Have our train operating companies, and our Department of Transport got their long term marketing disastrously wrong?
We ask this bearing in mind the constant fare increases designed to pay for improvements to the inter city services, such as modestly reduced journey times, for which it is thought the well-heeled business community will be happy to pay. (time is money after all) Continue reading
Meanwhile readers might want to shed a tear or two for the most unlucky Quatari government, which recently paid £900 million for a 20% stake in BAA, the owners of Stansted and Heathrow airports.
Tragically, shortly after the ink on the sale agreement was dry BAA was ordered to sell Stansted, a confirmation of a legal order laid down three years ago by the UK government’s anti-monopoly regulator, the Competition Commission, and fought by BAA ever since.
So a company that the Quatari government thought was a lucrative monopoly worth a rather large punt is now much less so, and has to sell off a huge asset at a time when, due to greedy bankers, the market is in recession.
One character vying with bankers Fred Goodwin and Bob Diamond for the title of most hated in the business sector is the lesser known Christopher Mahoney of very large commodity traders Glencore.
Mahoney, currently Swiss-based Glencore’s director of agricultural products, came across as seriously nasty and did his employer no credit at all when he gloated recently that the world food crisis, which could cause a lot of deaths, was good for his company saying “The environment is a good one. High prices, lots of volatility, a lot of dislocation, tightness”, an incredibly stupid remark that gave the Independent newspaper a front page headline, “We’ll make a killing out of food crisis, trading boss boasts” and the story headline “Unholy trade of making millions out of misery”.
Anyone else remember what happened to Gerald Ratner’s company after he boasted to an appreciative if vacuous audience at the Institute of Directors that he sold “crap”?
Bankers continue to slide down the popularity pole with the revelations that Barclays massaged the Libor interest rate, at which banks lend to each other, in their favour, which earned them a £290 million fine, and a considerably larger sum in reputation damage, at home and abroad.
In the wake of the scandal Barclay’s chairman Marcus Aguis, its chief operating officer Jerry del Missier and its chief executive Bob Diamond, for some reason called Bob the Rob in some quarters, have all resigned. They are tipped to be the first of many. One Barclays fan however is colourful London mayor Boris Johnson who has pointed out Barclays charitable donations to his causes as “money we’re not going to turn up our noses at”, though some will now claim it is dirty money that smells of fraud. Continue reading
The current recession, caused by bankers, is a silver-lined cloud for German discount stores Lidl and Aldi as more middle-class Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Waitrose customers discover how much extra they have been paying on basic items and branded goods.
Market analysts IGD have found that nearly 40% of ABC1 households will use the stores this year compared with 30% of those from C2DE households. On this basis the UK still has some catching up to do since in Germany the figures are 80% and 95%. Continue reading
Those who consider all bankers are greedy and selfish types whose only objective is to line their pockets at the expense of the rest of the community should heed the heartening example set by former banker Gary Downie of Chester.
Downie has spent £10,000 of the cash he earned as a banker setting up a charity, StreetKleen, to clear up dog-fouling in the Broughton area of Chester, where he lives and has children at school. Dog faeces pose a serious health risk to children and many dog-owners in the area do not pick up the mess their dogs drop, despite laws obliging them to do so. It is hoped that the charity will expand across the UK.
A chill wind continues to blow through the disgraced banking sector, the latest manifestation being the punishment of grubby Barclays, headed by very well paid Bob Diamond, for exploiting a legal tax loophole to avoid paying millions in corporation tax. The loopholes are being closed by HMRC, themselves vilified and mistrusted by the public for the curious sweetheart tax deals they made with Goldman Sachs and Vodafone.
This provides yet another example of where a large company would have done rather better to have listened to their PR people, rather than their lawyers and accountants. And one from a sector that has demonstrably lost its moral compass.
One name in the New Year’s Honours List was that of Heron International CEO Gerald Ronson, 72, who received a CBE for his considerable work and support for charity.
The honour sparked criticism due to Ronson’s part in a share scam in 1990, for which he was fined £5 million and served six months in prison.
The credibility of the honours system has recently been called into question after a knighthood ill-advisedly awarded to RBS banker Fred Goodwin, on the recommendation of former PM Gordon Brown for services to banking was taken away by the Queen following the damage done by him to the bank, the economy and all the taxpayers who picked up the bill for his mistakes. Goodwin was also ill-advisedly awarded an Honorary Degree from St Andrews University, for what it’s worth.
There is still deep-seated public anger against the banks three years on from the financial crisis caused by their greed and stupidity, and from which the taxpayer bailed them out.
A report commissioned by The City UK showed that 56% of the public felt it would be no bad thing for the UK economy if bankers carried out their threat to relocate, although the tax they pay on their earnings is appreciated. Continue reading
Following close behind the bankers on the hate list are energy companies, which are currently coming across as very customer-unfriendly.
o NPower is to raise prices to 3.3 million cash-strapped and captive customers, despite the company already showing impressive profits so far this year. The company has also been identified by Ofcom as using the much-hated automatic dialling systems that leave the line silent, leave marketing messages or hang up.
o British Gas has been fined £2.5 million by regulator Ofgen for its poor handling of customer complaints. The regulator is now looking into the complaints procedures of a number of other energy firms.
o MPs are calling for a ban on cold calling, doorstepping and “Del-Boy tricks” by energy firms after Ofgen found that 40% of users who switched ended up paying more, not less.