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HSBC faces trouble over PPI complaints as deadline looms

Bank fails to tell all victims mis-sold payment protection insurance how much compensation they will receive

HSBC logo

HSBC said the regulator would be ‘supportive of our approach’ in dealing with PPI complaints. Photograph: Luke Macgregor/Reuters

HSBC could find itself in trouble with the Financial Services Authority after it emerged the bank will fail to meet a deadline for clearing its backlog of payment protection insurance (PPI) mis-selling complaints.

Six banking groups, including HSBC, were given until midnight on Wednesday to resolve PPI mis-selling claims that were put on hold during the long court battle over the way people’s complaints were to be assessed.

It is understood HSBC will miss the deadline because it has failed to tell all its affected customers whose claims have been successful how much compensation they are to be offered. There was speculation that another bank may be set to miss the target by a very small amount.

The FSA has already warned it is “not afraid to take tough action” against any firms that do not deal appropriately with complaints. Consumer body Which? said any banks failing to meet the deadline should be punished. However, HSBC may be hoping that its pledge to have all its cases sorted out by the end of this week means the regulator will take a lenient view.

The six banks – HSBC, Barclays, Lloyds Banking Group, Royal Bank of Scotland, the Co-operative Bank and Egg – were granted the temporary extension by the FSA to ensure their backlogs of complaints were handled properly.

Many firms had decided to put some or all of their PPI cases on hold when the banking industry mounted a legal challenge to the FSA’s new complaint handling measures. The banks abandoned their challenge in May, opening the way for millions of people to receive compensation totalling billions of pounds.

It is understood that the banks were supposed to send out letters telling people whether their complaints had been upheld or not, and, in the case of those individuals who were successful, at the very least provide information about how much money they were likely to receive. The redress is typically taking the form of a refund of premiums paid plus interest.

HSBC has been sending out these “decision letters”, but some have not contained all the necessary information about redress.

In a statement to the Guardian, a bank spokesman said: “Over the past 12 weeks we have been in weekly contact with the FSA over our processing of customer PPI complaints. We have already written to all customers whose complaints were on hold due to the judicial review with a decision on their complaint, and will have communicated the final redress amount to all customers with an upheld complaint by the end of this week.”

He claimed the regulator was “supportive of our approach”, though it was not clear whether the FSA shares this view.

Earlier this year it emerged that while Lloyds Banking Group had put aside £3.2bn for compensation, HSBC had made provisions for £270m.

Banks and other companies have had to look back at past PPI sales, even where people have not complained, and contact customers if necessary.

With the FSA deadline now looming, Which? executive director Richard Lloyd said: “There’s no excuse for banks not to have cleared the backlog of complaints caused by the judicial review. Any firms that have not met the 31 August deadline should face tough enforcement action.”

He added: “The FSA should require banks to be more transparent about their complaint-handling processes, to show they are improving the way they handle customer disputes. Anyone who thinks they were mis-sold PPI should contact their bank immediately and, if they’re not happy with the response, go to the Financial Ombudsman Service.”

Those who think they were mis-sold a PPI policy – perhaps because they were told the insurance was compulsory or were not asked about pre-existing medical conditions – and have so far taken no action should complain first to their bank or loan provider. If the complaint is not dealt with to their satisfaction within eight weeks, they can take their case to the Financial Ombudsman Service.


Microsoft sued for tracking mobile users’ location without permission

Lawsuit claims that tech giant collects data about customers’ whereabouts even they have opted out of location tracking

Microsoft faces a lawsuit for allegedly tracking the location of users of its Windows Phone 7 software even after they had opted out

Microsoft tracks the location of its mobile users even after customers turned the software off, a lawsuit filed on Wednesday alleges.

The legal action claims that owners of Windows Phone 7 smartphonesare being unwittingly tracked when the camera on their phone is switched on.

The lawsuit, filed in a Seattle federal court, claims that Microsoft collects data about the whereabouts of its users even after customers have opted out of location tracking.

Microsoft declined to comment on Thursday morning.

The lawsuit follows mounting concern about how technology giants, including Apple and Google, record users’ private data. Microsoft, Nokia, Apple and Google were called before the US Congress in April to explain their privacy policies after security researchers uncovered hidden location-tracking software in iPhones. Google Android phones weresubsequently found to gather location data, but required users’ explicit permission.

The lawsuit alleges that Microsoft’s letter to congress, which claimed that location data is collected “always with the express consent of the user”, was “false”.

The claim, filed by Rebecca Cousineau, says that Microsoft transmits data including coordinates of a customer’s location when the phone’s camera is switched on. According to the lawsuit, hidden tracking affects smartphones using Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7 software, such as the HTC 7 Mozart and the Samsung Omnia 7.

Microsoft is understood to be preparing a response to the claims.

In its representation to US Congress in May, the Redmond, Washington-based company said that tracking users’ location helps “deliver more useful and relevant experiences to users”.

It adds: “To provide these rich experiences, Microsoft collects limited information necessary to determine the approximate location of a device. Collection is always with the express consent of the user and the goal of our collection is never to track where a specific device has been or is going.

“We believe that, when designed, deployed and managed responsibly, the location-based feature of a mobile operating system should function as a tool for the user and the applications he or she elects to use, and not as a means to generate a database of sensitive information that can enable a party to surreptitiously ‘track’ a user.”

Samsung launches Galaxy Note and Galaxy Tab 7.7

Midsized Galaxy Note is pitched as replacement for pen and paper, while new Galaxy Tab offers Super AMOLED Plus screen

Samsung Galaxy Note

The Samsung Galaxy Note features the pressure-sensitive ‘S-Pen’ and is smaller than HTC’s Flyer

Samsung has unveiled two new tablets, one of which, the midsized Galaxy Note, is being pitched as a replacement for pen and paper.

The Android-based Galaxy Note features a pressure-sensitive “S Pen” that can be used to write, draw and annotate a variety of content types, including photos. The idea has been done before, with HTC’s Flyer, but that tablet’s stylus came as a pricey optional extra that had to be bought separately.

Samsung’s Galaxy Note’s 5.3in screen size is smaller than the Flyer and closer to the dimensions of a standard notepad. The tablet is 9.65mm wide and weighs 178g. The larger tablet announced at the IFA technology show in Berlin on Thursday is the Galaxy Tab 7.7, a slightly enlarged version of Samsung’s first Android tablet, unveiled a year ago.

According to Andrew Coughlin, head of account for Samsung Europe, the Galaxy Note comes with a memo application that can be quickly called up so the user can jot down ideas. “Any screen can be captured and annotated with detailed commentary in your own handwriting,” he said.

Samsung obviously sees a big future for pen-based input. The company will release a software development kit (SDK) so third-party developers can write apps for the stylus – reference apps that have already been created with partners include a multiparty whiteboard application for business use.

It remains to be seen how the device will be priced in the UK or when it will become available. The Flyer, which is already getting long-in-the-tooth by tablet standards, can be picked up for about £400.

Coughlin and other Samsung executives repeatedly referred to the Galaxy Note as a primary device, suggesting that it can replace both the smartphone and the larger tablet size exemplified by the market-leading iPad.

The Galaxy Tab 7.7 is a revision of the original Galaxy Tab, which featured a slightly smaller 7in screen. The new version is thinner, lighter and brighter, measuring 7.89mm in thickness, weighing 335g and featuring the same Super AMOLED Plus screen technology that is used in the extremely popular Galaxy S II smartphone.

Super AMOLED Plus allows wide viewing angles, a feature that Apple has been keen to promote with the IPS display on its iPad 2. Both of Samsung’s new tablets feature 1.4GHz dual-core processors, which is about the same processing power that can be found in netbooks. By comparison, Apple’s iPad 2 is relatively sluggish with its 1GHz processor.

Versions of the Galaxy Tab 7.7 will be made available with a variety of connectivity options, including “4G” LTE and the more-common 3G-based HSPA option found in most smartphones.

At the same event, Samsung unveiled its Wave 3 handset, which runs the new version 2.0 of the company’s Bada operating system. Bada is an OS that Samsung is putting into a range of handsets, from the low end to smartphones.

Although the high end of the market is almost entirely taken up with smartphone-specific operating systems such as iOS, Android and the BlackBerry OS, Samsung said at Thursday’s launch that it will do its utmost to make Bada “one of the top mobile platforms in the industry”.

Apple staffer loses test iPhone in bar – again

Police called in for search as ‘priceless’ prototype iPhone 5 is left in Mexican restaurant in San Francisco, according to report


A man uses an Apple iPhone

An Apple employee left a prototype iPhone 5 in a Mexican restaurant on San Francisco, according to a report. Photograph: Mario Anzuoni/Reuters

Have you heard this one before? An Apple employee walks into a bar in California with a top-secret iPhone prototype – and leaves it behind. Apple then scrambles to recover the phone, involving the police in the process after it has been sold by a finder, eventually getting it back under wraps.


It happened in April last year – and now, says CNet, it has happened again with a prototype of the very latest iPhone, expected to be launched within the next few weeks.


But this time Apple does not appear to have got the phone back.

According to the report, the phone was lost while being tested outside the Apple campus in a Mexican restaurant in San Francisco’s Mission district, and then sold on Craigslist for $200 (£123).

It was initially left in a bar called Cava22, which says it takes “real pride in bringing a live and festive Mexican experience, for all our cleints [sic] to enjoy” including a margarita sweet-and-sour mix, by an Apple employee who appears to have been testing it off Apple’s campus. The company carries out external testing by letting selected staff take prototypes to urban and other locations in order to test its behaviour in normal settings, rather than the laboratory conditions of its own headquarters.


But they are not meant to leave them behind. “I guess I’ll have to make my drinks a little less strong,” the owner, Jose Valle, told CNet.

CNet says Apple contacted the San Francisco police as soon as the loss was discovered and told them that the phone was “priceless” and that the company wanted its safe return.

It was eventually tracked down via a location-tracking system built into the phone to a single-family home in San Francisco’s Bernal Heights area, says CNet. But when police and Apple’s investigators visited the house, the occupant denied any knowledge of the phone, and it wasn’t recovered despite a search – with the occupant’s permission – of the residence.

Apple has not commented on the events, which come as interest in the successor to the iPhone 4 – which has variously been guessed at as being called the iPhone 4G, 4S and iPhone 5 – is growing. With the existing model now comparatively old in smartphone terms, having been released in June 2010, the expectation is the next model will have to bring dramatic improvements in performance to compete with rival handsets from companies such as Samsung, Motorola and HTC using Google’s Android operating system.


New versions of the iPhone are expected to use more powerful processors and have a different arrangement of the antenna system in the casing. The external antenna caused a media furore last year after some users complained that reception seemed to drop when their hand completed a contact between two metal components. One source at a carrier company suggested to the Guardian the problem arose because the prototype phones are principally tested on the Apple campus, in areas with relatively strong mobile signals; the signal drop from the antenna “bridging” was principally seen in areas with weaker reception.


Apple is understood to provide carrier companies with iPhones for testing that are shipped in sealed boxes so that staff cannot see the exterior. The tests are necessary to ensure that the phones comply with network software requirements.


Last year a prototype of the iPhone 4 was left in a beer garden by Gray Powell, an Apple engineer. That eventually made its way to the gadget blog Gizmodo, which published pictures and a video of the device. Apple called in the police, who got a warrant to search the home of Jason Chen, Gizmodo’s editor. Early in August, prosecutors in San Mateo filed criminal charges against two men, alleging that they sold the iPhone 4 prototype to Gizmodo. It is illegal under California law to take lost property if you know who the owner is likely to be, punishable by up to a year in prison.


Alleged Gadhafi message urges Libyans to fight on

In a message of utter anger and defiance that aired Thursday, a man purported to be Libya’s fugitive leader Moammar Gadhafi urged Libyans to continue the fight and not surrender.

“We are not cowards,” he said in an audio message broadcast on Syrian-based Rai TV a day after two of Gadhafi’s sons gave mixed messages about whether his supporters should lay down their arms.

He spoke on the 42nd anniversary of his assumption of power through a military coup and on a day when his foes were mapping out the next phase of Libya’s history. At a meeting in Paris, global leaders welcomed the National Transitional Council’s top leadership as the new government of Libya.

Gadhafi’s words offered nothing new since the last time he was heard on August 25, after the rebels arrived in Tripoli, but suggested, though not conclusively, that Gadhafi is still alive.

He called the rebels “traitors” and “animals” and said the Libyan people will lose trust in them. Libyans are not frightened of sacrifice, he said, and should stand up to the rebels.

“The destiny of the great people of Libya will be above all traitors,” he said. “Remember you are powerful. Fight them. … Go and fight. We will fight from valley to valley, town to town. They will give up, they will surrender. Go attack them, take away their arms.”

The rebels still face battles in cities where loyalists still hold sway.

The National Transitional Council initially set a Saturday deadline for loyalists to surrender but have extended that by a week, said Tarek Abuzgaya, a spokesman for the council in Benghazi

But in Tripoli, military spokesman Mahdi Al Arash tempered the extension by telling CNN the rebels are still meeting to discuss options to avoid further bloodshed.

“As of now, the deadline is this Saturday,” Al Arash said. “However, it could change if they see fit after the meeting.”

Gadhafi’s alleged message was intriguing in that his whereabouts remain a big mystery. No clues surfaced from the message about where he is hiding or when it was recorded.

Gadhafi’s foreign minister, Abdel Ati al-Obeidi, who had been contacting the council for the past few days, surrendered Wednesday night, council member Elamin Belhaj told CNN.

“He is in a safe location now and al-Obeidi is satisfied with it,” Belhaj said.

Thursday marked Day 12 since opposition forces stormed the capital and captured Gadhafi’s Tripoli compound.

Speculation that Gadhafi may be in Algeria gained ground this week after the neighboring nation confirmed that his wife, pregnant daughter, two of his sons and other relatives fled there.

Algeria described the move as a humanitarian gesture, but it angered the rebel leadership, with one official calling it “an aggressive act.”

A doctor in the gynecology department of Djanet Hospital said Gadhafi’s daughter Aisha arrived there Monday and gave birth to a baby girl, Zafia, and left about 2 p.m. The doctor is not authorized to speak to the media and did not want to be identified.

The doctor said he did not know where the family went after that. The transitional council wants them extradited back to Libya.

Ahead of Gadhafi’s audio message, two of his sons appeared to offer divergent and sometimes contradictory answers Wednesday on whether loyalists should keep fighting or negotiate.

“Victory or martyrdom!” said a man who identified himself as Saif Gadhafi, speaking on Rai TV.

“Everyone should move now, begin to attack these gangsters,” he said. “Attack everyone, day and night, until we clean this country from those gangsters and those traitors.”

The man said he was speaking from a Tripoli suburb, where he had met with residents and found their morale was high. He also said he had recently visited the family’s compound, Bab al-Aziziya in Tripoli, an improbable statement since it was overrun by rebels.

Saif Gadhafi predicted the rebels near Sirte would find 20,000 fighters “ready, willing and able” to defend the loyalist stronghold where his father was born.

He said he had spoken with tribal leaders who were meeting in Bani Walid “and they all agreed unanimously that this is our country and we will defend it.”

But council member Abdulrazag Elaradi told CNN that he is not aware of any meeting by tribal leaders in Bani Walid to support Gadhafi. He said the rebels were not involved in any negotiations with loyalist forces.

On another station, a man purporting to be Saif’s brother appeared open to the possibility of surrender, but with a catch.

“If this will prevent bloodshed, we will do it, just give us guarantees,” said a man identified by Al Arabiya as Saadi Gadhafi.

“We need to stop the bloodshed right away,” Saadi Gadhafi said, adding that he was speaking on behalf of his father.

He said he could not say whether he was in close touch with his father, but added, “If the rebels want to lead this country; we don’t have an objection to that. In the end we are all Libyans and we are all together.”

Asked if Moammar Gadhafi was willing to surrender, he said, “Stop the fire and all ways of negotiations are open.” Asked if he was willing to hand Sirte to rebel forces without a fight, he said, “Nothing is impossible.”

Whatever happens, he added, “I don’t have a weapon and will never fight a Muslim Libyan.”

Despite that talk, Saadi Gadhafi told CNN Wednesday in an e-mail that he was leaning against surrendering to the rebels.

“Since they don’t want to negotiate, I don’t think I will go to them and surrender myself,” he wrote. “They have already killed thousands of people and destroyed the country. I’d rather surrender myself to a real government than … to those guys.”

Moammar Gadhafi, Saif Gadhafi and the former head of military intelligence, Abdullah Al-Senussi, face charges in the International Criminal Court at The Hague, Netherlands, for crimes against humanity.




The Guardian and Observer Kindle edition is now available

Click here to download a 14-day free trial from

Kindle edition

The Kindle edition of the Guardian. Photograph: Graeme Robertson for the Guardian


he Guardian and Observer Kindle edition is now available for download seven days a week in the UK, US and more than 100 other countries. It carries the content from that day’s newspaper, including all the editorial sections and supplements:

• Top stories, UK, international and financial news
• Comment, editorials and obituaries
• Reviews
• Sport
• G2 (Monday to Friday)
• Weekday supplements Film & Music, Education and Society
• Weekend magazine and supplements, including the Guide and the literary Review (Saturday)
• Observer magazine and the New Review (Sunday)
• Observer Food Monthly (one Sunday each month)

Many articles are supported by images, and the editions benefit from the Kindle’s easy to navigate layout.

Click here to visit the Kindle store and download a 14-day free trial. Once your trial period has ended, pricing will be as follows:

UK: £9.99/month, £0.99/issue
US: $9.99/month, $0.75/issue
Rest of world: $17.99/month, $1.99/issue

A full explanation of how to download content for your Kindle and other useful information is available from Amazon.


Hi – Gaurav Sharma

Hi everyone… Though its been long that I’ve been associated with Mtaram, however never been able to actively follow it. You can see as I’m writing my first post now, so please help me to improve on my post writing skills & I’ll make sure that I improvise on suggestions…..

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