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A delightful way to save money


We are all told we should shop around aren't we but there are some things that are just more trouble than they are worth. A superb example is that of buying our energy but really, when you read of all the anxiety that people suffer by doing that, you begin to ask yourself "Is it really worth it?" As for mobile phones, well I was very politely made to feel ancient a couple of years ago when I had to upgrade from a Nokia with a flip-top lid for one of these modern things, the young lady was so young I doubt whether she had seen such a phone before. I was feeling foolish enough before I went into the shop after losing my phone, you have to be careless to lose a phone and I certainly was. I had taken to keeping it my shirt pocket possibly so I could get at it quickly in those exciting and rare moments that someone phoned. me. I was taking rubbish to the tip one day and I think it quietly slipped out and fell into the depths when I leaned into the skip. There! I feel better now that I've told you.

Anyway I have begun to feel dread when it comes up to renewal time on my car insurance, invariably it seems to to have jumped from the previous year and I always mean to find a better price but tend to put it off until it is so late that the automatic renewal is triggered. It all seems such a bother and I yearn for the old days when you could walk into an insurance broker and deal with it face to face. I dislike trawling through price comparison sites, I must say, I'm a bit dubious of them anyway, and have you tried phoning up to cancel your policy? Always a call centre with several stages before you get through to a human being and all the time you have to listen to some tedious music abusing your eardrums and giving you blisters on your ears. There is always a particular number that you press for cancelling and guess what? Yes, it keeps you waiting for yonks until you feel like giving up, and sometimes do. I caught on to that some while ago and started pressing the button for new business - much quicker although you suffer a bit of guilt from cheating their system - well, not a lot!

This friend of mine who I have known for donkey's years, and is always there when there is a pound to be saved, put me on to NFU Mutual. I had never thought of using them before because I am not a farmer and I didn't think that having two rhubarb crowns in my garden and wearing wellies that happen to be green was sufficient qualification. This friend, let's call him H to make things a bit more personal, has a smallholding and speaks very highly of NFU Mutual who have this rather clever idea where you can insure more than one vehicle on the same policy. That appealed to me, having the campervan as well as the car, so when I had the annual missive from my present insurer I was ready for action. I went onto the MFU Mutual website but you can't do it through that, you have to go and see them - wonderful! I looked up the nearest branch and was pleased to see that they have one in Swansea. Within a few minutes, armed with my renewal notice and the campervan details I was on my way, they had their own car park and a young lady greeted me and took me through the whole process entirely painlessly.

The premium was £110 lower (roughly 25%), I was not stressed and when the campervan comes up for renewal that will be added on to the policy. They do home and contents insurance too!

It was quick, it was simple and confirmed my belief that in spite of the advances that have been made in technology it was better in the old days. Hooray for the NFU Mutual!

So there you are H, next time I see you I'll buy the first round! You can buy the second.

Another scandalous example of how technology puts the consumer at a disadvantage is when you try and pay in cheques to your bank account. These days there probably isn't a branch nearby, if there is there will be a big queue and although I don't mind using cash machines for withdrawals I like to deal with a human when I'm paying in cheques. And that is when the banks inconvenience us.

When I left school, a century or so ago, I worked in the National Provincial Bank (they are the 'National' part of NatWest). Banks in those days had a manager that knew his customers (sorry girls, but I think it was always a him) and there were clerks who sat behind the cashiers with dippy-ink pens - not quite quills, and blotting paper. You can feel the nostalgia can't you! When you paid in cheques in those days you listed them on your paying in book, the cashier checked them off, stamped the counterfoil, the slip was torn out and placed with the cheques for processing by the inky fingered clerks. All finished in less than a minute. Nowadays however it takes four to five minutes because you have to wait for the bank to update its records. Ok, four or five minutes is not much of an inconvenience but when you add on to that the time that it takes to stand in the queue before you get there then you very soon begin to realise that you, the poor customer are being rather unfairly treated.

I've stopped going to the bank now, all my paying in is done through the Post Office, like NFU Mutual it's much quicker and far more pleasant.

So there you are! How to save money and time! You heard it first here!


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