Wednesday, December 13, 2006

All (most of) our Xmases have arrived at once?

Our friend Andrew has sent this. Take advantage of it as your conscience dictates (those poor loves do need the money to survive and make their meagre profits):

'It is illegal for any lender to charge more than the actual admin cost of penalties levied: estimated at £4.50 maximum for a bounced cheque, £2.50 maximum for a DD etc. Lenders no longer use the word 'penalty' in the hope of getting round the law. They now call it a 'service fee'. The Office of Fair Trading has now refused to countenance out-of-court settlements where lenders offer partial repayments as 'goodwill'. You are entitled to full repayment of the previous six years of penalties with interest. No lender has ever contested a repayment of penalties case in court.'

Are penalty charges bank robbery?

How to claim back penalties

The Money Programme's own Bank Commission

Questions for the lenders

Hear no query, see no query, speak no query.

My reply to a Guardian piece: We shouldn't sneer at the goodwill of ethical shoppers

"An interesting commentary, based on interesting articles with equally interesting posts in response.

I have not read the Economist piece, but will try and do so now.

I did read Mr. Hastings', and have to say I think the choice of the word sneer here was unfortunate. It risks the rebuttal being viewed as more emotional and knee-jerk than factual and persuasive. Especially if, as noted, there was a marked lack of substance in support. And, despite having my own website, I'm afraid saying 'check the URL’ doesn't quite cut it, especially when it comes to fmcg brands. The competition for a consumer’s attention (and to sway them) is vast. FairTrade obviously know this, and rather than blow funds on ad campaigns, they have harnessed a very effective PR machine in support, with the willing cooperation of the media. And why not? But ways to go, by all accounts.

I have a great belief in the 'better than nothing' approach, but would stop short of ' don’t ask questions'.

Trust is a delicate thing. And we can ill afford to lose the first waves of those embracing ethical and environmental issues if (big I, big F) they prove to have been rushed into actions not just that prove financially dubious but also ethic/environmentally. You just end up looking dumb and are less likely to risk being burned again.

Far better to establish the credentials clearly and try to (I know it is hard) share the end-benefits understandably to enable reasoned decisions to be made.

I am currently weighing the whole home wind turbine thing having been a keen convert but lacking the funds to plunge straight away. Now I am seeing a lot that makes me wonder if I dodged a bullet. It's one thing to pay double for my juice; that's my choice. But if it's not going to have a worthy enviROI then... hmmmn.

And I wouldn't be addressing this dilemma as I am now but for those who simply asked 'is this the best way?'

My site gets many press releases, and if appropriate I am happy to share a 'better than nothing' as I come across them (your URL awaits FairTrade - your name is mentioned a lot already by others, positively, so it would great to have your pitch in support ) so please if you have such feel free to send them in. But I do now, with limited resources to check, concern myself with provenance chains before committing to an unequivocal endorsement by

That, ultimately, is still up to the individual to discover what they need. But any smart outfit will make it easy for them to do so, and trust in the result."

Interestingly, in several other places I am seeing the trend to 'stop asking questions because [we're worthy, you're just being difficult... etc]'. The best form defence is attck I suppose, but in mnay ways a rational reply that answers can stop the 'fight' right away.