Tag: Money 

Europcar chooses the law that suits it best to refuse a refund | Money

In June I booked a hire car with Europcar for a week’s holiday in France. I paid a higher rate which allowed me to cancel for a cash refund and phoned to confirm that this was what I was entitled to. However, when the government advised against travel to France, Europcar told me that under French law it was allowed to issue a credit note instead of a refund. It claimed that since the car was booked in France my contract was with its French counterpart, despite the fact the payment was taken in sterling and Europcar’s address on my credit card statement given as Watford. I think Europcar is choosing the law that suits it best.
JA, London

You have good reason to think that. I began by asking Europcar why customers who need to cancel a booking by phone are directed to a number that costs up to 75p a minute from a mobile. Premium rate numbers are banned for after-sales service.

Europcar replied that it does not consider a contract is formed until a customer collects their rental vehicle. That argument does not stop it holding that same customer to its terms and conditions as soon as they make – and pay for – a booking.

As for those terms and conditions – your booking confirmation indisputably states that Europcar provides free cancellation up to 48 hours before pick up. The terms and conditions on its website state the same. Nowhere does it warn that its policy may vary depending on where you hire a vehicle.

“Europcar has investigated this case and found that whilst it operated within the law and its own terms and conditions, it appreciates that the current process for cancelled bookings made for France may not have been made clear at the reservation stage and on the UK website,” it says. “Therefore a refund for the cancelled booking has been processed and the company’s apologies extended to the customer.”

It says it is reviewing the wording on its website. Customers are not bound by terms and conditions which are unclear or a figment of the trader’s imagination. Anyone else affected by Europcar’s concerning approach to small print can make a claim through their credit card issuer or the small claims court.

If you need help email Anna Tims at [email protected] Include an address and phone number. Submission and publication are subject to our terms and conditions

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As US population ages, private insurers reap more money from government-run Medicare

Private insurers are reaping a veritable windfall from the federal government’s heavy spending on the elderly — with demand from the COVID-19 pandemic leading to more robust offerings.

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Following a trend that has been growing in the past few years, both Cigna (CI) and United Health Group (UNH) announced expansions of their Medicare Advantage plans for 2021 — with Cigna expanding in 67 counties and UnitedHealth expanding in 300 counties.

In addition, Walmart (WMT) has joined in with its own insurance education services, in order to help seniors sign up for Medicare plans.

The two health insurance giants are expanding in an increasingly competitive market, dominated by players like Humana (HUM) and Centene (CNC). They are also seeing a swell of startups including Clover Health, Oscar and Bright Health.

According to Brian Evanko, Cigna’s president of Government Business, insurers are faced with a convergence of factors that include a willing government payor, an increasingly aging population, and the flexibility to compete with robust offerings.

Many plans have $0 premiums —a key selling point — and thanks to the popularity of telehealth during the pandemic, both insurers are offering $0 copays on telehealth visits. Cigna is now offering behavioral health virtual visits, as well, while UnitedHealth promoted its $35 cap on insulin.

For Cigna, traditionally a big player in commercial and employer-sponsored plans, the expansion marks the largest in the space to-date. The overall number of counties, 369 in 2021, represents 30% of the Medicare market in America, and a 22% growth from the previous year, Evanko said. By 2024, the company is targeting 50% of the market.

And companies like Cigna will continue to shift their resources and efforts into the Medicare Advantage market, as ongoing bipartisan support fuels growth. It’s a captive pipeline, Evanko explained.

“There are 14 million commercial members who will age into Medicare in the coming years,” he said, adding that Medicare supplement enrollees and Part D enrollees will also eventually migrate to Medicare Advantage.

‘Significant growth opportunity’



a person sitting at a table: SARASOTA, FLORIDA - JANUARY 04: Charles Miller, 90, prepares the daily pills his wife will need for the week on January 4, 2020 in Sarasota, Florida. His wife has had a recent stroke and a heart attack, and needs approximately ten different medicines daily which need to be carefully monitored. (Photo by Andrew Lichtenstein/Corbis via Getty Images)


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SARASOTA, FLORIDA – JANUARY 04: Charles Miller, 90, prepares the daily pills his wife will need for the week on January 4, 2020 in Sarasota, Florida. His wife has had a recent stroke and a heart attack, and needs approximately ten different medicines daily which need to be carefully monitored. (Photo by Andrew Lichtenstein/Corbis via Getty Images)

As the book of business has grown in recent years, it has called into question how long insurers can expect to continue profiting from government funding.

According to data from the Kaiser Family Foundation, last year “gross margins for Medicare Advantage plans averaged $1,608 per covered person per year between 2016 and 2018 – about double the average annual gross margins for plans in the individual and group markets ($779 and $855 per member per year, respectively.”

The concept of Medicare Advantage involves being paid a monthly sum to care for a set population of patients. It is similar to the setup seen in

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As Donald Trump’s Law-and-Order Message Fails In Minnesota, Campaign Moves Money to Must-Win Florida

The release on bail of Derek Chauvin, the officer charged in George Floyd’s death, prompted yet another surge of unrest in Minnesota. But even as demonstrations filled the streets for a second night, Donald Trump’s campaign was pulling ad money out of the state. The president’s law-and-order message, which campaign officials had expected to resonate in the protest-torn state, wasn’t working.



a group of people posing for the camera: Law and order? Protesters lock arms during a demonstration after the release on bail of former police officer, Derek Chauvin, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on October 7, 2020.


© KEREM YUCEL/AFP via Getty Images
Law and order? Protesters lock arms during a demonstration after the release on bail of former police officer, Derek Chauvin, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on October 7, 2020.

Trump taking down the fabled “blue wall” of Rust Belt states—Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan—was the most shocking component of his historic upset in 2016. Just as unexpected, to Democrats, pollsters and political pundits, was this: he nearly won Minnesota, falling just 1.5 points behind Hillary Clinton in what was supposed to be the bluest of blue states. Democrats have won in Minnesota every presidential cycle since 1976, the longest streak in the nation.

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The Trump campaign went all in this time around, convinced it could flip the state and give him some electoral breathing room should, say, Wisconsin (which, like Minnesota, has ten electoral votes) flip back to the Democrats. It has 79 paid staffers in the state, Trump staged rallies there three times in the last three months, and campaign surrogates have been in the state repeatedly.

With Trump currently trailing in all the Blue Wall states he won in 2016, the need to carry Minnesota looks more urgent than ever. The problem for Trump: the state appears to be slipping away. According to Real Clear Politics, an aggregation of recent polling done through the month of September shows the president trailing in the state by nine points. And the demographic break downs of those polls—the so-called “internals”— are even more dispiriting for the Trump Team. They show the president underperforming relative to 2016 in his key constituency: white males without college degrees.

The fact that Trump hasn’t drawn closer in Minnesota suggests that a key strategic shift in the Trump campaign in the late summer—its emphasis on ‘law and order” in the wake of urban unrest across the country—has not worked. Late this spring, Minnesota became ground zero for two issues that have since roiled the country: the death of George Floyd at the hands of three police officers fueled outrage nationwide, prompting large demonstrations demanding racial justice and significant change in law enforcement. In many cases, however, the protests turned violent, something the Trump campaign seized on.

Election Day 2020: Where Trump, Biden Stand In The Polls 30 Days Before Nov. 3

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“Law and order” became a campaign catchword—a nightly staple on Fox News—and the campaign cut TV ads emphasizing the looting and violence, trying to tie it to Biden and the Democrats. Trump strategists were convinced the chaos in Minneapolis and elsewhere would redound to the president’s benefit, particularly in largely white, middle-class suburbs.

Video:

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How much government money does Trump plan to spend on his reelection?

You may be curious why the administration doesn’t simply take its time and make sure that the program, which would surely be received gratefully by senior citizens, is implemented effectively and smoothly. Except you’re probably not actually curious about that because you recognize what’s happening: Trump wants this done before Election Day to capitalize on that goodwill in the form of votes.

None of this is subtle. Sure, a White House spokesman told Politico that the plan “has nothing to do with politics.” It’s just that the team is trying to figure out how to make it happen before Nov. 3, a date with no special significance whatsoever.

When this was first proposed, the New York Times reported that pharmaceutical companies balked at the idea of distributing what they referred to pejoratively as “Trump cards”: cash handouts tied explicitly to the president. But Trump’s team made very clear that the cards would not bear Trump’s name, perish the thought.

According to Politico’s new reporting, the cards will instead be accompanied by a letter signed by Trump. No politicking here, no sir. It’s not as though Trump is trailing among voters over 65, a group he won in 2016. Were that the case, one would think that he’d release some sort of video explicitly focused on seniors, maybe calling them his favorite people in the world. Maybe putting “favorite” in all-caps, to really emphasize it.

The issue here isn’t only that Trump’s clearly trying to leverage the government in ways that will benefit him personally, the sort of thing that might get a fella impeached. What’s more remarkable is how expensive it is — how expensive his cumulative efforts to leverage the presidency to aid his campaign will turn out to be.

Here is a brief shopping receipt.

$19 million. Those letters which the administration hopes to send out with the drug-benefit cards aren’t free. Documents obtained by Politico estimate that sending them out to the country’s 39 million Medicare beneficiaries will cost $19 million, or about 48 cents apiece.

$7.8 billion. Then there’s the value of the cards themselves. If each of those 39 million people gets $200, as planned, the costs add up quickly: nearly $8 billion in costs to the government. The money would be paid out of Medicare’s trust fund.

$72.4 million. There are other costs, too, like buying and activating the cards and providing phone-based support for their use. The proposal obtained by Politico puts the price tag for these additional items at over $72 million, most of it in fiscal 2021, which began Oct. 1.

That’s about $7.9 billion — just for the drug-benefit card program. But that is by no means the only way in which Trump is leveraging government money in an obvious attempt to influence the election.

$11.6 billion. After spending years downplaying the damage done to Puerto Rico after it was hit by Hurricane Maria in 2017, Trump announced last month that he was providing the island with $9.6 billion to

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U.K. Seizes Millions in Cash, Knightsbridge Properties in First Use of Dirty Money Law

(Bloomberg) — The U.K. reached a 9.8 million pound ($12.7 million) settlement in its first successful use of a controversial power designed to crack down on dirty money.



a sign on the side of a building: LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 07: A general view of The National Crime Agency building in Westminster on October 7, 2013 in London, England. The NCA replaces SOCA, the Serious Organised Crime Agency, which was formed in 2006. Dubbed "the British FBI", the NCA will be tasked with tackling the most serious of crimes in the UK and replaces a number of existing bodies. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)


© Photographer: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images Europe
LONDON, ENGLAND – OCTOBER 07: A general view of The National Crime Agency building in Westminster on October 7, 2013 in London, England. The NCA replaces SOCA, the Serious Organised Crime Agency, which was formed in 2006. Dubbed “the British FBI”, the NCA will be tasked with tackling the most serious of crimes in the UK and replaces a number of existing bodies. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

The National Crime Agency settled a so-called Unexplained Wealth Order with Mansoor “Manni” Mahmood Hussain, a Leeds businessman, the agency said Wednesday in a statement. The 40-year-old handed over more than 45 properties in London, Leeds and Cheshire, four parcels of land, and nearly 600,000 pounds in cash. The London properties include two apartments in the tony Knightsbridge neighborhood.

“This case is a milestone, demonstrating the power of Unexplained Wealth Orders, with significant implications for how we pursue illicit finance in the U.K,” Graeme Biggar, the NCA’s director general of the National Economic Crime Centre, said in a statement.

Hussain didn’t respond to several messages left with his business. The NCA accused him of using blackmail, threats of violence and ties to criminals to build his property portfolio.

The British government introduced UWOs two years ago to help stop a growing problem of criminals and dictators using the country to hide their wealth. The civil litigation tool forces people with assets of more than 50,000 pounds to prove their funds come from legitimate sources. Failure to comply with the order can allow a court to freeze the assets.

In July, a parliamentary report on Russian involvement in British politics criticized the new power. Such politically exposed persons — people who might benefit from proximity to friends and relatives in high places — can afford to fight against efforts to strip their ill-gotten assets, the lawmakers said.

While the orders appear to provide the NCA “with more clout and greater powers, the reality is that it is highly probable that the oligarchy will have the financial means to ensure their lawyers — a key group of professional enablers — find ways to circumvent this legislation,” the report said.

Earlier this year, the NCA was dealt a setback after the family of Kazakhstan’s former president overturned a freeze on the family’s 80 million-pound property portfolio. The agency has now settled the case for an undisclosed amount.

“We are just feeling our way and testing this legislation” and setbacks are “bound to happen occasionally,” Biggar told journalists.

“We will lose sometimes and there will be a cost to that but we intend to lose as rarely as possible,” he said. “We’re not going to be discouraged by the amount of money involved.”

Jonah Anderson, white collar crime lawyer at White & Case, says the breakthrough is good news after the

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Beyond Good Embarks Upon Second Phase of Research with Bristol Zoological Society To Study … | Money

In 2016, conservation scientists embarked on phase one of the research. They spent six months working with cocoa farmers, conducting lemur surveys and monitoring plantations using night cameras and acoustic units. The research identified five species of lemurs, including three categorized as Endangered on the IUCN Red List, living in the plantations. All 3,263 share trees in the plantations were also surveyed to understand which trees the lemurs were using.

In phase two, researchers will assess and increase connectivity between cocoa plantations and forest fragments to begin active development of habitat corridors and bolster biodiversity. Additionally, researchers will work with farmers to make agroforestry decisions that impact sustainable livelihoods and conservation.

In June 2020, a local field team on the ground in Madagascar began agroforestry and biodiversity framework to prepare for when Malagasy researchers from Bristol Zoological Society can travel to the research site. The research is expected to conclude in 2024.

The environmental stakes in Madagascar are high. Approximately 90% of plants and animal species found in Madagascar are endemic. However, because of Madagascar’s extreme rate of poverty, 90% of its original forest has been lost.

According to the World Cocoa Foundation, 70% of the world’s cocoa is grown in Africa; however, less than 1% of the world’s chocolate is produced there. Supply chain fragmentation drives poverty, exploitation, and environmental degradation in cocoa-producing countries. Most farmers earn less than $1USD a day. The traditional African cocoa supply chain involves three to five layers of intermediaries and requires up to 120 days in transit from farm to factory.

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Valvoline Instant Oil Change Partners With American Cancer Society To Raise Money In The Fight Against Cancer

NEWTON, Mass., Oct. 5, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — During October, participating Valvoline Instant Oil Change SM (VIOC) locations will offer customers the opportunity to help raise much-needed dollars to support American Cancer Society (ACS) and its Road To Recovery program which helps transport cancer patients to potentially life-saving treatment appointments. For an even bigger impact, customers can download a coupon from ValvolineFightsCancer.com and for every coupon redeemed, VIOC will donate an additional five dollars to ACS.

“DON’T PUT IT OFF!” Recent reports show that due to the pandemic, 46% fewer patients were diagnosed with cancer. This means many cancers won’t be discovered until they are in advanced stages when they are more difficult to treat. In support of ACS, VIOC wants to remind everyone that just like maintaining fluids in their vehicle prevents major repairs, getting recommended cancer screenings does the same for their body.

“We are excited for the opportunity to again partner with ACS,” said William Smelley, Vice President of Marketing for Henley Enterprises, VIOC’s largest franchisee. “Thanks to the generosity of the communities we serve, we’ve raised over $126,000 to help this life-changing organization.”

“Driving awareness about screenings is a core part of our work and will help to save more lives by detecting cancer at its earliest stage,” said Jane Barnes, Regional Director, Corporate Relations for ACS.

Find participating VIOC locations at ValvolineFightsCancer.com. For more information about cancer support and treatment, call (800) 227-2345 or visit cancer.org.  

About Valvoline™

Valvoline Inc. (NYSE: VVV) is a leading worldwide marketer and supplier of premium branded lubricants and automotive services, with sales in more than 140 countries. It operates and franchises approximately 1,400 quick-lube locations, and is the No. 2 chain by number of stores in the United States under the Valvoline Instant Oil ChangeSM brand. To learn more, visit www.valvoline.com.

About Henley Enterprises, Inc.
Founded in 1989, Henley Enterprises, Inc. is the largest Valvoline Instant Oil Change franchisee. They operate more than 200 quick-lube service centers in 11 states including: California, Delaware, Florida, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Virginia.

About the American Cancer Society
The American Cancer Society is a global grassroots force of 1.5 million volunteers dedicated to saving lives, celebrating lives, and leading the fight for a world without cancer. From breakthrough research, to free lodging near treatment, a 24/7/365 live helpline, free rides to treatment, and convening powerful activists to create awareness and impact, the Society is the only organization attacking cancer from every angle. For more information go to www.cancer.org.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION

Valvoline Instant Oil Change           
Cindy Hudson
[email protected]                                                      

American Cancer Society
Kari Dahlstrom
[email protected]
(206) 919.4497

SOURCE Henley Enterprises, Inc.

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Wales lockdown: Ryanair holidaymaker faces losing money or breaking law

Tourists on the AlgarveImage copyright
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Local lockdown restrictions in Wales mean people cannot leave those areas for holidays

People who have booked holidays say they are left choosing between losing their money or breaking the law.

It is illegal for people living in Welsh areas subject to local lockdowns to leave their county except for essential reasons which do not include holidays.

People living in England’s hotspots are still able to travel.

But some people in Wales are struggling to get refunds for booked holidays they are no longer allowed to take.

“I either flout the law or lose the money spent on my flights,” Jeff Norman from Cardiff said.

The 58-year-old was due to fly to Portugal on 5 October, having booked tickets before Cardiff became subject to a local lockdown.

Image copyright
Jeff Norman

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Jeff Norman says he has been left choosing between losing money or breaking the law

“Ryanair refuses point-blank to provide a refund or credit note.

“Their attitude was as long as their flights are still operating, I should be able to get on one and it doesn’t matter about government restrictions.”

Mr Norman said the airline would only allow him to amend the flight, at a cost of £70 plus any difference in fare, which he said would cost more than the original tickets.

He added: “They say they have a responsibility to their shareholders but what about their responsibilities to the paying customer?

Mr Norman added he had amended flights to Australia and the United States with other airlines without any issues.

Ryanair said “standard T&Cs apply” for flights which are not cancelled.

“Passengers who do not wish to travel on their booked flight can move it to another date, in which case a flight change fee and the difference in fare may apply,” a spokeswoman said.

Are flights still running?

Cardiff Airport flights are still running “for legitimate travel and air movements”, the airport says – closely following guidance from the authorities.

A statement on the airport’s website confirms people in areas subject to local lockdowns should not travel outside their area “unless there is a reasonable excuse to do so”.

Even though the airport itself is in Vale of Glamorgan, which is subject to restrictions, people from areas not in lockdown can travel to the airport as long as they do not stop elsewhere in the county on the way.

When is it legal to go on holiday from Wales?

Just six mostly rural counties – Monmouthshire, Pembrokeshire, Ceredigion, Gwynedd, Anglesey and Powys – will not be subject to any restrictions from Thursday.

Carmarthenshire is not under local lockdown but the town of Llanelli within the county is.

People from these lockdown-free areas can enter or leave as they wish – but cannot visit other counties in Wales subject to lockdowns unless they are travelling straight through, or have an essential reason to do so.

If they do go on holiday, they may have to quarantine for 14

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