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  1. The fees that banks charge retailers for processing shoppers’ payments would be capped under draft EU rules endorsed by Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee MEPs in a vote on Tuesday. The vote confirms an informal deal struck with the Council in December. The cap would apply to both cross-border and domestic card-based payments and should cut costs for card users. The draft rules also aim to enhance fee transparency, so as to stimulate competition and enable both retailers and users to choose the card schemes that offer them the best terms. More information available in the press release after the deal with the Council (link to the right). The text was approved by 51 votes in favour, 2 against and 2 abstentions. Next steps Parliament as whole is to vote on the deal at the second plenary session in April (Strasbourg). The rules will then need to be officially endorsed by the Council before they can take effect, six months after the legislation enters into force. There should be no charges at all to shops, the card already charges up to around 40% to the cardholder, and then on top they charge shops 3% for doing them a favour which, of course, is passed on to the customer. All shops should get together and tell the card companies, these charges are penalties for us taking your cards. Unless you abolish these fees, we will refuse to accept your cards. That would wipe the smile of the banks faces and I don't see that they could do other than agree as without the cardholder being able to spend on a credit card, they will have no rip-off fees to charge customers. Why
  2. I have run into an issue with our old friends at Unicom. This all started a couple of weeks ago when Unicom sales (who I have two phone line with) contacted me to offer a deal on Broadband which on the face of it sounded OK apart from when they got into their script they mentioned that it was a 36 month contract; I immediately stopped them there and said "I don't do 3 year contracts" the girl was a bit flustered and said "they only offer 3 year contracts" so I said "Forget it then" she convinced me to hold on and she went to talk to a manager. On her return she we can tie it into your current phone contract so I agreed and we continued on. Yesterday when my accounts administrator came in I explained what I had done and showed her the figures she did some quick sums and reported that I would end up paying far more than I do currently. She had a look around and she found several deals that would be a lot cheaper and asked me to contact Unicom to see how long we had on our current phone contract and to cancel the Broadband migration. I called customer services and asked when my current phone contract expires "May 2016" came the reply I then ask what is the term "36 Months" they replied; if this was the case then the contract must have renewed somewhere around April - May 2013 I didn't say any more on this subject at this point but I did go on and cancel the Broadband migration ( a few harsh words with a salesman here but I persisted). I then e-mailed a "Formal Complaint" to customer services stating that I don't remember any contract renewal and was this an "Automatically Renewing Contract" if so these had been banned by OFCOM. I received a phone call some 2 hours later and was told that it wasn't an ARC and that I had been contacted by phone in April 2013 and I had agreed to renew the contract for 36 Months and to top this they had a recording of the conversation. She went away and and listened to the recording and came back and reported that YES it was me and YES I had agreed to 36 Months; I asked if she could e-mail me a copy of this recording to which she agreed. Having carried out some further research into OFCOM's GC9 I see that they capped Fixed Term contracts to a maximum of 24 Months but what isn't really clear is if this cap includes Small Businesses ie those with 10 employees or less. Any thoughts on this would be appreciated. Regards Chris
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