The Financial News You Need To Know With Sarah Pennells – November 2014

Sarah Pennells is a personal finance journalist and the face behind SavvyWoman.co.uk. We think she does a great job at explaining financial subjects in a very clear and accessible manner. You can find her column below where she writes about the latest financial news, and helps you get more from your money.

Overtime counts towards holiday pay

A landmark ruling could mean that millions of people get an increase in their holiday pay. An employment tribunal ruled that overtime should be included in holiday pay. At the moment, your holiday pay is based on your basic pay only.

This ruling could be appealed, so – as I write this – it may not result in a change in the law for some time. However, the union Unite, which brought the claim, says that, as things stand, all UK employers will have to include overtime in holiday pay calculations.

Switching your credit card

When was the last time you switched your credit card? According to one price comparison site, we’re reluctant to change providers and stay with the same one for an average of seven years. But, whether you clear your balance in full or owe thousands on your card, you could save money by switching. Here’s how:

  • If you pay your card off in full every month, you could get rewarded for your spending with cashback or loyalty points.
  • If you need to make a large purchase – perhaps you want to buy new furniture or a something like a TV or washing machine – you could switch to a card deal that charges 0% on purchases. There are several that charge no interest on purchases for six months and some for longer.
  • If you can’t clear your balance in full in the next two or three months, consider switching to a 0% balance transfer card. It’s a competitive market at the moment and if you’ve got a good credit rating, you may be able to get a card charging 0% for almost three years (I’ve seen cards with 0% interest for 33 and 34 months). If your credit rating isn’t so good, you may still qualify for a shorter balance transfer deal (say, up to 12 months).

Flight delay compensation

If you’ve been turned down for compensation because your flight was delayed because of a technical fault, you may be able to go back to the airline and try and claim again.

That’s because of a court ruling last week, which said that airlines couldn’t two airlines couldn’t try and appeal against an earlier ruling. Still with me? Under European Union rules, airlines must give you compensation if your flight is delayed beyond a certain time. How much compensation you’ll get depends on how long the delay was and how far you were flying (long haul flights get more compensation).  The only exception is if the delay was caused by exceptional circumstances (such as strikes or extreme weather).

Some airlines had turned down compensation claims due to technical faults, saying that these were ‘exceptional circumstances’. But in the summer a court ruled that they can’t do this. If you made a claim in the last six years (five years in Scotland) and it was turned down, you can go back to the airline and put in a new claim.

Compensation amounts range from €250 to €600 (approximately £190 to £460) per person per flight. The delay time is taken as delay to your arrival time, not the time the flight was due to depart. These rules apply to all flights leaving from a European Union (EU) airport, flights within the EU. It applies to flights to the EU from elsewhere if they’re with an EU-based airline.

SAVVY TIP: You have to claim compensation from the airline. You can download a claim form from the Civil Aviation Authority’s website, although most of the airlines have information on how to claim on their own websites.

National Consumer Week

This week is National Consumer Week – designed to raise awareness of consumer rights. Trading Standards, which is responsible for tackling rogue and unfair traders, is highlighting the problem of dodgy doorstep traders. It’s a particular problem for older people who can sometimes be conned out of many thousands of pounds for shoddy work done on their house (often that they didn’t need in the first place).

If you sign up to a contract on your doorstep, you have the right to cancel it. If you buy something costing more than £42 from someone who sells to you in your home, workplace or someone else’s home, you must be given your cancellation rights. If the trader doesn’t do this, it’s a criminal offence.

SAVVY TIP: You have the right to cancel within 14 days and to get your money back, unless – for example – you’ve had a trader over to do some emergency work that they’ve already carried out.

It’s worth knowing that if you’ve been bullied or misled into signing up for something since October 1st, you have up to 90 days to cancel your contract and get your money back.

Number spoofing scam

Beware that there’s a new scam doing the rounds. This one involves fraudsters convincing people that their bank is calling them, by cloning the bank’s number so it appears on the victim’s handset.

Over the last year or so there’s been a dramatic increase in the number of fraudsters calling people and pretending to be from their bank, having spotted a ‘fraudulent’ transaction. Hundreds of people have been duped into handing over bank card and other financial details – and the fraudsters have then used this information to empty their accounts.

Financial Fraud Action, which issued the alert, says that the number spoofing scam has become increasingly common over the last few weeks.

Food or Facebook?

I love a good survey! Especially when it says that one in eight of us reckon we could go longer without food than social media. Well, yes, maybe for an afternoon, but I’m not sure many of us would be up for fasting for days so we can keep on Facebook.

Although I suppose, at least you could tweet, upload to Facebook or Instagram (is that a verb?!) pictures of your empty plate while you go without…

The survey, carried out by an insurer, also showed that the internet/wifi was considered the number one essential item – ahead of a bath or shower. Yikes! Pass the deodorant…