Claiming Compensation for a Delayed Train Journey

Posted on

train_delaysUnless train travel is a real rarity for you, you’ve almost certainly had more than one experience of a rail delay. When you just want to get where you’re going, there is nothing more frustrating than sitting at a platform while your train’s expected arrival time gets further and further away, or finding out at the last minute that your train is cancelled altogether and it is a whole hour until the next one.

What a lot of people don’t realise is that, if you have more than a small delay on your journey, you will likely be entitled to claim a refund on some or all of your ticket price. While rail companies are generally good at issuing these refunds, they aren’t exactly big on publicising the fact that the option is available.

While details may vary according to the company running the delayed train, the following information should be true in most or all cases:

How Much Could you Reclaim?

If you choose not to travel at all because of a delay or cancellation, then you should be entitled to have your ticket completely refunded. In normal circumstances, deciding not to travel means you can refund your ticket minus a £10 admin fee, but if disruption was the reason then you should be able to get back the full face value.

If you do travel, different rail companies set different levels of compensation, so check with the train operator’s website for exact information. However, if you were delayed by at least a full hour then the minimum that a company must offer is 50% of your ticket’s value. For more serious delays, many companies offer a full refund. Some companies even compensate for much shorter delays. For example Southern Rail – whose services have made headlines for heavy disruption recently – offer a 25% refund for delays of as little as 15 minutes, and refund the full cost of a single journey for an hour’s delay.

Where a ticket covers multiple journeys, the refund will only apply to the affected part. For example, if you were delayed on one leg of the return journey then your compensation will be calculated based on half the ticket’s total cost as you are being compensated for one journey out of two. Similarly if you hold a season ticket it will be calculated based on the proportional cost of one day’s travel.

Claims may be refused in some situations where the delay was outside the rail network’s control, such as severe weather or cases where the emergency services closed part of the line.

How to Claim

Like exact compensation levels, claim methods vary between different train operators. Most refunds can be claimed by filling out a physical form that can be picked up at train stations. You will need to send off the form with your ticket, a receipt for your ticket, or other proof of purchase. Some operators also allow you to make your claim online. In this case you will have to attach a scan of your ticket or proof of purchase. Links to the appropriate sections of all train operator websites can be found on this page.

Various methods of repayment may be offered by the operator including bank transfer, PayPal, cheque, e-vouchers for future travel, or direct refund to a debit or credit card.


“Micro Job” and Survey Websites: Are They Really Worth it?

Posted on

The internet is full of websites that claim to offer you a chance to make money through your computer and from the comfort of your home. Many, especially the ones that pop up in adverts offering absurd paycheques, are outright scams. Some, however, are legitimate. Two of the main types of websites that really pay are micro job providers and survey sites.

While many of these sites do indeed pay you reliably and as promised, a question that is overlooked surprisingly often is that of whether they pay enough to be worthwhile.

What Are These Kinds of Websites?

Survey websites and micro-job or “crowdsourcing” websites are quite different, but they represent probably the two most prominent examples of genuine and relatively accessible ways to make money online from home. This is something that many people have, understandably, found attractive.

Survey websites are pretty much what you might think: websites where you get paid to take surveys. Those surveys are used to gather opinions for companies and other organisations carrying out market research. As market research is important to these companies, they are often willing to offer small payments as an incentive to complete the surveys.

Micro job websites give specific tasks to people to complete in a practice known as “crowdsourcing.” These tasks are usually small but difficult to automate, such as data entry or testing websites, so companies find that the most effective way to get them done is to hand them over to a “crowd” of workers on the internet. Payments are usually very small – often just pennies – but the tasks are small as well so the theory is that you can complete as many tasks as you want in order to build up your earnings. Some have hailed this concept as a way for businesses to get large tasks done quickly while making easy, flexible paid work available for ordinary people. Others have been more critical of the idea, particularly the low pay and the focus on getting things done quickly.

Are They Worth It?

This is the big question, and ultimately one that any individual who is considering these websites must decide for themselves. However, there are a few things that you really should think about before deciding whether to sign up for these kinds of sites.

The main consideration is the pay. Because payments are small but jobs are small too, it is hard to judge how good or bad the earnings are and many people who use these sites regularly do not really know what their effective “wage” is. The truth is, with most micro job and survey websites you are unlikely to make even the equivalent of minimum wage. This is legal because you are being paid per job and not for your time. However, legal or not, the idea of working for less than what would normally be the legal minimum is not one that will appeal to many people.

Many sites also do not really have enough work to go around the large numbers of workers who have signed up. This puts an automatic cap on your earnings, even if you find one that does pay well for the time a task takes, and requires you to spend extra time watching for new jobs to appear as they tend to be snapped up quickly.

The main positives are the flexibility and accessibility. You can work when you want, from home, using only an internet connection. For some, such as busy parents or those who are between conventional jobs, this may seem attractive enough to make it worthwhile, but it is important to weigh this against the pay in order to make an informed decision.


Days Out in Summer for Less

Posted on

Summer is officially here, and the sun is finally starting to catch on to that fact and coming out to play. Many of us will no doubt want to take advantage of the warm weather for days out or outdoor activities, especially if we have kids who are enjoying time off school. The cost of days out, however, can be quite hefty if you have a whole family paying entry fees.

However, there are a few tactics you can use to enjoy days out for much less than the standard ticket price. Some methods you might want to consider include:

National Trust: Go Scottish

Many of the country’s best parks, gardens and historic homes are in the ownership of the National Trust. However, membership of the National Trust can be expensive, and ticket prices for individual properties can get even more costly if you want to go to a few places.

A cheaper way to gain membership is to join the National Trust for Scotland. Members of Scotland’s national trust don’t need to live there and aren’t confined to Scottish properties. You get full access to National Trust properties throughout the UK, but is noticeably cheaper than standard National Trust membership. Family membership cost £104 with the National Trust but can be as little as £69.40 for its Scottish counterpart (including a first year discount if you set up a direct debit).

Clubcard Points

The Tesco Clubcard is one of the most popular and well-known loyalty cards in the UK, and it also happens to be one of the most flexible. Clubcard points can be spent and redeemed in exchange for a wide range of different things, and this includes entry to a wide range of attractions throughout the UK.

The best bit, however, is the “exchange rate.” Clubcard points convert very favourably into money off vouchers in this category, and quite often the value is 4:1. In other words, for very £2.50s worth of Clubcard points you convert into vouchers (in terms of their standard value as money off of shopping), you will get £10 towards entry to many of the attractions on offer.

The Beach

Beaches are the very archetype of summer days out, and they remain one of the most popular options. In July, August and, if you’re lucky, even September a lot of British beaches do a very passable impression of a sunny holiday destination. Sunbathing, swimming and – for younger family members – building sandcastles and exploring rock pools are all excellent summer activities, made all the better by the fact that beaches are entirely free.

Of course, in practice this isn’t going to translate into a completely free day out. If you don’t happen to have the seaside on your doorstep you will have the cost of getting there. Taking a picnic can keep food costs down, but it’s almost inevitable you’ll end up buying an ice cream or two. Even so, unless you have a very long way to travel on public transport, beaches still represent a much cheaper summer day out than most pay-to-enter attractions.


Getting Things for Free

Posted on

freeThey say that there’s no such thing as a free lunch, by which they really mean that everything has a catch. However, there are times when you might find you are paying for something when you could get it for free. It may be that there really is no significant catch, or it might simply be that the catch is outweighed by the money you save.

Anti-virus Software

If your computer doesn’t have anti-virus software, or it has software that is years out of date because you don’t want to renew the subscription, then you should get some ASAP. The internet is a far safer place with some security software tucked away on your hard drive.

The problem for many people is that anti-virus packages usually aren’t cheap as software goes, and you have to pay for them every single year. If you want a license that allows you to use it on multiple machines, this can be even more expensive. Fortunately, there are several completely free packages out there.

Before you balk at trusting your computer’s safety (and by extension your passwords and bank details) to a free package, several free security suites regularly equal or outperform the big names in tests and expert reviews. There is really no safety compromise involved in choosing a free package. The catch is that these companies all have paid products, and they will send you advertisements and offers to try and get you to upgrade. Ignore them; free protection should be more than adequate for home users.

Freecycle

Freecycle, and similar initiatives such as Freegle, are local communities designed to allow people to simply give things away. The idea is to reduce waste and recycle items that would either be thrown away or languish unused in a cupboard, rehoming them with people who want or need them. People who have such items can advertise them to the group, and those who want the item can get in contact.

You can see all sorts of things on Freecycle, from furniture to freshly-laid eggs. You can also post requests, so if you are going to buy something that you think somebody might be willing to give away you can try posting a wanted ad before spending your money. However, there are some rules of etiquette to follow. It is usually considered rude and irritating to other users if you post too many “wanted” ads, so try not to get carried away. It is also a good idea not to post ridiculous requests. This may seem obvious, but there are people who will seriously post “wanted” adverts for items like cars or high-value electronics.


Pointless Purchases: Things to Avoid Buying

Posted on

Bottled WaterSometimes, the best way to cut your spending is to identify things you can stop buying altogether. There are some things that are simply not necessary, or at least that there’s no point spending very much money on. Here are a few purchases that should be avoided, because you’re not really getting anything for your money.

Bottled Water

There is no evidence at all that mineral water is any healthier than tap water, so by buying bottled water you are paying money for something you have, quite literally, on tap at home. In fact, some studies have suggested there is a slightly higher risk to drinking bottled water because of looser safety regulations.

There are two situations in which you might have very good reasons to buy bottled water; when you need a drink while out and about or when you want a bottle that you can refill. Other than that, you (and your purse) will be better off with the tap variety. If you live in a hard water area and don’t like the taste, consider a water filter as a cheaper alternative to buying bottles.

Expensive Video Cables

Currently, HDMI leads are the dominant form of video cable and they come in a ridiculous array of prices. They are not unheard of in the pound shop, or they can easily cost £50-60. In fact, even major high street retailer Currys is currently selling a “Hyper Speed” HDMI cable for £149.99.

However, the biggest practical difference between this and a £1 cable is the fact that the “Hyper Speed” cable costs an extra £148.99. In the days when everything was analogue, your choice of cable may have made a very small difference to picture quality but digital signals are not subject to the same interference. As long as the signal reaches your TV set, the picture will be identical no matter how much you spend on a cable and phrases like “Hyper Speed” are virtually meaningless. Save your money and buy the cheapest cable you can find.

Disposable Batteries

Batteries are a necessity, but they can always be quite irritating. We need them to power so many of the things we own, but no matter how many we buy there never seem to be enough. They can also be expensive, and trying to economise with cheaper products soon turns out to be a false economy as they run out in no time.

Rechargeable batteries work out far cheaper than disposable ones. They also have the added advantage that, if you stock up fairly well, you will always have batteries to hand or, at worst, a quick charge away. High-capacity rechargeable batteries provide a life on each charge that rivals all but the most expensive of disposables. Their capacity is measured in mAh (milliamp hours), so the higher the number the better the batteries. However, if buying online always choose trusted brands. The web is full of weak, no-name batteries claiming absurdly high capacities, often higher than any real battery on the market.


Save as you Shop

Posted on

Receipt PrinterWhether buying online or doing your weekly food shop in the supermarket, there are a number of tactics you can use to save money. Some of these are as simple as looking for offers or not buying more than you need, but others don’t actually, directly have anything to do with the items you buy. Instead, they give you a small saving on every bit of money you spend, and over time this can build up into a nice sum you’ve managed to save.

Reward Cards

A lot of people wonder whether it is really worth bothering with loyalty cards and reward programmes. In fact, they are definitely worthwhile – at least for places where you shop often. All you do is hand your card over to the checkout assistant or swipe it at the self-service checkout – almost no effort at all. In return, you get a small amount of what you spent “reimbursed” in the form of loyalty points, and you will also usually receive vouchers for money saving or extra points. With regular shops you will be surprised how many points you can rack up.

Different schemes work in different ways. Tesco Clubcard points can be spent as a substitute for money in Tesco stores. Nectar Points are a bit more flexible. They can be earned and used in Sainsbury’s and in some other places, including some online retailers. Co-Operative Member Points, meanwhile, pay out annually in cash, with the value of each point depending on the year’s profits.

Cashback Websites

Cashback websites give you money back when you shop online. You can shop at the same sites you normally do, but instead of heading directly there you go via a link on the cashback site. The site then gets paid a commission for bringing your business to the retailer, and they pay a percentage back to you.

Top Cashback and Quidco are the two highest-paying cashback sites. They give you 100% of the commission, and rely on advertising revenue to make profits for themselves. Not all retailers can be accessed through cashback sites but a lot of them can, including most major names. Probably the biggest exception is eBay.

Cashback Cards

Some credit cards offer a percentage of cashback on purchases. Even if you would not normally use a credit card for day-to-day shopping, doing so with a cashback card and then paying the bill off promptly each month can give you small but noticeable savings through the cashback scheme.

Usually, cashback offers on credit cards will be limited. Either they will only be valid until your purchases have reached a certain combined value, they will only be offered for an initial period, or they will be limited by a combination of the above. For this reason, getting a credit card exclusively for a cashback offer may not be worthwhile unless you have a big purchase coming up.


Get Yourself Free

Posted on

If you long for the freedom to travel, this will take money. It needn’t take a lot of money, but it will necessitate at least a certain amount of credit and, better still, some plan for how you will be able to cope financially on your travels and on your return.

So a lot will depend on your personal circumstances of course, but if you’ve read this far, it’s likely that you need at least some financial assistance.

You see a lot of people today living very high on the hog. People with good salaries often spend a lot and give the impression of wealth, but the reality is that they’re tied to their jobs. This is great if they enjoy their work, but a fairly hollow existence if not. And how do many people try to fill the void – by “treating” themselves of course, thereby creating a vicious circle of endless debt.

1

But most of this is an illusion. The truth is that the average UK household pays more than £3,000 a year in interest on debts today – NOT including mortgage debt, so it’s easy to see why debt management services have become such big business. This figure is over 12% of the average gross salary.

In fact, total credit card debt is approaching £60 billion, and 3.4 million cardholders regularly make only the minimum repayment, thereby maximising their interest charges. It’s crazy, but it’s particularly mad for those who long to be free of the nine-to-five so they can travel and see the world , but continue to spend for the short term distraction it brings.

The reality is that people who earn high incomes and spend it all – and sometimes more – are really wage slaves. If their income dried up, so would the lifestyle.

Real wealth, on the other hand, brings financial freedom. And freedom from debt is the key to building assets and getting yourself free. Some debt may be necessary or even financially advantageous, such as a mortgage, student debt, or a business loan, but generally speaking, debt is not good on anyone’s credit report or mind! So work to free yourself from debt. As you do so, you’re taking the same steps which – if you continue to take them through life – will eventually set you completely free.


Are You Guilty of Overspending? Use Budgeting as a Way to Cope

Posted on

Whether you’re a student, a family man, a working mum or someone who’s close to retirement age, you could be guilty of overspending. This occurs when you have the money in your pocket or a credit card in your wallet, and you just cannot seem to resist the lure of retail therapy. Although there is absolutely nothing wrong in indulging yourself once in a while, doing so very often might lead you to have financial problems later on. This is especially true once you reach a point when you are simply living from one pay check to another due to the debts that you have already incurred.

The good news is that you can always use budgeting as a way to cope with the situation. Simply put, budgeting is planning how you would spend your money. You can set a budget for a week, a month or even a year based on how much income is entering your household. Once you’ve set aside funds for your necessary expenses and savings, that is already the simplest form of budgeting.

Ways to Better Manage Your Finances

If you would like to use budgeting as a way to better handle your finances, here are a things that you should keep in mind:
• Know where the money’s coming from
If you live in a household where both spouses are earning an income, for instance, how much money is actually coming in? From this amount, you can deduct the crucial expenses that you’d have to spend for including mortgage or rent, loans, utilities, food, school-related expenses, etc. By understanding exactly where the money is coming from, you will realize exactly how important it is to spend your funds wisely.

• Avoid unnecessary spending
Impulse buying is something that a lot of people are guilty of. When you make a stop at the gas station, there are items on the counter which you would unthinkingly spend on. Or when there’s a sale at your favorite store, you may think that you absolutely need to have that top simply because it’s sold at a discounted rate – only to realize later that you have only worn the garment once. To avoid unnecessary spending, set aside a certain amount that you will use to buy miscellaneous things for a week or a month. Once the funds are exhausted, stop buying anything unnecessary.

• Set aside a savings account which you can dip into for emergencies
One of the most important aspects of budgeting is setting aside a savings account which you can use for emergency expenses. You’ll never know when your kid might need a trip to the emergency room or the dentist, or when an all-in travel vacation package for next summer might be available. Once you have an emergency savings fund set aside, you would have the means to spend for these unexpected expenses.

You should also have a set of future-oriented financial goals. In budgeting, there’s no need for you to scrimp on things which are important to you, but there’s no need for you to overspend, either. The whole point of budgeting is to have the funds available during emergencies, while also living comfortably because you have the money to spend for all your basic needs.