Placeholder Content Image

Major banks hand over millions in refunds over unfair fees

<p>Four major Australian banks are set to cough up close to $30 million in refunds to low-income customers after the Federal corporate watchdog revealed a pattern in high fees. </p> <p>A new report from the Australian Securities and Investments Commission revealed ANZ, Commonwealth Bank, Westpac, as well as mid-tier Bendigo and Adelaide Bank kept at least two million low-income customers in high-fee accounts.</p> <p>Many of these low-income earners rely on Centrelink payments, and were unfairly slapped with unreasonably high fees. </p> <p>The report followed an ASIC review which focused on improving financial outcomes for First Nations customers by addressing avoidable bank fees.</p> <p>“We focused in this project on the banks who were most likely to have First Nations consumers on low incomes trapped in high-fee accounts,” ASIC commissioner Alan Kirkland said.</p> <p>ASIC said the four banks have committed to moving more than 200,000 customers into low-fee accounts, saving them about $10.7 million a year, with the financial institutions also committed to refunding over $28m in fees to these customers over the next 12 to 18 months.</p> <p>This includes $24.6 million to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students and apprentices receiving ABSTUDY payments, and customers in areas with significant First Nations populations.</p> <p>“At any time ASIC, and the community, expects that the banks will treat their customers fairly,” Mr Kirkland said.</p> <p>“But that’s particularly important for people on low incomes and for people who are struggling to make ends meet, the last thing they need is to have the very little income that they have being eaten away in unnecessary bank fees.”</p> <p>Mr Kirkland added that the implications of ASIC’s latest review applied to all banks across the country.</p> <p>“We’re expecting all of them to read the report and make improvements to their practices to stop other people being trapped in high-fee accounts that they can’t afford,” Mr Kirkland said.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock </em></p>

Money & Banking

Placeholder Content Image

Qantas apologises after rejecting cancer patient's refund request

<p>Qantas has issued an apology for rejecting a cancer patient's refund request after his case allegedly did not qualify based on “compassionate reasons”. </p> <p>Neil Ross, 62, decided to book a holiday to Cairns with his wife for a couple of weeks, but two weeks later he was diagnosed with face cancer. </p> <p>“It hit me like a rock,” Mr Ross told <em>news.com.au</em>.</p> <p>“I wasn’t in the life of me, expecting that news.”</p> <p>The Brisbane local was initially told he had Bells Palsy, but was later diagnosed with cancer and had to undergo a 13-hour operation to remove the tumour, causing the right side of his face to be significantly disfigured. </p> <p>He underwent radiation almost every day for six weeks saying it “knocked him to no end”.</p> <p>“I was very thankful that my wife had helped me and still is helping me to get through this.”</p> <p>Ross is yet to be given the all-clear and is still undergoing treatments, including rehab following the loss of muscle mass. </p> <p>He will also undergo plastic surgery to reconstruct the right side of his face.</p> <p>“I had notified Flight Centre that I needed to cancel my flight due to finding out that I had cancer and that l needed treatment urgently,” he said. </p> <p>“As I said to the girl at Flight Centre – ‘look at my face, do you think I want to get a refund for the hell of it? I rather be healthy and go on holiday.”</p> <p>Ross said that the airline issued him a credit note until April 22 of this year, but with his current circumstances, he was unable to travel before that date and applied for a full refund. </p> <p>He also claims that despite sending two medical certificates - the first which stated that Ross was unfit to fly for 12 months, and the second which included detailed information about his condition -  it “did not meet requirements on compassion”.</p> <p>“I thought ‘what the hell, what more can I do?’ This has done nothing but cause me a great deal of stress that I don’t need,"  he said. </p> <p>Ross submitted two different refund requests, one on March 20, which was rejected on the fourth of April, and another on April 9 which was rejected two weeks later. </p> <p>The email from a Flight Centre representative reportedly said: "They have advised that ‘the attached medical certificate does not fit into the GF guidelines for a refund due to compassionate reasons’." </p> <p>According to <em>news.com.au</em>,  Qantas has since contacted Ross and issued a refund, after an error was made in processing the supplementary material, by not connecting it to the earlier application.</p> <p>“We apologise to Mr Ross for this experience and have let him know we’re processing a refund for him.”</p> <p>They have also reportedly apologised for any distress they may have caused and are investigating how the error occurred so that it doesn't happen again. </p> <p><em>Images: news.com.au/ Getty</em></p>

Travel Trouble

Placeholder Content Image

Returning and Earning for your community

<p>Charities and community groups across NSW are cashing in empty drink containers to support their important work in the community, all with the added benefit of helping the environment. It’s an easy win-win to fundraise through Return and Earn, and it makes donating to a local charity or community group very easy.</p> <p>Return and Earn is the incredibly successful container deposit scheme in NSW, where 10 cents is refunded for every eligible drink container returned for recycling through the network of 600+ return points across the state.</p> <p>Since launching over five years ago, <a href="https://returnandearn.org.au" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Return and Earn</a> has become an important and well used channel for charities and community groups fundraising to support a range of local and broader causes. Groups such as Rotary and Lions Clubs, animal rescue organisations, and fire and rescue services are just a few of the many different cohorts that have partnered with Return and Earn and relied on the generosity of NSW citizens to help them do vital work in their communities.</p> <p>“We’ve seen many groups really embrace the scheme, showing a humbling passion for giving back to the community – whether it’s to help fund an event for a local club, or to donate to a charity,” said Danielle Smalley, CEO of scheme coordinator, Exchange for Change.</p> <p>“Some of these groups have raised a lot of money from recycling drink containers through Return and Earn. Often local residents and businesses are handing over their containers or donating their refunds to support the cause, proving there is enormous goodwill in the community.”</p> <p>The Gerringong Lions Club recently celebrated one million containers collected, raising $100,000 that was donated to a variety of causes including medical research, local sporting facilities, as well as helping both Australian and oversees Lions Clubs provide relief during catastrophes.</p> <p><img class="alignnone size-full wp-image-67811" src="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2023/06/Gerringong-Lions-Club-image-2-for-article-2_RD.jpg" alt="" width="770" height="500" /></p> <p><em>The Gerringong Lions Club are now raising around $20,000 each year.</em></p> <p>The COVID shutdowns and restrictions put a halt to the activities that would normally bring funds to the club. Return and Earn was the only means for the club to generate an income to help the community during this time.</p> <p>As routine users of the scheme, the Gerringong Lions Club are now raising around $20,000 each year, all the while making positive impacts to the environment.</p> <p>Bruce Ray is a past president and active member of the club, and says he gets a sense of satisfaction knowing they are helping the community while also looking out for the environment.</p> <p>“We have the bins at the hotel, the bowling club, and campgrounds. The club also provides the container collection bins for events such as weddings and uses them at local New Years’ Eve events,” said Mr Ray.</p> <p>In Cobar, the local Rotary Club is also using Return and Earn to support the work in their community. They partnered with the local Girl Guides who help the club sort through any drink containers collected. They’ve now raised more than $25,000 since they began in early 2020.</p> <p>Club Secretary Gordon Hill said that one of the benefits for the Girl Guides is the real-world experience in seeing how much locally created waste can be recycled.</p> <p>“It also provides a healthy opportunity for a challenge to see which girls can pack the most containers during a 1.5 to 2 hour session. The record currently stands at 3,080, but the challenge continues,” Gordon added.</p> <p><img class="alignnone size-full wp-image-67813" src="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2023/06/Cobar-Rotary-Club-image-for-article-2_RD.jpg" alt="" width="770" height="500" /></p> <p><em>In Cobar, the local Rotary Club has partnered with the Girl Guides to help with sorting!</em></p> <p>Since Return and Earn launched in December 2017, over $42 million has been raised through donations and return point hosting fees. The funds have made a significant difference to individuals and groups who have received the support.</p> <p>“There are a lot more collection drives in the community that we don’t track, so the total fundraising amount is in fact even higher,” Ms Smalley said.</p> <p>“We encourage all our Return and Earn users to consider donating containers to a local charity or community group either at the nearest Return and Earn machine or using the Return and Earn app.</p> <p>“And if you’re a member of a group looking for an easy and effective way to fundraise, consider Return and Earn where you can double the benefit by raising funds while also helping the environment.”</p> <p>Every Return and Earn machine features a local donation partner, to whom users can donate part or all of their refunds to. The charity listed changes every six months to give as many groups as possible the opportunity.</p> <p>Charities and groups can also elect to be listed on the Return and Earn app, allowing anyone using the app at a machine or automated depot to donate direct to their favourite charity. There are currently over 170 charities featured on the app.</p> <p>When using a Return and Earn machine, select donate, then select which of the charities listed you want the funds to go. If you’re using the Return and Earn app, simply select donation as your payout option and then select the charity or group you would like to donate your refund to.</p> <p>“Contributions don’t need to be big to make a difference. It can be as easy as collecting a few eligible drink containers and donating them to a charity, helping local communities thrive while looking after the environment.” said Ms Smalley.</p> <p>For more information on donating through Return and Earn visit <a href="https://returnandearn.org.au/donate/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">returnandearn.org.au/donate/</a></p> <p><em>Images: Supplied</em></p> <p><em>This is a sponsored article produced in partnership with Return and Earn.</em></p>

Money & Banking

Placeholder Content Image

The most feel-good way to recycle

<p>Long-time Return and Earner "Scooter Dave" has been a keen participant in the NSW container deposit scheme <span style="font-family: -apple-system, BlinkMacSystemFont, 'Segoe UI', Roboto, Oxygen, Ubuntu, Cantarell, 'Open Sans', 'Helvetica Neue', sans-serif;">since the program started, and the Illawarra local has returned 500,000 containers in that time.</span></p> <p>Dave gets about on a scooter and any day when weather and health permits, he completes his route to collect rubbish from Windang Bridge in Shellharbour. Along the way he picks up eligible drink containers from residents and businesses who keep them in their yards ready for his scooter collection service. </p> <p>He has donated all of the $50,000 in refunds to many charities, including the Smith Family, the Sydney Children’s Hospital, and children’s ward in Wollongong, bushfire appeals and the Illawarra Convoy. </p> <p>“It gives me something to do, and I know that I am doing something to help people," says Scooter Dave. "People always say that there should be more people like me. There are, but they aren’t cleaning up rubbish like I am.” </p> <p>In a world that’s becoming more eco-conscious, we’re seeing more and more initiatives implemented to reduce the impact we’re having on the planet – from the single-use plastic bans to adopting reusable packaging and recycling. </p> <p>Recycling remains one of the best ways to help protect the environment. The benefits of recycling include reducing the amount of rubbish that ends up in landfill or as litter in our local environment, and reducing the need to extract raw materials from the earth to create new products such as mining raw aluminium to create cans. And with <a style="font-family: -apple-system, BlinkMacSystemFont, 'Segoe UI', Roboto, Oxygen, Ubuntu, Cantarell, 'Open Sans', 'Helvetica Neue', sans-serif;" href="https://returnandearn.org.au/?utm_source=over-60&utm_medium=article&utm_content=native-article&utm_campaign=grey-partnership" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Return and Earn</a><span style="font-family: -apple-system, BlinkMacSystemFont, 'Segoe UI', Roboto, Oxygen, Ubuntu, Cantarell, 'Open Sans', 'Helvetica Neue', sans-serif;"> </span><span style="font-family: -apple-system, BlinkMacSystemFont, 'Segoe UI', Roboto, Oxygen, Ubuntu, Cantarell, 'Open Sans', 'Helvetica Neue', sans-serif;">there are even more direct benefits for you.</span></p> <p>Return and Earn is one of many drink container return schemes that have been adopted around the world, where customers who return their used eligible drink containers for recycling can collect a refund.</p> <p>“With Return and Earn, you earn a 10c refund for every empty can, glass or plastic bottle, carton, juice box or popper that you return through one of its 600 return points across NSW.</p> <p>“Since the scheme launched five years ago, over 8.6 billion containers have been returned for recycling by the NSW public resulting in over $860 million in container refunds back in people’s pockets,” says Danielle Smalley, CEO of Exchange for Change, scheme coordinator for Return and Earn.</p> <p>The scheme is entirely funded by the beverage industry, aiming to place responsibility for container recycling firmly back with the industry. </p> <p>The scheme targets commonly littered items and includes most 150ml to three litre plastic, glass, aluminium, steel, and liquid paperboard containers. Eligible containers featuring the 10 cent refund mark can be redeemed for the refund.</p> <p>“Return and Earn is an extraordinary example of how individual action can have a collective impact,” says Smalley.</p> <p>The environmental benefits of the scheme have exceeded expectations – reducing the volume of drink container litter by 52 per cent compared to pre-scheme levels and sending over 755,000 tonnes of material to be recycled.</p> <p>Plus the Return and Earn app makes recycling your containers even easier because you can check the map to see where the nearest return points are to your location and make sure they’re open. Another fantastic feature on the app is the container checker which helps you avoid taking containers that are not eligible. Simply scan the barcode on your container and the app tells you if it can be returned for recycling at a return points. If not, they can go straight into your household recycling bin.</p> <p><strong>Choose your recycling experience</strong></p> <p>To return your containers, you can choose from four types of return points, depending on what suits you and what is nearby.</p> <p>There are Return and Earn machines - a self-service option where you return your containers one-at-a time. You’ll receive a receipt which is redeemable for cash at the partner redemption location or payment straight to your bank account by downloading the Return and Earn app. There are also Return and Earn Centres which are larger format indoor locations featuring multiple machines inside.</p> <p> <img src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/2023/01/Tomra1.png" alt="Return and Earn" width="741" height="423" /></p> <p>For larger numbers, heading to your nearest automated depot is your best option. Here staff will take your bags of eligible containers and process them in their automated counting system called a singulator. Once counted, they’ll provide you with your cash refund. </p> <p>Even local businesses are taking part, with some corner stores, newsagents, fruit shops and some Surf Life Saving Clubs able to take your containers and give you your refund.</p> <p>To find your nearest return point, visit <a href="https://returnandearn.org.au/return-points/?utm_source=over-60&utm_medium=article&utm_content=native-article&utm_campaign=grey-partnership" target="_blank" rel="noopener">www.returnandearn.org.au</a>. </p> <p><strong>Top tips for returning and earning</strong></p> <p>When you’re ready to return your first collection of containers, here are some tips to make your experience even easier:</p> <ul> <li><strong>Download the Return and Earn app:</strong> use the app store available on your mobile phone. </li> <li><strong>Sort your containers before you go:</strong> if you’re using a Return and Earn machine, sort your glass containers from your plastic bottles and cans as these are return using separate chutes on the machine. If you’re using an automated depot or an over-the-counter return point, there’s no need to sort. </li> <li><strong>Check if your containers are eligible:</strong> Use the Return and Earn app to check if your containers are eligible for a refund. And make sure they’re uncrushed, with the barcode visible and keep the lid on.</li> <li><strong>Plan your trip:</strong> make sure to check opening times of your nearest return point via the Return and Earn app or website. You can even optimise your trip by checking the busiest and quietest times to visit.</li> </ul> <p>With these tips under your belt, you can make the most of your Return and Earn experience and reap the benefits for your wallet and for the environment.</p> <p><iframe title="YouTube video player" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/OYDROMQIDbU" width="560" height="315" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></p> <p>For more information, visit <a href="https://returnandearn.org.au/?utm_source=over-60&utm_medium=article&utm_content=native-article&utm_campaign=grey-partnership" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Return and Earn.</a></p> <p><em>All images: supplied</em></p> <p><em>This is a sponsored article produced in partnership with <a href="https://returnandearn.org.au/?utm_source=over-60&utm_medium=article&utm_content=native-article&utm_campaign=grey-partnership" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Return and Earn</a>. </em></p>

Retirement Income

Placeholder Content Image

Airlines to cough up millions in refunds and fines over delays and cancellations

<p dir="ltr">Frustrated travellers subject to major delays or cancellations to their US flights could be entitled to a portion of $US 600 million ($AU 896 million) in refunds from six airlines forced to refund their customers.</p> <p dir="ltr">The airlines have been ordered to pay back customers by the US Department of Transport as part of “historic enforcement actions”.</p> <p dir="ltr">Under US law, customers must be refunded by airlines or ticket agents if the airline cancels or significantly changes a flight to, from or within the US and they don’t want to accept the alternate offer.</p> <p dir="ltr">The department also ordered the airlines to pay a total of $US 7.25 million ($AU 10.84 millIon) in fines for “extreme delays in providing refunds”.</p> <p dir="ltr">“When a flight gets cancelled, passengers seeking refunds should be paid back promptly. Whenever that doesn’t happen, we will act to hold airlines accountable on behalf of American travellers and get passengers their money back.” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg in <a href="https://www.transportation.gov/briefing-room/more-600-million-refunds-returned-airline-passengers-under-dot-rules-backed-new" target="_blank" rel="noopener">a press release</a> shared on Monday.</p> <p dir="ltr">“A flight cancellation is frustrating enough, and you shouldn’t also have to haggle or wait months to get your refund.”</p> <p dir="ltr">According to 7News.com.au, the refunds apply to both US and international travellers.</p> <p dir="ltr">The fines and refunds vary from airline to airline, with the affected airlines including: </p> <ul> <li dir="ltr" aria-level="1"> <p dir="ltr" role="presentation">Frontier Airlines - ordered to refund $US 222 million ($AU 331.9 million) and pay $US 2.2 million ($AU 3.2 million) in fines</p> </li> <li dir="ltr" aria-level="1"> <p dir="ltr" role="presentation">Air India - to pay back $US 121.5 million ($AU 181.6 million) and fined $US 1.4 ($AU 2.1 million)</p> </li> <li dir="ltr" aria-level="1"> <p dir="ltr" role="presentation">TAP Portugal - with refunds totalling $US 126.5 million ($AU 189.1 million) and fines of $US 1.1 million ($AU 1.6 million)</p> </li> <li dir="ltr" aria-level="1"> <p dir="ltr" role="presentation">Aeromexico - to refund $US 13.6 million ($AU 20.3 million) and pay $900,000 ($AU 1.3 million) in fines</p> </li> <li dir="ltr" aria-level="1"> <p dir="ltr" role="presentation">El Al - due to pay $US 61.9 million ($AU 92.5 million) in refunds and $900,000 ($AU 1.3 million) in fines</p> </li> <li dir="ltr" aria-level="1"> <p dir="ltr" role="presentation">Avianca - with total refunds of $US 76.8 million ($AU 114.8 million) and a fine of $US 750,000 ($AU 1.1 million)</p> </li> </ul> <p dir="ltr">Most of the fines will be paid to the Treasury Department, with the remainder to be credited based on airlines paying customers beyond the legal requirement.</p> <p dir="ltr">According to Blane Workie, the assistant general counsel for the Office of Aviation Consumer Protection DOT, the refunds have either already been made or customers should have been informed of them.</p> <p><span id="docs-internal-guid-fdbaa05c-7fff-7d0d-8da4-81e90c75a489"></span></p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image: Getty Images</em></p>

International Travel

Placeholder Content Image

Small detail in Coles BYO container scheme sparks confusion

<p dir="ltr">A new sustainability scheme has left shoppers at Coles scratching their heads due to one seemingly counterintuitive detail.</p> <p dir="ltr">The retailer’s Together to Zero campaign has seen a handful of stores begin trialling a “bring your own packaging” scheme allowing customers to use reusable containers for items purchased from the deli counter.</p> <p dir="ltr">However, many are puzzled by one requirement of the scheme - the containers must be plastic.</p> <p dir="ltr">A sign displayed in a trial store in Blackwood, South Australia, which asked shoppers to “help reduce packaging” by bringing their own containers for deli workers to fill was shared on Facebook earlier this week by a shopper encouraging others to take part in the scheme.</p> <p dir="ltr">The sign also included requirements that the containers were “clean and intact”, had a “reusable lid”, and weren’t made of “glass or ceramic”.</p> <p dir="ltr">With the banning of single-use bags and plastic tableware, some questioned the sustainability project’s reliance on plastic over more sustainable options.</p> <p dir="ltr">“Shame there’s no glass containers allowed, but still a good move,” one person commented.</p> <p dir="ltr">“I only have glass so it’s completely useless for me,” another shared.</p> <p dir="ltr">“More crap to take to the store,” a third pointed out.</p> <p dir="ltr">Others shared concerns over the condition of containers that people would bring in, as well as the risk of food poisoning.</p> <p dir="ltr">“As much as I love the reusable option. I have fears about this. People will be bringing in manky containers that have sat in their cars for two days to refill,” one concerned person wrote.</p> <p dir="ltr">“How does this cover them for food poisoning?” another asked.</p> <p dir="ltr">Despite the concerns, some were more optimistic about the trial, with one person describing it as a “good start” and another sharing that they would “make a special trip or two” to take part.</p> <p dir="ltr">The trial of BYO containers will be taking place across several South Australian Coles supermarkets, including those in Burnside, Blackwood, Unley, Bridgewater, Mount Barker and Murray Bridge, as well as a store in Kew, Victoria.</p> <p dir="ltr">During the trial, the BYO containers aren’t allowed to be used for deli salads, frozen prawns, barbecue items, hot food, deli express products, or self-serve cheese or platters.</p> <p dir="ltr">A Coles spokesperson said the company was closely monitoring feedback of the trial, telling <em><a href="https://www.news.com.au/finance/business/retail/coles-byo-containers-program-lashed-over-one-detail-with-customers-confused-over-rules/news-story/69032894b46e7174e79e203384850cd0" target="_blank" rel="noopener">news.com.au</a></em> that it will inform whether the scheme is rolled out to additional stores across the country.</p> <p dir="ltr">“As part of our Together to Zero Waste ambition, Coles is always looking for ways to reduce reliance on unnecessary single-use plastic, while giving customers sustainable options to help them complete their shop,” the spokesperson said.</p> <p dir="ltr">“We are trialling bring-your-own containers at a handful of Coles supermarket delis in South Australia, to understand how best to provide this option to customers while continuing to meet stringent food safety standards.</p> <p dir="ltr">“We will be looking closely at how our South Australian customers respond, and the feedback and insights will inform our consideration for potentially rolling this out to more stores in South Australia, or around Australia.”</p> <p><span id="docs-internal-guid-2c7628bd-7fff-be79-f009-18570245750d"></span></p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image: Facebook</em></p>

Food & Wine

Placeholder Content Image

Qantas loses woman's luggage that contains her mother's ashes

<p>A woman has been left "non-functional with distress" after Qantas lost her luggage which contained her mother's ashes. </p> <p>On a flight from London to Sydney, the woman and her partner were confused when they were still waiting for their luggage to turn up at Sydney Airport several hours later. </p> <p>Women’s Community Shelters chief executive and Domestic Violence NSW chair Annabelle Daniel expressed her frustration on Twitter after she and her partner had not heard back from the airline when they reached out to enquire about the lost bag. </p> <p>“Hey @Qantas, my partner‘s bag is four days late from QF2 on Saturday morning,” she posted on Wednesday night in a now-deleted tweet. </p> <p>"It has her mother’s ashes in it. She wasn’t able to see her mum before she died, or attend the funeral in 2020 due to the pandemic."</p> <p>“No responses from your website. Could you help more please?”</p> <p>The tweets attracted the attention of several shocked Twitter users, as Annabelle described how the situation was effecting her distraught partner.</p> <p>“My partner was so close to her mum and just devastated she couldn’t travel to be with her when she died. Watching your mum’s funeral on Zoom is gut wrenching enough, let alone this,” she wrote.</p> <p>“She’s not the kind of person to make a fuss, but this compounds the grief all over again."</p> <p>“She’s quite non-functional with distress. I very much hope this is sorted out."</p> <p>“She’s so anxious and this has just been a horror show.” </p> <p>The Qantas Twitter account responded to Annabelle and asked for further details so they could sort out the issue. </p> <p>In a statement to NCA NewsWire, an airline spokesperson apologised for the “extremely distressing situation” and said the bag was being sent to the woman on Thursday. </p> <p>“We understand that this is an extremely distressing situation for this customer and have apologised for the delay in getting their bags to them,” the Qantas spokesperson said.</p> <p>“The bag is being couriered to the customer today (Thursday)."</p> <p>“Heathrow Airport has had widely publicised baggage issues over recent days which led to tens of thousands of misplaced bags.”</p> <p>Airports all over the world have been making headlines for long queues, baggage losses and dallied flights as eager travellers jet off freely for the first time since the start of the pandemic, putting unprecedented strain on air travel. </p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <div class="media image" style="caret-color: #000000; color: #000000; font-style: normal; font-variant-caps: normal; font-weight: normal; letter-spacing: normal; orphans: auto; text-align: start; text-indent: 0px; text-transform: none; white-space: normal; widows: auto; word-spacing: 0px; -webkit-text-size-adjust: auto; -webkit-text-stroke-width: 0px; text-decoration: none; box-sizing: inherit; display: flex; flex-direction: column; align-items: center; width: 705.3308715820312px; margin-bottom: 32px;"> </div>

Travel Trouble

Placeholder Content Image

Shoppers left confused by Aldi refund policy

<p dir="ltr">A woman has sparked a heated discussion online after sharing her experience seeking a refund at an Aldi store in the US. Writing in the Aisle of Shame Facebook group, she wrote, “I bought the big tree bag at Aldi for $29.99 on Wednesday. Got it home, and out of the box only to realise it’s much too massive for anything I could ever need so decided to return.”</p> <p dir="ltr">After heading back to the store and enquiring about a refund, she was informed that she was only entitled to half of what she paid for the item as the item had since been marked down.</p> <p dir="ltr">She wrote, “I was unaware that if you buy an... item at full price and days later it’s price gets cut in half, you should expect the half price for the return and not the full price, even though that’s what you paid. Even if it’s still marked in the aisle for full price, and I had a receipt.”</p> <p dir="ltr">This took place at an Aldi store in Ohio, but Aldi customers from all over the globe have weighed in, with one suggesting the incident was “illegal”, writing, “Wait, what?! But you had a receipt showing you paid full price!”</p> <p dir="ltr">Many group members went on to debate the store’s refund policy, with some suggesting that a policy designed to protect the store from after-Christmas returns may have been at play. One user commented, "Was it bought before Christmas and returned after? As someone who has worked retail during Halloween you'd be shocked how many people try to get their money back after the Holiday,” while another wrote, “Usually there is a policy posted about seasonal and clearance items.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Aldi employees even weighed in, with one commenting, “I’m an Assistant Store Manager at an Aldi, policy is with receipt you get back what you paid for! If you don't have a receipt you get what the system says,” and another confirming, I’m an Aldi employee. Whoever did your return did it wrong. You should have gotten what you paid for if you had your receipt.”</p> <p dir="ltr">The customer clarified that she had no hard feelings towards her local Aldi and would be heading back to have the situation rectified by a manager.</p> <p dir="ltr">Fortunately, this would never happen in Australia. An Aldi spokesperson confirmed to Yahoo News Australia that if a customer has a receipt showing they paid the original price, that price would be refunded. Aldi Australia’s money back guarantee covers change of mind, grocery items, and Special Buys. The policy states, “Shop like you’ve got nothing to lose. Because you don’t.”</p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image: Dinendra Haria/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images</em></p>

Money & Banking

Placeholder Content Image

Family spat sees mum living in a shipping container

<p><span style="font-weight: 400;">After Varina Quinn gave her daughter the family home in return for lifetime tenancy, she has been left homeless and sleeping in a shipping container.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“I feel like I’ve lost my daughter and my home,” she told </span><em><a rel="noopener" href="https://9now.nine.com.au/a-current-affair/queensland-mother-living-shipping-container-after-transferring-daughter-property-title/f49ed414-b1dc-40d2-a76c-8ffb2d54912e" target="_blank"><span style="font-weight: 400;">A Current Affair</span></a></em><span style="font-weight: 400;">.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Varina had lived alone in her home near Toowoomba for 15 years, until her daughter Rachel moved in following a break-up.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">She said she “really felt for [Rachel]” and wanted to help her get back on her feet.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“I suggested that if she would like to, because she came out with nothing, I’d gift her the house in exchange for lifetime tenancy and she would support me,” Varina said.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The property title was transferred to Rachel in 2019 for the remaining balance of the mortgage, with the pair entering a lease with conditions that would grant Varina lifetime tenancy.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“I was there for less than a year before she threw me out,” she said.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Now, Varina lives in a shipping container in the front yard of her son Caleb’s rental home.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“She wanted me to leave immediately. So, she has all my possessions as well,” Varina said.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Caleb said he tried to warn his mother before she signed the house over to Rachel.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“I didn’t think it was a good idea … I didn’t like the fact that she was giving out the only place she had to live to my sister,” he said.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">After a fight between Varina and Rachel last October, their arrangement started to turn sour.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“She just kept repeating the words ‘when are you leaving’ … I was very upset. And I called my son and Caleb came, came up to pick me up,” Varina said.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“She did say, ‘don’t ever bring her back here again’,” Caleb said.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Rachel let Caleb return the next day to pick up some of Varina’s belongings, and he began filming after he arrived.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">He claims Rachel told him he couldn’t take anything.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“She has family photos. She has all my electronics, white goods, furniture. All my prepping supplies, all my tools,” Varina said.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">When approached by </span><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">A Current Affair</span></em><span style="font-weight: 400;">, Rachel said Varina had instead taken all of her belongings, and that she had none that belonged to her mother.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“She’s got all my stuff, everything is at her place,” Rachel said.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Despite differing takes on the events, Rachel changed her mind after she was told her mother was living in a shipping container.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“The home is open to her whenever she wants to come home,” Rachel said.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Though Varina isn’t convinced, Rachel claims “everything was done above board”.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“I did everything she ever asked me to do … I didn’t kick her out … I’m the victim here,” she said.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Property law expert Tim O’Dwyer advises those entering deals with their family to see separate lawyers.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“If you want the property, you might lose your family. It might be better to lose the property and keep the family,” he said.</span><span style="font-weight: 400;"><br /></span><span style="font-weight: 400;">Varina said she has filed a civil claim in the district court, in a move that she never imagined doing.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“Family, they protect each other. But in this case, she betrayed me,” Varina said.</span></p> <p><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Image: A Current Affair</span></em></p>

Family & Pets

Placeholder Content Image

“It’s real!”: Warning over new Kmart receipt scam

<p><span style="font-weight: 400;">A Kmart customer has shared a worrying receipt scam that may have already affected thousands of shoppers.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Sharing the details on a popular Facebook page, shopper Amanda revealed how she had discovered the scam when she went to her local store to return some products.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">After realising she’d left her receipt behind in a shopping trolley in the belief she wouldn’t need it, the Sydney mum used her internet banking statement to prove her purchases.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">It wasn’t until a member of Kmart’s customer service team looked up her transaction that they made the discovery that someone had already returned all the items on her receipt.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">It’s believed the scammer found Amanda’s discarded receipt and collected the items listed on the docket before returning the items at the Kmart service desk and asking for a refund.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“Customer Service at Kmart are happy for me to share a nasty experience today,” Amanda wrote on the North Shore Mums (Sydney) Facebook page.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“On Thursday, I purchased a number of items, including five boxes of coat hangers at $10 a box.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“On the way out of the store, I showed the exit attendant my proof of purchase and threw the receipt into the trolley (where it stayed).</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“I realised I had no receipt when I returned today to bring back the coat hangers (my hubby bought same from IKEA) so went to customer service and showed the transaction on my internet banking - which they matched on their computer,” she continued.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“The Kmart refunds lady informed me that I had already returned all my purchases that day in the Bondi store.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“Turns out, somebody picked up my receipt - walked around Kmart collecting the same items, and then took them for a refund!</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“It’s a real thing! She promised to share the store manager’s findings when they review the video of the Bondi store.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Fellow shoppers were shocked by her story.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“The amount of times I’ve accidentally left my receipt in a trolley or in a bin without even thinking,” one said. “Never again. That’s just shocking.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Another said: “I always see people’s receipts in the bottom of trolleys. I wonder how many people have been scammed and never even knew?”</span></p> <p><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Image: Facebook</span></em></p>

Money & Banking

Placeholder Content Image

“We’re owed a refund”: Carrie Bickmore’s huge birthday blunder

<p><span>David “Hughesy” Hughes turned 50 on Thursday and as a wonderful gift, Carrie Bickmore and her radio co-host Tommy Little hired a skywriter.</span><br /><br /><span>The plan was to write ‘HB Hughesy” with a love heart over Sydney, as a way to honour the comedian who has just moved to the city for his new breakfast radio gig.</span><br /><br /><span>However, the skywriter made a huge blunder and forgot the second ‘H’ in his name, calling him ‘Hugesy’ instead.</span></p> <p><img style="width: 500px; height: 281.25px;" src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/7838944/hughsey-2.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/c0202c2c3e99426ea6a80476a97fe9ca" /><br /><br /><span>“It’s all about you right now … it’s live. This is live. Live above the Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge,” Carrie and Tommy told him as he looked out the window.</span><br /><br /><span>“This is incredible, I’ve never had anything like this before,” Hughesy gushed.</span><br /><br /><span>However it wasn’t before long that they realised the blunder.</span><br /><br /><span>“Is there a spelling mistake?” Tommy pointed out.</span><br /><br /><span>“You spelled my name wrong guys,” laughed Hughesy. “Did you mean that or not?” he asked.</span><br /><br /><span>“Oh no!” Carrie cried.</span></p> <p><img style="width: 500px; height: 281.25px;" src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/7838945/hughsey-1.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/998f2a6d13e745aa871dbabc5b3d5e2c" /><br /><br /><span>“Look that is disappointing, but I’m flattered by that,” Hughesy admitted.</span><br /><br /><span>“Well we’re owed a refund from a skywriting company,” Tommy Little laughed.</span><br /><br /><span>Carrie addressed the hilarious mistake on Instagram.</span><br /><br /><span>“Oh crap. Tommy and I got @dhughesy a 50TH birthday present and it was written wrong in the sky!!! Happy birthday HUGESY,” the caption read.</span><br /><br /><span>Hughsey received the unfortunate mistake well however, laughing as he said: “You know what? It’s close enough.”</span></p>

Caring

Placeholder Content Image

ATO announces big changes to tax refunds and deductions

<div class="post_body_wrapper"> <div class="post_body"> <div class="body_text "> <p>The end of the financial year is here and the Australian Tax Office has announced a variety of changes that impact your tax return.</p> <p>The ATO has realised that the coronavirus pandemic has changed the lives of many and have pulled together <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.ato.gov.au/Individuals/Lodging-your-tax-return/In-detail/Tax-essentials/?=redirected_taxessentials" target="_blank">new resources</a> to help Aussies navigate their tax returns.</p> <p>“We know many of our clients and their agents will have questions about how different types of income and expenses may affect their obligations this year. We’re helping to make sure people know how to get it right,” assistant commissioner Karen Foat said.</p> <p>“We have published information on our website to help you get it right when lodging this year, including the Tax Time Essentials page which is a one-stop-shop for the things that are a little different this year and how they impact your return.</p> <p>“If you’ve read through the information on our website and still have a question, search our online forum ATO Community. This forum is available 24 hours a day and we have a great community of expert members who respond to questions.”</p> <p>The ATO has also outlined the most common ways COVID-19 will impact the tax returns of workers.</p> <p><strong>Working from home</strong></p> <p>A temporary shortcut method has been applied to working from home expenses between March 1 and June 30, 2020, which allows people to claim a rate of 80 cents per hour for all of their running expenses.</p> <p>This saves people calculating costs for specific running expenses like taxpayers usually would under normal circumstances.</p> <p>This new method covers all deductible expenses and can be used by multiple people working from home in the same house.</p> <p>“If you use the shortcut method, all you need to do is keep a record of the hours you worked from home as evidence of your claim. But it is all-inclusive, meaning you can’t claim for any other working-from-home expenses,” Ms Foat said.</p> <p>You are still able to use the other existing methods to calculate working expenses if you prefer.</p> <p><strong>Protective clothing</strong></p> <p>Another deduction which is set to see an increase is protective items, such as gloves, face masks or hand sanitiser needed for work.</p> <p>These items can only be claimed if the taxpayer paid for the item and were not reimbursed.</p> <p>Industries that were more likely to claim these expenses include retail, hospitality and healthcare.</p> <p><strong>What you can't claim</strong></p> <p>Ms Float said that employees couldn't claim the cost of travelling to and from work and that the COVID-19 pandemic would not affect that rule.</p> <p>“For example, if you are working from home because of COVID-19 but need to go to your regular office one day per week, your home to work travel is still private travel and cannot be claimed,” Ms Foat said.</p> <p>Ms Float also said that you should try to reduce claims that aren't relevant.</p> <p>“If you aren’t travelling for work, you can’t claim travel expenses. If you aren’t wearing your work uniform, you can’t claim laundry expenses,” she said.</p> <p>“It’s still important to meet the three golden rules: You must have spent the money and not have been reimbursed, it must relate directly to earning your income, and you must have a record to prove it.</p> <p>“What you can claim really depends on your circumstances. While we are trying to make it easier for people to claim what they are entitled to, we are also asking people to take a bit of extra care if their circumstances have changed this year.”</p> </div> </div> </div>

Money & Banking

Placeholder Content Image

Bride demands refund from wedding photographer over Black Lives Matter support

<p>An American wedding photographer said a couple tried to cancel their contract after she expressed her support for Black Lives Matter in a social media post.</p> <p>Shakira Rochelle, a photographer based in Cincinnati, Ohio, shared her support of the movement on her social media pages. The post read: “Shakira Rochelle Photography stands in solidarity with the black community. The black lives matter movement has my endless support.”</p> <blockquote style="background: #FFF; border: 0; border-radius: 3px; box-shadow: 0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width: 540px; min-width: 326px; padding: 0; width: calc(100% - 2px);" class="instagram-media" data-instgrm-captioned="" data-instgrm-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/p/CBEt3EblKff/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" data-instgrm-version="12"> <div style="padding: 16px;"> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; align-items: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 40px; margin-right: 14px; width: 40px;"></div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 100px;"></div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 60px;"></div> </div> </div> <div style="padding: 19% 0;"></div> <div style="display: block; height: 50px; margin: 0 auto 12px; width: 50px;"></div> <div style="padding-top: 8px;"> <div style="color: #3897f0; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: 550; line-height: 18px;">View this post on Instagram</div> </div> <p style="margin: 8px 0 0 0; padding: 0 4px;"><a style="color: #000; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px; text-decoration: none; word-wrap: break-word;" rel="noopener" href="https://www.instagram.com/p/CBEt3EblKff/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank">Shakira Rochelle Photography stands in solidarity with the black community. The black lives matter movement has my endless support ✊🏼.</a></p> <p style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 17px; margin-bottom: 0; margin-top: 8px; overflow: hidden; padding: 8px 0 7px; text-align: center; text-overflow: ellipsis; white-space: nowrap;">A post shared by <a style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px;" rel="noopener" href="https://www.instagram.com/shakirarochellephotographyy/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank"> Shakira Rochelle🌿</a> (@shakirarochellephotographyy) on Jun 5, 2020 at 5:34pm PDT</p> </div> </blockquote> <p>Rochelle later received a text message from a client requesting her deposit back.</p> <p>“We have done a lot of talking and we cannot bring ourselves to support anyone who is so outspoken on matters that simply do not concern them as well as someone that does not believe that ALL lives matter,” the bride wrote on the text.</p> <p>“We … feel that you aren’t stable enough to complete the job we need from you.”</p> <p>Rochelle told the bride that the deposit was non-refundable, as per their signed contract. “I wish you a lifetime of growth and I would like to thank you for your donation to Black Lives Matter,” the photographer concluded.</p> <p>The bride told Rochelle she would be “hearing from our attorney”.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"> <p dir="ltr">I love it here. <a href="https://t.co/hKH4WFOSk2">pic.twitter.com/hKH4WFOSk2</a></p> — Q.🍫 (@PINKdot_COM) <a href="https://twitter.com/PINKdot_COM/status/1272880090003771393?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">June 16, 2020</a></blockquote> <p>The screenshots of the messages – which Rochelle posted on her personal Facebook account – went on to become viral on social media sites. A Twitter post with pictures of the exchange has received more than 1.1 million likes.</p> <p>On Wednesday, Rochelle released a statement addressing claims that her post was fabricated.</p> <p>“There is a photoshopped screenshot circulating stating that coming forward with this story was a business tactic to make a profit on the BLM movement,” she said.</p> <p>“This is the most incredibly absurd thing I have ever heard. The original post started out private until a friend asked if she could share it. I never had the intentions or the desire to go viral for this or anything else.”</p> <p>Rochelle explained that prior to the incident, she had been booked until winter and was not seeking for more clients.</p> <p>“I have always stood up for human rights and will continue to do so. I have marched with my loved ones as well as alone. My intentions are pure,” she said.</p> <p>“Please know that what you saw from me was the complete story.”   </p> <p>Black Lives Matter protests have been initiated across the US and around the world following the killing of George Floyd in police custody on May 25.</p>

Art

Placeholder Content Image

Takeaway containers shape what (and how) we eat

<p>Home cooks have been trying out their skills during isolation. But the way food tastes depends on more than your ability to follow a recipe.</p> <p>Our <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25713964/">surroundings</a>, <a href="https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamapediatrics/fullarticle/485781">the people</a> <a href="https://academic.oup.com/jpepsy/article/25/7/471/952605">we share food with</a> and the design of our tableware – our cups, bowls and plates, cutlery and containers – affect the way we experience food.</p> <p>For example, eating from a heavier bowl can make you feel food is <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0950329311000966?via%3Dihub">more filling and tastes better</a> than eating from a lighter one.</p> <p>Contrast this with fast food, which is most commonly served in lightweight disposable containers, which encourages <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0195666312001754">fast eating</a>, <a href="https://www.bmj.com/content/346/bmj.f2907">underestimating</a> how much food you’re eating, and has even been linked to becoming <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23773044/">impatient</a>.</p> <p>These are just some examples of the vital, but largely unconscious, relationship between the design of our tableware – including size, shape, weight and colour – and how we eat.</p> <p>In design, this relationship is referred to as an object’s “<a href="https://jnd.org/affordances_and_design/">affordances</a>”. Affordances guide interactions between objects and people.</p> <p>As Australian sociologist <a href="https://mitpress.mit.edu/books/how-artifacts-afford">Jenny Davis writes</a>, affordances:</p> <p><em>…push, pull, enable, and constrain. Affordances are how objects shape behaviour for socially situated subjects.</em></p> <p>Designed objects don’t <em>make</em> us do things.</p> <p><strong>The colour of your crockery</strong></p> <p>When you visit a restaurant, the chances are your dinner will be served on a plain white plate.</p> <p>But French chef Sebastien Lepinoy has staff <a href="https://books.google.com.au/books?id=-5gCBAAAQBAJ&amp;pg=PT118&amp;lpg=PT118&amp;dq=Sebastien+Lepinoy+paint+plates&amp;source=bl&amp;ots=8jc3yBavYd&amp;sig=ACfU3U0jRwMOQtM_NmOspLXcyXp9SiVTuQ&amp;hl=en&amp;sa=X&amp;ved=2ahUKEwjqzNzj3MPpAhUOxjgGHQnvDlEQ6AEwCnoECAkQAQ#v=onepage&amp;q=Sebastien%20Lepinoy%20paint%20plates&amp;f=false">paint the plates</a> to match the daily menu and “entice the appetite”.</p> <p>Research seems to back him up. Coloured plates can enhance flavours to actually change the dining experience.</p> <p>In <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22128561">one study</a>, salted popcorn eaten from a coloured bowl tasted sweeter than popcorn eaten from a white bowl. In <a href="https://www.semanticscholar.org/paper/Does-the-colour-of-the-mug-influence-the-taste-of-Doorn-Wuillemin/476e322e1de2c705e8691e14c72c814fd79e5e09">another</a>, a café latte served in a coloured mug tasted sweeter than one in a white mug.</p> <p>This association between colour and taste seems to apply to people from Germany to China.</p> <p>A review of <a href="https://flavourjournal.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s13411-015-0033-1">multiple studies</a> conducted in many countries over 30 years finds people consistently associated particular colours with specific tastes.</p> <p>Red, orange or pink is most often associated with sweetness, black with bitterness, yellow or green with sourness, and white and blue with saltiness.</p> <p><strong>The size of your plate</strong></p> <p>The influence of plate size on meal portions depends on the dining experience and whether you are <a href="https://www.deakin.edu.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0011/897365/DUBELAAR-JACR-Plate-Size-Meta-Analysis-Paper-2016.pdf">serving yourself</a>. In a buffet, for example, people armed with a small plate may eat more because they can go back for multiple helpings.</p> <p>Nonetheless, average plate and portion sizes have <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2016/apr/25/problem-portions-eating-too-much-food-control-cutting-down">increased</a> over the years. Back in her day, grandma used to serve meals on plates 25cm in diameter. Now, the average dinner plate is 28cm, and many restaurant dinner plates have expanded to <a href="https://www.nisbets.com.au/size-of-plates">30cm</a>.</p> <p>Our waistlines have also expanded. Research confirms we tend to <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0195666311006064">eat more calories</a> when our plates are larger, because a larger capacity plate affords a greater portion size.</p> <p><strong>Plastic is too often ignored</strong></p> <p>The pace of our busy lives has led many people to rely on those handy takeaways in disposable plastic food containers just ready to pop into the microwave. And it’s tempting to use plastic cutlery and cups at barbecues, picnics and kids’ birthday parties.</p> <p>In contrast to heavy, fragile ceramic tableware, plastic tableware is <a href="https://discardstudies.com/2019/05/21/disposability/">designed to be ignored</a>. It is so lightweight, ubiquitous and cheap we don’t notice it and pay little mind to its disposal.</p> <p>Plastics have also changed how we eat and drink. An aversion to the strong smell of plastic containers that once might have caused people to <a href="https://www.mitpressjournals.org/doi/abs/10.1162/0747936042312066?journalCode=desi">wrap their sandwiches before placing them in Tupperware</a> seems to have disappeared. We drink hot coffee though plastic lids.</p> <p>Australian economic sociologist Gay Hawkins and her colleagues argue lightweight, plastic water bottles have created entirely new habits, such as “<a href="https://www.westernsydney.edu.au/ics/news/news_archive/2015/history_of_bottled_water_focus_of_new_book">constant sipping</a>” on the go. New products are then designed to fit and reinforce this habit.</p> <p><strong>Aesthetics matter</strong></p> <p>Healthy eating is not only characterised by what we eat but how we eat.</p> <p>For instance, eating mindfully – more thoughtfully and slowly by focusing on the experience of eating – can help you feel <a href="https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/why-eating-slowly-may-help-you-feel-full-faster-20101019605">full faster</a> and make a <a href="https://www.cambridge.org/core/services/aop-cambridge-core/content/view/351A3D01E43F49CC9794756BC950EFFC/S0954422417000154a.pdf/structured_literature_review_on_the_role_of_mindfulness_mindful_eating_and_intuitive_eating_in_changing_eating_behaviours_effectiveness_and_associated_potential_mechanisms.pdf">difference</a> to how we eat.</p> <p>And the Japanese cuisine <a href="https://guide.michelin.com/en/article/dining-out/kaiseki-cheatsheet-sg">Kaiseki</a> values this mindful, slower approach to eating. It consists of small portions of beautifully arranged food presented in a grouping of small, attractive, individual plates and bowls.</p> <p>This encourages the diner to eat more slowly and mindfully while appreciating not only the food but the variety and setting of the tableware.</p> <p>Japanese people’s slower eating practices even apply to “fast food”.</p> <p>One <a href="https://www.emerald.com/insight/content/doi/10.1108/00346651211277654/full/html">study</a> found Japanese people were more likely to eat in groups, to stay at fast food restaurants for longer and to share fast food, compared with their North American counterparts.</p> <p>Affordance theory is only now starting to account for <a href="https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/0270467617714944">cultural diversity</a> in the ways in which designed objects shape practices and experiences.</p> <p>The studies we have reviewed show tableware influences how we eat. Size, shape, weight, colour and aesthetics all play a part in our experience of eating.</p> <p>This has wide implications for how we design for healthier eating – whether that’s to encourage eating well when we are out and about, or so we can better appreciate a tastier, healthier and more convivial meal at home.</p> <p><em>Written by Abby Mellick Lopes and Karen Weiss. Republished with permission of <a href="https://theconversation.com/plates-cups-and-takeaway-containers-shape-what-and-how-we-eat-137059">The Conversation</a>.</em></p> <p><em> </em></p>

Travel Tips

Placeholder Content Image

Calls to rip up and refund "hypocritical" COVID fines

<p>A Queensland politician has launched a petition to have all coronavirus fines ripped up after a 30,000 strong protest breached mass gathering laws and escaped without punishment.</p> <p>As 30,000 people attended a Black Lives Matter rally in Brisbane’s CBD on the weekend, Queensland police said no fines had been issued despite the protestors defying the current COVID-19 restrictions on gatherings.</p> <p>Katter’s Australian Party MP Nick Dametto started the parliamentary petition, saying that the Queensland Government’s rules were “hypocritical”.</p> <p>"While the vast majority of Queenslanders have complied with the Government's restrictions as a matter of public health and safety in order to flatten the curve, the hypocrisy of allowing thousands of people to congregate during the protests has infuriated many, including those who have received fines for relatively minor breaches of the COVID-19 rules in place," the petition said.</p> <p>"Your petitioners, therefore, request the House do all within its power to revoke or refund fines handed to Queenslanders who breached COVID-19 rules as a matter of principle."</p> <p>As hundreds of Queenslanders had been hit with fines in excess of $1,300, Mr Dametto said that the treatment of protestors showed double standards, according to the<a rel="noopener" href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-06-09/queensland-coronavirus-fines-revoked-hypocrisy-protests/12333600" target="_blank"><span> </span><em>ABC</em></a><em>.</em></p> <p>"I was talking to a small business the other day, which was shut down for a week because they had 11 people in their business instead of the allowed 10," he said.</p> <p>"But then we're going to somehow allow 30,000 people together?</p> <p>"By not getting out there and fining some people gives a very dark message: you're allowed to break the rules if you have enough people breaking the rules at the same time."</p> <p>However, Tourism Minister Kate Jones has defended the actions of the Queensland government.</p> <p>"I didn't let 30,000 protesters protest in Brisbane [and] neither did the Government," she said.</p> <p>"The Premier said very clearly do not go to the protest. The Police Commissioner said do not go to the protest.</p> <p>"Some people — the majority of them young — chose to ignore that health advice.”</p>

News

Placeholder Content Image

Government to refund $720 million extorted through robodebt

<p>The Federal Government has announced it will refund more than $720 million dollars to people who were unlawfully issued with debt notices under Robodebt, which many have labelled an extortion scheme targeting those without means to challenge it.</p> <p>And although the decision won’t bring back those driven to depression and even to suicide as a result of the burden of having to pay money or face the prospect of a criminal prosecution, it will vindicate the thousands victimised by the government’s patently illegal conduct.</p> <p><strong>The class action</strong></p> <p><a href="https://www.sydneycriminallawyers.com.au/blog/class-action-brought-over-robodebt/">A class action by more than 13,000 Australians was set to proceed later this year</a>. The suit had been under way for some time, but gained momentum after a lawsuit, brought by Victoria Legal Aid in the Federal Court last year <a href="https://www.sydneycriminallawyers.com.au/blog/robodebt-is-unlawful-federal-court-rules/">determined that raising debts which relied solely on income averaging was unlawful</a>.</p> <p>As a result, over the past few weeks Centrelink has been in the process of contacting anyone who was affected by Robodebt’s flawed algorithms which based calculations on income averaging’, to notify them of the class action, but now the Federal Government has announced that it will refund 470,000 debts, along with interest and fees.</p> <p><strong>Illegal system</strong></p> <p><a href="https://www.sydneycriminallawyers.com.au/blog/robodebt-class-action-is-coming/">Robodebt</a> was introduced by the Turnbull Government in 2016.</p> <p>At the time, the government hailed it as a huge triumph, saying it would “crack down on dole bludgers and welfare rorters” and “recover” billions of dollars over a period of just a few years.</p> <p>The previous system, which was not automated, only generated about 20,000 letters a year. But in the early days of the new automated system, that number skyrocketed to around 20,000 letters a week.</p> <p>But instead, it targeted many thousands of average Australians, sending notices asking them to pay debts they don’t owe. Many more have received notices with inflated debt figures based on incorrect calculations or misinformation within the system. Others, receiving payments such as Youth Allowance and Newstart have were asked to verify their income dating back as far as 2010.</p> <p>Alarm bells about potential mistakes in the automated system were raised across the nation about 6 months into its existence, during December and January 2016, when Centrelink began tweeting the contact number for Lifeline.</p> <p>Centrelink staff were simply unable to cope with the sheer volume of calls and complaints about the automated debt notices. Those who had received notices were being charged fees and interest and being pursued relentlessly by debt companies, or threatened with deductions from their current salaries until the debt was paid.</p> <p><strong>Powerless against the system</strong></p> <p>When Centrelink was unable to help people in a timely way, many felt completely powerless against the ‘system’ – the way that the scheme operated,  the onus was on individuals to disprove their debt, rather than for the Government to authenticate it.</p> <p>Around the same time, the Federal Government also introduced Departure Prohibition Orders (DPOs) that stopped anyone who <a href="https://www.sydneycriminallawyers.com.au/blog/if-you-owe-money-to-centrelink-dont-try-to-leave-australia/">owed a debt to Centrelink from leaving Australia</a>, irrespective of the size of the debt, until either the amount owing was paid in full, the debtor makes an agreed lump sum payment, or enters into a repayment plan.</p> <p>For some, the financial distress proved too much. <a href="https://www.sydneycriminallawyers.com.au/blog/centrelinks-flawed-robo-debt-system-is-killing-our-most-vulnerable/">More than 2000 people died after receiving a robo-debt notice between July 2016 to October 2018</a>. While no cause for their death has ever been reported, and the Department of Human Services said it was ridiculous to draw conclusions from these numbers, it is known that almost a third were classified as ‘vulnerable’ – which means they  had complex needs like mental illness, drug use or were victims of domestic violence.</p> <p>The damage has been done. But at least now, there is justice for the majority of Robodebt victims who will start <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/may/29/robodebt-was-a-flagrant-abuse-of-government-power-it-should-never-have-seen-the-light-of-day?fbclid=IwAR2XYRRtO3DuycBcLZxt-PkiJhy5dfIjzwILsB_cRvYs8LWE_Pvd2Epyjyk">receiving their refunds in July this year</a>.</p> <p>It is possible that many more cases may be eligible for refunds, because despite the fact that the Government has pledged to pay back $721 million, according to information released by the Senate, more than 680,000 debts have been raised over the years, with a value of about $1.4 billion.</p> <p>Anyone who believes they have been affected should contact Centrelink.</p> <p><em>Written by Sonia Hickey. Republished with permission of </em><a href="https://www.sydneycriminallawyers.com.au/blog/government-to-refund-720-million-extorted-through-robodebt/"><em>Sydney Criminal Lawyers.</em></a></p>

Retirement Life

Placeholder Content Image

“Sorry, not sorry”: Wedding videographer refuses to issue refund after bride-to-be dies

<p>A man who lost his fiancée in a car crash has been threatened with a lawsuit after he requested a refund from the wedding videography company the couple had hired.</p> <p>Justin Montney, 24, was forced to cancel his May wedding after his 22-year-old bride-to-be Alexis-Athena Wyatt died in February.</p> <p>Montney said the Texas, US-based videography company Copper Stallion Media refused to refund his US$1,800 deposit, saying it was non-refundable.</p> <p>The man told <em><a href="https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/skbaer/wedding-videographer-refuses-refund-fiance-death">Buzzfeed News</a> </em>he reached out to the company again last week, informing them he planned to share the dispute on social media. The company threatened to sue him and Wyatt’s family in response to a review her mother wrote on wedding website The Knot.</p> <p>“They should have been able to [issue a refund] because they didn’t render any services,” Montney told KRDO-TV.</p> <p>He said the company offered to extend their service to his next wedding, which was “a very a very insensitive thing to tell me”.</p> <p>Montney said other vendors did not hesitate to refund their money after learning about Wyatt’s death. “They obviously felt terrible for what had happened,” he said.</p> <p>After Montney went public with his experience, Copper Stallion Media created a website using Montney’s name – JustinMontney.com – to rebut his claims, accusing him of driving a “smear campaign”.</p> <p>“We understand a death occurred, but it’s not right for people to turn to the internet and sodomize the reputation of a company,” read the text, which has since been removed on the website.</p> <p>“He could have quietly filed a small claim to ‘try’ to recoup the non-refundable deposit. Instead, he chose the internet to shake us down.”</p> <p><img style="width: 500px; height: 281.25px; display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/7836261/jm2.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/42c8a0c6a3154718a7ebc539453dc355" /></p> <p>On May 23, the company posted a photo of the couple with the caption: “Today would have been the day where we would have filmed Justin and Alexis’ wedding in Colorado Springs.</p> <p>“After what Justin pulled with the media stunt to try and shake us down for a refund, we hope you sob and cry all day for what would have been your wedding day.</p> <p>“Sorry, not sorry.”</p> <p>Copper Stallion Media has since shut down their pages on Facebook and The Knot.</p> <p>Videographer Alex Murphy, who used to work for the company, told <em><a href="https://www.thedenverchannel.com/news/contact7/wedding-videographer-refuses-to-provide-refund-after-brides-death-harasses-her-family">The Denver Channel</a></em> he left because they refused to pay him.</p> <p>He said his final paycheck came from Las Vegas-registered company Organized Weddings LLC, which is associated with a man named Jesse J Clark.</p> <p>Clark was sued by Massachusetts’ attorney general in 2013 for defrauding 90 couples by accepting payments and failing to provide their wedding videos, according to the <em><a href="https://www.telegram.com/article/20130426/NEWS/104269782">Telegram &amp; Gazette</a></em>.</p>

News

Placeholder Content Image

Tracy Grimshaw under fire from travel industry boss over refund scandal

<p>A travel boss has slammed<span> </span><em>A Current Affair</em><span> </span>host Tracy Grimshaw over a segment on the program discussing a travel industry refund scandal.</p> <p>Jayson Westbury, the chief executive of the Australian Federation of Travel Agents (AFTA) addressed members during a webinar on Friday and said the Nine presenter needed “to be given a firm uppercut or a slap across the face” according to the<span> </span><em>Sydney Morning Herald</em>.</p> <p>“I mean that virtually, of course. I wouldn’t want to invoke any violence on anyone,” he added.</p> <p>“But, I mean, some of the behaviour and some of the language that’s being used on that program is just outrageous,” he said.</p> <p>The webinar, which had addressed how the industry was dealing with negative publicity during the coronavirus pandemic, has now been removed from the AFTA website.</p> <p>Mr Westbury told members that while AFTA was doing what it could by talking with<span> </span><em>ACA’s</em><span> </span>reporters and producers, he would no longer be watching the show and urged others to do the same.</p> <p>"The best thing to do for <em>A Current Affair</em> is just to stop watching. That way you’ll stop worrying,” he said. "I’ve personally boycotted it, won’t be ever watching it again."</p> <p>The travel industry has been one of the most badly affected sectors during the coronavirus pandemic, as widespread travel bans forced holiday-makers to cancel their plans and seek refunds.</p> <p>But some customers have faced difficulties getting their money back, with travel agencies either refusing to pay up or offering only credit notes instead.</p> <p>Updating members on Tuesday, Mr Westbury said it was likely trips would continue to be cancelled “for some time to come” and it would be a “death by a thousand cuts” for the industry.</p> <p>“Consumers will continue to look to cancel trips and request refunds. And so it continues like death by a thousand cuts as the travel industry continues to deal with these very ridged travel restrictions,” he said.</p> <p>“Prepare for more cancellations and refunds, start planning for selling domestic trips and hope that we might be allowed off the island (Australia) for Christmas,” he added.</p>

TV

Placeholder Content Image

Businesses can refuse service to sick customers as containment efforts continue

<p>People with flu-like symptoms can be turned away from any shop or workplace as part of measures to prevent a second wave of coronavirus.</p> <p>Australia’s Chief Medical Officer Professor Brendan Murphy said he would “protect” and “defend” the rights of business owners and employers to turn away customers and staff members who are unwell.</p> <p>“All of us over our lives have been on occasions wanting to soldier on with a cold and a flu, flu-like illness – we cannot do that anymore,” he told reporters on Sunday.</p> <p>“If one of your colleagues, or an employee, or a client turns up you have every right to say, ‘go away, I am not going to let you in, I am not going to treat you’ ... unless you’re a doctor, of course.”</p> <p>Professor Murphy also warned Australians against hanging out in shopping centres as states and territories begin easing their coronavirus restrictions.</p> <p>“We have also seen pictures of people crowded in shopping malls, in other circumstances where they have not been observing the social distancing norms that are part of our new way of behaving,” he said.</p> <p>“So if you’re going to a shopping centre to buy something, go and buy something but don’t hang around the shopping centre for half-an-hour mingling for no purpose – go home.”</p> <p>Professor Murphy said Australia could risk seeing another widespread community transmission, also known as “second wave” of coronavirus, if people fail to uphold social distancing norms and hand hygiene practices.</p> <p>“It is as much about the rules and regulations as it is about personal responsibility and I really want to emphasise that point,” he said.</p> <p>Preventing widespread community transmission is vital to protect the elderly and those with chronic conditions, he said.</p> <p>“People have said to me, why don’t you just protect really carefully all those with chronic conditions and the elderly; make sure they are well cocooned away from everyone else in society?” he said.</p> <p>“As we have seen already, that’s just not possible, if you’ve got widespread community transmission. This virus is incredibly infectious.”</p>

Legal

Placeholder Content Image

Why New Zealand needs to continue decisive action to contain coronavirus

<p>With some of the <a href="https://theconversation.com/nzs-decision-to-close-its-borders-will-hurt-tourism-but-its-the-right-thing-to-do-133707">toughest border restrictions</a> and a newly-announced <a href="https://www.beehive.govt.nz/release/backing-our-health-services-combat-covid-19">NZ$500 million boost to health services</a>, New Zealand is among a small number of countries with a strategy to contain the COVID-19 pandemic.</p> <p>New Zealand is also fortunate in having a brief window of opportunity to refine and roll out an effective response to COVID-19. At the time of writing, there were <a href="https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/national/412042/eight-new-cases-of-coronavirus-in-nz-health-ministry-confirms">20 confirmed cases in New Zealand</a>, all related to overseas travel. There is no evidence of community transmission.</p> <p>This situation could change rapidly as mild cases may not seek medical attention, effectively resulting in “<a href="https://science.sciencemag.org/content/early/2020/03/13/science.abb3221">silent transmission</a>”. This process has seen other countries slip into widespread community transmission.</p> <p>New Zealand is vulnerable until our testing rates and contact tracing capacity increases, potentially to the levels used successfully in <a href="https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2020/03/coronavirus-cases-have-dropped-sharply-south-korea-whats-secret-its-success">South Korea</a>.</p> <p>To guard against this risk New Zealand should consider a short “pulse” (a few weeks) of intense social distancing, including bringing forward the school holidays and temporary closures of most businesses, social meeting places and public transport.</p> <p>Doing this now has the potential to slow undetected chains of transmission while containment measures are being ramped up. If containment is sustained, there may be the chance of avoiding the prolonged lock-downs seen in many countries.</p> <p>New Zealand’s effort to contain COVID-19 will also help <a href="https://theconversation.com/why-nzs-tough-coronavirus-travel-rules-are-crucial-to-protecting-lives-at-home-and-across-the-pacific-133779">protect Pacific Island</a> nations. Samoa in particular has a terrible history of devastating pandemics, notably <a href="https://blogs.otago.ac.nz/pubhealthexpert/2018/11/07/a-100-years-ago-today-a-death-ship-from-nz-arrived-in-samoa-a-reminder-of-nzs-responsibilities-to-its-south-pacific-neighbours/">influenza in 1918</a> and more recently measles.</p> <p><strong>Intensive containment can work</strong></p> <p>Like other countries, New Zealand has relied on advice from the World Health Organization, whose pandemic plan, originally developed for influenza, focuses on managing spread <a href="https://www.health.govt.nz/publication/new-zealand-influenza-pandemic-plan-framework-action">through successive phases</a>.</p> <p>But <a href="https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(20)30567-5/fulltext">COVID-19 is not influenza</a>. Its longer incubation period (median of five to six days, compared to influenza with one to three days) means we have a better chance of case identification and isolation, but probably only if <a href="https://www.thelancet.com/journals/langlo/article/PIIS2214-109X(20)30074-7/fulltext">done swiftly and effectively</a>.</p> <p>By introducing border restrictions and maintaining a focus on stamping out chains of transmission, New Zealand has joined countries like Singapore, Hong Kong and Taiwan that rigorously pursue containment of COVID-19.</p> <p>The strongest evidence that containment works comes from the remarkable success of China in <a href="https://www.who.int/docs/default-source/coronaviruse/who-china-joint-mission-on-covid-19-final-report.pdf">reversing a large outbreak</a>. Also relevant are <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/13/opinion/coronavirus-best-response.html">examples of smaller Asian jurisdictions</a>.</p> <p><strong>Planning for the next phase if containment fails</strong></p> <p>New Zealand needs to continue planning for the scenario where containment fails and we move into widespread community transmission. With COVID-19, it seems impossible to spread demand for treatment sufficiently to manage it through <a href="https://www.imperial.ac.uk/media/imperial-college/medicine/sph/ide/gida-fellowships/Imperial-College-COVID19-NPI-modelling-16-03-2020.pdf">existing health sector capacity</a>.</p> <p>At this point, we would need additional social distancing measures to suppress the epidemic to ensure <a href="https://www.imperial.ac.uk/media/imperial-college/medicine/sph/ide/gida-fellowships/Imperial-College-COVID19-NPI-modelling-16-03-2020.pdf">New Zealand’s hospital and intensive care capacity</a> are not overwhelmed.</p> <p>We also need to strengthen other critical components of the national response, notably hospital capacity to treat large numbers of critically ill patients with pneumonia while also ensuring high standards of infection control.</p> <p>And it is vital to support vulnerable populations to reduce their risk of infection. As with influenza, the risk of COVID-19 infection is particularly concentrated in older people and those with <a href="https://academic.oup.com/jid/article-abstract/221/2/183/5611323">chronic medical conditions</a>. This makes Māori and Pacific peoples particularly vulnerable – as <a href="https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/eid/article/18/1/11-0035_article">seen in past pandemics</a>.</p> <p>Support with social distancing, hygiene and home isolation in a way that is consistent with tikanga (Māori customary practices) is particularly important for protecting these groups. Services for community diagnosis and treatment need to be responsive to these populations, as well as those with disabilities and the elderly.</p> <p><strong>Strategic challenges ahead</strong></p> <p>Countries have consistently underestimated the COVID-19 pandemic in terms of its global spread and intensity. They now seem to be diverging markedly in their strategic responses.</p> <p>New Zealand is among those countries and territories committed to containment, but elsewhere, the aim in most high-income countries seems to be to mitigate the effects. Across much of the rest of the world, including the United States, it is unclear whether there this is an agreed goal to guide the national response.</p> <p>The possibility of uncontrolled outbreaks in some regions means countries that pursue containment will face long-term challenges, until a vaccine or treatment is available.</p> <p>All of these approaches have uncertainty and risks and we will only understand the net societal benefits and costs in hindsight. Certainly in New Zealand, the containment approach appears to have widespread public support, particularly across the health sector.</p> <p>Many of us are working to monitor and evaluate it so that we can learn how to better manage such threats in the future, some of which may be far worse as biotechnology advances open up new hazards.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/133714/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/michael-baker-169808">Michael Baker</a>, Professor of Public Health, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-otago-1304">University of Otago</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/nick-wilson-133898">Nick Wilson</a>, Professor of Public Health, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-otago-1304">University of Otago</a></em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/why-new-zealand-needs-to-continue-decisive-action-to-contain-coronavirus-133714">original article</a>.</em></p>

International Travel

Our Partners