Simon Read: Beware the festively priced Christmas tree
Saturday 04 December 2010
The number of special deals that turn out to be anything but seems to be growing. There has been a spate of so-called "bargains" promoted by online shops, but anecdotal evidence suggests that no one can get through to the websites in time to snap up the offers – they seem to be sold out in seconds.
A more cynical person than I might suggest that many of the well-known names trying such tactics have no real intention to sell CDs for a quid, or champagne at two-thirds off – to quote two recent unsatisfying offers. I assume there is someone who has benefited, though I've yet to encounter them. So, fair enough, they're clearly limited-edition deals, but if someone benefits, that's fine.
More pernicious isthe practice of offering deals that prove to be worthless. There's a growing number of popular daily-deal websites that email members with so-called exclusive offers, such as 60 per cent off the cost of a meal, or half-price spa treatments. One this week offered for £20 a £40 voucher towards the cost of a Christmas tree at a particular website, where trees were offered from £40. Anyone buying the voucher would naturally assume they had enough to buy a tree.
But the vouchers weren't valid until the following day – by which point the trees had suddenly increased in price by £20. It meant buyers – including an angry Independent colleague – needed to stump up a further £20 to buy a tree – paying the same price for which they could have bought them the day before without the voucher.
Companies have the right to increase the price of goods when demand is high, but this deal seems particularly shabby. It serves a warning to anyone using daily-deal sites to ensure that the price quoted is really the one you get. Just because someone says you'll get 50 per cent off, that may not actually be the case.
so now we know what the 40 per cent income-tax band will be from next April. On Thursday it was announced that the higher-rate threshold will fall to £42,475, from the existing £43,875 level.
Accountants Grant Thornton, predict that the change will mean an extra 700,000 workers paying higher-rate tax, on top of the 3 million already doing so. That's an awful lot of people who will have to face up to making fresh tax decisions. On the other hand, the lowering of the threshold is being balanced by a £1,000 increase in the tax-free personal allowance, to £7,475. That move could help as many as 880,000 people climb out of the income-tax net. On balance the change looks like a good move, with a higher number of people set to pay less tax than will pay more. But I'd be interested to hear the views of those about to pay the higher rate for the first time.
Fuel poverty could kill 100,000 vulnerable people over the next 15 years, charity warns
Phoenix Life: Chance of a refund for overcharged policyholders has risen
MPs call for Equitable Life policyholders to be paid £2.8bn owed by government
Donald MacInnes: A church that pays a living wage? Don't make me laugh
Simon Read: You're guilty until proven innocent when HMRC sends in the tax credit detectives
- 1 The black and blue dress: Makers considering a white and gold version
- 2 Man to be beheaded in Saudi Arabia after ripping up a Koran and hitting it with his shoe
- 3 Husband and wife die holding hands within hours of each other after 67 years of marriage
- 4 PornHub turns masturbation into energy in bid to save the planet
- 5 The remarkable archaeological underwater discovery that could open up a new chapter in the study of European and British prehistory
New theory could prove how life began and disprove God
This is what it's like to be dead, according to a guy who died for a bit
'Cash for access' scandal: Sir Malcolm Rifkind says 'unrealistic' for MPs to live on £67,000 salary
'Jihadi John': CAGE representative storms off Sky News accusing Kay Burley of Islamophobia
Ukip would cut billions from Scottish budget to fund English tax cuts
Russia's roadmap for annexing eastern Ukraine 'leaked from Vladimir Putin's office'
iJobs Money & Business
£40000 - £50000 per annum + pro rata: SThree: SThree Group have been well esta...
£30000 - £37000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Established in 1999, a highly r...
£250-£300 Day Rate: Jemma Gent: Are you a qualified accountant with strong exp...
£230 - £260 Day Rate: Jemma Gent: Do you want to stamp your footprint in histo...
Day In a Page
This six-bedroom Georgian home is on three floors with open fireplaces, a two-oven Aga, an annexe, and cottage gardens with outbuildings and a car barn
High Crest House covers an impressive 9384sq ft, with almost three acres of grounds including a tennis court and summer house enclosed by electric gates
A six-bedroom farmhouse with separate accommodation in converted stables. Situated in the village of Church Aston, within walking distance to the market town
A two-bedroom flat with under-heated walnut floors and bespoke built-in storage. The Tube and Clapham Common are a short stroll away
A refurbished seven-bedroom townhouse with staff quarters, cinema room, superb gym, steam room and plunge pool
A minimnalist four-bedroom home designed to the highest spec, featuring glass walls and a kitchen space lit by a glass roof
Hibernate during winter and make your living during the summer at this busy guesthouse with panoramic sea views, in the village of Lynton
A four-bedroom penthouse next to the Tate with direct views of St Paul's from two floors of luxurious living space
A four-bedroom detached home surrounded by spacious gardens and woodland, close to New Pudsey
An 18th-century, three-bedroom home near Langstone Harbour built from ships beams with vaulted ceilings and wood burning stoves
A five-bedroom semi-detached home with a mix of period and modern features in a popular and convenient location
This five-bedroom red-brick beauty overlooks the village green and sits in just under two acres of land
A three-bedroom villa with self-contained flat, minutes from Lake Windermere
A deceptively spacious, beautifully presented Georgian home with 3000sq ft of living space and five reception rooms
A five-bedroom Victorian home with four receptions, superb gardens and paddock in Pembury
An eight-bedroom house on the south side of the The Green with cinema, wine cellars and summer house
This 17th century beauty is full of rustic cosiness, while the detached home office means you can also run a business
Four exclusive apartments in a Grade II-listed former medical school with 2,275 sq ft of living space and 18ft ceilings
A five-bedroom terraced house on the popular Peterborough Estate, ideally located for both Eel Brook Common and South Park
A state-of-the-art farm-building conversion on the former Cliveden Estate, with 11,420sq ft of internal space, cinema and wine cellar
A three-bedroom, 15th-century cottage with original features in the picturesque village of Sissinghurst
A six-bedroom terraced house with large south-facing roof terrace, cinema room and wine cellar
A new seven-bedroom home built in Queen Anne-style with swimming pool and parkland views in Mortimer
A listed, four-bedroom farmhouse in the rural hamlet of Rushall with detached barn, four acres of gardens and paddocks
A first-floor flat with two bedrooms, a spacious reception room and communal grounds in a leafy part of London
A three-bedroom flat with a spacious rootop terrace and balcony, accessed from a private gated courtyard
A Grade II-listed pile with six bedrooms, stables and 39 acres of grounds in Standlake
A two-bedroom flat with boutique hotel-style interiors, close to the foodie haunt of West End Lane
A two-bedroom flat in a beautiful old vicarage, with many original features, close to the city centre
A three-bedroom 16th-century home with an aga kitchen, private gardens and heated outdoor pool, in Hadleigh
A three-bedrom home in sought-after Queen's Gate Mews, with Italian marble-finished bathrooms
Surrounded by glorious countryside in the village of Udimore, sits this impressive four-kiln oast and barn conversion
A five-bedroom house in the picturesque village of Kettlewell, north Yorkshire
An 18th-century former coaching inn with original staircase, open fireplaces and beams throughout
A Grade II-listed Georgian town house with three bedrooms and a south-facing courtyard, near Arundel Castle
Feel on top of the world at this über chic penthouse on the 37th floor of one of Europe’s tallest blocks.
A Grade II-listed Victorian villa with six bedrooms and two further cottages, all with spectacular sea views
A grade II-listed, Georgian cottage with mature 50ft garden, perfect for summer entertaining
A magnificent Georgian pile with turrets, seven bedrooms, a heated pool and four acres of gardens
Fairoak Farm has five bedroom suites, gym, outdoor swimming pool and golf course
Chic two-bedroom river-fronted flat with a private lift that delivers you directly to your home
A spectacular seven-bedroom Tudor pile, once owned by Henry VIII, with 18 acres of land
A seven-bedroom Georgian property previously used as a picturesque wedding venue
A split-level flat in a church conversion with two en suite bedrooms and 1,200sq ft of living space
A three-bedroom bungalow situated behind an impressive stone wall, £645,000
Windsor Castle overlooks this three-bedroom Victorian cottage located on one of Windsor's smartest roads