Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Some people are Sofa King Stupid.

Sofa King have used the strapline "Our Prices are Sofa King Low" for over nine years:

Now it seems we have a new generation of stupid people. 3 people complained to the ASA saying the phrase was

... offensive and unsuitable for general display.

As Sofa King pointed out in their defence:

... they had used the slogan "Where the Prices are Sofa King Low!" as their company strap line since they began trading nine years previously and that it was used on their premises and on their vehicles as well as in their advertising. ...complaints made to Northamptonshire Police in 2004 were not taken further by the Crown Prosecution Service and that no complaints had been made direct to them.

Sadly common sense has failed to prevail at the ASA. In their upheld  judgement:

but considered that [the phrase Sofa King Low] could be interpreted as a derivative of the swear word "fuck", which consumer research had found to be a word so likely to offend that it should not be used in ads at all, even when it was relevant to the name of a product.

Not sure who are the worse idiots - the three who complained, or the ASA for upholding the complaint.

Update: BitterWallet suggest that -

Rumours abound that Sofa King will now relocate to Norwich and now use the strapline of ‘Norfolk ‘n’ good’.

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

NHS - Bowel Cancer


White man 1: I don't really know how to put this..
White woman: I'm a bit worried...
Black woman: Something has not been right for weeks...
White man 2: There's always a ... bit of blood...
White man 3: Well it's loose .. really loose...

Voiceover: Blood in your poo, or going more often with looser poo[1], are possible signs of bowel cancer. If you've had either of these symptoms for three weeks or more, tell your doctor.

Dr Terry Bowley: It doesn't matter how you tell me, just tell me.

Voiceover: Finding it early makes it more treatable. Be clear on Cancer.
More money wasting by the NHS[archive], and they're talking down to you this time. 
Are there really adults that use the infantile word 'poo,' when talking with other adults, when there are a wealth of words that could be otherwise used, e.g. fæces, stools, shit, crap?

The last two of which could probably be used as adjectives for this advert.

More seriously, who really needs an advert to tell them to go to the doctor if they've been shitting blood or have had diarrhea for three weeks? 
Most who would go anyway, would go long before the three weeks (with or without this advert,) those not so inclined to bother their doctor with something so minor as blood pouring out their anus is hardly likely to change their mind by watching an advert that patronises them by calling the stuff that comes out of their rectum 'poo.'
[1] Is this the P.C. phrase for 'the shits' or diarrhea these days?

Acupuncture Awareness Week

Update March 1: The poll's back up, but with the numbers fiddled - at the time of writing: 32% no, 68% yes, on a total vote count of.... 338. And you have to register to vote.

Update 16:16 GMT: Well that poll didn't last long, did it? At my last count there was 1864(82.9%) No, 348(17.1%) Yes before it 'disappeared.' (Even though the poll is still on their front page.) Strange that.

It appears that the British Acupuncture Council have decided that 27th February – 4th March 2012 should be Acupuncture Awareness Week.

As most people should be 'aware,' Acupuncture is complete and utter bollocks, so it the campaign seems a little pointless.

Nevertheless, they're still trying[archive]:

The first ever Acupuncture Awareness Week in the UK, supported by the British Acupuncture Council, aims to dispel the myths surrounding acupuncture[1], what conditions it can help[2] and give members of the public/you all the information you need about treatment.[3]
[1] No doubt they won't be pointing out the myths they promulgate such as it works, it cures cancer, etc.
[2] None, perhaps?
[3] "It doesn't work"?

Thought not.

They even have a poll on whether the tax payer should give more funding to this woo via the NHS [no archive since it won't].

At the time of posting (since it was pointed out by Pharyngula) it seems to be going well:

Do you think acupuncture should be made more widely available on the NHS?
No: 61.6%
Total votes: 787

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Virgin Money diddling savers

From here [current], Virgin Money are attempting to get those who have money they want to put into an ISA next tax year (April 6th 2012) to save with them now:

Virgin Money encourages the Early Birds

Virgin Money have continued their mission to make banking better[1], with details of a new ‘Early Bird ISA’[2] being released.

Those of you who currently have an ISA will be familiar with the limitations of only being able to put a certain amount in the account each year, making planning ahead that little bit more difficult.[3]

As a keen innovator[4] Virgin Money has sought to bypass this problem by allowing customers to open a savings account now and load next year’s ISA limit into it, with the bank paying the same interest that you’d get in a tax free ISA.[5]

Once the new tax year begins on April 6th Virgin Money simply drop your savings (and any interest accrued) into your ISA, the Early Bird ISA pays an equivalent rate of the Virgin Money ISA[6] – both of which are tax free.[7]
For those not au-fait with what cash ISA's are, and can't be bothered clicking the wiki link above, all interest on 'normal' cash savings in the UK is taxed at the marginal income tax rate of the person earning that interest. Typically this is 20%[8]. So, if you earn £100 interest on your savings, £20 will be deducted at source.

ISA's pay their interest gross, i.e. the interest isn't taxed at source, and it doesn't need to be declared to HMRC. The amount you can save per year is limited (£5,340 for 2011/2012) on a 'use it or lose it' basis.

[1] Well they can't do much worse than Natwest's 'helpful banking' I suppose...

[2] I think the ASA might have something to say about the naming of this - it's patently not an ISA.

[3] Seriously guys, it's a bit patronising to accuse your (potential) customers of being thick/unable to plan if they're actually able to accumulate savings (i.e. plan ahead) to put into the next year's ISA before they 'open.'

[4] A previous innovation was to offer only current accounts that charge £60/yr. The next innovation was to offer fee-free accounts after they were criticised for their last innovation.

Another innovation is their rather expensive tracker fund [current] that costs 1% per year. Three to four times as much as cheaper funds that do exactly the same thing.

[5] This is where the bollocks comes in. The whole point of ISAs is to get interest tax free. So in theory, banks should provide savings accounts with the same rate across the board. For example, if BarcWest Bank decides to offer savings accounts at 4%, they'd offer a regular savings account where tax is deducted at source (net of 3.2%), and an ISA savings account where tax isn't deducted ('net' 4%.)

What Virgin are doing is offering, is the equivalent of a regular savings account at 4%, and ISA savings accounts at 3.2%.

[6] Despite my illustrative examples above, Virgin are only offering 2.85%[current]. Inflation is currently running at 4.8%. Best instant access ISA I could find at the time of writing elsewhere is 3.10%[current]. Virgin being innovative again it seems, by having a crap rate.

[7] No, no, no! They are not both tax free. The 'Early Bird ISA' is not tax free - I'm assuming they've simply upped the taxed account's rate such that the net it pays is the same as it would be if it was in an ISA.

Presumably this is just for 20%er's - they don't go into detail about the 40/50%er's who have to fill out self-assessments and fork out the other 20% at tax-year-end.

This is akin to the "we'll pay your VAT" adverts that are seen - VAT is still payable on the (new) sale price - it's simply that the sale price has been reduced to the pre-VAT value on the original price.

[8] Higher rate tax payers pay 40% or 50% depending on their income, and a small proportion of people only pay 10% if savings interest is their only income up to a certain amount.