Unwanted Christmas present? Discreet solutions to sell, swap or give away

Unwanted Christmas present? Discreet solutions to sell, swap or give away

Don’t waste an unwanted gift – try a refund, exchange, swap party or donate to charity – without hurting the giver’s feelingsHowever heavy your hints to family and friends, or instructions that they really shouldn’t get you anything this year, chances are you unwrapped at least one gift you felt you don’t know what to do with. What should you do with it? Here are some options:Return the item to the retailerRetailers are not obliged to give exchanges or refunds on goods that are not faulty, but many will do so – unless the item has been personalised in any way.An increasing number offer gift receipts, particularly on items such as clothes, so you might have the paperwork you need to get an exchange or refund. The gift receipt won’t say how much it cost, but will probably stipulate the last day you can return the item for a refund or exchange.If there is no gift receipt, you could ask the giver for it. If you are worried about hurting their feelings, you could try and get an exchan …

Bank account switch needs more time … and competitors

Bank account switch needs more time ... and competitors

Experts agree that for more customers to switch current accounts more banks and much better deals are neededMatthew Stokes had had enough. After repeated mistakes with his overdraft, the 26-year-old warehouse worker moved his current account from Barclays this year. The Welshman shifted to Halifax – and received £100 from the arm of the bailed-out Lloyds Banking Group for his trouble.Stokes used the new current account switching service introduced by the banking industry in September, which is intended to guarantee a glitch-free move of direct debits in seven days. All it took was a single visit to the Halifax branch in the south Wales town of Pontypridd and the move was complete.Halifax – which claims to have been the winner in current account switching in 2013 – has also made an offer on his mortgage, which means he will be moving it from Santander when his current deal expires.Stokes’ experience helps illustrate the importance and pitfalls of the current account market, the m …

European Central Bank chief rules out debt relief lifeline for Greece

European Central Bank chief rules out debt relief lifeline for Greece

Greece faces a funding gap of up to €11bn in second half of 2014, but Mario Draghi says ECB will not take part in any debt restructuringThe head of the European Central Bank has ruled out handing Greece a debt relief lifeline, hours after the head of the eurozone finance ministers admitted that Athens will need additional aid next year.ECB president Mario Draghi was adamant that the ECB would not participate in any debt restructuring, despite growing speculation that Greece will be unable to fully return to the financial markets when its current bailout ends in 2014.”It is pretty clear that we cannot do monetary financing,” Draghi told reporters in Frankfurt on Thursday, insisting that the ECB’s own treaty made it impossible. Asked directly if the ECB would take part in any Greek debt relief, he said: “No”, adding that any future assistance for Greece must also come with strings attached, or “conditionality”.Greece faces a funding gap of up to €11bn in the second half of 2014, acco …

Vodafone and Verizon bosses agreed $130bn deal watching ice hockey match

Vodafone and Verizon bosses agreed $130bn deal watching ice hockey match

Vittorio Colao and Lowell McAdam held talks at New York Rangers game rather than behind closed doors of a bankVodafone’s sale of its stake in Verizon, the largest corporate transaction for a decade, was agreed on the benches of New York’s Madison Square Garden, in front of thousands of spectators watching an ice hockey match.This summer, with rumours swirling that a deal was coming, Vodafone’s chief executive, Vittorio Colao, and Verizon Communications’ boss, Lowell McAdam, held crucial talks at a New York Rangers game instead of meeting behind the closed doors of an investment bank.”To close the transaction,” Colao said in an interview published on Friday, “me and Lowell McAdam met at Madison Square Garden during the New York Rangers ice hockey game, in front of tens of thousands of fans, to talk business. The rumour had already come out, so we said let’s go in the most visible place in the world so nobody suspects anything.”Colao said the value of the Verizon Wireless network had inc …

Scotland independence referendum: what’s the mood around Scotland?

Scotland independence referendum: what's the mood around Scotland?

Weve been hearing from our readers about the atmosphere in their part of Scotland as polling day approaches. Whats the mood where you are?With just over a week to go until Scotland votes on its independence, weve been hearing from our readers on how the narrowing polls are affecting the mood around the country.Its wonderful to be in Scotland at the moment, says Dell Henrickson. I have had chats in the pub, in the chip shop and on the street. All of it animated but good-natured. My moment of the campaign was talking to a young lassie who has never voted before and queued for 40 minutes just to get into the building to register. Continue reading… …

Rupert Murdoch hints at support for Scottish independence

Rupert Murdoch hints at support for Scottish independence

Media mogul posts series of tweets increasing speculation that Scottish Sun will back Alex Salmonds campaign Live blog: the latest from both yes and no campaignsRupert Murdoch has indicated his strongest support yet for an independent Scotland with a series of tweets suggesting that the media mogul could be about to back Alex Salmonds yes campaign.After musing about the relative benefits of women with and without their clothes on page 3 of the Sun, he tweeted: Continue reading… …

How sharing can help your business grow

How sharing can help your business grow

Businesses find sharing office space, staff and machinery is good for their bottom lineIn difficult economic times, and as working practices and technology evolves, SMEs are finding that it’s good to share. Michelle Henry runs HNS Signs, a signage business in Birmingham. She shares premises, staff and machinery with a printers called Genesis Display run by Steve Turrell. The arrangement has seen both businesses grow.Henry started her business three years ago after buying cheap machinery from another signage company she worked for that stopped trading. "I was looking at all these different properties and I couldn’t find anything with the roller shutting you need to have access for lorries," she says. "I was doing a job for Steve and I happened to mention that I was struggling to find new premises. He said that times were hard for them with the recession and would I like to move in with him?"Turrell had just taken over as boss of Genesis Display and when Henry first j …

The GOP couldn’t be more wrong about cutting unemployment insurance

The GOP couldn't be more wrong about cutting unemployment insurance

If the government has any responsibility to its people, it’s not to force them into poverty when they have no other financial optionsHow do you improve the economy? If you ask some Republican members of Congress, the best way is to throw 1.3 million people into deeper poverty, starting this week. For some time, right-wing think tanks and conservative politicians have held on to a number of arguments that they believe prove it’s a good idea to let unemployment benefits lapse for 1.3 million people. None of those arguments holds up under the least bit of scrutiny. America’s economy would be far better off if Congress extended unemployment benefits.To look at their points, one by one, is to understand that the Republican opposition to extending unemployment benefits is dishonest. It also stands to alienate many Republican voters, particularly in the south, where poverty is widespread. GOP myth #1: Cutting unemployment benefits forces the unemployed to get off their couches and bootstrap t …