New ban on all hidden debit and credit card fees means new transparency

  • By Claire Cook
  • 03 Nov, 2017

They were hiding from consumers, but now all those rip-off subcharges on card payments have been found and banned. But what do we do until the ban takes effect?

Sub-charges, hidden charges or, as many of us refer to them simply as, rip-off charges, are something that we are all often involuntarily subjected to when choosing to pay by debit or credit card, either online or in-store. Such hidden charges added onto your bill at the checkout, particularly online, have meant that the cost of the goods and/or services you’re paying for get driven up.

Airliners and holiday companies are said to be among the worst of these offenders, levying fees up to 3% when conducting transactions via credit cards or debit cards. The new law will be implemented on 13th January 2018, with immediate effect, and will mean firms caught breaking the new law thereafter will be forced to reimburse customers, and even face fines. The rules will apply to any UK company which is selling to UK consumers.

Cashing in on the ban
Due to this banning of hidden card fees, it is to be expected that some companies will generally raise their prices to compensate for what will be a significant cut to their overall revenue. Other companies, however, won’t want to risk losing their customers. Nevertheless, it is expected that not all companies will raise their prices, so there will be some substantial savings to be had, particularly with expensive purchases. A 2% or 3% saving on certain car purchases, for example, or on wedding venue bookings, will mean thousands of pounds being saved.

Since the Red Card for Card Charges campaign has started, launched by James Daley, Virgin Atlantic and EasyJet have all reduced their fees, the cuts of which span up to as much as 3%. These companies therefore might be worth looking out for, but shopping around in general is always a great thing to do.

How to avoid these hidden fees until January
Paying with cash instead is always a great answer, of course, but shopping around is so important these days, especially with regard to hidden fees found in conveyancing companies’ costs, which are among some of the most deceiving. Many conveyancing firms invent disbursements, adding tasks and charges to the bill that should be covered by the conveyancing solicitors’ basic fee, and requiring a substantial price for them, even though they will probably be in small print or hidden away. If the offer on the internet initially looks too cheap and good to be true, it probably is.

While on holiday, you should insist on being charged in local currency, so to avoid the ‘dynamic currency conversion,’ which is a system that allows retailers and foreign banks to set their own conversion levels, sometimes adding up to 10% on bills.

Banks also charge holidaymakers to use cards abroad, with average fees of 2.8% for debit card payments and 3.5% for credit cards, whilst for ATM usage specifically, the charges are on average 2.9% for debit cards and 4.9% for credit cards. So, when asked what currency you want to pay in, always opt for local currency.

And why not use a prepaid currency card with only local currency? It’s a great alternative to card payments as it locks in your exchange rate when you buy.

The Property Collection

By Claire Cook 20 Nov, 2017

1.   The Beer Hawk Advent Calendar

17 beer styles, 7 different countries, one amazing beery month. 23 Breweries, 24 days, one incredibly memorable advent calendar! It’s filled with Belgian classics, crafty cans, German brilliance and British beauties including pale ales, saisons, porters, lagers and more - but there are also a few rather special surprises and see if you can also spot the seasonal Christmas movies dotted around the calendar.


2.   Crayola Christmas Countdown Activity Advent Calendar

What a perfect way to encourage creativity! Each morning in the 24 days running up to Christmas, there’ll be a new surprise that your little ones can get creative with, such as craft projects, homemade gifts, finger puppets, and colouring activities.


3. Mini Houses Advent Calendar

Create a woodland inspired festive setting with this wooden mini houses advent calendar. Made from MDF, this advent calendar includes 25 miniature houses enhanced with snowy rooftops and finished with cut out Christmas trees and deer. Perfect for filling with your favourite chocolates to help countdown to Christmas. Dimensions: 37.5x33x5.5cm.


4. Lego City Advent Calendar

Celebrate the countdown to Christmas with LEGO® City flair, featuring 24 different surprises, one for each day of December, including Santa’s sleigh, a gingerbread house, Christmas tree, plane, snowman, coast guard helicopter and so much more. Includes several different builds and six mini figures.


5. MAD Beauty - Merry Christmas Advent Calendar

A beauty gift behind every door! This advent includes: 2 x 3.5g Lipsticks, 1 x 3.5g Powder compact, 3 x 5ml Nail polish, 3 x 6.5ml Lip Gloss 2 x 2.5ml Lip gloss, 2 x 3g Eyeshadow, 1 x 0.5g Eyeliner, 1 x 0.5g Lip liner, 1 x 3.5g Blusher, 1 x 2.5g Blusher plus a Sharpener, Toe Separator, Lip Brush, Blush Brush, Nail File, Applicator and Nail sticker sheet.


6.   Body Shop 25 Days Deluxe Advent Calendar

As well as being filled with a selection of your favourite beauty treats; from body care and skincare, to make-up and accessories, these advent calendars are also hiding a few more surprises behind their doors. You’ll find a feel-good action to complete every day, and the fun and games don’t stop there. Once you’ve opened box 25, your calendar transforms into a trivia quiz to play on Christmas Day!


7. Ginmas Advent Calendar

by TheLittleBoysRoom on Not On The High Street

This Christmas you can buy a loved one (or yourself ) a Gin advent calendar! It’s filled to the brim with mini bottles of unusual tonics and comes with a full-sized bottle of Lakes Explorer Gin so that you’ve got enough to last you throughout December to mix with the various tonics you’ll be trying out! It’s Gin-tastic! Included in the hamper are: a 70cl bottle of Lakes Gin and 24 bottles of assorted 20cl tonics.


8.   Playmobil Royal Ice Skating Trip Advent Calendar

Countdown to Christmas in regal fashion with the fantastic Royal Ice Skating Trip advent calendar from Playmobil! Includes three Playmobil figures, diorama, animals and lots of accessories including a wearable bracelet. Each window has a fun surprise to build your Playmobil scene as Christmas day approaches!


By Claire Cook 17 Nov, 2017
Toffee apple bread & butter pudding
Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 1 hr, 10 minutes
Serves: 6

3 red dessert apples
juice ½ lemon
4 tbsp golden caster sugar
397g can caramel such as Carnation
6 brioche finger rolls, sliced into rounds
3 eggs
400ml full-fat milk
200ml double cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
ice cream, to serve (optional)

  1. Core the apples, and then slice into rings about as thick as a 50p piece. Toss through the lemon juice and 2 tbsp sugar. Spread about 2/3 of the caramel over the base of a large baking dish. Try a 20 x 30cm one.
  2. Layer the brioche and apple rings in the dish in overlapping lines. Dot spoonfuls of the leftover caramel here and there, leaving bits of apple poking out. In a jug, whisk the eggs, milk, cream, vanilla extract and 1 tbsp sugar. Pour the mixture over the brioche and apples, making sure it’s all well covered, then wrap in cling film. Set aside for at least 30 mins, or overnight, in the fridge.
  3. Heat oven to 170C/150C fan/gas 3. Uncover the pudding and scatter with the remaining 1 tbsp sugar. Bake for 45-50 mins until the top is golden and the custard has set. The caramel should be bubbling around the edges and the pudding puffed up. Serve with vanilla ice cream. Delicious!

Find the recipe at
By Claire Cook 15 Nov, 2017
Watch this video to listen to what makes our products stand out from the crowd.

Property Collection co-hosted a team event for Bernards, a three office agent in Portsmouth, for the sales team to really embrace the SUCCESS they can achieve using our products.

We showcased their bespoke videos, TV website, Monthly property lifestyle publications, Video brochures, Personalised property websites and so much more.

Hear more from Bernards on our Case Study website
By Claire Cook 15 Nov, 2017
The research suggests that home sellers are being unrealistic and over pricing when first listing their property. It’s key to note however, that a drop in new seller asking prices are normal for this time of year, with the run-up to Christmas.

Rightmove boasts to listing 90% of the houses being sold in the UK and according to their figures, 37% of current sellers have dropped their asking price with a typical 0.8% or £2,393 price reduction. This cut shows how the market has slowed, particularly in London where prices have been falling.

Miles Shipside, the director of Rightmove, suggests larger reductions in house prices in the future; especially with the recent interest rate rise and the slowdown in the property market.

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, Rics, said that the overall property market has halted in the UK. Rics also mentioned that the market is expected to remain flat and fall in most regions.

According to Halifax, property values increased 2.3% between August and October; being the fastest three-month growth recorded since January. They also said that the annual house price inflation of 4.5% last month saw a typical home hit £225,826, being another record high.

Image Credit: Homes Partnership

By Claire Cook 14 Nov, 2017
When you use our softwares, products and services in the prescribed sales process, the benefits of marketing synergy delivered by the Property Collection is clear to see. In the main, the Property Collection is made up of one to six office sized independent estate agents.

Very few have a marketing manager to bring their marketing together and practically none have the budget of a corporate, and any third party marketing company brings only a piece of the necessary marketing mix and jigsaw. We deliver current synergetic marketing through a one member, one post code, one predictive result as our manta. We are obsessed with your results!

We also employ the tried and tested strategies of the largest companies in the world that deliver customer connections. Prospective customers need to know what makes you different as opposed to another estate agent. Why they should trust you needs to be delivered throughout the sales process via engaging video and animation – and be underpinned by client testimonials – for a predictive sales process, as opposed to chance and luck.

By using synergetic marketing we have the strategy, the software platform, the products and the services that drive a consistent appeal to your market place. And we create new valuations by creating localised data of people connections via personalised property websites.

Many more synchronised and automated applications are to come but we are already producing outstanding results with dozens of new agents joining us every month – all of who are enjoying success with our products.

To find out more about our innovative range of marketing products, call us on 01780 693293 or email us at

By Claire Cook 13 Nov, 2017
According to the Society for General Microbiology, some bacteria can divide every 20 minutes if they have the right temperature and nutrients. Not all bacteria is harmful but there are some household germs that can make you sick and these include staphylococcus aureus or staph, yeast and mould, Salmonella, E. coli and fecal matter.

A study conducted by NSF International and Charles River Accugenix group investigated microbial hotspots regarding the most contaminated objects in the households. The results were shocking and found that over 340 different types of bacteria were found on only 30 objects. Disgusting!

The NSF also found that areas where food is stored or prepared had more bacteria and fecal contamination that other places.

In the kitchen 
Items that need frequent cleaning are:
Chopping boards
Coffee machines
Fridges (especially when there is cross contamination between raw and cooked foods)
Sinks and work surfaces

Top Tips:
Use disinfectant wipes on taps, fridge surfaces and work tops
Change tea towels a few times a week
Heat damp sponges in the microwave for one minute to kill bacteria
Soak sponges in warm water with half a teaspoon of bleach

Professor Markus Egert, a microbiologist at Furtwangen, led a study which found that a well used kitchen sponge could be home to nearly five trillion bugs and is even dirtier than toilet waste. He Said: “A cubic centimetre of sponge tissue contains seven to eight times more bacteria than there are human beings living on the Earth”.

Door knobs and handles
The less than obvious places for germs to hide are door knobs, handles and light switches. The bathroom light switch actually had more bacteria than the door knob, the NSF found. Use disinfecting wipes and ensure you clean these spots once a week. Use a new wipe for every different spot instead of using the same one; you don’t want to spread more germs.

Make up bag
Make up brushes and applicators can be a prime area for germs, which can even cause skin and eye infections. Make up products should be kept at room temperature in a clean and dry space. You can clean make up brushes my washing them once a week with soap and water or use an alcohol spray to disinfect them.

The bathroom is the place that ideally you want to be pristine. You scrub all the dirt and grime off your body and ideally you want to be fresh and sparkly. Unfortunately, bathrooms are the perfect place for germs to grow due to the moisture of hot baths and showers.

In particular pay attention to:
The bath tub and shower tray
All drains
The floor (especially around the toilet)
Bath towels (which should be changed once a week)
Tooth brushes (which should be changed every three to four months) and holders

Wet clothes left in a washing machine will allow germs to flourish, even in a small amount of time. Ideally, transfer clean clothes to the dryer immediately. If clothes sit around for more than 30 minutes you should repeat the cycle and clean them again.

Living room
Many items are contaminated with different germs but shared devices often carry more, such as:
Remote controls
Computer keyboards
Game controllers

The NSF found that yeast, mould and staph were found on these items. Disinfectant wipes are especially handy if these devices come in contact with dirty surfaces. According to Chem-Dry, a carpet can hold up to eight times its weight in dirt and might even be dirtier than a city street!

According to Dreams, you spend around one-third of your life on your mattress. It plays an enormous role in your life, general health and well being. Ideally you should change your mattress every eight years. Not only do you want a comfortable sleep but you don't want to accommodate unwelcome guests. Dead skin cells, dust mites, germs and even bedbugs can   often live in your mattress making it super unhygienic, even if you clean your sheets regularly.

A mattress protector can also allow you to sleep more soundly and will help ensure your mattress stays fresh. The great thing about these is that they can be popped into the washing machine at anytime.

Top 5 essentials
Disinfectant wipes
Clean sponges
Multi-purpose spay
Hand wash in every toilet
By Claire Cook 10 Nov, 2017
The new deadline, announced by Louise Martin, President of the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF), is now 30th November and has been reopened so that more time can be given to all interested parties to enable the submission of fully compliant proposals.Despite Birmingham’s bid not being compliant, there was, however, no announcement as to why its bid had in fact failed to comply.

Who placed bids?
For the 2022 campaign, two cities initially launched bids for the Games – Durban in South Africa, and Edmonton in Alberta, Canada. However, Edmonton withdrew their bid in 2015, and Durban withdrew theirs earlier this year. A new bidding process was then opened, through which Birmingham placed a bid, making them the sole contender to host the 2022 Commonwealth Games, having been the only city of the Commonwealth of Nations to have submitted a legitimate bid before the deadline of 30th September. Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia, Victoria in British Columbia Canada and a potential Australian entry were possible bidders but none came forward.

Birmingham won initial backing from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sports, and their next challenge was to convince the government to approve the bid and underwrite the sporting event’s costs, who then subsequently agreed to cover 75% of the total funds. Local authorities would then have needed to raise the further 25% of the overall cost of staging the event.

The expected cost of staging the Games in Birmingham was thought to be between £600 and £750 million with venues listed in Birmingham’s bid including an upgraded Alexander Stadium, Villa Park, the NEC, Birmingham Arena, Symphony Hall and the University of Birmingham. There were also facilities planned in Coventry, Sandwell and Leamington Spa.
Until the UK government decided to back Birmingham’s proposal, Liverpool had actually been preparing its own bid and Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson claimed that his city’s bid was compliant and that ‘there are definitely questions to be asked’ about why the government chose a ‘non-compliant bid’.

What are the Commonwealth Games?
The Commonwealth Games (comprising nations who were either formally British colonies or dependencies of those colonies) is a multi-sport event and, like many other international sporting events, occurs every four years. The latest was hosted in Glasgow in 2014, while 2018’s event will take place in the Gold Coast in Queensland, Australia. Scotland and Australia have both hosted the event before, and even though seventy nations are participating in Gold Coast 2018, only six nations have attended every single Commonwealth Games dating back to 1930 (discarding the Inter-Empire Championships in 1911) – England, Scotland, Wales, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

By Claire Cook 08 Nov, 2017
There are many ways to help prep our gardens and spending a little longer on them before the weather turns cold will help ensure it looks its best when it comes to the spring and summer months.

Autumn is the perfect time to revitalise your lawn if it’s looking rather dull and untidy. Remove any old grass clippings and moss to allow your lawn to breathe and grow freely. You should either rake or scarify which will thin the lawn leaving the soil exposed in some places making an ideal seed bed. Avoid any shaded areas as these will naturally thin over the winter months anyway. Autumn is also a great time to lay any new turf allowing it plenty of time to become established before the summer months.

Before winter well and truly kicks in you should plant any spring bulbs. Snowdrops, crocus and daffodils all enjoy well fertilised free draining soil. Ensure you add in lots of sharp sand and some bone meal, which will release nutrients and feed into the bulbs over time. Remember, when planting bulbs you should plant two or three times the depth of the bulb itself, it also works well in terms of the width too. Finally, for a more dramatic effect you can plant the same variety of bulbs in large amounts or drifts.

Ideally you should move any pots planted with tender species into a conservatory or greenhouse for protection over winter. These include; cannas, agapanthus and palms. You should also wrap horticultural fleece around the trunks of any palm trees which are planted in the ground along with a thick mulch of bark around the base; this will help protect them from any frost.

Just because it’s cold and dull outside it doesn't mean your garden has to mirror this. Your winter garden can still be interesting and exciting. Try incorporating some evergreen shrubs like Phormium tenax to add structure and Cornus sanguniea (Midwinter Fire) which have gorgeous flame-coloured stems.

Shrubs and trees
Prune any branches on shrubs to improve the overall shape and give your hedges a final trim before any frost appears. Remove any dead and damaged branches which will prevent stems from rubbing together.

Paths and paving
Clean any leaves and debris from all paths, it’s much easier to do this whilst it’s dry. It might also be worth cleaning your paths with a stiff brush and soapy water as it will be less slippery in the winter months and will remove any mildew and algae.

Garden equipment maintenance
Before locking your tools and equipment away for the winter you should sharpen and clean them for the following months ahead. Ensure that all of your tools have been dried thoroughly and oiled to prevent any rust. You may also consider sending your lawn mower in for a service to ensure it’s in perfect condition in spring.

Borders and structures
Cut back any herbaceous perennials in the borders and remove any dead foliage, leaves and weeds. After this you can repair any structures that may be needed. Focus on any decaying timber, pest infestations, fencing and the greenhouse or summer house.

Garden furniture
Cover up any garden furniture that you won’t be using during the colder months to prevent any damage and rust. If you have a garden shed or garage then ideally store them away, meaning they will be fresh and clean.

Compost bins
Autumn is usually the time when you clear out your vegetable plots which generates plant material for the compost heap. Use last year’s compost around the garden and make room for this seasons waste. It’s okay if it’s not yet quite ready to use, you should just turn it improving the decomposition.

Winter Wildlife
Give the animals a helping hand by making your garden wildlife friendly. Place bird feeders around the gardens at different levels as squirrels and other animals may enjoy these treats too. Don’t deadhead all of your plants just yet, leave the seed heads on for wildlife to nibble at during the cold months. Hedge hogs also appreciate some shelter when the weather gets cold, you could either buy a ready-made shelter or create one with different containers.

By Claire Cook 07 Nov, 2017
Many of you will already have met head cameraman Tom. But if you haven’t had the pleasure of meeting him yet, then you can find out more about him here!

What are the three words that best describe you?
Creative, Patient, Reliable

What do you love most about your job?
Getting to see brand new locations and meeting people from all around the country every day

Describe your perfect Sunday
Relaxing at home, watching a movie

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Never close a door behind you

Who is your dream party guest?
Alfred Hitchcock

How long have you been part of the Property Collection team?
1 year

Now that I’ve been with the company for just over a year, I’ve watched the products grow and advance. Each agent I visit has their own unique ways and ideas about using the products and I spread those ideas from agent to agent, always listening and always learning.

Being face to face with the agent gives me a chance to talk to them first hand, listening to any questions that they may have concerning the film shoot. I try to make it as stress free of an experience as possible, as the reasoning behind some of the techniques that are used are hard to visualise until you see the edited, polished videos.

The most common thing I hear from agents, is “how long will it take?” And that is always a tough question. The answer is often “how long is a piece of string?” With me working with agents everyday, no office and no agent is the same. The best thing to do, is allow a lot more time than you think it will take, as depending on client availability, or foot traffic in the office/phone calls can all seriously impact the length of a shoot. But rest assured, I won’t leave until I’m happy with what we’ve captured!

My knowledge of not only video production, but also the products that we use gives me a great insight into getting the most out of the filming days and allows me to also hear the agents ideas and try and execute the vision that they have in their heads how they want to the filming days to go.
By Claire Cook 06 Nov, 2017
The show attracted the largest audience of the series and the biggest for Channel 4 since the opening ceremony of the 2012 Paralympic Games.

We saw a large entremet for the final showstopper which is a delicate multilayered cake. Winner, Sophie made an “Ode to the Honey Bee” which included lavender and lemon flavours; although uncertain, the judges loved it.

Finalist, Kate on the other hand, made a white chocolate, yuzu and lychee cake, whilst Steven’s cake had 14 elements with a yin-yang design.

However, there was controversy over the final when Prue Leith announced the winner 12 hours before the show was due to broadcast. The tweet was deleted moments after but unfortunately had been widely shared. Leith later apologised and explained that the error was due to her being overseas: “I’m in Bhutan, the time difference is massive. I thought that they got it six hours ago”.

Image Credit: RadioTimes
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