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I am amongst the millions of people who have a mobile phone. Perhaps I am not the best person to write an opinion on a mobile phone company, as I only use mine for occasional calls and emergencies. However, I thought an opinion from a ?low-user?s? perspective would be useful for others in a similar position. So, for any of you who are still unsure about mobile phones, read on............... In today?s world it is difficult to imagine life without a telephone. Although I don?t use my mobile very often, it is reassuring to know that it is there when I need it. VODAFONE (in common with the other service providers) gives you two options: A CONTRACT - whereby you sign up for a period (typically twelve months) and pay your monthly bills by direct debit. There is a confusing choice of contracts available, depending on your needs. The advantage is that you will get the telephone handset at a subsidised rate; the disadvantage for a ?low-user? is that you will more than pay for this in the long-run. PAY AS YOU TALK - whereby you prepay for your calls by putting credit on your phone. Again, there are a number of choices available, but the basic idea is the same. You pay in advance for your calls which means you can control costs, but the disadvantage is that you could find yourself cut off if you suddenly run out of credit. As I said at the beginning, this opinion is for those who like me make very few calls. I am on the PAY AS YOU TALK ALL CALLS tariff, which I am very satisfied with. In my opinion, it is the best option currently available. Here are the key facts: CALL CHARGES Monday to Friday 7.30am to 7.30pm: 35p per minute Monday to Friday other: 10p per minute Saturday & Sunday 7.30am to 7.30pm: 10p per minute Saturday & Sunday other: 5p per minute PER SECOND BILLING You are charged by the second, with no minimum charge. SERVICE CHARGE As its name suggests, there
is no service charge on the ?all calls? tariff. You are simply charged for the calls you make. INCOMING CALLS Incoming calls are free. TEXT MESSAGING You can send and receive text messages of up to 160 characters. MONTHLY STATEMENT You are not sent a monthly statement, and therefore there is no record of the calls made from the phone. BALANCE REMAINING At any time you can find out the balance remaining on your phone by dialling 1345. This call is free. VALIDITY The credit on your phone is valid indefinitely. You need to make at least one call in a period of 180 days to keep your number active. REGISTRATION You do not have to register the phone, and therefore can remain anonymous. However, VODAFONE encourages registration, and when I bought my phone it was offering an extra £5 of calling credit as an incentive. COVERAGE In the UK, the VODAFONE coverage is excellent. You can even use the phone outside the UK by signing up for roaming. This is easy to arrange but you need to contact VODAFONE to arrange this before you leave. Most countries are available, but it can be very expensive to use your phone abroad on a prepaid tariff. You need to be aware that you are also charged for receiving calls when you are outside the UK. I recommend that you check the latest rates before you go, as they are constantly changing. TOPPING-UP As you would expect, VODAFONE have made it very easy to top up your phone. You can buy vouchers, pay by credit card over the telephone or top up via the Internet. And, you even get a warning when your credit is running low. So, there you have it, the key facts for those of you who are still waiting to take the plunge and acquire a mobile phone. What are you waiting for?
- Do you have access to the internet (I assume the answer to this is ?yes? as you?re reading this online)? - Do you want to earn a good interest rate on your savings? - Do you want a guarantee that this rate will remain competitive? - Do you want a savings account that?s easy to use? - Do you want your savings to be safe with a name you can trust? If the answer to all those questions is ?yes? I recommend that you open a savings account with Egg, which is owned by Prudential. They have an internet savings account, which currently pays 4% gross interest per annum (or 3.2% if you?re a basic rate tax payer, or 2.4% if you?re a higher rate tax payer). You only need £1 to open the account, so there?s no excuse not to start saving. The good news is that the interest rate on this account is guaranteed to match the bank base rate until 31 December 2007. This is a valuable guarantee as it means that interest rates on this account will remain extremely competitive, as savings rates are usually below base rates. (That?s how banks make their money ? by charging borrowers a rate above base, and giving savers a rate below base.) Opening an account is easy. You simply fill in the form online (on a secure part of the site). It is easy to complete, and doesn?t take long. You then set up some simple security details that enable you to access your account at any time. PAYING IN Paying money into your account is easy. There are a number of ways you can do this: - by debit card. Use your debit card (Switch, Visa Delta or Solo) to make a one-off transfer of up to £10,000. The transfer will appear in your account the same day. - by direct debit. You can transfer up to £50,000 every month, quarter or year. You can easily change the amount of your direct debit, providing you do this within 5 days of the payment date. - by BACS. This usually takes around 3 working days to reach your account. - by CHAPS. This is usua
lly a same day transfer, but your bank is likely to charge a fee for this. - by cheque posted to Egg. WITHDRAWING MONEY It is just as easy to get access to your money. You can transfer money to another Egg Savings Account, or transfer it to any other UK bank or building society account. Transfers to other banks/building societies can be made in two ways: - by BACS. The money will normally be available within 3 working days. - By CHAPS ? Provided you request this before 2pm, the funds will reach your bank/building society account the same day. Egg charges £25 for this service. However, there is no cashcard linked to the account. STATEMENTS You can view your account online at any time, and see all of your transactions from the last 12 months. You receive a statement through the post once a year. WEBSITE The website address is www.egg.com.
Now that summer is well and truly upon us (and we?ve even had some sunshine as a treat to prove it), I?m very conscious of the need to improve texture of my skin. I recently tried Simple Exfoliating Body Wash, which in addition to being a shower gel is also a gentle exfoliator. Anyone who is sensible and chooses fake tan instead of risking skin cancer will tell you that it is important to exfoliate your skin before applying. I have used this product before applying my tan and it has proved to be an excellent preparation. However, even if you are just looking for a good shower gel to refresh and rejuvenate your skin, I highly recommend this product. It is easy to use, and is gentle enough to use every time you shower. I tend to have at least one shower a day, and have been using it consistently for several weeks. I have already noticed an improvement in the texture of my skin. It removes any dry flaking skin, and leaves your skin very smooth afterwards. Who is it suitable for? I would say all skin types, particularly as it is a ?simple? product. It is likely that those with dry skins will see the greatest benefit from using the product. It is not really a shower gel aimed at children, and may be a little rough for their delicate skin. Is it messy to use? No, not at all. You simply use it as you would any ?normal? shower gel. Does it hurt? No, it is a very gentle product, and is much kinder to your skin than a salt loofah! What is the cost? Around £2.49 (but it has recently been on a buy one get one free promotion). So, although you can buy cheaper shower gels, this is certainly a very competitively priced exfoliating product. And do I recommend it? YES!
When it comes to choosing a nail polish remover, there's a whole range to choose from. You can pay a premium price for a designer label, or can stick to a Drugstore/Supermarket's own label. But don?t they all do the same thing? I only want my nail polish remover to take off my polish. Well, that's not quite true. I want it to remove my nail polish quickly and easily AND I want it to leave my nails in the best of condition. So, are all nail polishes the same? I don't think so. My favourite is Cutex, because it is very effective at removing my nail polish. More importantly I have found that it doesn't dry my nails, but helps to keep them in good condition. It claims to contain a conditioner for nails, which in my experience seems to work. I regularly wear nail polish and therefore am regularly using nail polish remover. I have no complaints about Cutex. It is pretty competitive in terms of cost - around £1.39 for a bottle. It's available in most shops including Boots, Superdrug and major supermarkets. There are several different varieties. The latest claims to help whiten your nail tips. I must say that I have been using this for a while, but I haven't noticed that my nail tips are any whiter!
Bananalotto is FREE and easy to play. You simply log onto the site and choose 6 numbers (between 1 and 49) and a Banana number. You then validate your entry by clicking on one of the advertising banners. You will receive an e-mail confirming your entry. The daily draw takes place at 5.30pm (UK time) each day. The top prize is £1 million, which will be shared among all winners who select the 6 winning numbers plus the Banana number. Other prizes currently on offer are: Match 6 numbers: £100,000 (shared between winners) Match 5 numbers: £50 Match 4 numbers: £5 The prizes for matching 4 or 5 numbers are not shared, and there is no limit to the number of potential winners. There used to be a prize of 50p (wow!) for matching 3 numbers, but that was scrapped several months ago. Prizes do not rollover if they are not won. Rules to be aware of: · You must be at least 18 years old to play · The number of players per household is limited to three players of the same surname and personal postal address. · You can only play once per day. One thing I like about Bananalotto is that you do not have to check back with the site to see if you are a winner. Every player who has participated in the draw of the day will be sent the results by e-mail whether or not they are winners that day. More importantly, I can vouch for the fact that they really do pay out. I have won a grand total of 50p, but I did receive my cheque very promptly! Who is behind Bananalotto? The organiser of the Game in the United Kingdom is Netarget Ltd, Friars House, 157-168 Blackfriars Road, London SE1 8EZ
I wouldn't like anyone to think that I smell, so I am very careful about which de-odorant I choose. However, I also like to avoid wasting money, so I am keen to choose a product that is good value for money. Boots own brand de-odorant fits the bill on both counts. I have used the product for many years, and choose the fragrance free roll-on variety because: 1. It is quick and easy to apply 2. It is a compact size, which is easy for travelling 3. It is fragrance free, which means it doesn't clash with my perfume 4. It is unisex 5. It lasts all day, keeping me fresh and confident 6. It is good value for money 7. It is non-sting and can be applied even after shaving Any disadvantages? Yes, it's only available in Boots. On the plus side, it is often on promotion "3 for 2" - I have even seen it 2 for the price of 1.
I lead a busy lifestyle, so any opportunity to save time is very welcome. With this in mind, I was very excited about the launch of 3 in 1 cleansing wipes. These have taken off in a big way, and it seems that all the major skincare companies produce them including: Johnson's PH 5.5 Garnier Synergie Simple L'Oreal Plentitude They promise a quick and easy way to remove all make-up in one go, and act as a toner. According to the packaging, they are also suitable for removing eye make-up, even waterproof mascara. There is not much to choose between them in terms of cost. The average price is around £3.99 for 25, although if you shop around you can sometimes find them cheaper. I have tried several brands, and have posted this opinion under the category for Garnier Synergie. However, I have found there is not much difference between them, and none stands out as significantly better or worse that another. MY OPINION I don't like them. Why not? I find that they do not remove my eye make-up very easily. In fact, however carefully I use them and think I have removed everything, I still wake up with rings of mascara around my eyes. I also feel that they do not cleanse my skin very well; in fact I choose to wash my face after using them, which really defeats the object! So, although I tried these with great hope and expectation, I'm afraid they're not something I can recommend to other consumers.
There's a lot of talk about "carpetbagging" these days, whereby savers deposit a relatively small sum of money into a Building Society account in the hope of gaining a substantial windfall. Most Building Societies have now put up defences against such practices, and therefore savers should not open an account with a windfall in mind, as they will be disappointed! Unfortunately, the Nationwide is one such Building Society that will not pay windfalls to new members. In fact, any new members must sign to acknowledge that they have no windfall rights. But, this opinion is not about windfalls; it is about the Nationwide and how it compares as a Building Society. The Nationwide claims to be the Number One Building Society. Because it is still a mutual Building Society (ie owned by its members, not shareholders) it is very competitive in terms of its savings and borrowing rates. It compares very favourably with most High Street Banks and Building Societies, although you could probably obtain a better rate on the internet. They also have a wide variety of accounts, that will suit most peoples' needs and circumstances. The main advantage of choosing the Nationwide, apart from its competitive rates, is the number of branches. As its name suggests, there are branches in most major towns, making it a very convenient Building Society for customers to gain access to. And, branches are open on Saturday mornings, which is handy for anyone who works Monday to Friday. I have also found the branch staff to be very friendly and customer focussed. You can open an account with a minimum of £1, so there's no excuse for not getting into the savings habit. I try to put my loose change to one side each week, and am surprised at how quickly it mounts up if I am strict with myself and only withdraw it once a year.
I don't have children, yet I still buy Johnson's Baby Lotion. Why? Well, I find it to be an extremely versatile product and excellent value for money. MY FAVOURITE USES A CLEANSER AND MAKE UP REMOVER Johnson's Baby Lotion is perfect for removing make up. It cleans my skin really well, and leaves it feeling fresh and soft. I have tried many expensive cleansing products, but have found Johnson's Baby Lotion to be the best. And, of course, much cheaper! A BODY MOISTURISER Johnson's Baby Lotion is easily absorbed into my skin, and keeps my body moisturised after a bath or shower. It has a pleasant smell, which is light enough not to clash with my perfume. A HAND CREAM I have also decanted some into a dispenser to use as a hand cream. I keep this by the sink to use every time I wash up. Although I use a 'proper' hand cream at night, it is 'handy' to have a supply of Johnson's Baby Lotion to apply regularly throughout the day. Overall it is an excellent product, and excellent value for money. Its versatility means I have fewer bottles lying around the house, and when I go on holiday I have less to pack. Many other consumers must agree because it is a household name that's been around for generations!
I must admit that I have several credit cards. As well as the usual Visa and Mastercard I am also the proud owner of an American Express card. Why do I say proud? I suppose that since I was younger I have always regarded American Express cards as being a little more exclusive than the average credit card. Perhaps with the introduction of gold and platinum cards that is no longer true. Here are the key facts? · My American Express card was issued through the British Airways Executive Club. It was issued free for the first year (in fact, I was given some bonus BA miles as a ?thank you? for taking out the card). · Providing you spend at least £2000 per year in subsequent years it is free, otherwise there is an annual charge. · The interest rate is currently 1.52% per month, although no interest is charged if you repay in full by the required date. · You earn 1 BA mile for every £ that you spend on the card. However, don?t get too excited, as you will need 13,000 miles for a free flight to Paris. The main drawback is that an American Express card is not widely accepted. I would not recommend that you have one as your only credit card ? I use mine mainly as a back-up to my other cards, and as a way of saving BA miles. I would dare to say that there are no places that accept American Express cards, but don?t accept either Visa or Mastercard.
Choosing a mortgage lender is one of the biggest decisions you?ll make in your life. Get it wrong, and it could cost you dearly. Remortgaging has never been easier, and many lenders are desperate for new business, and will even poach from other lenders. That said, it is still time consuming to change mortgage lender, and not necessarily without a cost, albeit hidden. So, it is important to get it right first time, and not rely on the fact that you can change lender part way through your mortgage. Four years ago I moved house and was looking for a lender. I shopped around (although without the luxury of the internet to take away the donkey work), and chose Direct Line. I had two main reasons: 1. At the time they were offering a competitive interest rate, below many of the leading High Street banks and building societies. The current standard variable rate is 5.71% with some discounts available. 2. They calculate the interest on a daily basis, and allow you to repay more anytime you wish. Again, this was in place 4 years ago, long before some of the building societies were forced by consumer pressure to change the way they calculated interest. Over the last four years, my mortgage rate has been reasonably competitive, and I have not judged it worth my while to consider changing. Their customer services staff are friendly and helpful, and I have no major complaints about my mortgage until now. Prior to the interest rate cut of 0.5% announced recently, Direct Line?s standard variable rate was 5.96%. I checked on the internet yesterday, and it has now reduced to 5.71%. You don?t need to be a maths genius to calculate that they?ve reduced the mortgage rate by only 0.25%, NOT the 0.5% cut in interest rates. If other lenders have passed on the full interest rate cut, maybe Direct Line isn?t so competitive after all!
I've had my Goldfish credit card now for several years, and have found it to offer the second-best return. It gives you the equivalent of 1% back on what you spend, although admittedly not in cash. As an aside, the GM Visa card is still the best value credit card for rebates, giving you up to 6% of your spend back off a Vauxhall. If you want to know more about this, please see my earlier opinion. Anyway, back to the Goldfish card. Here are the important facts.... · it's available as either a Visa or a Mastercard. · it's FREE · you get 1% back in rebate points which you can redeem for Boots gift vouchers, money off your British Gas Bill, and a wide variety of other useful items. · you pay no interest if you repay in full 25 days after your statement date, otherwise the interest rate is currently 1.24% per month (15.9% APR) · cash advances are subject to a cash handling fee of 1.5% (minimum £2.50) · you can pay by post, at a bank, online or by direct debit To find out more, call their customer services on 08705 111 444 or visit the website www.goldfish.com. The website is really easy to use, and once you've registered you can view your account on line, make payments, redeem you points, etc.. The card is widely accepted, and it is nice to know that I will be getting something back for using a card that doesn't cost anything. Oh, and the card is very pretty. When I was shopping in Canada last year, several of the shop assistants commented on how cute the goldfish design was!
I returned to British Telecom in July, having been informed by Tiscali/Worldonline that they would no longer be able to supply me with a telephone line from 12 July. Unfortunately, I live in an area where there are no cable companies, so I have no alternative but to rent my line from British Telecom. Believe me, this is frustrating, as I see my neighbours who live less than a mile away taking advantage of cable, and receiving free internet calls as part of their cable deal. Anyway, I digress! Having returned to British Telecom I have no complaints over the quality of the line I receive. And, their customer services staff were friendly and helpful enough. And, I have minimised my bill by paying by direct debit. My main complaint?. I cannot understand my new bill. About a month after I rejoined, British Telecom announced that it had revamped its bills, making it easier for customers to understand. RUBBISH! My telephone bill is now five pages long, and is not easier to understand. What with all the various packages that British Telecom offer, for example talk together, surftogether, BT anytime, friends and family, I am confused. I consider myself to be an intelligent person, yet I am bewildered. What chance do others have, especially the elderly? So, come on, BT, lets have fairer pricing for everyone. I note that direct debit payers will soon be getting cheaper line rental ? I say thanks, but what about the less well off who do not have a bank account?
Several years ago I stayed in a hotel that had a small bottle of Listerine in the bathroom amongst the usual supplies of shampoo and soap. Curious, I gave it a try. This was the first time I had used a mouthwash, and was immediately impressed with the results! It is available in a variety of minty flavours, plus the original. My favourite is fresh mint, which as its name suggests has a clean fresh taste. I try to use it twice a day, and have noticed that my breath does smell fresher. Immediately afterwards my mouth is left with a nice ?tingle? and the benefit lasts for up to an hour. What about its claim that it helps to prevent tooth decay? Well, I haven?t had a filling for a couple of years, so maybe it is doing the trick at helping to prevent tooth decay. One slight downside is that it is more expensive that some of its competitors, and significantly more expensive than all of the supermarket own brands. In an attempt to save money, I have tried most of the others, but on each occasion have been disappointed! Having tried what I consider to be the best, no other product even comes close. So, the only thing I can do is to keep any eye out for when it is on special offer and buy several bottles in one go. With the price wars going on between supermarkets and drug stores, I can only hope that it will be coming down in price!
I?ve tried many different handcreams, but I still keep coming back to an old favourite ? Neutrogena Norwegian Formula. I first tried it about 5 years ago, and was impressed by how concentrated it was. For some strange reason, I believed it was made in Norway, but I guess that?s part of the marketing ploy. Neutrogena products are American, and rather frustratingly, the products are much cheaper in America, or, perhaps more accurately, much dearer in Britain. The handcream costs £3.79 which is significantly more than many rival brands. Over the years I?ve tried to find comparative handcreams, but without success. Other so-called concentrated formulae are just not up to the job! Neutrogena is easily absorbed ? I usually apply a thicker layer at bedtime. I really have noticed the difference it makes to the condition of both my hands and nails. I especially notice the difference when I get lazy and stop using it, often because I can?t be bothered to make it part of my nighttime ritual. If I don?t use it, I find my hands become much drier. Now that winter is fast approaching, I will make sure that I find a moment to apply it. It claims to be concentrated, and contain over 100 applications in the tube. If you use it sparingly, then even at £3.79 it still represents value for money as it lasts for ages. You can probably get it for less than this if you shop around ? some supermarkets and Superdrug occasionally run promotions. When I spot it cheaper, I usually stock up on 2 or 3 tubes.