News: Victory for fair play in row over World Cup sales

Fifa lifts restrictions on ticket purchases; insurer to pay £6.3m after leaving customers in dark; 'rate tarts' hit with new fees

Football fans no longer face insurmountable financial barriers to obtaining tickets for the 2006 World Cup after the European Commission forced Fifa, international football's governing body, to allow payment to be made straight from a UK current account.

Football fans no longer face insurmountable financial barriers to obtaining tickets for the 2006 World Cup after the European Commission forced Fifa, international football's governing body, to allow payment to be made straight from a UK current account.

Last week, Fifa backed down from its insistence that fans could buy early-availability tickets only if they held a Mastercard (the tournament sponsor), had a bank account in Germany (where the tournament is to be held), or were willing to pay up to £35 in banking charges for an international money transfer.

Now, over the next few weeks, Fifa will open accounts at all the major UK high-street banks (and those of other EU countries outside the single currency). This will allow the organisation to set up a free payment system.

Behind Fifa's decision was an official complaint made to the EC by the British consumer group Which? in March. This highlighted the "anti-competitive nature [of the arrangement] and financial penalties for fans".

As well as a fiendishly complex ticket-sales system, involving the "slow release" of tickets in four separate tranches, many UK fans have had to grapple with a payment puzzle. There are nearly two-thirds as many Visa card holders in the UK as Mastercard holders. To buy one of the first batch of tickets to be released, those without a Mastercard - whose applications had been successful - were previously forced to take one out. If the company chose not to accept them as customers, the ticket purchase fell through.

Fans' remaining options weren't exactly straightforward, either. Opening a German current account would have been a complicated and expensive process. And a £35 bank transfer would, in many cases, have added a premium to the price of tickets of nearly 50 per cent.

The relaxing of these rules means that fans hoping to get in on the second tranche of early-availability tickets, which was released last week, can put in an application knowing they won't incur expensive surcharges. Those who are successful will be notified later this year.

NU announces payout

Around 70,000 Norwich Union customers are in line for an unexpected £90 payout after the insurer discovered it had failed to disclose all its product charges to them.

During a company review of the tangle of fees and other expenses linked to life funds, it was found that thousands of customers who took out certain policies had not been give full information at the time. This had left customers paying charges they simply didn't know about; the £90 refund represents the average cost of these to each policyholder.

Customers affected are those with investments - usually an investment bond or pension - in Norwich Union's unit-linked Corporate Bond and Balanced Distribution funds (where each customer in effect buys units in a fund).

It is expected that the refund will cost the company a total of £6.3m. Existing customers will have the money credited to their policy, while those who have since left the company will be sent a cheque.

In both cases, the insurer will be writing to customers to tell them about the compensation.

"Customers should wait to receive their letter from Norwich Union and do not need to take any action themselves," said a spokes-man for the insurer.

Fund charges are complex but, in a nutshell, they break down into one fee for the fund manager's expertise and another for administration and service. While Norwich Union had given customers details for the first part of this equation, known as the annual management charge, it failed to do so for the second part.

The insurer's move comes after an announcement by the City watchdog, the Financial Services Authority, that it would be scrutinising unit pricing - particularly by life firms.

Egg card cracks

The internet bank Egg has joined the growing band of lenders slapping a fee on to their introductory 0 per cent deals on credit-card balance transfers.

Anybody seeking to take advantage of Egg's nine-month 0 per cent offer - extended from six months - must now pay 2 per cent of the sum transferred (capped at £50).

In the past three months, other lenders have adopted similar measures to shore up their bottom line. Mint, Alliance & Leicester, Tesco Personal Finance and Halifax have all applied fees on credit-card balance transfers.

Credit-card providers are losing £80m a month - nearly £1bn a year - thanks to so-called "rate tart" customers who flit between the best deals, according to a recent report from Professor Merlin Stone of the Bristol Business School.

The lenders had originally hoped that 0 per cent introductory offers would bring in new customers who would fail to pay off their balance by the end of the introductory period. It was then envisaged that they would stick with their new credit card, paying the much higher standard annual percentage rate.

However, an army of rate tarts simply carried on chasing the latest 0 per cent deals as competition heated up between lenders.

Independent Partners; request a free guide on NISAs from Hargreaves Lansdown

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
Angelina Jolie with her father Jon Voight
people
News
Bill Kerr has died aged 92
people
Life and Style
A picture taken on January 12, 2011 shows sex shops at the Paris district of Pigalle.
news
Sport
footballPremiership preview: All the talking points ahead of this weekend's matches
News
Keira Knightley poses topless for a special September The Photographer's issue of Interview Magazine, out now
people
Voices
The Ukip leader has consistently refused to be drawn on where he would mount an attempt to secure a parliamentary seat
voicesNigel Farage: Those who predicted we would lose momentum heading into the 2015 election are going to have to think again
Finacial products from our partners
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    SAS Business Analyst - Credit Risk - Retail Banking

    £450 - £500 per day: Orgtel: SAS Business Analyst, London, Banking, Credit Ris...

    Project Manager - Pensions

    £32000 - £38000 Per Annum Bonus, Life Insurance + Other Benefits: Clearwater P...

    KYC Analyst, Birmingham - £200-£250 p/d

    £200 - £250 per day + competitive: Orgtel: KYC Analyst, Key Banking Client, Bi...

    Test Manager - Banking - Yorkshire - £450 per day

    £400 - £500 per day: Orgtel: Test Manager - Banking - West Yorkshire - £400-£5...

    Day In a Page

    Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

    The phoney war is over

    Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
    Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

    Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

    The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
    Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

    Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

    Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
    From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

    Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

    After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
    Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

    Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

    Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
    Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

    Salomé: A head for seduction

    Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
    From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

    British Library celebrates all things Gothic

    Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
    The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

    Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

    The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
    Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

    In search of Caribbean soul food

    Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
    11 best face powders

    11 best face powders

    Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
    England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

    Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

    Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
    Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

    Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

    They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
    Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

    Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

    Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
    Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

    Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

    The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
    America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

    America’s new apartheid

    Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone