IS CORPORATE HOSPITALITY BRIBERY?
The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) is concerned that the new Bribery Act, which takes effect next April, will classify corporate hospitality as bribery, rather than as "legitimate promotional activity".
There is also concern that the Act will disadvantage British firms exporting to countries where corruption is a way of life.
If corporate hospitality is deemed bribery by the government then many of our MPs, and some senior figures in HMRC will be having their collars felt. A decision on Air Miles, the means by which airlines bribe customers to pay much more for flights made on behalf of their employers, will also need to be made. Since Britain's most senior anti-terror police officer, John Yates, coughed to using his airline bribes, funded by the taxpayer, to buy flights for his family it is possible that some of our top plods will be feeling each other's collars on this one…
PRICE FIXING FINES FOR AIRLINES
A total of €799 million in fines has been levied on 11 airlines by the EC, for price-fixing on securities and fuel charges on air cargo.
The whistle was blown by participant Lufthansa, which thereby escaped fines, leaving major players Air France KLM to pay €310 million, British Airways to pay €104 million, Singapore Airlines to pay €75 million and SAS to pay €70.2 million.
The price-fixing occurred in the six-year period December 1999 to February 2006 and the EC investigation took three years. The decision leaves all the participants, including Lufthansa, exposed to class-action damages claims from customers who spent a total of €6 billion with them in the six-year period.
TESCO - EVERY LIDL HELPS
Tesco have the worst track record for advertising promotional items that are then unavailable in stores when customers visit to buy. (The Grocer)
A study carried out by the Institute of Promotional Marketing concluded that up to 40% of Tesco customers visiting to purchase items promoted as available were unable to buy them. The next worse was Asda which let down 23% of bargain hunters, with Lidl and Sainsbury's at 21%, Aldi at 19%, Morrison's at 18%, Waitrose at 2% and Budgen's at 1%.
The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) is currently carrying out its own investigations into the promotional tactics of supermarkets, to see if any consumer protection legislation is being breached.
The editor's own negative experience of Tesco was visiting their St Neots, Cambs store recently to buy pork shoulder joint advertised at "half price" for £2.22 per kilo. This was unavailable at the store, and the unimpressive management there refused a reasonable request to supply the pork shoulder joints that were in store as a replacement on the basis, as they stated smugly, that "it's not that actual product". Some of the smugness evaporated when asked if the actual product had been injected with extra water to make it cheaper but it was a waste of time trying to get them to do the ethical thing. All they would do was issue a ”Special offer promise voucher", worthless when the actual product was never going to be available, and promise to get someone to make contact, a promise that Tesco, three weeks on, have yet to keep.
Meanwhile the appetite of the general public for picking up bargains that really are available continues to grow, with vouchers for free or cut-price food in chain restaurants on the increase. (Caterer and Hotelkeeper)
Apparently 15% of us now use a voucher, if available, for our casual dining, and the number of us saying we would be more likely to visit a restaurant with a price promotion had increased by 39% over the six months from December last year to this May. The two for one deals account for more than all the other promotions combined.
The average price of a three-course meal in a restaurant is £21
MORE BAD PRESS FOR NIGERIA
Nigeria, the home of advance fee fraudsters, has suffered another blow to its credibility with the news that Shell has been fined for bribing Nigerian customs officials there.
The US Department of Justice has imposed civil and criminal fines of £29,4 million after a company employed by Shell, Pamplina, agreed to plead guilty to charges of bribery. Shell admitted that they "approved of, or condoned the payment of bribes on their behalf in Nigeria", and also confirmed that the corrupt payments were disguised as legitimate business expenses in their accounts.
Now an official new word in the Oxford Dictionary of English, the staycation - taking a holiday in one's own country - remains a popular choice for many of us currently regarding overseas travel as an expensive and tedious experience. According to VisitEngland almost half the population expect to take more domestic breaks than they did in the past.
Meanwhile a survey for Post Office Travel Insurance has found that, in these challenging economic times, two-thirds of British families would consider a sharecation, a holiday with friends, to save money, although a major concern for many is the likely behaviour of their own and/or their friends' children.
Rumours that new variations on the above soon to emerge will be the praycation,(religious retreat) the greycation, (senior holiday ) the gaycation, (alternative lifestyle) and the laycation,(lazy option, of course) should, in our view be discounted as downright silly.
I'LL HAVE THE PASTA DON GIOVANNI
A survey of 2000 cinema-goers by cinema group Apollo found that their knowledge of opera was a little lacking.
More than 60% thought that La Traviata was a pizza topping, more than 50% thought that Fidelio was a dog food and 20% believed that La Boheme was a clothes shop chain, rather than wonderful operatic works by Verdi, Beethoven and Puccini respectively.
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has persuaded budget hotel company Premier Inn to stop telling porkies about its size (Caterer and Hotelkeeper)
Premier claimed that it was the largest hotel operator in London, with 5,500 rooms. In fact the figure was the number within the M25, and not just in the City and the 32 London boroughs.
Premier, part of Whitbread, were reported to the ASA by rivals Travelodge, and have promised to "provide greater clarity" in future, ie not to lie again.
The ASA have also censured Waitrose, for implying that the pork they sold was from pigs that lived outdoors, when in fact they were inside for most of their lives.
The advertisements, which misleadingly suggested that Waitrose animal welfare standards were higher than they really were, featured two chefs paid for their endorsement, Delia Smith and Heston Blumenthal. Blumenthal had the most cringe - making part to play when he was shown some pigs lying on a bed of straw in a sty and told the farmer: "I'll tell you what, right now, I wouldn’t mind getting in there and having a lie down. That looks pretty comfortable, doesn't it?"
Sadly, for some, Blumenthal didn't also say he wanted to share the rather less comfortable upcoming slaughterhouse experience with the pigs.
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