Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

The HfP chat thread – Tuesday 16th March

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Comments (415)

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  • Paul says:

    Look like Ethiopia, Oman, Somalia and Qatar are now on the naughty list and require a hotel stay on return. Portugal looks to off the naughty list also.

    https://dft-newsroom.prgloo.com/news/more-countries-added-to-red-list-to-protect-uk-vaccination-programme-against-variants-of-concern

  • kitten says:

    Anyone got a link to vaccination booking place that gets the Pf or M vaccines and ensures to avoid the A one?

    I fully agree with government that on a statistical level, the recent news about A is not significant.

    However on an individual level, given family etiology, for now I want to avoid A

    • TGLoyalty says:

      Pfizer is now nearly exclusively being used for 2nd doses not first

    • DarrenS says:

      I am not sure that it is possible to select based on your choice. I believe that the Moderna is not due to arrive until later this month and rumours that Pfizer currently being mainly used for second doses. Perhaps you book an appointment and decline the jab if you choose.

      • Secret Squirrel says:

        Your not given the choice of jab, you take it or leave it.

        • Lady London says:

          Well I have a while till I am eligible and pretty sure I will be able to arrange one or the other accordingly. No sense taking the risk if it appears a relevant one and it does. Aspirin indeed best suited for family type but best to avoid risk rather than rely on being able to fix by additional action.

          • Secret Squirrel says:

            30-40 year olds in London are now receiving the jab.

          • Kevin C says:

            Maybe some bit of London are doing 30-40 year olds. In my bit of London it is very much the week of people in their early fifties. I had my vaccine on Sunday and was told what it was (AZ) when I was in the room and if it was okay. If it wasn’t okay I could have left. I was given the choice of two clinics and went for the one easiest to get to. The other one was doing Pfeizer that day but you don’t know that in advance.

          • Jonathan says:

            Varies daily at the same centres so impossible to predict. Very unlikely you’d get Pfizer at a small location like a pharmacist though due to storage issues.

            It’s also true that the vast majority of Pfizer is being held back for second doses as in December that was the only approved vaccine so we’re currently in the 10-12 week window for them to receive 2nd dose.

            I’m not in favour of booking an appointment then declining on day if it’s AZ as that is potentially wasteful.

            It should be apparent in next couple of weeks if there is any increased risk (which will be very small at worst) or it’s a storm in a teacup as the overall statistics suggest.

          • George1976 says:

            “ pretty sure I will be able to arrange one or the other accordingly”

            You’re pretty sure based on what?

        • Yorkieflyer says:

          And if you turn up and decline the jab I think you should go to the bottom of the queue for wasting an appointment

          • Tracey says:

            You will effectively go to the bottom of the queue until you accept AZ or wait for something else not Pfizer. The amount of Pfizer around that isn’t earmarked for second doses is minimal.
            Also, if you do manage to get a first dose Pfizer by taking a “spare” at a clinic booked for second doses, where are you going to get your second dose?

          • Lady London says:

            No I would never turn up and then decline. That would be taking someone else’s chance and wasteful.

            There’s always a way of sorting things out in advance if you need to and by the time it’s my turn I am sure there’ be a way.

    • Rhys says:

      I’m not a Dr but…..if you are worried about blood clots, why not just take a low dose of aspirin for a week or two after the injection?

      • meta says:

        Yes, in some EU countries they are now advising to start taking a low dose of aspirin a few days before vaccination and 10 days after if getting AZ vaccine.

        • meta says:

          @SecretSquirrel Not me, I haven’t received any invitation nor did my partner we are in 30-40 age group and in London. Not sure how people in those age group are getting vaccinated when it wasn’t announced. My GP said only when the government announces.

          • TGLoyalty says:

            surely its 30-40 year olds that fall into the at risk category

        • Jonathan says:

          This is utter tosh. Aspirin is a platelet inhibitor. Platelet activation is the driver of clotting in arterial circulation (high blood velocity) ie. an MI or thrombotic stroke.

          Clots in the venous system where blood velocity is low & there isn’t atherosclerosis (DVT’s & PE’s) are initiated by clotting factors. The treatment & prevention of this is with Warfarin/Clexane etc.

          A couple of the reports in Scandinavia are also of bleeding secondary to thrombocytopaenia (low platelet count). If you think there may be some substance to the concerns then I would give close thought to taking a medicine that inhibits platelet function.

          • Jonathan says:

            Referring to the advice supposedly being given in Europe.

          • George1976 says:

            “ surely its 30-40 year olds that fall into the at risk category”

            I got a text from my doctor and I’m not in any risk category as far as I know (I’m not sure what the doctor would know that I don’t as I’ve not needed an appointment in around 8 years).

        • Anna says:

          Good idea – I did start taking a small daily dose of aspirin a few years ago when a large scale report on the health benefits was released but had to stop because I started coming out in bruises all over! It was a really low dose as well.

      • Alex says:

        As a doctor, I am shocked to hear of countries that stop vaccination on the basis of 30 or so cases of thrombosis per millions vaccinated. Perhaps 100-200 people of these millions simply die from natural reasons every day and whoever decided to stop vaccination on the basis of this miniscule number is a (obscene word).

        • Tariq says:

          Since when has the reaction to Covid been proportional or rationale…! 😂😂😂

        • meta says:

          They haven’t stopped vaccinating. They are just not using AZ vaccine. People are being vaccinated with Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson&Johnson. My parents (living in an EU country both just under 60) are getting Moderna this week. Friends in other EU countries are getting Pfizer ones.

          The situation on the ground is much different than what is being presented in the media. Granted, I don’t have the full picture and this just based on my family and friends.

          • Rhys says:

            The situation on the ground is that the EU is lagging behind in its vaccination program, complains about a lack of AZ vaccine supply and then temporarily suspends its use based on reports of blood clotting at rates no higher than in the general population. It’s a farce!

          • meta says:

            But it’s not. I am telling you my friends and family are getting vaccinated just not with AZ vaccine. Yes, it’s behind other countries. But it’s moving albeit slower than hoped. It hasn’t stopped all together as media will led you to believe.

          • Rhys says:

            My grandparents have been vaccinated too. But it’s still a farce!

          • Justin says:

            Rhys, the “EU” haven’t suspended it. Individual countries (not all of which are in the EU, or even in Europe) have decided to suspend it while the blood clot cases are investigated. The EMA thinks it’s fine and that vaccination should continue.

    • Mrs_Fussy says:

      Hey Kitten – if its any consolation, I & a huge circle of friends and family have had AZ jab and still standing strong. Of course the news worries me too ! but then again if you google Pfizer whilstblowers 25% nursing homes, you will see another picture. Interestingly a news article on 9th March indicated that Italy will start producing Sputnik Vaccine and suddenly this followed, now the timing is suspicious. But equally I am not gullible enough to think that vaccines are totally harmless either ( think the benefits outweigh the risks and go into it knowing that no government will ever be fully transparent )

      Hope it helps ! or perhaps wait another week to see what the regulators say

    • M says:

      As above, no way of knowing which vaccine you’ll have and just on the basis of numbers you are overwhelmingly likely to be offered the AZ one (both now and in the future).

      As a Dr, I would strongly urge anyone with concerns such as the above to discuss it first with their GP. Your risk of Covid and getting a PE/DVT from actual infection would be far higher than from the jab.

      The choice, rightly or wrongly, is not which vaccine you can have, but between vaccine or no vaccine. Having worked on Covid wards for the last 12 months, I’d suggest if you are now eligible for a vaccine – get whichever one they’ll give you.

      • Gruntfuttock says:

        Hear hear! 👍

      • Jay says:

        +1 Common sense at last, totally agree.

      • WaynedP says:

        +1
        Received invitation text last night, and booked and had the AZ jab with Mrs dP tonight.

        Wonder how many of us have happily sauntered onto long haul flights in the last 5 years and willingly put ourselves at roughly equivalent risk of death from DVT as the observed incidence of blood clotting deaths in AZ vaccine receivers.

        Happy to meet my maker whenever my time is up. Unlikely now to be Covid-19. Tiny chance it could be blood clot embolism, or DVT or aeroplane accident. Much more likely to be road traffic accident on the way to or from an airport. 😂

    • Travel Strong says:

      I have just booked my jab Friday, i’m sure it will be AZ. I’ve had SVT in my arms many years ago, but have booked it anyway. All I ask is that the HfP community avenge my death if you no longer hear from me after April.

    • Harry T says:

      The concerns about blood clots with Oxford/AZ are absolute bollocks. There is no good clinical or statistical evidence that there is a causal relationship between DVT/PE events and the vaccine. The incidence of blood clots in the vaccinated population is actually LOWER than would be expected in the general population. The countries pausing AZ rollout are doing so because of political reasons, mostly related to their failure to acquire adequate amounts of the vaccine, and their leaders’ undermining of its efficacy leading to hesitancy amongst gen pop.

      Also you don’t get a choice of which vaccine you receive. You will get given one of the evidence based, safe vaccines available, which includes Oxford/AZ.

      • Harry T says:

        Covid infection has been reliably associated with VTE but the vaccines have not… so probably best to take a vaccine!

    • BuildBackBetter says:

      If I have a history of blood clotting, speak to ur GP first.
      Social media posts are not medical expertise!

    • The Savage Squirrel says:

      +1 to previous comments and to make it clear to everyone
      Put very simply:
      1) If you are prone to blood clotting then you are at significantly increased risk of death from severe Covid infection. Covid causes blood clots. A lot. See here:
      https://www.hriuk.org/health/your-health/lifestyle/people-with-coronavirus-are-at-risk-of-blood-clots-and-strokes.
      2) The reported rate of blood clots following the AZ jab is no higher than any other population sample. (If you think this is a vaccine specific issue, there is also a reported rate of blood clots following Pfizer – again very low and again exactly what you’d expect from clots just happening randomly to people and not related to the jab, especially given the so-far-quite-elderly population who have been vaccinated.)

      There is no increased risk of blod clots from the jab. There is LOTS of increased risk of blood clots from Covid infection. If you are worried about blood clots and want to reduce your risk from them then getting the AZ vaccine jab is one of the best things you can do right now.

      If you are still worried then talk to your GP and they should be able to give you individual advice for your particular circumstances.

      • Brian says:

        Surely part of the issue, though, is that if you get vaccinated and there IS any kind of increased likelihood of blood clots etc linked to the vaccine, then you are most definitely at risk, because you’ve been vaccinated. Whereas if there is an increased likelihood of blood clots etc linked to Covid, this only kicks in IF you actually get Covid and IF you are one of those people who get blood clots from Covid.
        Personally, I genuinely don’t see much point in people in their 30s or 40s getting vaccinated against Covid, unless they have some underlying health issue, in which case I can understand it. There is a minuscule risk of any sort of serious illness resulting from a Covid infection for somebody like myself. And I certainly don’t buy into the ‘get vaccinated to protect others’ mantra, not as long as there is no true evidence that this helps – and not as long as it doesn’t apply to other things like the flu, which also kills 10s of thousands of people each year, but against which the vast majority of young(er) people don’t get vaccinated.

        • The Savage Squirrel says:

          “And I certainly don’t buy into the ‘get vaccinated to protect others’ mantra, not as long as there is no true evidence that this help”
          Well stop right there, because there is true evidence that it helps – in fact really good evidence that the vaccines are pretty fantastic at reducing spread. Huge studies at the population level have shown this. So time to reassess your opinion in the face of new facts. And – unless you’re Trump – Covid is not ‘flu. It is many times as deadly (roughly 10x as deadly). Please don’t use spurious comparisons.

    • Aston100 says:

      As stated by others, you cannot choose your flavour of vaccine.
      Besides, I am aware of a number of places that have switched from one vaccine to another.

    • Chris says:

      The reaction from some countries re this seems odd and may be that they want to be seen as been cautious however long term the reaction is going to affect all take up. Personally from media reports I can’t tell if there is concern about a batch, the factory or the vaccine. Keep it in mind for any other vaccine you won’t not have this level of reporting, it would be confined to newsletters and bulletins with much smaller (but more medially trained) reader-base.

      Why not talk to your GP practice if you are concerned. If family etiology is significant they may be able to arrange/direct you as appropriate.

    • peter says:

      UK records per average 10k deaths a week, obviously majority in 60+ groups. So if assuming everyone in the country was vaccinated on the same day, similarly as with covid death – if person dies within 28 days of having it, we would have 40k people who died of vaccination.. so there always will be cases “time-related”.
      As mentioned earlier.. I’m not a doctor but it could be also related to how it’s administered, needle, person doing it (hopefully I don’t sound like Trump here advising bleach 😀 )

    • Magic Mike says:

      As others have said, the same places will do different vaccines on different days so you don’t get to pick.

      If you think there is a medical reason to have a specific vaccine, ask your GP.

      My OH is volunteering at a vaccination centre and dealing with the nonsense people have read on the internet makes her very cross.

  • Super Secret Stuff says:

    Seriously considering opening a pet shop in a local town with approx. 20,000 residents including some very nearby “suburbs”, quite a wealthy area. No competition in the town, nearest is the next big ish town, with 2 pet shops opposite each other. Identified a location near a vets that I hope to get for £1,000 a month. Gross profit margins are, I believe, on average 50%. Mainly staffed by me and my partner, hiring more staff as it gest established. What is the HfP wisdom on this?

    Hoping to achieve an average of 20 customers a day spending on average £25 to £30 a shop. A (self employed) groomers upstairs to try and boost footfall. A bit of commission on the side too.

    Also, a very important topic, what would be the best miles earning strategy!? Thinking of using Curve Commercial with COT underlying.

    • Rhys says:

      Your competition is Amazon

      • TGLoyalty says:

        Amazon sell pets!

        I hope there’s never a world where live animals are sold online and shipped via DPD

        • Super Secret Stuff says:

          We’re not comfortable selling live pets, too expensive (in terms of time), risk and ethics (pets need a calm environment, not people walking in and out all day).

          Amazon is a good point, but people’s desire to make sure there pets are 100% safe means many people don’t trust what they are buying from there. Obviously some will. Also hoping the buy local movement makes a small change to it and the position next to a vets and a dog groomers upstairs will give us a competitive advantage that Amazon intrinsically don’t have

          • Rhys says:

            Amazon sell branded supplies, too! Why would someone go to a physical shop and buy Whiskas at a higher price when they can do it cheaper and with free delivery from their phone? Amazon is convenient, fast AND cheap. What’s your USP?

          • Super Secret Stuff says:

            Amazons prices aren’t actually that great, they hover around the RRP. Also Amazon is not that fast, you have to wait 24 hours at least. Not helpful when you have run out of food or poo bags!

            USP will be friendly service, an all in one package (between pet shop, groomers and vets) and knowledgably humans that can give you personal advice. Plus might run a cheeky loyalty card, because who doesn’t love free stuff (even if it is only a pigs ear or two)

          • Rhys says:

            But how many people don’t re-order when they realise they are getting to the end of their supply? How often do you really need something sooner than 24 hours?

          • TGLoyalty says:

            Then I sort of agree with Rhys

            You’ll need a enticing USP

          • Super Secret Stuff says:

            Good points, thanks both

          • Also says:

            As someone who has recently got a puppy, Amazon has definitely taken the bulk of my money for hard products, with Fetch taking the bulk of food orders. Pets At Home a few minutes away but haven’t been in once.

            I will see the quality of products (or type of products on Amazon) tends to be low end or basic. If you are stocking products from a site like Lords and Labradors that are aimed at higher end/higher spenders maybe you’ll find a higher margin? Especially in a relatively wealthy area.

            I know a small pet supply shop in Greenwhich which is never not busy, but obvs has very high foot traffic in that area.

          • ChrisC says:

            Amazon do subscription orders – if you subscribe to them – so you shouldn’t ever run out of pet food.

          • Zoe says:

            Not everyone is buying from Amazon. My Mum is in her 70s she does have an iPad but never orders anything online herself. She will get me or a granddaughter to order for her.

    • Lady London says:

      Sounds a good idea. Have you seen the amount of pet tat Aldi has already successfully unloaded for their upcoming pet stuff promo week just released 2 days ago?

      It beggars belief how much people are paying for overpriced stuff for their pets. And relatively, Aldi is cheap.

      So a good business, other than a bit of local regulation to be checked. I suppose buying avios as a merchant would be too expensive?

      • Super Secret Stuff says:

        Thanks LL, no I haven’t seen what they have bought out. Wouldn’t surprise me if it is standard market rates for poor quality. A lot of money to be had in the pet industry, most people cut back on spending on themselves before there pets because of the strength of there bond. Hoping to avoid all the regulations as we don’t want to sell live pets, too expensive as a start up, ethically precarious and time consuming.

        Why would I buy Avios?

    • Secret Squirrel says:

      Your rental is not your only outlay. Think utilities, insurance, business rates etc.
      If your figures work with everything then could be good, have you had any previous retail ownership experience?

      • TGLoyalty says:

        imagine a pet shop in a premises costing £1k rent pcm will be eligble for small business rate relief

        but yes overheads will be far higher than just rent. there may be resources on the internet that tell you the average overheads of the type of business you are looking at or accounts of similar business available via companies house (they are usually 2+ years old though)

        • Super Secret Stuff says:

          Thanks for the thoughts, yes we hope the shop will be eligible for small business rates relief. Not sure how the system works though?

          Yes been looking at the overheads etc., going to try and keep it to a minimum. This is the only part that really concerns me. Never had any retail ownership experience, beyond selling sweets and cans of coke way back in school.

          • Chris Heyes says:

            Super Secret Stuff The First two years will be hard, you will need a selling point to draw repeat customers in and keep coming back, delivery service ? bulk buy ? training ?
            I Used to go to Aquamania in Blackburn when kids were young because the kids insisted and bought stuff there
            At the time i bred and showed Canaries around the North in shows.
            I could get stuff cheaper, but kids insisted Aquamania (it was open until 8pm)

          • Alex M says:

            20 paying customers every single day sounds a lot to me. Just a gut feeling.

        • ChrisC says:

          You can check the rateable value of any property on line and then calculate the actual rates bill due by multiplying it against the rate poundage multiplier.

          https://www.tax.service.gov.uk/business-rates-find/search

          Rateable value does not always reflect or follow the actual rent paid. Current RVs were set on 1st April 2015. The next revaluation won’t be until next year at the earliest.

          Best not assume these sorts of easily verifiable expenses.

          • Super Secret Stuff says:

            Thanks for the heads up, looks like I’m going to need to get the building revalued in a different category and re classify various rooms. Maybe ask the landlord (I know them) to separate out some of the property to bring it under.

            Currently stood at £19k. Shocking! Need to get it reduced

          • ChrisC says:

            To a different use category?

            So that could mean you may need planning permission.

            Your landlord should be able to tell you what class of use it currently has and the local planning authority can advise if you need to apply for change of use and the forms to complete and how much it will cost to submit the application.

            And then there are other licences and regulations to follow if you want to sell pet medicines (prescribed and over the counter) for example.

            Check the local authority website for all the rules and regulations that apply in your area.

          • Super Secret Stuff says:

            Yes, I know the landlord, they will be happy to see it occupied again. Was a shock when the bank closed and been empty since then.

            Not all medicines are licenced, some are. Being right next a vet, I need to tread a bit carefully on this one

    • BuildBackBetter says:

      Try to prioritise selling services than goods. If u r selling overpriced goods, word will spread easily and people will avoid.

      • ankomonkey says:

        Agree with this. Offer people access to walking services and minding services. We started off with hamsters and their upkeep was small, with little opportunity to spend on them. When they passed we got a dog. I’m amazed at how much money will gladly spend on the little guy. He seriously gets more spent on him than I get spent on me. I also think it helps to be knowledgeable about pets and their needs.

        • ankomonkey says:

          *how much money my wife will…

        • Super Secret Stuff says:

          We’re going to stick to the RRP of products to keep it fair and offer a loyalty card to get people coming back.

          Good point about the walking services, thinking we’ll have a pet care board in the window recommending local services

    • The Savage Squirrel says:

      SSS; I own a small physical business that competes against big chains (succesfully, I hope).
      1) Demographics – older people skew heavily towards both face-to-face and personal service, and have the most disposable income. Are there lots of over 50s in your location.
      2) Establishing a good relationship with lcaol vets and stocking what they suggest will be huge. BUT – check what they sell on premises. If you are largely competing directly against their business then relationships will be much trickier.
      3) Selling services and knowledge is indeed key. You can’t compete with 24 hr delivery and million-unit ordering.
      4) If you yourself are local then play on this for all it’s worth. People like buying servces from the person they know from the school gates and pub.
      5) COT/Curve works just fine. COT has really nice Xero integration (Xero is great for bookkeeping/accounts/payroll BTW). If a sole trader then Curve personal means no fees for HMRC payments although I’d of course never advocate doing anything against T&Cs ;).
      6) Business plan and lending: stress test your personal and business finances together against economic shocks: I did it for an increase of base rate to 6% with impact on both personal and business borrowing and a stagnant or falling turnover. Unlikely right now – but it gets you thinking. What’s your personal financial plan in that scenario to survive to the other side? If you have one then your business and personal finances are probably robust and viable.

      Could go on but probably too far OT already :D.

      • Super Secret Stuff says:

        Still digesting all of this, will reply later

      • Super Secret Stuff says:

        1) at least 30% of people in the town are over 50, likely gone up quite a bit since the figures where made.
        2) the relationship with the vets could be interesting, will speak to them prior to launching but once it’s all set up.
        3) selling our knowledge will be one of our UPS. Services, we’ll have the dog groomers to pull people in. Not sure about anything else?
        4) we are very local and somewhat well known. We plan to milk this till the cows come home.
        5) that sounds like it’ll make like easier, thank you!
        6) I’ll be working full time on a decent wage and partner has other sources of income. Busines s wise, we’re looking to take a British Bank of Business loan fixed at 6%. The pet industry has shown good residence to market forces over the last decade. Confident that it can hold up going forward. Although I expect a small decline in the next year as people give up there lockdown pets

      • Super Secret Stuff says:

        That was really helpful, thank you!

      • Tom says:

        Single data point for you;
        I’m a dog Dad to two large dogs, with dog-related outgoings in excess of £500 per month. I honestly can’t recall the last time I went to a small independent pet shop.
        Food is home delivered from a company that takes into account their age, health circumstances etc, their walker is someone we’ve been using for years and came from valuable local word of mouth, toys and regular incidentals are bought online from a large retailer. Infrequent purchases, e.g. new beds for example, are bought online from a specialist retailer further to copious research.
        I wish you all the very best in your pursuit, but as a (reasonably) higher-spending dog obsessed individual – I have absolutely no requirement for a pet shop.
        Genuine best wishes with the venture if it progresses.

    • Colin MacKinnon says:

      In our town, around 8,000 people and near much bigger places, the old bank has been taken over by a “Pet Fertility Clinic”. It appears French Bulldogs etc have problems breeding – and you don’t need to be a vet to give them a helping hand!

      So I can see pet grooming, pet fertility (with puppies selling for £2-3,000 each you won’t want airmiles, you’ll be able to pay cash from charging all the happy mummies and daddies for the AI!) and some high-end pet gifts (the sort of thing that you’d want to see before you buy, or is just so darn attractive you have to have it!) would work.

      With some classy pet food at the back. Little-known brands that you can sell as treats?

      • Super Secret Stuff says:

        Thanks for the input but I think we definitely want to go down the pet shop route.

        We will be selling pet food at all price points, branded and un branded so it’s affordable for all

      • kitten says:

        Wow. As a kitten my mind is boggling at what is the ‘help to breed’ for these dogs. No thanks, no one explain please….I think I’ve worked it out :-).

        How about going full tacky and offering a Las Vegas-style wedding chapel and ceremony for pets? 🙂

    • Zoe says:

      Sounds pretty random but our local pet shop is a drop off point for UPS (parcels) this has caused me to visit it and I assume is an additional source of income. DPD and DHL have similar arrangements.

    • Hotelier says:

      Always bought everything online for my two cats ( Late 20’s /London based). Amazon gets a big chuck of it, even more now with the 10% Morrison’s gift card, otherwise Petsathome, Zooplus, MonstersPetSupplies but always when on offer. All premium brands (my cats eat well better than me). I have enough storage space and usually buy for 6 months when a good offer comes around.

      • Super Secret Stuff says:

        That’s interesting. Glad I’m not in a large city then!

    • Super Secret Stuff says:

      Along with a strong emphasis on local person, knowledgeable and friendly, beginning to consider an Amazon price match guarantee, would that persuade you in the front door?

      Then keep people coming back with there loyalty cards

      • memesweeper says:

        A successful small business running on this model https://www.finnfur.co.uk/

        Haggle hard on the rent… it ought to be a buyers market for 18 months. Lots of ‘dead men walking’ businesses out there at the moment.

        • Magic Mike says:

          Go and spend a day (a weekday, not a Saturday) sitting outside the pet shops in the nearest town and estimate footfall and sales. Do the same for a possibly comparable business in your town.

      • Crafty says:

        I’m astonished that nobody in this thread has mentioned Pets at Home, one of the biggest retail success stories of recent years.

        How well do you know their model?

        Go sit in 10 of their stores for 10 days and talk to 10 customers each time. Work out what you can’t as an independent compete with, and what you could differentiate on. On the former, copy shamelessly and nullify the difference. On the latter, go big and hard. Then hope they aren’t coming to your town.

        Disclaimer: I do this for a living!

        • Rob says:

          True story. Back in 2004 in my banking days, we had the choice of buying two retailers – Maplin or Pets At Home. Because we needed to balance out the investment fund, we couldn’t buy two UK High Street retailers. We chose Maplin. It didn’t end well, and was indeed the only investment I was involved with over my 11 years which lost us money.

          Pet Pavilion is expanding in the posh parts of West London – we have 3 within walking distance of our house. In general these places focus on higher end accessories and not huge bags of food, or indeed animals themselves.

          Pets At Home is not a competitor in a residential area where most people don’t have cars and don’t want to run up taxi fares or waste time on a bus. Your competitor is online. You need to treat it like a small toy shop – most parents have taken their kids into a toy shop purely so the kids can run around and trash it for a bit of a break. You create somewhere where people can pop in with their dog, the dog can have a drink and the owner can buy it a snack, pick up some information on local vets, get it groomed etc.

  • Sean says:

    Any success today with Curve to Ernie?

  • fivebobbill says:

    Totally off topic folks, and hopefully Rob doesn’t mind, some wise heads in here and I’d like to ask some advice.

    I took out a credit agreement with a bona fide finance company (a subsidiary of a UK bank, I’ll call them DODO) in June 2016, it was for a new car for the missus, £12k total cost. I made a small deposit, 4 years of monthly payments and a final settlement figure of £5k to purchase the car at the end of the agreement in June 2020 – end of contract.

    However, in August whilst checking my Experian credit report I noticed my otherwise perfect score had fallen sharply, and on closer inspection found 2 late payment notices on my file. The late payments were for July & August to DODO but although the agreement was fully settled in June it was still showing as active on my file!
    I tried calling DODO to no avail (first lockdown), so wrote to both them and Experian in a bid to resolve the error.
    Nothing from DODO, but Experian replied to say they were unable to reach DODO either, and as such couldn’t amend the report without clarification.
    I wrote to DODO again threatening the ombudsman and eventually got a reply in October telling me they had amended the error, terminated the contract and cancelled the late payments. I contacted Experian and they agreed to suppress the missed payments from my file

    Then, in November, the DODO agreement once again appeared on my Experian file, another missed payment, then another in December, and my credit sore was hammered again!

    In frustration i reached out to Experian again, they informed me that although they removed the previous missed payments, it was in fact DODO who were notifying them every month of yet another one!

    I checked my Experian report this week and low and behold my credit score has taken a hit yet again, DODO contract back and missed payments for Jan & Feb.

    I gave DODO 7 days to reply on Monday, and today they have replied apologising, admitting that they cancelled the missed payments in Sept 2020 when I wrote, but the link to the credit reference agencies hadn’t been acted on and the agreement was still showing as active. They assure me they have now cancelled the agreement, and notified all involved. I have just now lodged an official complaint.

    However I have no idea what I should be asking for as compensation? The inconvenience, the stress of trying to resolve this for 9 months, the roller-coaster ride and battering of my credit score!

    Any advice at all would be very much appreciated.

    • Lady London says:

      I would demand that DODO write a letter to all credit agencies with a cc: marked to yourself with the request that the letter be posted to your credit file with each.

      Ombudsman compo for credit record/reputational damage I’ve seen on places like MSE in looked particularly miserable. In Ombudsman and claim I would have pointed out my stage of life and what damage their repeated errors have done to planned mortgage applications, potential other to credit on applications, in employment prospects as many employers check credit records before employing someone etc.

      As soon as your request to them to write the extra letter to be placed on your credit file with each of the agencies has been resolved (or not) I would send DODO a registered letter stating given their repeated mistakes that have caused you worry and stress and taken up your time to deal with as well as the reputational damage they have caused you, for each repetition of their error in future you are officially informing them you wil invoice them £2,000 towards compensation and handling time each time any new occurrence of incorrect reporting by them is discovered. Then bill them and take them to court if necessary as it’s a repeated error and they will have had due notice of your scale of charges. I have a feeling they are going to repeat the error again in future.

      The Ombudsman will give you far, far less I suspect btw

      • fivebobbill says:

        Thank you LL for the advice as always. I had in fact already asked for your first point in my initial letter on Monday, confirmation of their error to Credit Ref Agencies, a note on my file and cc’d to myself.
        To date I have only dealt with the first response CS agent, so I’ll be taking this up further of course when the official complaints office contact me.
        The thing is I’m not accustomed to dealing with complaints of this nature and unsure of the best way to approach it when they come back to me. I don’t want to be fobbed off by some slick salesman on the phone and sell myself short as it really has been quite a stressful time trying to deal with all of this. It makes me so angry just thinking about it never mind the potential damage to my reputation and financial history.
        It’s one thing saying your sorry, it’s fixed and it wont happen again, but they really need to be addressing the damage that has been done and I’m just not sure how I put a value on that.

    • The real John says:

      What are your actual monetary losses? £500 would be pushing it IMO.

      • fivebobbill says:

        I really don’t know John, I don’t think it’s a financial loss as much as it is personal reputational damages. I have worked very hard all my life to maintain my credit score, it’s viewed by any company I apply to for credit, be it home insurance, travel insurance, an Amex card, car lease, and the fact that a company can destroy that through negligence / incompetence and just say sorry is just not on!

        Not everyone is going to read a correction on your credit file, very often once the damage is done it sticks, and the companies I have dealt with this past 9 months will have noted the missed payment errors, they wont have note of any new correction on their database…

        • Lady London says:

          Get DODO offer first without naming a figure. Make it clear in some correspendence (email is ok eg if you are chasing them and giving them 14 daya to reply) that you are hopping mad about the damage that has occurred and tarnishes…even if corrected… and if you do not receive a compensatory response that shows they take their repeated offers seriously you will refer this complaint to the ombudsman.

          Pretty sure Ombudsman judgments are public for previous cases and online.

          I’d use the Amex 100,000 offer as an example of what their errors have made it impossible for you to apply for

          • Lady London says:

            *repeated errors not repeated offers… your compo is going to be heavily based on the 3 repetitions of this error so far

            At an appropriate moment in a frustrated and completely nonthreatening way I might hint that I am so desperate I might ask around on social media if anyone else has had their credit record damaged by them and months of hassle…if done nicely and if they’ve got any sense they should put a generous gagging component into any offer

    • Mouse says:

      Name and shame!

    • AJA says:

      I would make a request under GDPR to DODO for the information they hold on you. I would also request that they provide you with proof that they have requested every credit agency removes the erroneous data. And provide proof that this has actually happened.

      Also why not name and shame the company? There may be other HfP’ers out there who are customers of this company. You would be doing everyone a favour so they can keep an eye out and make sure they are not affected in the same way.

    • Andrew (@andrewseftel) says:

      Here are the FOS guidelines for compensation for non-monetary loss. https://www.financial-ombudsman.org.uk/consumers/expect/compensation-non-financial-loss

      £500 and your report updated to be accurate would be what I’d target.

    • Andrew says:

      The Credit Score that is presented on the Experian, Equifax, Clearscore and similar is utterly meaningless for the purposes of borrowing. They are not lenders.

      Lenders all have their own algorithms that they use to assess you as a borrower. So until you’ve actually attempted to borrow or increase a credit limit from a lender, you’re not crystallising a score.

      So the important part here is to ensure that the files are corrected in good time for you borrowing.

      There are definitely two clear issues here though. The failure of their customer service team to close down the loan properly, and the consequential reporting of false data to the agency.

      I have bad news though. When something like this happens, it’s a game of pass-the-parcel between the ICO and FOS.

      Your best outcome is £250-£500 compensation, corrected records and walk away and avoid dealers or manufacturer that uses that firm again.

    • fivebobbill says:

      Folks I really do appreciate all the very helpful advice here, I feel much better armed already for when (if) “DODO” ever reach out to me!

      Should the matter eventually be resolved, I will undertake to come back here with an update, AND tell you who they are!

    • memesweeper says:

      My former employer shagged a handful of credit histories and forked out a high five figure sum to settle it. Not sure you’d get so much, but push hard. That’s an egregious misuse of personal data and explicitly unlawful.

  • G says:

    Are there ever any extra free bonus points when buying AVIOS please?

    And, does this count extra with the BA Amex card (it seems it is not booked through BA but through something else) please??

    • Rhys says:

      30% – 50% bonus is not uncommon. There isn’t a bonus on at the moment, however, so better to wait if you can. You don’t get the BA rate on a BA Amex as it isn’t processed by BA.

      • G says:

        Thank you Rhys. I wonder why they have outsourced the buying-process to another website and so no double BA on Amex? Will you find out by the way when they are 30-50% bonus please??

        • Rhys says:

          Virtually all the airlines outsource it to points.com – probably easier and cheaper than doing it in house. Yes, when we find out there are bonuses we write about them.

  • Janet says:

    Sorry this is not travel related, but just wondered if anyone could recommend a private medical health insurance (I’m based in north of England) and any scope for points earning please?

    • Genghis says:

      I think the best advice is probably to self insure if you’re paying yourself, see this article by James Max https://www.ft.com/content/29c1820c-04ba-40cc-82a4-46268fb28ab3

      • Janet says:

        Thanks Genghis but I couldn’t get through the paywall.

        • Pete M says:

          Search for the name of the article (Rich People’s Problems: Health insurance makes me sick) in Google in incognito mode – should let you read it.

      • aDifferentSimon says:

        if no subscription googling the string at the end of an ft link is a good trick.

        https://www.google.com/search?q=29c1820c-04ba-40cc-82a4-46268fb28ab3

      • QwertyKnowsBest says:

        Excellent article and I think I recognise the behaviour of Saga as his current issuer. I did manage to negotiate a discount on the last year’s premium due to big reduction in availability of private health service, but the promised review has not appeared. If only the regulator would investigate private health premiums during Covid, as it seems to me they have been charging for a benefit that they cannot provide.

      • G says:

        That is right. If young than perhaps. But older people and privately is too expensive. If your work policy than that is good.

      • AJA says:

        Very interesting article and thanks to aDifferentSimon for the link to read it.

        I like the idea posed in the first comment of moving to Portugal instead of having UK cover 🙂

        As my dear deceased father used to say about insurance: It covers you for everything except loss.

        I do not have private medical insurance, preferring to effectively self-insure but do take travel insurance although I have just today cancelled my annual travel insurance which was due to auto renew later this week. No point paying for annual cover I do not need for at least the next 6 months. Credit due to Axa who accepted my reasoning without question although I did expect they would try to sell me a policy with a reduced premium.

    • Aston100 says:

      We have private health cover with Aviva.
      My wife and I have made use of some aspects of it over the past few years, but only as outpatients.
      I have been happy with the service thus far.
      I am not aware of points earning opportunities, nor would that be a priority for me as our health is more important that some miles or points – as should yours be too.

      • Janet says:

        Thanks for replies. Don’t think I’m active enough for Vitality, but will look at Aviva. I agree Aston100 that health is the most important aspect but, of course, being a HFPer I had to ask!

    • Andrew says:

      I occasionally do holiday and maternity cover for the girls here for their PP and medico-legal work. (I take a 10% turn on the consultant’s billing).

      It’s an absolute relief when the prospective patient tells us they are with Aviva or Benenden.

      • Sandra says:

        Whilst I can’t comment on price as it’s employer provided, we have been very happy with Axa who didn’t quibble over physiotherapy, specialist fees, private x ray/scan and finally a shoulder operation on our student son for a rugby injury which his uni GP kept insisting just needed rest – he spent 3 or 4 months months resting but it was much more serious than just pulled muscles and it was the Axa paid for physio, who also happened to be an ex army rugby team physio, who took one look and told him to get an x ray & a specialist referral.

    • BuildBackBetter says:

      All that comes from the marketing budget which pushes up the costs. Compare against similar policies before taking a decision.

      • Optimus Prime says:

        Yes, it’s always worth to do a comparison. In my case Vitality came up the cheapest 2 years ago.

  • Anon says:

    How long does it take for a Qatar refund (real life examples pls)

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