An occasional blog to accompany the business news on BBC Breakfast.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Declan Biz Blog ...

... is being moved to the much easier to remember BreakfastBiz.blogspot.com

We hope you'll join us there.

Thank you

Jill, thank you very much for answering so many questions this morning.

She's just telling me there is an "Ask Jill" column on the Experian website.

Some of you were asking for contact details for the 3 credit reference agencies - just follow these links for Experian, Equifax and CallCredit.

The blog is now closed. Thank you for your questions here, by text and on the Breakfast website.

Declan.

Sources of information

Anon (by text):
Where do credit reference companies get their information without your consent?

Jill:
The information is only held with a consumer's consent. When you apply for credit you give the lender permission to do a credit check and to provide information about any subsequent account to the credit reference agency. It's very important when taking out credit to read every document you sign. You'll find the consent about credit checking close to the place where you sign on most application forms.

Declan:
Isn't this just hidden away in the small print?

Jill:
No. It's usually in medium print and even if it was in the small print people really should read everything they sign.

Declan:
A number of viewers have asked this - can the information you hold be used for anything else?

Jill:
No. The information is used as part of the credit granting process. It is strictly ring-fenced and cannot be used for marketing or any other purpose.

Repairing your credit

Ian (in blog comments):
There are various documents available on the internet that detail how to "repair your credit rating". Do these guides really work, can you repair your credit?

Jill:
Don't be tempted to pay a company which offers to repair your credit. If anything is wrong on your credit report you can amend it for free. If you have money difficulties you can get free help from Citizens' Advice and other agencies who will help you sort yourself out.

If the facts on your credit report are accurate you cannot change them. What you can do is add a note to your credit report explaining any special circumstances that led to you getting into difficulties.

CCJ

CroCop said...
Upon clearing personal arrears, I understand that you are able to contact yourselves and ask for the information to be amended or removed (?). How, if possible, would someone go about removing a CCJ from the record?

Jill:
If you have paid the CCJ (County Court Judgement) within one month it will not appear on your credit report. If you have taken longer to clear the debt, then the CCJ will stay on the record for six years from the date of the judgment. If you pay off the debt go back to the court with proof of payment and all the records will be updated to show the CCJ as satisfied, which will mean that potential lenders will view the CCJ as less serious than if you had left it unpaid. It will automatically fall off your report after 6 years.

Disputes

D from London (in blog comments):
Jill said that if you believe a company has posted incorrect information on your credit file and you can't get the company to correct it - that they'll put a note on your account saying you dispute the information. How much use is this? Will banks doing credit checks really take the slightest bit of notice of your comments?

Jill:
Yes. Banks and other lenders have to take note of disputes and other notes that consumers can add to their credit reports. If there is a dispute flag on a piece of information, the credit application is referred out of any automated decision system and the lender has to make a "manual decision".

The dispute flag system was introduced with the new Data Protection Act so legislation dictates how lenders can use the information that we provide them with.

Declan:
"automated decision system" - what's that?

Jill:
Most lenders use computerised systems to process applications for credit. These sophisticated computers "score" each piece of information and come up with a yes/no/maybe.

Declan:
So - you provide the information, the banks etc make the decision - based on your information?

Jill:
Yes but they also feed into their scoring systems any information you give them that is not on your credit report, for example your job, your residential status, how much you earn etc.

"Disgust"

Anon on the blog:
I find it disgusting you make money on giving people bad credit rating.

Jill:
We don't rate anyone. We simply hold some of the information that a lender will use to make a credit decision.

Declan:
The viewers' complaint seems to be that they moved house, applied to go on the electoral roll, and then told Experian about it - but you said you had to wait for the council to update its records before you could update yours.

Jill:
That's absolutely right. We cannot arbitrarily alter a public record. Local councils update our records every month.

Reply to Lana

Lana said...
I am still unable to figure out what the issue with my credit rating is. I got a mortgage without any problems but I can't get things like a mobile phone contract without having to put a deposit or even credit on furniture or store cards? So how do I figure out why I sometimes get declined credit??

Jill:
If everything on your credit report looks OK you have to go back to the company that said "no" to you. Only they know the reason they've refused you credit. It could be something to do with the information that you've provided on your application form, for example you may not earn enough.

Reply to anon on bankruptcy

Jill:
The record of the bankruptcy stays on your credit report for 6 years from the date of the order. If it has been discharged this will show but the actual record won't fall off until 6 years has passed.

Reply to Andy & Helen

Jill:
If there's a problem with the electoral roll information on your credit report we will contact your local council for you but if they insist that the address is correct, there's not a lot we can do.

Jill's reply to "Credit Errors"

I can only apologise if people have had difficulty putting things right. At Experian we have 300 people in our consumer help service and most of our customers are satisfied ones. That's no consolation of course for anyone who has had problems.

If you find a mistake on your credit report get back to the credit reference agency. Someone there will contact the organisation that provided the inaccurate information. If it really is wrong it's easy to get it put right. Nobody has any interest in holding inaccurate information. Lenders are basing business decisions on this information and they want it to be correct if the same way as the consumers wants.

The credit reference agency doesn't own the information it holds; the database consists of information owned by lenders. It's there so that they can share details of their customers' credit accounts to help them make responsible as well as profitable lending decisions. We have to get back to them to make sure that they update or amend their records at the same time we do ours.

Declan:
When there is a query, what's your first assumption - that the customer's complaint is genuine, or that it could be someone trying it on?

Jill:
Our consumer help service's mission statement says they are a "consumer champion". We do all we can, not only to put errors right, but also to explain the information on the credit report. Most people who contact us just want the information explaining.

More on addresses

L Lingard:
I have just moved and can't get credit due to a succession of previous debtors at this address. How do I rectify this?

Jill:
The previous occupants will have had no effect on your application for credit. I can't tell you why you've been refused and your credit report won't show you either. You have to go back to the lender you applied to and ask them. They are obliged under the Banking Code to give you the principle reason.

Declan:
So what could it be?

Jill:
The more likely reason is that you are not registered on the electoral roll which means lenders can't verify your name and address.

Declan:
But someone must have said something to the viewer about previous occupants ...

Jill:
Anyone who tells you that previous occupants can affect your credit worthiness are just repeating an urban myth. It's not true.

Credit errors

Many of our viewers say they have discovered mistakes on their credit reports, and they've had trouble putting the record straight ...

Andy, North Yorks:
My local council got my address wrong on the electoral roll and now I can't get credit.

Helen, Dorking in Surrey:
I checked my credit record. I discovered 42 mistakes. Experian corrected some but not all of the mistakes - citing that they were going off the electoral roll and that I'd have to be responsible for taking up the matter with the council.

Steve, Staffs:
A catalogue posted a credit as a debit in error. It was still there 3 years later, despite using a solicitor.

Anon by text:
I have been refused several credit checks at university. It was initially because my name was incorrect.

Anon by text:
I was discharged from bankruptcy in 2004 but credit reference agencies still have the bankruptcy active.

Errors

Never mind about mistakes on credit reports - I've just noticed we've given the wrong web address on the screen.

Of course, you'll know that already if you've made it to this page. Apologies for making your morning more difficult.

Tarts for Breakfast

Anon by text:
I'm a credit card tart and now I've got 6 credit cards with a zero balance. Will this affect my credit rating?

Jill:
It might do. Lenders are under a great deal of pressure to lend responsibly. They will look at what credit is available to you and if they think more would make you over-committed they might say no.

Declan:
But does the number of cards matter - as opposed to the amount you've borrowed?

Jill:
Both can be important. There's no hard and fast rule. It depends entirely on the lending policy of the company you apply to.

Oh - if you're not using the cards, you should close the accounts.

Return to sender

Malcolm, Cheltenham:
Declan you are incorrect. Previous bad debt at an address does not affect an individual getting credit unless there is a financial link.

Jill:
You're only linked to someone you hold joint finances with.

Declan:
Well that's me told!

Where you live

Roger, Worcester:
Why are some people refused credit just because of someone who once lived in the same property had bad debts?

Jill:
They're not. Your application for credit is not linked to anyone else except your partner if you have joint credit or a joint bank account. The people who lived at your address before you can have absolutely no effect on your credit worthiness.

Declan:
Is this a great urban myth? I hear people say it over and over again - that your credit worthiness can be hurt by previous occupants.

Jill:
Yes it's a myth. When people are refused credit they desperately want to know why. Only the lender who has turned down the application can tell them. Very often it can be because you are not registered to vote on the electoral roll. This is the most common reason for people who have just moved house but because they're not aware of this they often assume that the past occupants are affecting them.

Declan:
So you could have a whole year - the electoral roll is only updated once a year - where you can't get credit if you've just moved?

Jill
No. In the UK we now have a rolling register. Our records at Experian are updated every month. As soon as you move house, let your local council know. Lenders use the electoral roll to check that you live where you say you live.

More questions

Declan:
Is the credit report that you and the other companies produce the same as your credit rating?

Jill:
Your credit report is not your credit rating. Each application for credit is "rated" or "scored" by the lender you apply to. They will take into account the information on your credit report but also look carefully at the information you give them on your application. Information about your job, your salary, your residential status is not held on your credit report.

Declan:
So if you are turned down for credit - who makes that decision?

Jill:
The lender always makes the decision.

Your questions

Jill, welcome ...
Let's tackle some of the questions from yesterday.

An anonymous text first - how do you find out your credit rating?

Jill:
You can get a copy of your credit report from any one of the 3 credit reference agencies (Experian, Equifax and CallCredit) but each one will probably be slightly different. It costs £2. You can apply online, by phone or in writing.

Or you can take the free trial of "CreditExpert" but remember to cancel your subscription to the monitoring service if all you want is the free report (it costs £5.99 a month for instant online access to your credit report which lets you know every time there is a significant change).

Credit checking

Good morning everyone.

We got such a strong response to our item on credit checking we've decided to spend another morning on the issue.

To answer your questions about it, we've invited in Jill Stevens, a director at Experian - one of the big three credit reference companies.

Banks, credit card companies, mobile phone firms, high street stores - even car dealers - all check out our credit rating before they decide to give us loans or credit.

Credit checks also help decide how much interest we pay on those loans.

The checks are carried out by three major credit reference companies. They keep all manner of sensitive information about us on their files. They record how good we are at paying back debts, if there are court judgments against us, and if we've been bankrupt in the last six years.

But it's claimed that one in three people have errors on their credit file.

So how do they get this information? Why do they need it? What do they do with it? And how do we fix it if it's wrong?

We'll answer your questions on air at 0645 and 0745 this morning. Text us on 83981, or message us through the Breakfast website.

And in between those times, we'll answer some more on this blog. Just add your comments here.

Monday, July 31, 2006

Thank you

Jerry has now left the Stock Exchange. He says he enjoyed his conversation with us throughout the morning, on air and online. Our thanks to him for his time and insight, and his patience as I typed his answers with 2 fingers.

Thank you for your comments, questions and observations - on this blog, by text and though the Breakfast website. I hope you got some of the answers you wanted.

The blog has now closed.

Declan.

End thoughts

Declan:
You set up Ben & Jerry's in the 70s. You sold it six years ago. What do you do now?

Jerry:
I'm involved with activities with B&J that are concerned with the social and environmental impact of the company. I participate in the opening of partner-shops, I talk about fair trade initiatives, I talk about our climate change initiatives. I am also president of the Ben & Jerry Foundation (charity).

Declan:
Has there been a sea change in the business approach to environmental or social issues?

Jerry:
Initially Ben and I were referred to as hippy business people. Now we - and this way of doing business - are considered respectable.

Motives

Mike Marshall (via the Breakfast website):
Ethical products should compete on the basis of quality. The "buy me I'm ethical" line creates a perception that the product is inferior, which is counter-productive:

Jerry:
Products need to be high quality as well as ethical. I would not buy fair trade ice cream unless it tastes delicious as well.

How green is green?

The takeover by Unilever is still exciting comment. Some of you worry that talk of ethical business is just spin.
==============

Anon, Brighton:
Flying ice cream all over the world is the antithesis of ethical.

Jerry:
The company is manufacturing ice cream locally for where it sells the product. We are engaging in a climate change initiative to reduce the overall carbon footprint of the company and individuals as well.

Declan:
The viewer makes a further point - that companies like yours, which are then taken over by larger corporations, simply give the larger firms an ethical sheen. You're a form of "green wash".

Jerry:
Consumers need to judge companies based on their actions and not on their past accomplishments. Once a company is acquired by a larger corporation, are they still pushing forward with their own initiatives or are they simply being used to "greenwash" the activities of the larger corporate?

Declan:
Well, what's your experience with Unilever?

Jerry:
I would say in the case of B&J we continue to ask the hard questions and continue to push Unilever to be ever more innovative. It's helpful to be sceptical both for the consumer and the company.

The price is right?

Many of you - by text on 83981 or through the Breakfast website - asked about the price of ethical goods.
==============

Anon:
Is the extra price just profiteering? I think the difference should be pennies.

Jerry:
I believe the difference should be pennies. For B&J's fair trade vanilla, the price is the same as all our other flavours.

Anon:
How can consumers know that the extra they pay (for ethical goods) is going to where the retailer is saying?

Jerry:
I believe customers need to be in contact with businesses and demand answers.

Anon:
How can we be sure that companies are as ethical as they claim?

Jerry:
Companies need to be judged on their actions and not their rhetoric. Ask them what they're doing and ask them for verification.

Les Unger, Herts:
If you were losing business to others, would you consider using less sustainable sources to reduce your prices?

Jerry:
I firmly believe there will be more business going to the purchase of ethical products. Over time any price differential should disappear.

Think local, act global

Eamonn Doyle:
Your company's move into foreign markets (means) you are now a major polluter contributing to global warming as the environmental cost of the movement of goods ... is extremely high. Do you recognise this as a problem and if so how are Ben and Jerry's going to tackle this?

Jerry:
I think that is a problem. B&J's has a commitment to reduce energy usage by 10% by the year 2007. In addition, we use all green energy for manufacturing in Europe. We've undertaken a climate change initiative to help educate and train young people to do campaigning in the UK and the Netherlands.

Declan:
Specifically on the global movement of goods ...

Jerry:
Manufacturing ice cream in Europe for sale here rather than shipping it from Vermont has been a key decision.

Takeover -2

More on that takeover of Ben & Jerry's by the multinational Unilever - a hot topic this morning - see the "Comments" sections under the posts for more views ...

Cromercrab:
When you sold out to Unilever, did you bind them to your "ethical business" principles? If so, have they honoured the commitment?

Jerry:
Unilever committed to continue to buy all milk and cream from family farmers. They committed to fund the B&J's foundation at the same level. They've lived up to their commitments.

That takeover.

Ben & Jerry's was sold to the multinational food and detergents company Unilever six years ago for £200m. Some of you think that puts Ben & Jerry's ethical image in question.


Andrew Fox:

How can you be sure that Unilever looks after Ben and Jerry's in an ethical manner? In fact, is B&J still 'ethical' with such an owner? Has B&J influenced Unilever as a company elsewhere?

Anna B:

How do you think Unilever's ethicall standards compare to those of B&J? Have B&Js had to compromise their ethical standards since becoming part of Unilever?

Jerry:
Ben & Jerry's operates still as a semi-autonomous unit within Unilever. Customer should continue to push Ben & Jerry's to be ever more ethical and I think B&J has had a small but hopefully growing influence on Unilever. However it's clearly a case of a small tail trying to wag a very large dog.

Declan:
When you say - small but growing influence - what can you point to? Where's the proof?

Jerry:
No proof, just a growing awareness of people within Unilever who come into contact with B&J who are captivated and motivated by a different way of doing business.


Jon Molyneux:
If Ben and Jerry's was truly ethical wouldn't all its franchises be set up as 'partnershop' social enterprise outlets? And what does Jerry think the ethical private sector can do to support the social enterprise sector?

Jerry:
We have a growing number and percentage of partner-shop enterprises. We hope to have even more. They tend to be more complex to open and to operate. But their social benefits are well worth it.

The price you pay ...

Chris in Stoke:

Why should people be paying for the faults of capitalism and big business like pollution and exploitation? The consumers did not cause these.

Jerry:
I think people should pressure corporations to provide good products at reasonable prices, while paying their suppliers wages that do not exploit small farmers in developing countries.

Declan:
But don't ethical products tend to be more expensive - because you pay more to farmers?

Jerry:
If we want to have sustainable economies with farmers that pay in business we need to pay them a livable wage and products that are affordable to customers.

The basic question

Chris L in south London asks:
I have a question for Jerry. How does ethical business improve the lives of the workers in such businesses? Do B&J workers enjoy higher wages, better conditions, union rights etc?

Stay tuned. I'll put that to him on air at around 0645.

Welcome back

We're talking about ethical business today.

Would you pay more for a product that says it causes less harm to the environment than its rivals, or pays more to the people in developing nations who help produce it, or comes from a company with strict policies on sustainable sourcing or human rights? In other words - when it comes to green business, do you put your money where your mouth is?

Or do you think this is no business - of real business? Or that any talk about "ethical business" is just warm words and waffle?

We're spending the morning on this with Jerry Greenfield - he's the Jerry of Ben & Jerry's ice cream. It has put long-term sustainability at the heart of its business since it was founded in 1978. But it sold itself to the multinational food giant Unilever six years ago - critics said that was a sell-out.

As ever, we welcome your comments - on air and online.

Declan.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Thank you

Declan:
Allan Leighton, thank you for taking part in our programme this morning and answering our questions.

Allan:
It's a pleasure. If anyone has a specific question for me, they can get me on my email address - allan.leighton@royalmail.com

Declan:
And thank you to everyone with a comment or question today. The blog is now closed to new comments. I'm very grateful for your contributions.

Leadership

Declan: What makes a good leader? How important is it in business?

Allan Leighton:
Leadership is very important. Most good leaders I know have a combination of humility and capability. They are the two key attributes.

Declan: Who do you admire in business?

Allan:
Lots of people, particularly people like Sir Terry Leahy (Tesco's chief executive).

Changes

Declan: You've brought in significant changes at the Royal Mail - tens of thousands of people have lost their jobs, you've scrapped the 2nd post. How difficult has this been, and are your staff with you - do they understand your reasons for the changes?

Allan Leighton:
It's been very difficult because it's customers and people you are talking about. However, the results for the last 3 years have shown that it was the right thing to do and our people are very much more aware and supportive of it.

Declan: That sounds like they weren't signed up to your thinking at the start?

Allan Leighton:
Absolutely. Because they'd had a history of management never delivering what they said they were going to do. The one thing about this group is that we listen to what people say and are very candid about what needs to happen. People don't always like that, but they respect that.

Competition - part 2

Declan: Some viewers wonder why we have competition in the postal industry - has it put you under too much pressure?

Allan Leighton:
No it hasn't put us under too much pressure. Competition is a good thing; it will sharpen us up. It will also create a benchmark for people to compare our service versus our competitors. They key thing for us is to generate the investment to enable us to compete with global and very good competitors.

On the door step

Andytf: I have a repetitive problem of parcels being left on my doorstep despite numerous complaints to the Royal Mail. Why can't Royal Mail train and enforce what is a very simple process, namely DON'T LEAVE POST ON PEOPLE'S DOORSTEPS"

Allan Leighton:
Andy, if you email this to me direct I will look at your issue specifically because this shouldn't be the case. You can get me on allan.leighton@royalmail.com

Declan: Is there a general rule about leaving post or not leaving post on the mat?

Allan:
Yes. The rule is you don't leave it on people's doorsteps. Often our people will try and leave it with a neighbour who they know to save people having to pick it up. But if there's any doubt they leave a card and take the item back.

T'internet

Dave in Worcester: I think that given the impact of the Internet and e-mail, the Royal Mail provide a very good and generally reliable service.

Allan Leighton:
Thanks Dave. Actually the Internet has been pretty good for us, with the likes of eBay and Amazon becoming big customers as we fulfill their orders for their customers.

Competition

Neil Hughes: "What do we expect - deregulation has allowed competitors to cherry pick the profitable bits of the postal service, while A.L. remains under pressure to deliver profits. Why should the Mail be profitable anyway?"

Allan Leighton:
To be able to provide the public service element of the Royal Mail ie the universal service - the company needs to be profitable. Otherwise the taxpayer would foot the bill. Over the last 3 years we have saved the taxpayer at least 3 billion by being a commercial entity that provides a public service.

Declan: And how big an impact has competition had on you? Have you lost business?

Allan:
Every single one of our major business customers has transferred some mail to competition. And we have lost in excess of a billion items to competition in downstream access. We expect this to be 3 billion in the current financial year.

Declan: How much financial pain does that cause you?

Allan:
Plenty !

We called but you were out ...

Declan:
One thing that annoys me is when there's a parcel the postman tries to deliver it after I've left for work - but the sorting office it goes back to shuts before I get home ...
I'm not the only one - look at this --

Anonymous:
When we have recorded delivery or a parcel delivered to us, we have the postman simply put a card through our letterbox then every single time we have to go to the Delivery Depot in Treorchy which is NEVER open at convenient times for us, especially as we start work very early.

Allan Leighton:
First of all, let me know which your local office is and I'll try and make sure that we deliver at a convenient time. Secondly, one of the things we're working on is to be able to use the post office as a place where you can pick up letters or parcels that could not be delivered.

Declan:
So that's the post office counter rather than the sorting office?

Allan:
Yes. They're open longer, the hours are more convenient, and generally there's one much closer to your home.

Declan
What about evening deliveries?

Allan:
Can't be done. A lot of the mail is being shipped around the country at night so we can deliver the next day.

Declan:
What about using other methods of delivery - milkmen who deliver the pinta the night before?

Allan:
Because they're the competition !

Declan:
Or leaving parcels at local corner shops - a new service for them, better deliver for you?

Allan:
There is at least one post office within one mile of 95% of the population. Generally 4-5. So they are the corner shops.

More praise

Nick: I think that the Royal Mail does a fantastic job. It's one of the best value services you can find anywhere in the UK.

Anonymous: Everybody criticises the Royal Mail, but I think its one public service in Britain that's actually well run and value for money!!

Allan Leighton:
I agree. However, we still have plenty to do. It can be better but the key thing is we're making progress.

Praise

Nirach says:
Personally, I've never had a problem with the Royal Mails services. Of the two post offices I use, the staff are mostly helpful, and can point out the best service for my purposes.

Allan Leighton:
Thanks Nirach. If you let me know your local postcode I'll let the postman know personally that you feel good about the service.
Get me on allan.leighton@royalmail.com

Declan:
Isn't it odd that the man who runs the Royal Mail relies so much on email rather than post?

Allan:
No.

Delivery Times

Phillip Wright asks on the blog:
We are a business and receive our post anytime between 11.30am and 1.30pm, we have complained many time and nothing changed.

Allan Leighton:
Phillip, let us know what your postcode is and we'll talk to the local office and see what we can do.

Declan:
How can he get in touch with you?

Allan:
allan.leighton@royalmail.com

If you send it now, I'll get it on my Blackberry now.

Missing mail

mrx9 asks: "what is being done about this problem of losing mail".
Margaret, by email, asks "does the Post Office still employ thieves?"
There is a problem here - what are you doing about it?

Allan Leighton:
First of all, we don't employ thieves intentionally. Actually, 99.92% of all the mail arrives safely - that's not our number it's the checked number. But to me if we lose one letter, that's one letter too many. So we've reduced the number of casuals by about 20,000 and we now are allowed - and have been for the last 12 months - to vet potential new employees for a criminal record. That's something we couldn't do before.

mrx9 also asks: "where does the lost mail actually go and why does it never turn up?"

Allan Leighton:
When it's lost it's difficult to say where it goes. Often if it's addressed wrongly, which is the number one issue on lost mail, it goes to Belfast where we try to track the sender. Remarkably, over half the mail that's addressed wrongly, we manage to find the right address. The rest we keep or return to sender.

Declan: I've had post delivered that just says "Declan Curry, BBC, London"

Allan Leighton:
Often we get letters with just that type of address. We have a special group in our Mount Pleasant sorting office in London who 50% of the time will get it delivered even without a proper address.

Bizblog is back !!

Good morning everyone -

we've brought our blog site back to life for a special interview with Allan Leighton, the man who runs the Royal Mail. He's on our TV screens at around 0645 this morning. After that, he'll spend some time on this site answering your questions and comments. Your thought about the Royal Mail are very welcome. We will be open for business shortly.

Best wishes,
Declan.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Welcome to Declan's blog

Hi,

Here is my first foray into the world of blogging.

Let me know how I'm doing by posting a comment on my blog.

Final Post

It's hello and goodbye. I'm closing the blog to new comments now, as our little experiment has come to an end. Thank you all for the terrific response; I'm staggered by the number of comments in such a short time, and by the good sense and sharp observations behind them.
The blog will stay up for a few more days so those who need to see it - can.
Thank you again.
Declan.

Easyjet - update

Shares down 10 percent in early trading - after that news that the Icelanders are selling up their shares.

More on Dixons ...

I told you John Clare, Dixons' top boss, had turned up unexpectedly. Here's what it's about - all Dixons stores are to be renamed Currys Digital, and Dixons will focus on online retailing.
Mr Clare says he's very "excited" by it all. He's also a little bit bemused by the way we're putting the news out on a blog. As am I, to be honest.

Celeb spotting

... (of the business sort - don't get too excited)

The chief executive of Dixons has just appeared at the Stock Exchange. I'll try to find out why and get back to you.

No Tie Required

Anonymous complains our guest Spencer didn't have a tie. Tut tut. The e-industry is famous for not caring about old fashioned things like ties (or as it was in the late 1990s, cashflow).

Coming up next ...

Spencer Kelly, the presenter of the BBC tech programme "Click" has just popped in - he'll talk about TV on your contact lens, video tattoos and flying cars.

FTSE

DrDavid is worried we don't mention the FTSE enough times. Thanks for the comment - don't forget all the main market numbers are available all the time on the BBC's business website

News just in - Easyjet

Here's a story that has just dropped on the news wires - I imagine we'll have more to say about it later:
The Icelandic investment group FL - the one that everyone thought might launch a takeover bid for Easyjet - has confirmed that it is selling the shares in already owns. It says it wants the cash for "other investment opportunities". The gossip is that it might try to build a stake in Finnair instead.

Makeover

As you know, we're fond of makeovers on the BBC. So we've given the blog a new look - already! - just so it will look better on camera when we show it again in later broadcasts.
And thank you all for your comments - it's a little overwhelming. I appreciate your feedback - good and bad.