After the scandal surrounding the recent VW emissions episode, consumer confidence is being tested once again with the news that some Samsung TVs in Europe appear to record lower energy outputs during official tests than they do in real-world use. The alleged discrepancies were found in unpublished lab tests by EU-funded research group ComplianTV which logged consistently higher energy consumption rates for the company’s models in the field than in lab conditions.
Cheats never prosper
European car manufacturer Volkswagen is embroiled in a PR disaster of unprecedented proportions following the recent global emissions scandal. Former Chief Exec Martin Winterkorn has stepped down, with Porsche boss, Matthias Müller, taking the reins and pledging to leave no stone unturned in the investigation into how the company cheated emissions tests on its diesel cars. So far, an undisclosed number of staff have been suspended as a result of what VW is referring to as ‘unlawful behaviour of engineer and technicians involved in engine development.’
For lovers of all things Scottish, the announcement that a Japanese whisky has been crowned the best in the world by an influential international publication will come as something of a shock. Scottish whisky is part of the fabric of the country; its isles and glens are peppered with almost a hundred distilleries across seven regions, each producing a distinctive style with impressive provenance.
Scottish whisky has dominated global sales in the past, with recent winners in Jim Murray’s annual ‘Whisky Bible’ including top-notch malts from Old Pulteney and Glenmorangie. But this year it looks as if Scottish producers have been caught napping with all of the top five positions going to non-Scottish brands. So what’s gone wrong?
Getting busy with the fizzy
This month, hip hop star, Jay Z quietly announced that he’d acquired luxury champagne marque, Armand de Brignac. The high-profile brand known as Ace of Spades, because of its distinctive gold livery and playing card logo, operates at the top end of the market with bottles retailing upwards of $300.
Shopping for the best deal should be a cinch these days, even if you’re hard-pressed for time. A few minutes’ online searching is all it takes to unlock the keenest prices on everything from cameras to car rentals. Factor in the algorithms that enable businesses to provide personalised content based on customers’ preferences, and we ought to be in retail nirvana.
But what if Big Data doesn’t always work in the consumer’s best interests? A recent study by a team at Northeastern University has uncovered a potential downside to the delivery of personalised content. The results of their research into a selection of top ecommerce sites demonstrated that it’s becoming more common for retailers to manipulate search results and customise prices for individual shoppers – which may lead to some customers paying more than others for exactly the same thing.
If you witnessed the meteoric rise of British grocery giant, Tesco, through the nineties and noughties, you would be forgiven for thinking that only a global disaster of outlandish proportions could halt this retailing leviathan’s triumphal march.
Today, Tesco announced that the black hole in its first half profits is not only bigger than anyone thought (£263m) but some of it also stretches back a good deal further than anyone imagined – certainly beyond the current accounting period. The Deloitte report will now be passed to the Financial Conduct Authority for further investigation into how this monumental blunder happened in the first place. It is a savage blow for a company already embattled by tough market conditions that have led to falling sales and sharply reduced trading margins. Continue reading