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Eco Profits

It doesn’t seem that long ago that a carbon footprint was something you left behind after walking over a pile of coal (We have those in Yorkshire). Nowadays though, it’s right at the forefront of the minds of large swathes of environmentally conscious consumers. Many companies are either adapting to the new order – or cashing in – depending on your viewpoint.

Otarian calls itself the worlds first low-carbon restaurant chain. Every item on the menu carries a detailed carbon foot printing analysis, so you can fully assess the impact of what you’re about to eat on the environment. Everything in the restaurant is made from recyclable materials. Power is derived from wind, water or sun. There is no meat on the menu, because of the carbon inefficient way in which meat is farmed. I could go on, but you get the idea.

Now you may form the opinion that the sight of such a place would have you high tailing it to the nearest Macdonalds, but you have to admit they’ve developed a very nice angle – one that will appeal to folk with a fondness for sandals and oversized knitwear everywhere.

So let me ask you this – as more and more consumers become environmentally aware, is there some way you could make your business stand out from the crowd by giving consumers information on the impact of your business on the environment, and what you’re doing to reduce it?

PPI Compensation To Reach £2.7bn!

The Financial Services Authority have warned that two and three quarter million people could be refunded as much as £2.7bn for being mis-sold Payment Protection Insurance. They concluded that over five years they had found "wide and deep evidence of weaknesses in PPI sales". PPI insures people's loan re-payments if they fall ill or lose their jobs.

The FSA expects new rules to force the financial services industry to deal with about 550,000 complaints a year for the next five years.

A long running campaign by consumer groups such as Citizens Advice and Which? has accused the sellers of PPI in engaging in a widespread "protection racket". They have accused lenders and others of selling the insurance alongside loans when it was unnecessary, without telling the borrower they were even paying for a policy, or of selling policies on which the borrower could not in fact claim.

There has been a dramatic increase in the number of PPI complaints in the past two to three years, alongside very critical investigations by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) and the Competition Commission. However, the FSA explained that firms had been turning down almost half of the PPI complaints they received, and that some had rejected nearly all their complaints. About 30% of those people had turned to the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) for help, where about 80% of the complaints were then upheld.

"Where complaints are referred to the FOS, the FOS continues to overturn in favour of the consumer the great majority of firms' decisions rejecting the complaints," the FSA said. "These trends suggest that there is an even greater extent of mis-selling and potential consumer detriment than we had assumed in [2009] and that makes the need and case for an effective approach to addressing such detriment stronger, not weaker," it added.

The key features of the new rules are that if someone complains:

* They should be reimbursed their PPI premiums, plus interest, if the firm decides the customer would not have bought the policy in the first place

* Where the premium was a single payment up-front, if the firm concludes the customer would have bought a regular premium policy instead, he or she should be put back in the position they would have been had they done so.

The FOS revealed that it had dealt with more than 100,000 PPI complaints already, with just over 48,000 arriving in the past financial year and an extra 21,000 coming in since 1 April this year.

If you have been sold a PPI and think you may have a claim it is important that you dont get left behind.