The man who's made paper clips count at American Express

As efficiency becomes a priority, company procurement managers have their work cut out for them, writes Peter Koenig

Is there safety in numbers?

IF THERE is one thing the accountancy profession is agreed on, it is that medium-sized firms face a tricky future. Caught between the overwhelming power of the Big Five international firms and the small niche practices, they are busy jostling for position just to survive.

Money: Sun, sea and exploitation

Most of us are still paying too much for holiday cover despite new laws that should make it cheaper, writes Stephen Pritchard

The very VIP lounge, please

We're all middle class - but some of us are more middle class than others. HESTER LACEY uncovers the new elite

Obituary: Adolfo Bioy Casares

THE WRITER Adolfo Bioy Casares will perhaps be known best outside of Argentina as the friend and co-writer of Jorge Luis Borges, a friendship that began in 1935 and lasted a lifetime.

Your last chance to eat out and save a fortune

For the same price as a copy of The Independent - 45p - we are offering you the chance to treat a friend to a meal, and then save 25 per cent every time you eat in selected restaurants.

Money: The card that's fit for a king

Sudden craving for two dozen hamburgers? A new Cadillac? A charge - not credit - card is for you.

Restaurant offer: Dine out at Britain's finest restaurants and pay just 45p for your partner

Collect four tokens to take advantage of this fabulous opportunity - then enjoy meals at 25 per cent off

The knack How to get an upgrade

"Airlines look after their best customers first, so it helps if you're a frequent flyer. If you are, you'll probably be a member of a loyalty programme, which increases your chances further. You'll also be a valued customer to your travel agent, and it's in their interests to do favours for you. Ask them to approach the airline and make a case: `This customer is doing a lot of travelling on this route over the next few months, he's trying to finalise his choice of airline, and he'd like to sample your premium product.' Every booking has a history in the computer, and it's very important to get the upgrade message put into the system before you fly. Entries such as `upgrade subject to space' will be seen by the check-in agent who will then have more authority. The only sure way to get an upgrade is to pay with a gold or platinum American Express card - they have a programme which guarantees an upgrade, although usually from business to first class.

Personal Finance: Cards splash out on big spenders

GONE are the days when you thought yourself lucky if the bank kindly offered you a credit card for pounds 12 a year. The new Alliance & Leicester Gold MoneyBack card launches tomorrow and A&L pays you to use it. The bank is offering between 50p and pounds 4 cash back (depending on where you spend the money) for every pounds 100 you spend. A&L is hoping to attract plenty of affluent customers (earning pounds 20,000 or more per year) who plan to hit the January sales using their new cards.

Cover before you leap

Adequate medical and legal insurance are vital for winter sports, says Tim Collison

Personal Finance: Cash points - Amex portfolios

American Express is launching a choice of five investment portfolios, graded according to the amount of risk involved and aimed at private investors in Europe and the UK. Next month investors in France, Germany and Italy will be offered investments quoted in euros. From next April UK investors will be offered an identical range quoted in sterling, which will qualify for inclusion in tax-exempt Individual Savings Accounts.

Great! Another pair of socks...

Giving Christmas presents can be stressful. But receiving them is even worse.

Worth their weight in gold?

IN THE mid 1960s, American Express and Diners Club imported their charge cards from the US, writes Tony Lyons. What makes them different to a credit card is that you have to pay off the charge card in full every month.

Golf: Victims of the new world order

Golf's fast-changing landscape is leaving Europe's pros in the rough.
News
The surrealist comedian at the Q Awards in 2010
people
Life and Style
Six of the 76 Goats' cheese samples contained a significant amount of sheep's cheese
food + drink
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Russell Brand arriving for the book launch in East London
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Life and Style
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Culinary experts in The Netherlands thought it was 'fresh' and 'tasty'

Arts and Entertainment
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tech

Of all the computers Apple has ever made there’s only one that Steve Jobs had to sell his car to finance

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Actress sees off speculation about her face in an amazing way

Arts and Entertainment
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Call me Superman: one of many unusual names chosen by Chinese students
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Arts and Entertainment
film

Marvel has released first teaser trailer week early after it leaked online

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Prices correct as of 17 October 2014
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
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Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

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KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
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'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

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Thousands of teenagers to visit battlefields of the First World War in new Government scheme

Pupils to visit First World War battlefields

A new Government scheme aims to bring the the horrors of the conflict to life over the next five years
The 10 best smartphone accessories

Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

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Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time against Real Madrid: Was this shirt swapping the real reason?

Liverpool v Real Madrid

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West Indies tour of India: Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

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Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
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Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

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Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

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Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?