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Jersey Consumer Council

Tag: home life

Peer-to-Peer Lending Explained

September 6, 2017 Banking, Consumer Skills, Money Matters No Comments
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Peer-to-peer lending, also known as Private Lending, involves matching up investors, who are willing to lend, with borrowers – either private individuals or small businesses. We are sharing this article with you to raise awareness that peer to peer lending is a private arrangement and comes bearing significant risks; attractive as a solution but be cautious and understand exactly what you are signing up to.

By cutting out the middleman and not having the overheads of traditional banks, peer-to-peer lending may offer more favourable rates, or help borrowers who have struggled to get a personal loan elsewhere.

What are the risks as an investor?

By being connected directly to someone who wants to borrow, the most immediate risk to your money is if a borrower fails to repay what you’ve lent them (known as ‘defaulting’).

Your money is also not protected by the Depositors Compensation Scheme which guarantees your savings with Jersey banks up to the value of £50,000.

 

What are the risks as a borrower?

  1. Loans are usually granted on an interest-only basis (meaning you repay no capital) and for a short duration, typically 1 to 3 years.
  2. You would normally still need to have a deposit, or a stake in whatever property you’re putting up as the asset (sometimes called the security).
  3. At the end of the term, the loan is either paid off by some means, such as replacing with a conventional bank mortgage or selling the property, or in some cases the loan can be renewed for a further period. Take care, if you have struggled to obtain a traditional mortgage and your financial situation has not improved you have no guarantee of obtaining a traditional mortgage at the end of the term to enable you to continue to live in the property. What will you do if the value of the property goes down?
  4. Interest rates can vary, depending on the lender and their appetite or consideration of the risks involved.
  5. While the rate of return may be favourable to the investor/lender, the interest rate for the borrower can be higher than high street lending and much higher arrangement and early redemption penalties.
  6. Borrowers may intend for the loan to be a short term, interim solution before moving to mainstream mortgage lending but if they are still in the same circumstances at the end, the loan can be rolled over (and over) which just continues the difficulty.
  7. We strongly recommend that you ask any lender about the Jersey Code of Consumer Lending; this is a voluntary or ‘self-regulatory’ code, which sets standards of good lending practice. These standards seek to ensure that Jersey consumers are treated fairly and that the opportunities for taking on excessive financial commitments are reduced. The Consumer Council is working hard with industry, Jersey Financial Services Commission, Citizens Advice, Trading Standards and the Financial Services Unit, Chief Minister’s Department to update the Code and to raise awareness of its importance as it provides various safeguards for consumers. The Financial Ombudsman will take codes of practice into account when determining a complaint. The Code exists even whilst it is being updated, it can be found at this link gov.je/tradingstandards/consumerlending and remains fully relevant.
  8. The Channel Islands Financial Ombudsman (CIFO) is an independent organisation that resolves complaints about financial services with powers to investigate complaints and award compensation. If you take a loan from an individual, rather than a lending business, you may not be able to complain about them to CIFO. Contact details ci-fo.org and 01534-748610.

What advice do we have for consumers?

Ask yourself why it is important for you to take on additional risk with peer-to-peer lending?

Will your financial situation improve with hard work over time so you can access the traditional mortgage market?

Do you have other housing options? Possibly rental

Our advice is to get professional, qualified and independent legal and financial advice before making any decisions. Don’t let the excitement of a new home cloud your judgement on such a large long term financial commitment. This may be the largest financial decision you ever make – don’t let it be the worst!

Make sure you have a professional valuation on the property you are thinking of buying. Consider if your property will be adequately insured – life insurance, critical illness, building and contents?

Terry Vaughan, Director, Head of Risk and Compliance at The Mortgage Shop and Henley Financial highlighted that If you’re a borrower, your lawyers need to make sure the person granting the loan has the authority and legal right to do so. Your professional adviser will also check on source of funds for the loan being proposed. You also need to ensure the terms are suitable for you. You need to be aware of the repayment schedule and be sure that it is within your budget”

 

Reference

http://www.which.co.uk/money/investing/types-of-investment/guides/peer-to-peer-investing/peer-to-peer-lending-explained


Take time to think and plan when cooking on a limited budget

September 6, 2017 Consumer Skills, Home life, Money Matters No Comments
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Eating on a budget, finding timeand having the confidence to prepare meals from scratch, are why sometimes many find it difficult. With a bit of planning, using leftovers and just giving it a go, it does get easier.

A good place to start is a weekly menu plan and a budget, which will help you get into the habit of knowing what your weekly shop will cost. Allocate one or two days for a pasta dish, they are cheap, quick with many variations, such as meatballs and spaghetti, ham and pea or simply fresh tomato sauce, all of which should cost under £5.

Sunday is a great day for a roast as you will have more time, plus you can use the leftovers for a dish or two during the week. Why not buy a bigger chicken and strip the carcass down to create a chicken and leek pie on Monday, or a chicken curry with some simple flat- breads another day?

Once you become confident with creating really simple dishes, you’ll find yourself building several weekly meal planners which you can just use time and time again. Because after all, we need these things to be simple.

Caring Cooks have a range of cost effective recipes allowing you to try your planning, shopping and cooking skills. Caring Cooks are treating us all to a Cookery demonstration 27th September Coop Grande Marche St. Helier 12:30 – 13:30 pm.

Let’s get started…

  1. Work out your weekly grocery budget (planners available by post or http://www.jerseyconsumercouncil.org.je/money-matters/budget-planner/).
  2. Plan out a weekly menu (recipes available by post or http://www.caringcooksofjersey.com).
  3. Write out your shopping list; including weight of ingredients.
  4. Be disciplined when you shop and stick to your budget. Where possible ‘Shop the Offers’. Get familiar with your supermarket’s offer cycles.
  5. Allow planning and preparation to be a priority. This gives you timeto batch-cook and freeze where appropriate. There is no need to feel guilty about time spent planning and cooking.
  6. Enjoy your cooking, keep budgeting and planning.

If you would like to learn new skillsand confidence in the kitchen, and are over 16, please get in touch with Caring Cooks to find out more.

Recipes which share ingredients and are simple to make can be found here on Caring Cooks website:

www.caringcooksofjersey.com

 


What type of Life Insurance Policy should I buy?

August 30, 2017 Insurances, Money Matters No Comments
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Most people have two or three main protection needs that can be covered by Life Insurance (often known as Life Assurance):

 

  • Paying off large debts such as your mortgage in the event of your death.
  • Family protection, where you leave behind money for your family to live on after you’ve died.
  • Funeral expenses

Different types of insurance policies are good for different protection needs:

 

Term Assurance

The most basic type of life insurance is called term insurance, where you choose the amount you want to be insured for and the period for which you want cover. If you die within the chosen period, the policy pays out. If you don’t die during the term, the policy doesn’t pay out and the premiums you have paid are not returned to you.

 

There are three main types of term insurances to consider: level term, decreasing term and family income benefit. Sometimes a combination is the best answer.

 

  • Level Term Life Insurance

A level term policy pays out a lump sum if you die within the specified term. The amount you’re covered for remains level throughout the term – hence the name. The monthly or annual premiums you pay usually stay the same, as well.

 

Level term policies can be a good option for family protection, where you want to leave a lump sum that your family can invest to live on after you’ve gone. It can also be a good option if you need a specified amount of cover for a certain length of time, e.g. to cover an interest-only mortgage.

 

You might also consider including an automatic annual increase of the sum assured to counteract the effects of inflation or increasing expenses. There are even budget versions where the monthly cost is lower during the first few years.

 

 

  • Decreasing Term Life Insurance

With a decreasing term policy, the amount you’re covered for decreases over the term of the policy. These policies are often used to cover a debt that reduces over time, such as a repayment mortgage.

Premiums are usually significantly cheaper than for level-term cover as the amount insured reduces as time goes on.

 

  • Family Income Benefit Life Insurance

Family income benefit life insurance is a type of decreasing term policy. Instead of a lump sum, though, it pays out a regular income until the policy’s expiry date if you die.

 

The upside of family income benefit is that it is easier to work out how much you need. For example, if you take home £2,000 a month, you can arrange for the same amount to be paid out to your family if you die.

 

 

Whole-of-Life

As the name suggests, whole-of-life policies are ongoing policies that pay out when you die, whenever that is. Because it’s guaranteed that you’ll die at some point (and therefore that the policy will have to pay out), these policies are more expensive than term assurance policies, which only pay out if you die within a certain timeframe. These are often used when cover is required for funeral expenses.

 

The good news is that Life Cover in general is now more affordable, and most importantly can provide you with  peace of mind, knowing that your family will be financially protected in the event of your passing away.

 

 

For and on behalf of Cherry Godfrey Insurance Services (Jersey) Ltd  

Regulated by The Jersey Financial Services Commission in the carrying on of investment and general insurance mediation business

 


Trading Standards credit card warning: online payments where you lose protection

August 30, 2017 Banking, Home life, Money Matters No Comments
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A little-known flaw in the Consumer Credit Act may put Jersey shoppers at risk of losing their money if things go wrong.

 

Under Section 75 of the UK Consumer Credit Act, shoppers who make payments between £100 and £30,000 on a credit card can get their money back if the goods turn out to be faulty, not as described or don’t arrive. The UK law makes the retailer and credit card company jointly liable. Jersey consumers usually benefit from this protection due to terms and conditions reflecting the UK Consumer Credit Act.

 

However, a little-known loophole revealed by a MoneySavingExpert means that consumers will only be reimbursed if there is a direct link between the customer, their credit card provider and the supplier. If the payment is processed by a third-party company then the protection under Section 75 does not apply.

 

So, if you bought a concert ticket through an agent on a credit card, you may not be able to get your money back using Section 75 if it doesn’t arrive.

The same may apply if you booked a holiday through a travel agent. However, the travel industry may very well have their own financial protection schemes in place.

 

You may also not be covered for credit card transactions made through online payment platforms, such as PayPal, because it breaks the chain between customer and supplier.  However, if the firm you’re buying from has a “Commercial Entity Agreement” you’ll be able to make a claim under Section 75 even if you use PayPal. PayPal has its own Buyer Protection scheme. This covers online purchases made on eBay and other websites if the item does not arrive or match the seller’s description. Property, vehicles, custom-made items and industrial machinery are among some items that are not guaranteed.

 

Amazon is another firm where Section 75 may not apply. Shoppers who buy items on a credit card from third-party suppliers on the online marketplace will not be covered. If you buy directly from Amazon then you could make a claim.

 

Confused, it is not surprising! Trading Standards offers the following advice:

  • Know who you are buying from and who will take your payment
  • Wherever possible put payments on your credit card
  • If you are entitled to protection, you are still covered even if a small proportion, part payment or deposit was paid using your card
  • When things go wrong, don’t delay. If you don’t have Section 75 protection you may alternative protection through platform buyer protection schemes, but these are often time limited.

 

Free confidential consumer advice is available from Trading Standards on 448162 or email tradingstandards@gov.je. You can also drop in, they are in the Central Market under the clock.

 


Occasionally when we buy goods or services we’re asked to pay a deposit… but what are our rights?

August 30, 2017 Consumer Skills, Home life, Money Matters No Comments
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When we pay a deposit, we are committing to a binding contract with the outstanding payment to be paid at a later date. The natural position of the Law is that the deposit will not be refunded should you decide you do not want the goods or services. You should be aware that the trader may be in a position to pursue you for the outstanding money.

 

For example, when ordering a wedding dress or prom dress, we are usually required to pay something upfront. It is always recommended that you ask whether the amount it is refundable or not, and if it is, ask the person to indicate the term on the receipt or by email.

 

For further advice on this matter or any other consumer issues, please contact Trading Standards on 01534 44160.

 


Are you using the correct charger for your device?

May 19, 2017 Home life No Comments
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Incorrect charger use exposes weaknesses in the battery and is likely to cause damage.

By using a charger that is too powerful for the device you are charging, it can expose weaknesses in the battery and cause it damage, leading to a shortened life span of the item or in more extreme cases, the battery could fail and pose a fire hazard.  For example, e-cigarette batteries generally run on lower amperage to mobile phone chargers. Nationally there has been a rise in fires involving e-cigarettes; the direct cause being due to failure of battery packs during charging.

 

A spokesperson from Electrical Safety First has commented ‘Always use the charger that is supplied, or designed to be used, with the device.  If a charger with a different amperage is used, this could lead to an incorrect charge being supplied resulting in damage to the battery.  A damaged battery is at risk of catching fire or exploding. Lithium batteries, which are common in products like e-cigarettes and mobile devices, are very sensitive and need to be charged carefully.’

 

When charging devices:

  • always use the correct charger and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.  Mobile phone chargers are generally too powerful for charging e-cigarettes
  • never charge a battery that has signs of damage, that has been dropped, or has been subjected to impact
  • never plug a charger into a non-approved mains power transformer
  • check that your e-cigarette battery has overcharge or overheat protection
  • remove the battery from charge when complete, don’t overcharge
  • never leave a battery on charge unattended
  • don’t use if wet or exposed to water
  • E-cigarettes -do not over tighten the atomiser or when connecting to the charger
  • ensure that you dispose of batteries correctly

 

If you require any further assistance please contact Trading Standards on 01534 448160.

 

With thanks from Trading Standards & Jersey Fire Service


Local charity launches ‘Healthy Eating Week’ and encourages islanders to eat well and eat together

May 19, 2017 Consumer Skills, Home life No Comments
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The first ever Caring Cooks of Jersey Healthy Eating Week takes place from Monday 12th June through to Saturday 17th June. The local charity which aims make nutritious and tasty food part of daily life is encouraging us all to think about how we can eat well and eat together, even when short on time and on a tight budget.

 

There are plenty of inexpensive, nutritious and delicious foods available all of which can be used to prepare healthy meals from scratch in a much shorter time than you might think. Planning your meals and smarter shopping can help you to make your money go further and help you cut down on waste too.

 

Here are just a few top tips from Caring Cooks of Jersey on how to be cost conscious but enjoy healthy, delicious and nutritious food.

 

  1. Plan your meals. Planning your weekly meals, writing – and sticking to, a shopping list will help you avoid making the impulse buys which often tip the bill over budget. Scan the shelves for lower cost items, be aware of special offers but don’t be tempted to buy something that may actually go to waste. Supermarket economy ranges can be great value and nutritionally there is often little difference to the standard or branded versions.

 

  1. Look for special offers on long shelf-life products. Stocking up on store cupboard staples such as dried pasta and rice, tinned or dried beans and pulses and tinned tomatoes can save money. All these ingredients can be used to bulk out your meals to make them go further.

 

  1. Buy cheaper cuts of meat. Use chicken thighs rather than breast for example, and whilst you may not be familiar with cooking a whole chicken, this can be great value, especially if you use it for more than one meal. A traditional roast chicken is delicious and really simple to do, then use any left overs for curry or with salad or vegetables the next day.

 

Mince is also a great ingredient, versatile and inexpensive, there are lots of tasty, satisfying dishes you can make with mince such as lasagne, bolognaise, cottage pie or one of our family favorites mince and pea curry.

 

Caring Cooks of Mince and Pea Curry Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • Pack of beef or lamb mince
  • 1 large onion, finely diced
  • 2 garlic cloves crushed
  • 2 fresh green chillies, deseeded and finely diced (optional)
  • 4tbsp medium curry paste
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 4 tbsp. tomato puree
  • 250g frozen peas
  • Coconut cream (optional, as it can be quite expensive)

Recipe

  1. Heat the oil in a pan and cook the onion on a low heat until lightly golden
  2. Add the garlic, chillies (if using), cumin seeds and curry paste and fry for 2-3 mins and then add the mince, cooking until it’s browned
  3. Add the tomatoes, tomato puree, sugar and 100ml cold water.
  4. Simmer for about 20 minutes, add in the frozen peas and coconut cream (if using), and cook for another 10 minutes.  Serve with boiled white or brown rice

 

Supermarkets often have ‘bulk buying’ offers on meat such as ‘three for two’ and similar. Anything you are not going to use straight away can be put in the freezer for another time.

 

  1. Make use of canned oily fish. Canned sardines and salmon can be cheaper than buying fresh fish, plus they are easy to prepare and have a long shelf life. Choose those canned in spring water to keep the salt content to a minimum. You can make fishcakes with canned tuna, cooked potatoes and chopped parsley with a squeeze of lemon. Roll the mix in flour, egg and breadcrumbs and then fry lightly. Using frozen fish is another great way to help ensure you are getting Omega 3 fats and can often be added to dishes straight from the freezer.

 

  1. Use frozen and canned fruit and vegetables. Using frozen vegetables can be cheaper than using fresh and they count towards your 5 A DAY. If you have a stock in your cupboard you can use them when you want without them going off, which cuts down on waste. But do watch out for those that have added sugar and opt for varieties in water when possible.

 

  1. Buy fresh fruit and vegetables when in season. Here in Jersey we have an abundance of wonderful, locally grown produce – make the most of it! Fresh fruit and vegetables in season are often great value and they taste fantastic.

 

Of course budget planning, shopping and cooking food from scratch can seem a little daunting, many people may never have learned to cook, or perhaps have lost their confidence in the kitchen. If that sounds familiar then why not join one of the Community Cooking Courses offered by Caring Cooks of Jersey? These courses are a great way get into the kitchen, to learn new skills in a friendly and supportive environment and to help change the way you and your family eat. The courses run over a five week period on either a Monday and Wednesday evening at Le Rocquier School, St Clement. All the ingredients are provided and each week you get to take home a tasty two course meal. For more information and to book a place visit the ‘Our Services’ section on the Caring Cooks website www.caringcooksofjersey.com.

More top tips

Use leftover vegetables to make soup. Soups made with added pasta, rice, beans, lentils or root vegetables such as sweet potatoes, parsnips, turnips and carrots are tasty, filling, cheap and freeze well.

Baked potatoes are great as a healthy and filling meal. Experiment with your favourite toppings. Make the most of having the oven on and add some extra potatoes that can then be kept for a couple of days in the fridge (or longer in the freezer) and microwaved for a quick meal another time.

Store bread in the freezer. If you don’t use bread that often and you have space in your freezer, why not freeze the loaf when you buy it and then take a few slices out as and when you need them to avoid waste.

Make your own ‘ready meals’. Simply double your usual recipes and freeze half. Dishes such as chilli, cottage pies, soups and stews all freeze well and are ideal for those days when you don’t have the time to cook.

 

 

 

 

 

 


Charities & Bequest Issues

February 22, 2017 Consumer Skills, Home life No Comments
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The majority of us will have had personal experience with specific charities. For many, it is important to support these charities after our death so that their services can continue to provide a benefit and make a difference. Leaving a bequest to a charity in your Will is a great way of doing this.

 

When leaving a bequest some may have a specific purpose in mind for the bequest they are making, however it is important to bear in mind that there are a vast number of charities, some with very specific aims and some with a wide and general purpose. Is it possible therefore, to bequeath money to a charity and specify how they put that money to use? The short answer is that in general, it is not possible to specifically direct how you would like your money to be used. This is because once a bequest has been made the funds belong to the charity and they are free to decide how best to use it. Having said this, it is possible to express a wish in your Will that the money be used for a specific purpose. This will give the charity a clear idea of how you intended the money to be used even if it is not binding. One of the most common examples that we see, is a bequest to a medical charity, with a wish expressed that the money to be used for research purposes.

 

 

Advocate Zoe Blomfield, Managing Partner

t: +44 (0) 1534 888666


Jersey Telecom’s Billing Changes

February 10, 2017 Home life, Telecommunications No Comments
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Both Jersey Consumer Council and Citizens Advice Jersey have received numerous telephone calls and emails from concerned landline only JT customers in relation to the costs being introduced for paper bills and payment choices, other than direct debits.

 

Your heartfelt comments, frustrations and anger have all been shared with managers from JT. It has to be recognised that we cannot stop the tide of change but we can help consumers to move with the tide as much as possible.

 

Over the last few days we have been talking to JT on a daily basis to sort out some steps to help the vulnerable and land line only customers who are overwhelmed and frightened by the proposed changes.

 

The JT team are sympathetic and have listened to all of your questions, comments and criticisms. The following options are being offered to help;

 

  • JT Prime talk customers with no other products on a monthly Bill can switch to a quarterly bill to reduce bill charges
  • JT customers with multiple bills can arrange to have all their products on one bill to avoid duplicate charges
  • JT will contact selected Prime Talk customers with more information on Direct Debit payment options
  • You don’t have to print your bills – if you have an iPad for example but no printer you can still opt to pay using traditional methods i.e. cheque or cash (albeit at a charge) you will need to write down the Account number

 

JT have assured us that they ‘always abide by the direct debit guarantee and distribute bills at least 5 working days prior to a direct debit taken out.’

 

We are still talking to JT, as consumers continue to contact us with ideas and initiatives to help our community.

 

Dominic Vye, JT’s Head of Commercial Development, said: “The new billing structure aligns JT with the vast majority of our customers, who receive their bills online and pay by Direct Debit. As their numbers have grown so has the cost of paper billing and administering non-Direct Debit payments.

 

“But we were always conscious that some customers would be affected, which is why we are working closely with groups such as the JCC to make this transition as smooth as possible”.

 

If you still have concerns please telephone the Jersey Consumer Council on 611161 or leave a message.


Christmas Puddings & Pricewatch

November 14, 2016 Home life, Top tips No Comments
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Having found our Mince Pie tasting in 2015 so revealing we decided to put Christmas Puddings to the taste and price test this year. Taste testers helped us from Citizens Advice Jersey, Trading Standards, the Channel Island Competition and Regulatory Authorities and 4insight, a local Market Reserach Company. Our 5 testers (we had two testers from Trading Standards as one was an entrant to the Great British Bake off 2015) each tester could award a maximum of 25 points per pudding; the clear winner was the most expensive of our pudding purchases.

The testers noted that the complexity of microwave cooking such as microwave for 2 minutes, rest for a minute, cook for 40 seconds and then rest again seemed to have benefits when it comes to the final texture. Detailed below are the scores from the ‘blind’ tasting. Now it is your turn to see if you agree with our testers!

Puddings Tested…full results will be published week commencing 28th November in our all island newsletter.

Brand of Christmas Pudding
Coop
Christmas Pudding
Irresistible Rich & Fruity
Marks & Spencer
Classic Recipe Pudding
The Collection Intensely Fruity
Tesco Alliance
Tesco Finest Pudding
Tesco Christmas Pudding
Waitrose
Essential Cider & Sherry
6 Month Matured