Monthly Archives July 2010

Sky Upgrade Letter

I had a letter from Sky the other day which told me that I’d gone over my broadband usage allowance for the second time in 6 months so they had automatically upgraded me to ‘Sky Broadband Unlimited’

The letter then went on to say this new service should be more suited to my needs, I can track my usage online and they would need to re-test the performance of my line.

It then said I should refer to my Sky Statement for a full breakdown of the payments due for my broadband.

Nowhere in the letter did it mention the cost of this new upgraded service. As the sentence above suggests, I would have to wait for my statement to find out how much it costs.

The standard package I was on costs £5 per month and provides up to 2GB of download per month.

I only check email and surf at home and occasionally look at the odd YouTube video. Some days I don’t go online at home at all and I am therefore adamant that my usage has never pipped 2GB per month.

It is possible to view your Sky broadband usage by logging into to an online client area but it only shows monthly usage in a clumsy bar graph and if I am using 2GB per month I would really like to know what I was doing and when so that I could avoid doing it!

The package I was upgraded to costs £15 per month and provides unlimited usage but as I am absolutely certain I have never used over 2GB I called up Sky and asked to be downgraded. This was duly done and I was told they could not look into the usage in more detail but I should avoid downloading movies or wathcing srteaming TV which, I don’t do anyway.

My 2 gripes from this experience are:

1/ I don’t trust Sky’s usage figures.

2/ I think it’s very wrong to tell someone you’ve upgraded them without making it glaringly obvious how much this is going to cost. – Totally disgusting.

As a consequence I am now going to look much more closely at Virgin, BT Vision and other broadband providers. – Any recommendations?

Beware the Knotweed

There has been some news about this in the past but I have now experienced the affects of Japanese Knotweed on a mortgage application first hand so I can now add to the melting pot.

My client had found a house they wanted, we put their application in, the mortgage lender contracted a surveyor to value the property and this came back fine so the mortgage was offered.

The client had had an independent survey carried out and in total honesty mentioned to their solicitor that there was ‘nothing on the survey apart form the mention of some Japanese Knotweed’.

Now the solicitor, doing his job, notified the mortgage lender who immediately arranged another survey. This time, the lender’s surveyor found the Knotweed, reported back and the property was declined.

The clients still have a mortgage offer but they now need to find another property before November. It’s entirely possible but once you set your heart on a house it’s a real pain in the neck, especially if you’d already packed!

The lender in question was Abbey and I have confirmed that Santander will not lend on a property where Japanese Knotweed is known about even if it is subsequently removed and an Environment Agency Certificate is available. They just don’t want to know.

Almost all other lenders are now following suit but some will still lend if the Knotweed has been removed by a reputable firm and an Environment Agency Certificate has been issued. (Woolwich don’t have a policy on Knotweed yet but their service standards are shocking and it’s only a matter of time before they catch up…).

The removal process can require a 5m crater to be dug up around the roots or a long term course of specialist weedkiller.

Although if you search online some sites claim Roundup works!

The issue with Japanese Knotweed is that it grows very quickly and the roots spread. Due to the rapid growth the roots expand and can crack foundations and cause major structural damage to property. Plus it is apparently very hard to eradicate.

A 10 acre site in London which is to be used for the 2012 Olympics is being cleared of Japanese Knotweed at a cost of £70 million but £220 million has been set aside just in case!

Life Insurance Provides Diet Incentive

I could sum up the rest of this article in one paragraph but to make the post a bit more fulfilling I feel as though I ought to pad it out a bit like a real news article.

There are three types of people in the world;

i) those who see life insurance as a vital part of their financial planning

ii) those who just don’t see the point of life insurance

iii) and those who are told by their wife that they need to sort it out.

People who are fit and healthy with no medical conditions and nothing sinister and serious lurking in their family history can usually take advantage of ‘ordinary’ or ‘standard’ rates from life insurance providers.

However, people who don’t quite fit the neat little mould that represents an almost risk free proposition to an insurance company may find themselves struggling to find insurance or accepting a much higher premium because they don’t know there are other options available.

According to medical research, people with a high BMI (Body Mass Index) may be more at risk of developing serious illnesses such as cancer and diabetes in the future.

Therefore, insurance companies will often increase the price of cover or in some cases, decline cover altogether.

From experience, this can be something of a wake-up call to overweight people who just don’t seem to realise the potential health threats their weight could cause.

For people with a high BMI who fall into category (i) those who see life insurance as a vital part of their financial planning, being turned down can make them even more determined.

>> Struggling to find life insurance for overweight people? >> click here <<

I have spoken to a number of people who have tried to find cover only to discover the price will be ‘rated’ by a considerable amount making the cost almost prohibitive.

Some people may have no choice but to accept a higher premium but there are cases where a little shopping around could still yield more competitive results.

The alternative is to do something about the problem.

Working in this industry and experiencing this first hand, almost all of the people with a high BMI that I have helped find cover are already on some kind of healthy regime to get their BMI down so they don’t have to pay through the nose for life insurance.

Some clients have even opted to hold off arranging their cover until they have hit a target weight and the cost has come down.

Shopping around can still prove worthwhile because some insurance companies will start to apply an increase in price for a BMI of 30 where some will allow a BMI up to 35 before the price rises.

Above these levels there will be more to pay but it is still possible to obtain cover from mainstream insurers with a BMI of up to 50 and possibly higher still from some specialist insurers.