Category Archives: Money

Energy companies hit rock bottom for customer service

New Which? research has found the Big Six energy suppliers are among the worst offenders when it comes to poor customer service, with Npower finishing bottom for the first time in an annual survey of the top 100 big brands.

Which! asked 3,621 UK consumers which companies are customer service champions and which brands just aren’t up to scratch. All of the Big Six energy companies languish in the bottom fifth of the table, with none of them scoring more than two stars for making customers feel valued.  Npower fares the worst with a customer score of just 57%, replacing Ryanair who came bottom of the table last year.  Second from the bottom is Scottish Power, with a customer rating of 58%, down from joint 62nd in 2013’s rankings.

The research also found that:

· First Direct came top of the table in our survey with a score of 87%. It achieved the full five stars for people feeling valued as a customer as well as its complaints resolution. It is joined in the top five by Lush (86%), John Lewis (83%), Lakeland (83%) and Waitrose (83%).

· Some of the big banks have a way to go to catch First Direct – Santander and NatWest were joint 70th with a score of 70%; Royal Bank of Scotland, HSBC and Barclays/Barclaycard all finished joint 60th with a score of 71%.

· Automated phone systems were ranked as the top customer service gripe (43%) with being passed around (37%) and annoying ‘hold’ music (35%) the other top irritations.

Richard Lloyd, Which? executive director said:

“The Big Six energy companies have now hit rock bottom for customer service and, with record high levels of complaints, it is clear just how far they still have to go to put things right for their customers.

“Good companies know the value of customer service, so it’s disappointing that some of our biggest firms seem to have a lot to learn about keeping their customers happy. This survey should be a wake-up call for the companies with the lowest customer scores.”

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More than 20% of Zoopla members take up shares

Zoopla Property Group Plc (ZPG) will today float on the London Stock Exchange and the company has announced that over 20% of its agent and developer members have taken up their rights to purchase shares at a discount to the offer price in the company’s Initial Public Offering (IPO).

ZPG’s members who have elected to buy shares in the IPO will initially be allocated £9.2m of shares for a total investment of £7.4m. Continue reading

Zoopla release prospectus and confirm member offer

Following Zoopla Property Group’s (ZPG) recent announcement of its intention to float on the London Stock Exchange, it has released its prospectus and has confirmed that the exclusive Member Offer is now open, allowing its agent and developer members to subscribe for shares in the Initial Public Offering (IPO) at a 20% discount to the IPO price.

All ZPG members will receive a written communication along with an application form for the Member offer over the next couple of days which will need to be returned by those who wish to subscribe for the discounted shares by 13th June. Continue reading

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all our readers

Thanks to you, Propertytalk Live! has enjoyed another hugely successful year and seen exceptional growth in the number of people visiting the site.

And that’s not all – the number following us on Twitter alone has soared past 21,000 which we think is phenomenal. Continue reading

Lifetime cost of UK household is more than £1.8m

The average UK household will cost a total of £1,802,000 (or £29,000 a year) to run over the course of a lifetime, according to new analysis by Prudential of the ONS Family Spending Report.

The figures show that household costs fluctuate over time, with annual costs peaking at £45,000 when the head of the household is aged between 30 and 49, reflecting the costs of raising children. Continue reading

Poor pension provision drives investors to buy to let

Only 5% felt that now is not a good time to invest in residential property, the main reasons being the belief that prices have further to fall, difficulties in securing mortgage finance and, thirdly, concerns over the financial security of tenants.

Investors are taking a long term view, with 65% stating that rental income for retirement is their main motivation, followed by long term capital growth (27%). Just 8% cited short term capital growth as their reason for investing.

A large proportion are buying either outright with cash or with a very small mortgage, meaning they are not facing the usual hurdle of Continue reading

Average disposable household income fell in 2010/11

Overall, households paid £7,500 per year in direct taxes (such as income tax and council tax). The richest fifth paid 24 per cent of their gross income (£19,700), while the poorest fifth paid 10 per cent of gross household income (£1,300).

However, the lowest income groups pay a much higher share of their income in indirect taxes (such as VAT and duties on alcohol and fuel). The proportion of income paid in indirect taxes has increased for all groups between 2009/10 and 2010/11. The increase can largely be explained by the standard rate of VAT increasing from 15 per cent to 20 Continue reading

Homeowners hit hard by household bill increases

And as consumers face average water bill increases of 5.7% this month, one in 10 people (10%) say they would not be able to manage financially if their household bills were to rise further over the next 12 months.

A further third (36%) say they would only be able to manage by making sacrifices elsewhere.

Santander’s analysis reveals that the price of gas has almost trebled (up 181%) in the past 10 years. Electricity has doubled (up 109%), while water bills have risen by 64%, and council tax is up by 57%.

By comparison, salaries have risen from Continue reading

Budget 2012 – Chancellor punishes stamp duty evaders

These were the key aspects for the property sector of a Budget dominated by the decision to reduce the controversial 50p top rate of income tax to 45p from April 2013.

Instead the Budget took a swipe at the wealthy in a series of other tax and anti-avoidance measures.

Justifiying the end of the 50p top rate of income tax paid on earnings over £150,000, Osborne said it damaged competitiveness and had only raised a third of the £3billion expected.

Instead, five times as much would be raised from the very rich by other policies in the Budget.Continue reading