls says such services should be free of charge, in a report to be published this week.

The criticism follows news that the company has introduced a charge for its caller ID display service. BT said the service would remain free if customers signed up for a 12-month contract. The caller ID service allows users to screen calls and is generally seen as a good method to combat unwanted marketing calls.

Liberal Democrat MP Mike Crockart told the BBC that Ofcom and other interested parties were unhappy about BT’s decision to charge a £1.75 a month for the service. “When we started to look into this, BT talked about how important it was to have caller ID, but failed to mention that they were about to start charging for it,” Mr Crockart said. “This can be seen as profiteering on the back of nuisance calls.”

BT said that it “takes the issue of nuisance calls very seriously”. The company said in a statement: “We work with Ofcom, industry and consumer groups to tackle the problem.”

It also has a handset, the BT 6500, which bars calls from international and withheld numbers as well as up to 10 specified numbers. “BT is improving the network over the next 12 months, so that the caller display service will also be able to display full telephone numbers calling from abroad,” said a spokeswoman.

Unwanted calls and texts from companies selling products are on the increase. Complaints to the Telephone Preference Service, which allows people to opt out of receiving UK-based marketing calls, have gone up despite critics claiming the service is ineffective.

Consumer group Which? is leading a campaign to stamp out nuisance calls. It claims that 85% of people received a nuisance call each month, with nearly six in 10 people so fed up with it that they no longer want to answer the phone.

Richard Lloyd, Which? executive director, said: “Millions of us are being bombarded with nuisance calls and texts, and people are totally sick and tired of it. We’re pleased to see MPs recognising that the current system is failing the public and that the government must go further and faster to call time on this menace.

“We need to see the law strengthened so people have greater control over use of their personal data and to make it easier for regulators to take action against companies breaking the rules.”

Dulais Dry Cleaning

Dulais Dry Cleaning Service
A dry cleaners is a dry cleaners, isn’t it? The answer to that is a resounding no when you consider Dulais based in Darras Hall, Ponteland. Boasting a clientele which includes well known sporting celebrities and exclusive professional patrons, sensitivity and sophistication are two of the attributes which set this company apart in the field of cleaning services.

Things customers would never consider as important, such as design of garment, hand sewn hems, bias cut construction etc are all considered in a dry cleaning company which boasts long term, state of the art training, keeping its operatives up to speed with the latest in garment design.

With meticulous hand finishing and precision hand pressing, clients can be sure they will receive a pristine garment on pick up, so important with a couture / designer outfit. The company will remove stains from all delicate garments and those inlaid with stones, glass, brass or any other fastenings or buttons and give clothes a superior finish.

Nav Dulai also gives a stain removal service which is second to none in the field with an ultra-gentle and non-harsh process, achieving an astonishing 99% removal rating.

Clothing is an investment like any other and should be protected like all investments. Ensuring you get the best out of your clothes for the longest time possible is what Dulais on The Broadway, Ponteland will provide.

Add to all that a collection and a delivery service from anywhere in the north east, day time or evening and you can see how this company sets itself apart from the norm. No, all dry cleaners are definitely not the same.

Specialist Wedding Dress Cleaning Service
Imagine handing your precious wedding gown into the protection of the safest, most caring hands there are; gentle hands that will love it, respect it, nurture it and expertly clean and restore it, reserving the exquisite memories invested in every thread now and for the future.

Every day, brides all over the country come to us and say thank you for the love and attention we lavish on their dress; and we will collect yours from your own hands and transport it securely, scrupulously cleaning and preserving it in a beautiful box before delivering it safely back into your hands.

We treat every dress as unique, whether it’s classic or contemporary, modern or vintage, hand-painted or handmade. Every cleaning process should be unique also, so here at Dulais, we will create a bespoke cleaning process for your gown and your gown only.

Our techniques are painstaking, time-consuming, as you would expect from a reputable wedding dress retailers and consultants within the bridal industry. That’s because only a specialist, boutique cleaner on fabric care and preservation. And he is a perfectionist. His customers can therefore be assured that their garments are in the safest hands,

Business:               Dulais Dry Cleaners & Wedding Dress Cleaners

URL:                        http://www.ukweddingdresscleaning.co.uk/ & http://www.dulaisdrycleaning.co.uk/

Mobile Users Win Penalty Free Switch from Ofcom

Mobile Users Win Penalty Free Switch from Ofcom
Mobile phone customers will be able to leave their contracts mid-term without paying a penalty if their provider puts up prices, the regulator has confirmed.

Ofcom said that customers must be given 30 days’ notice of any price rise in their monthly subscription – even if it is within the level of inflation. A provider must then allow a customer to exit their contract without a penalty. Mid-term price rises are allowed, but must be made clear to consumers.

There are no specific changes to the rules, but the way they were interpreted has differed among providers.

The regulator decided to offer guidance to providers to make it clear exactly how they should behave, and encourage competition. This will take effect in three months’ time and will apply to any new mobile, landline and broadband contracts, including some bundled contracts, entered into from that point in time.

“Ofcom is today making clear that consumers entering into fixed-term telecoms contracts must get a fairer deal,” said Claudio Pollack, Ofcom’s consumer group director. “We think the sector rules were operating unfairly in the provider’s favour, with consumers having little choice but to accept price increases or pay to exit their contract. “We are making it clear that any increase to the monthly subscription price should trigger a consumer’s right to leave their contract – without penalty.”

The consumer group Which? has campaigned for clarity from the regulator.

“Consumers told us price hikes on fixed contracts were unfair, and now people will be able to leave these contracts and switch to a cheaper provider without being hit by extortionate exit fees,” said Richard Lloyd, executive director at Which?.

Ernest Doku, of price comparison website Uswitch, which could benefit from consumers shopping around for deals, said: “Hopefully it will make providers think twice about increasing prices – they won’t want to lose customers two months into a 24-month contract.

“But even if this move does not stop prices going up, at least consumers will be able to vote with their feet and say no to higher bills by moving to a new deal.”

Early Christmas Shopping

Early Christmas Shopping
If you are one of those people who gets their Christmas shopping done early every year, you probably find yourself getting a great deal of envious looks from others still to begin their shopping spree. This is especially true if you have a habit of letting others know you have already finished your Christmas shopping.

This happens because the vast majority of people do not get their Christmas shopping done early enough and may be envious of those who manage to finish their shopping early. The fact is that most Christmas shoppers wait until the last minute to even begin their shopping, something which is clearly evident by the crowds who flock to malls and shopping centres in the final days before Christmas.

If you are one of these people who always finishes their Christmas shopping early then well done! However, if you are like the majority of shoppers who spend every year last minute Christmas shopping this posting will hopefully provide you with some useful tips for getting your Christmas shopping done early this year.

One of the best ways to get your Christmas shopping done early is to try to do a great deal of Christmas shopping for the next year in the first few days after Christmas. Although the stores are usually quite crowded on these days there is not the same sense of urgency which prevails in the days just before Christmas so the atmosphere is more relaxed. Additionally, many stores are holding sales so not only can you do a large portion of your shopping but you are also likely to save a great deal of money in the process. The first few days after Christmas are an excellent time to shop because you are likely still in the Christmas spirit.

Another way to get your Christmas shopping done early is to plan on doing all of your Christmas shopping online this year. This is an excellent idea and online stores such as the Home and Gift shop offer many potential gifts for  all of the family at lower prices than many high street stores. These online stores will also, typically, offer a much greater choice and include a healthy number of possible gifts that are not available in the high street or shopping centres.

Another more unusual way to get your Christmas shopping done early is to plan on purchasing two gifts for each person on your list at the time of their birthday. You can give them the first gift for their birthday and store the other item away until Christmas. This is a great idea because it helps you to get your shopping done early so you can avoid the hassle of going to overcrowded malls and shopping centres and searching for last minute Christmas gifts.

If you follow this simple strategy when the Christmas shopping time arrives, you will already have most, if not all, of your Christmas gifts purchased already and you can spend your time relaxing and enjoying the holiday season instead of running around trying to find the perfect gift for each person on your list.

While this strategy is effective it is important to note you could be destined to some last minute shopping if you have people on your list who have birthdays in late December. In this case you will have to plan ahead and purchase their birthday gift and their Christmas gift early.

Business:             The Home and Gift Shop

URL:                       http://www.thehomeandgiftshop.com/

Wikipedia Probe into Paid For ‘Sock Puppet’ Entries

Wikipedia Probe into Paid For ‘Sock Puppet’ Entries
Wikipedia editors have expressed “shock and dismay” at the discovery of hundreds of user accounts set up to make paid-for entries.  Paid-for advocacy and the adoption of fake “sock puppet” identities for promotional purposes are against the free web encyclopaedia’s policies.

Sue Gardner, executive editor of the Wikimedia Foundation, said “as many as several hundred” accounts were suspect. Editors have blocked or banned more than 250 accounts, she added.

“Our goal is to provide neutral, reliable information for our readers, and anything that threatens that is a serious problem,” said Ms Gardner.  “We are actively examining this situation and exploring our options.”

Wikipedia considers paid-for advocacy a “black hat” practice, she said, that “violates the core principles that have made Wikipedia so valuable for so many people.”

The Wikimedia Foundation is a non-profit organisation that operates Wikipedia, a free online encyclopaedia.

According to investigations by the service’s editors, most of the disputed entries appear to originate from a US company called Wiki-PR, which claims to “build, manage, and translate Wikipedia pages for over 12,000 people and companies.” The editors say promotional entries – which were posted by an account called “Morning227” as well as by others – have been commissioned by Silicon Valley dot-coms, small financial institutions, authors, medical doctors, a musician and an oil company, amongst others.

Citations are taken from a number of blog-like websites that accept “citizen journalist” material, including CrunchBase, DigitalJournal.com and Technorati.com.

Entries “often have a promotional tone and always contain material that is either neutral or that is flattering of their subjects, never material that is critical or negative,” Wikipedia said.

However, Wiki-PR disputed the idea it had broken Wikipedia’s rules by promoting or advertising its clients’ agendas, saying it merely wanted to ensure they were “presented accurately” on the site.

“The PR in Wiki-PR is a misnomer – we’re a research and writing firm,” Jordan French, the firm’s chief executive, told the BBC. “We research the subject and write in an accurate and properly referenced way about it, filling a hole at Wikipedia for many subjects – concepts, companies, people, even astronomy – in which other editors lack an interest. We’re part of the fabric of Wikipedia – an integral part – and useful where volunteers don’t want to or cannot put in the time to understand a subject, find sources, code, upload, and professionally monitor a page. “

Do I Need to Carry out Sound Testing?

Do I Need to Carry out Sound Testing?
Do I need to carry out Sound Testing and if so what levels do I need to achieve? The Building Regulations Part E require that builders demonstrate the sound insulation performance of separating walls/floors in new-build dwellings and/or converted dwellings or rooms for residential purposes (as well as those newly formed by a material change of use).

This applies when separate dwellings are attached via a common partition not exclusively used by the same occupants. The only way to satisfy the relevant compliance with building regulations is to undertake sound insulations testing.

The regulations set minimum performance requirements for sound insulation between spaces, as to provide reasonable conditions for living. Performance can be demonstrated either by sound testing a sample of as-built constructions/properties.

To help you better understand the sound level requirements of Part E, we have collated an easy to follow table – shown below.

Table 1a: Dwelling-houses and flats – performance   standards for separating walls, separating floors, and stairs that have a   separating function.

Airborne   sound insulation
DnT,w+Ctr dB
(Minimum Values)

Impact   sound insulation
L’nT,w dB
(Maximum Values)

Purpose built
Walls
Floors and Stairs

45
45

N/A
62

Material change of use
Walls
Floors and Stairs


43
43


N/A
64

 

Table 1b: Rooms for residential purposes –   performance standards for separating walls, separating floors, and stairs   that have a separating function.

Airborne   sound insulation
DnT,w+Ctr dB
(Minimum Values)

Impact   sound insulation
L’nT,w dB
(Maximum Values)

Purpose built
Walls
Floors and Stairs

43
45


N/A
62

Material change of use
Walls
Floors and Stairs

43
43


N/A
64

Basically, for new build properties you need to achieve 45dB or higher for airborne wall and floor sound tests and 62dB for Impact sound tests. For Converted properties the levels are slightly easier to achieve with 43dB for airborne wall and floor sound testing and 64dB for impact sound testing.

A brief description of the types of sound testing are:

AIRBORNE SOUND TESTS

Airborne sound tests may be required between horizontally and vertically separated pairs of rooms. The sound tests are undertaken by using a sound source, amplifier and loudspeaker to generate a high noise level in one room (the source room). Noise measurements are then taken in both the source and receiver rooms using a prescribed number of source and microphone positions.

The background levels in the receiver room are measured and the reverberation time in the receiver room is also measured. From the results, the airborne sound insulation (DnT,w + Ctr) is calculated and compared to the requirements of Approved Document E.

IMPACT SOUND TESTS

For vertically separated rooms, an Impact sound test may also be required. This sound test is undertaken using a “tapping machine”, (as above) which drops a series of weights onto the floor of the upper room. The noise level in the lower (receiver) room is measured for a prescribed number of source and microphone locations. The background levels in the receiver room are measured and the reverberation time in the receiver room is also measured. From the results, the impact sound insulation (L’nT,w) is calculated and compared to the requirements of Approved Document E.
If you would like more information in regards to sound testing please follow our blog at: http://soundtestinguk.blogspot.co.uk/, or contact us at: info@aptsoundtesting.co.uk or visit our website at: www.aptsoundtesting.co.uk

 

UK Jobless Total Falls

UK Jobless Total Falls by 18.000 to 2.49m
The number of unemployed in the UK fell by 18,000 to 2.49 million in the June-August period, official figures show. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) also said the number of people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance last month fell by 41,700 to 1.35 million.

The unemployment rate drops to 7.7%, down from 7.8% the previous quarter.

The number of people in work, both full-time and part-time, reached a record high of 29.87 million in the quarter, up 155,000.

The ONS looks at demand for full-time work and whether part-time workers would rather work longer hours. It said almost 1.5 million people were part-time because they could not find full-time jobs, the highest figure since records began in 1992.

The unemployment rate has become a key economic indicator for the Bank of England which, under its recently appointed new governor, Mark Carney, is targeting the unemployment rate. It says it will not consider raising interest rates from their record low of 0.5% until it falls to 7%.

The ONS also reported average earnings rose by 0.7% in the year to August, 0.5% down on July.

There was a sharp difference in the number of men and women in part-time employment, with male part-timers increasing by 21,000 and women in part-time work falling by 13,000. But more women were finding full-time work than men, with male full-time employment up by 69,000 compared with a rise of 79,000 for women. Youth unemployment remains just below the one-million mark, with 958,000 unemployed 16 to 24-year-olds, down by 1,000 over the quarter.

The number of people unemployed for more than a year fell by 15,000 to 900,000. Those without work for between six months to a year rose by 29,000 to 446,000, but there was a fall of 32,000 people unemployed for up to six months, leaving 1.1 million in that position.

The worst affected areas in the UK were in Birmingham Ladywood where the unemployment rate stands at 11.4% and in West Belfast where it is 9.3%.

The Prime Minister, David Cameron, said the figures were “good news”. He added: “These are welcome figures. Of course, we all want to see living standards improve, and last year disposable income increased. But the way to deliver on living standards is to grow the economy, keep producing the jobs and cut people’s taxes.”

The Labour leader, Ed Miliband, said Mr Cameron should admit that there was “a cost-of-living crisis in this country”. Mr Miliband said: “Today’s economic figures show a welcome fall in unemployment. They also show that prices have risen faster than wages and that is 39 out of 40 months that living standards have fallen since he became prime minister.”

Car and Van Hire in the North East

Car and Van Hire in the North East
Metro car and van hire are a North East based business, located close to Newcastle Airport, Newcastle upon Tyne City Centre, Gateshead and all of South Tyneside.

Established for over a decade, the company has thrived as it has always prided itself on offering a friendly and efficient service from private hire to all types of business hire and leasing.  Providing new cars, minibuses and wide range of vans all available for short and long term rental, all of the hire cars, minibuses and vans come with insurance for at least 2 people, breakdown cover and unlimited mileage options.

Although much of the business Metro attracts is local, they are also a well-known car rentals company for tourists looking to explore the North East, the Scottish Borders, Northumberland and Yorkshire.

The region has a great many attractions included Hadrians Wall, Durham Cathedral and Castle, the twin Anglo-Saxon monasteries at Wearmouth – Jarrow, the Holy Island of Lindisfarne and Hexham Abbey to name but a few. For those who enjoy shopping there is of course, Europe’s largest shopping centre, the Metro Centre. And with Christmas approaching now is a great time to visit the hundreds of shops all under one roof.

No visit to the North east would be complete without a visit to Newcastle. United by seven bridges across a spectacular riverscape, Newcastle (a city on the north bank of the River Tyne) and Gateshead (a town on the south bank) form a single, diverse and extremely vibrant visitor destination. With so many different areas each offering new sights, sounds and experiences, you’ll be amazed at how much is on offer whatever your tastes. World-class culture, vibrant nightlife, award-winning dining, inspiring heritage, fantastic shopping and acclaimed architecture are linked here, as nowhere else, by the famous Geordie spirit.

So the next time you visit the region give Metro Rental a call and they can help you ‘access all areas’, whatever type of vehicle you may be after, they can provide it.  For further information simply visit the Metro Rental website or call 0191 4603344 and the friendly staff will be happy to help.

Business:             Metro Vehicle Hire

URL:                       http://www.metrorental.co.uk/

Adding a New Staircase to Your Home

Adding a New Staircase to Your Home
Renovating your home or adding attractive features to it has always been aimed towards improving the aesthetic appeal of the whole structure. Installing a new staircase to your home can definitely increase its beauty especially when the design is fitted to suit your personality, style and the house as a whole. Furthermore, a purposely built staircase in your home can turn a dull and boring space into an eye catching area that guests would love to see.

When choosing the style for the stairs that you would want installed in your house, you can opt for a traditional staircase design or go for a modern one. Conventional designers make use of the usual materials in building like wood, while designs if modern staircases employs the use of different materials such as metal, glass or even wood into one intricate pattern.

Traditional Staircase Design
Traditional staircase designs add a classic appeal to your house. Furthermore, it can bring a touch of olden times and elegance to your home. Below is a list of traditional staircase designs that you can choose from:

  • Straight –  a straight staircase can be designed in two ways, one of which is designed to go from top to bottom in a straight line and the other forms an L shape which goes straight up and goes either left or right at a landing.
  • Spiral – a spiral staircase coil on a fixed axis which is often a pole that is connected from the floor to the ceiling.
  • Circular – this is a type of staircase that is often built in lighthouses. It is characterized by a series of steps that coils continuously on a radius.
  • Storage Stair – a staircase that is specifically designed to save space by incorporating storage shelves under the cavity of the stair.
  • Retractable Attic Stair – a stair that can give you access to the attic by pulling it down from the ceiling. This traditional staircase design is a good way to save space.

Modern Staircase Design
Modern staircases are installed in homes with the aim of giving it a more futuristic appeal. Although, its installation is not limited to newly constructed homes. Modern staircase design can sometimes give the optical illusion of it defying some natural physical laws.

  • Horizontally Retractable – the modern innovation to the retractable attic stair which is commonly used as a space saving loft stair. It is used by sliding it into the supporting wall.
  • Reclaimed Materials – this is a type of modern stair that uses recycled materials as steps for the stair. With proper imagination and innovative thinking, this can give you an eco-friendly staircase that is aesthetically appealing to the eyes.
  • Open Riser/Floating – a popular design for stairs as it gives the intriguing impression that they do not have any way of support or risers. Although this specific design appears to be fragile and that it cannot carry any weight, the engineers carefully designed reinforcements to harness the inertia that a typical stairs can generate. The designer then hides such reinforcements from view.
  • Hanging Stairs – a type of spiral stairs that is hanged with surrounding walls that gives it the expression of extending down as if it were a part of the ceiling. Furthermore, the first step’s bottom does not touch the floor, providing it with a modern look. Additionally, the designer leaves the open underneath for one to see that the structure is in fact a staircase.

In choosing the right kind of stairs to be installed in your home you must always consider the overall impact that you want your home to have. Visit the Stair Parts Direct website and choose materials that will complement the interior design of the part where the stairs would be placed.

Business:             Stairparts Direct

URL:                       http://stairpartsdirect.co.uk/

Global PC Shipments Drop to a Five Year Low

Global PC Shipments Drop to a Five Year Low
Global shipments of personal computers (PCs) have hit a five-year low, according to new figures from the research firm Gartner. Shipments totalled 80.3m units in the three months to September, down 8.6% from a year ago.

PC sales have now fallen for six quarters in a row, hurt by the growing popularity of tablets and smartphones.

Gartner said falling prices of tablets had further hurt sales of PCs in emerging markets. “Consumers’ shift from PCs to tablets for daily content consumption continued to decrease the installed base of PCs both in mature as well as in emerging markets,” Mikako Kitagawa, principal analyst at Gartner, said in a statement. “A greater availability of inexpensive Android tablets attracted first-time consumers in emerging markets, and as supplementary devices in mature markets.”

Research firm IDC, also released figures on Thursday, which showed global shipments of PCs fell by 7.6% to 81.6m units over the period.

Gartner and IDC use slightly different methods to calculate PC shipment data.  IDC said it was likely the ongoing decline in PC sales would continue into next year. “Whether constrained by a weak economy or being selective in their tech investments, buyers continue to evaluate options and delay PC replacements,” Loren Loverde, vice president of IDC’s Worldwide PC Trackers, said in a statement.

In July this year, IDC had said it was still looking for some improvement in growth during the second half of the year. It has now reversed that view.  “The third quarter was pretty close to forecast, which unfortunately doesn’t reflect much improvement in the PC market, or potential for near-term growth,” said Mr Loverde.