The PRWIRE Press Releases http:// 2017-04-26T13:03:23Z A Beautiful keepsake of a horse called Casper 2017-04-26T13:03:23Z a-beautiful-keepsake-of-a-horse-called-casper The passing of a life can be a difficult time for most We were recently contacted by a client who had brought many pieces off us in the past.  Her niece had recently lost her beloved horse Casper and wanted to give her a personalised gift that she could keep as a forever keepsake. She had owned the horse most of her life and living in the country spent many countless of hours with the horse.  The sudden loss of a beloved  pet is a very difficult time for most people.   She ordered a piece for her niece and also for her sister, as the horse had been part of the family for many years.  We received a lovely thank you on our facebook page from the niece advising she received it and she really loved it.  https://www.facebook.com/MemoryKeepSakes20/ We are so lucky to have such amazing clients who express their gratitude to us on a daily basis, both via social media and emails and text messages.  I do hope this gift provides her with a beautiful keepsake of a friend she had for many years. Loss of a pet is a very difficult time for most people 2017-04-04T12:30:23Z loss-of-a-pet-is-a-very-difficult-time-for-most-people We recently dealt with the lovely Donna from Texas USA.  She was over from USA on holidays to enjoy the sites of Australia.  We caught up with us at the Queen Victoria Market and having never seen Photo Engraving previously was quite taken by it. She explained her daughter had a beloved dog called Rusty who was getting a little old, so she decided to purchase a keepsake gift for her.  We received news today that Rusty had passed on the 30th March at the age of over 15 years.  The family had Rusty for all his life and was particularly close to her daughter as she had grown up with Rusty.  I even saw photos at the local Walmart with them shopping with Rusty in the trolley.  Rusty was clearly very much loved and adored by everyone.  The keepsake Donna purchased was originally was going to be given as a Christmas gift.  I suggested to give it to her on her return, as it was such a beautiful piece and it would be something special from Australia.  On our advice she did that and her daughter described our gift as the best present she had ever received.  It even was better than her beloved diamonds!  What a huge compliment.  Fortunately she gave the gift to her daughter on her return in February. Now  she is suffering badly with the loss of a pet, she holds our piece even closer to her heart.  It is providing her with great comfort and will be a forever keepsake that will be treasured forever. Memories are Forever and that is what Memory Keepsakes is all  about. To find out more  http://www.memorykeepsakes.com.au/loss-of-a-pet-is-a-very-difficult-time-for-most-people/ RIP Rusty......... Tech21 brings parents unlimited fun family time with Evo Play 2017-02-21T02:20:13Z tech21-brings-parents-unlimited-fun-family-time-with-evo-play SYDNEY, 21 February, 2017 – Tech21, the leader in impact protection for mobile devices has launched its new range of cases for the iPad in Australia: Evo Play. “Kids + iPads” isn’t always the safest pairing if your iPad isn’t protected, but it can certainly be one of the most fun for inquisitive minds. Whether it’s watching the latest episode of Peppa Pig or navigating through the back garden jungle discovering new wildlife, iPads can open up a world of exploration, but more often than not, a small chip here or a little crack there means that fun can be cut short. Prolong the play time and keep that shiny new look and feel to your iPad even when little fingers have put it through its paces thanks to tech21’s new iPad case, Evo Play. This comfortable and lightweight case has been designed to offer unbeatable drop protection from up to two metres, and with its iconic design, vibrant colours and handy multi-use handle, this case will remove any glimmer of fear you had in handing over your iPad to your children. This case is constructed almost entirely from tech21’s unique material, FlexShock™ Foam, meaning all sides and surfaces are protected from drops as the material moulds snugly to your iPad. Better still, the case is entirely dishwasher safe, so it’s easy to keep clean, and when it’s on your iPad, its sealed outer shell is abrasion/bite resistant, preventing any bacteria from getting in under the surface. “We’ve designed the all-new Evo Play with kids in mind. We know children love to learn, play and explore, and we recognise iPads are a great way for them to do this. However, they may not love your precious iPad back, so Evo Play is there for you,” comments Jason Roberts, CEO, tech21. “Evo Play is lightweight and comfortable for little hands to hold, yet strong enough to keep your iPad safe from tumbles and drops.” Evo Play is available in pink/purple and blue/green colours from tech21.com, RRP $79.95 for Apple iPad mini, mini 2, mini 3 & mini 4, and RRP $109.95 for Apple iPad Air 2. Much like all of tech21’s products, Evo Play comes with a simple promise: it’s rigorously tested to work harmoniously with your iPad. Like the technology it’s designed to protect, it uses the latest science, ingenious design and unbeatable user-friendliness to make advanced impact protection possible. Tech21 calls it ‘Protection Made Intelligent’. ### For further information, questions, or cases for review, please contact: Jim Barker, tech21/Poem Phone: +61 418 163 770 Email: jim@poemgroup.com.au High-res images: Download here About tech21 Since 2005, tech21 has been developing the most advanced, scientifically proven cases and screen shields for mobile, tablet and laptop devices worldwide. Tech21 combines science, engineering and British design to create products that address three core consumer benefits: style, protection and performance. As the brand evolves to continue meeting the needs of its consumers, tech21 has developed the most advanced impact protection material on the market – FlexShock™. The ultra-thin and lightweight material absorbs and dissipates force and can withstand drops up to 4 metres. In addition tech21 puts all its products through a rigorous testing program, and in an industry first has partnered with the National Physical Laboratory (NPL) to develop its testing methodology. This ensures that the tests tech21 products have to pass are overseen by independent experts. Tech21 is the number one case brand in the UK. For more information, visit tech21.com. Nail Your Christmas Shopping This Year With RedBalloon 2016-11-15T07:29:56Z nail-your-christmas-shopping-this-year-with-redballoon-1 RedBalloon, Australia’s leading online experience and ‘things to do’ destination is taking the hassle out of Christmas shopping by revealing the latest, must-have gifts as we head into the festive season, with Christmas gift guides for each state and territory in Australia attached. With Christmas just around the corner, RedBalloon promises to take the stress out of present buying this year. And with more than 3500 experiences to choose from, they guarantee you’ll find something to suit everyone. “We’ve seen a strong increase in gourmet experience purchases over the last few years, driven by the growing reputation of Australia’s food and wine our increasingly acclaimed chefs and our passion for home cooking. Last Christmas the gourmet category was our most popular gifting category so we’ve worked hard through the year to ensure we have an even wider range of hands-on experiences on offer including cooking classes, barista courses, wine, beer and cheese tastings and gourmet gifts for anyone, no matter what their taste,” RedBalloon CEO Nick Baker said. RedBalloon gifts and vouchers are available up until Christmas Day, to ensure even the most last minute of shoppers can purchase something unique, meaningful and timely for the biggest gift giving day of the year. Aussies can browse more than 3500 experiences on offer at redballoon.com.au REDBALLOON’S TOP 3 CHRISTMAS GIFTING CATEGORIES 1. Gourmet Experiences Barista training course Patisserie masterclass Brewery tours and beer tasting 2. Outdoor Activities Horse riding activities Scenic cruises Vintage bike ride with picnic 3. Water Sport Experiences Sea turtle snorkel tour Crocodile cage of death Flyboarding experience ABOUT REDBALLOON RedBalloon.com.au is Australia’s most awarded online experience retailer and home of ‘things to do’. RedBalloon has sold almost 3 million experiences since it was established in 2001. Today it offers more than 3500 unique experiences from more than 1000 providers across Australia and New Zealand. RedBalloon also distributes gift cards through selected major retailers nationally, including Coles, Woolworths, Big W, Australia Post, Target, Kmart and Officeworks. Visit redballoon.com.au Further Information: Laura Sedgwick, lsedgwick@porternovelli.com.au / 02 8987 2114/ 0451 041 705 Australia’s favourite motorcycle brands revealed 2015-08-18T05:10:26Z australia-s-favourite-motorcycle-brands-revealed At a time when motorcycle registrations are increasing significantly, Australia’s favourite motorcycle brands have been honoured with new awards focused on rider satisfaction. Based on a survey of more than 700 bikers across the country by consumer research company Canstar Blue, the awards recognise four brands in five different categories. They come at a time when the number of motorcycle registrations has increased by 22% in the last five years, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics. The latest figures show motorcycle registrations are increasing faster than any other vehicle type, with 800,000 now on Australia’s roads. “In light of the increasing popularity of motorcycles, we sought to find out which brands are hitting all the right notes with consumers,” said Head of Canstar Blue, Megan Doyle. “Naturally the type of motorcycle you want will have a bearing on the brand you choose, but we wanted to know which are giving Aussies the biggest bang for their buck.” Motorcycles Harley-Davidson led a field of eight brands to ride off with Canstar Blue’s Most Satisfied Customers Award for motorcycles, scoring five-star ratings in regards to comfort, reliability and mileage, as well as overall customer satisfaction. “There are a lot of factors that go into determining the enjoyment of a motorcycle but those who ride a Harley are clearly the most satisfied with their overall package,” said Mrs Doyle. “As one of the most recognisable brands in the world, Harley-Davidson motorcycles come with huge expectations, but it seems they are being met.” The survey found the average spend on motorcycles to be $9,912, with one in four respondents using a bike loan or financing to pay. And the average age at which respondents bought their first motorcycle was 21. A significant 58% own a bike because riding is their hobby, 45% cited cheaper running costs as a reason and 12% wanted to join a social group. Ten per cent said their bike makes them “feel sexy”. Motorcycle tyres The award for motorcycle tyres went to Michelin, which achieved top marks in five out of six criteria. That adds to Michelin’s recent award success for car tyres. Survey respondents spent an average of $308 when they last bought a new motorcycle tyre, with one in five (20%) opting for the cheapest available. “Ultimately consumers want good handling and longevity from their tyres, but they’re also conscious of paying more than they have to,” said Mrs Doyle. “Three out of five survey respondents are wary of being ripped off when they buy tyres, which probably helps explain why 32% delay buying new tyres for as long as they can. “Whether it’s for cars or motorcycles, consumers clearly think Michelin is striking a perfect balance between tyre life, handling and value for money. Holding our awards for both motorcycle and car tyres is a fantastic achievement.” Motorcycle helmets The award for motorcycle helmets went to Nolan, which beat seven other brands with a clean sweep of top ratings across the board. The survey found the average spend on helmets to be $380 and one in four (24%) respondents said they have bought a helmet online. Just 16% said they have bought a helmet from overseas and 14% have used a helmet that has been previously damaged. “When it comes to helmet safety standards, most Aussies have really got their heads screwed on,” said Mrs Doyle. “They understand the dangers of using old or damaged helmets and when it comes to quality standards the majority think there can be a big difference between them. They clearly don’t want to skimp on something so important. “There are a lot of things to consider when buying a new helmet and Nolan has achieved a very strong set of results across the board.” Motorcycle gloves and jackets The awards for motorcycle gloves and jackets both went to Dririder, which achieved a near-perfect set of results across both categories. The survey found the average spend on gloves to be $168 and jackets to be $356. “Just one in four motorcyclists opt for the cheapest available gloves, which tells you they are happy to spend a good amount if they know they’re getting quality,” said Mrs Doyle. “The same applies to jackets because more than anything else, bikers want a jacket that fits comfortably and gives them the protection they need. Dririder is clearly meeting their expectations.” ENDS *Please note brands with the same overall satisfaction rating are listed in alphabetical order. For further information or to speak with a Canstar Blue spokesperson, please contact: Simon Downes Media Specialist P: 07 3837 4171 I E: simon.downes@canstar.com.au About Canstar Blue Canstar Blue was launched in July of 2010 by CANSTAR - Australia and New Zealand’s premier researcher of retail finance information for more than 350 institutions across the finance sector. Canstar Blue measures and tracks Australian and New Zealand consumer satisfaction across over 100 different categories to help consumers make the best purchasing decisions for their needs. What are the Canstar Blue ratings? Canstar Blue researches, compares and rates products and services according to customer satisfaction across categories including banking, telecommunications, appliances, electronics, utilities and FMCG. Results are freely available to consumers who are encouraged to use the ratings as a guide to product excellence. The full range of results can be seen on the Canstar Blue website at www.canstarblue.com.au. 175 years of regular ocean liner travel. 2015-07-04T03:23:10Z 175-years-of-regular-ocean-liner-travel On 4 July 1840, exactly 175 years ago, the way people travel changed for ever.  It was on this day in 1840 that Sir Samuel Cunard along with a group of fare paying passengers set sail aboard the RMS. Britannia.  She set sail from Liverpool bound for Halifax and Boston to inaugurate the first regularly scheduled transatlantic service.  Britannia was a steam powered liner, the first of four ships designed to operate these crossings. Maritime Author Chris Frame says this voyage changed the way people travel forever,  "175 years ago this first regularly scheduled crossing changed the world. It changed the way people travel. For the first time in history there was regular and safe travel by steam ship. It was a revolution because now people could plan their travel around a reliable schedule. " These early steam ships were vastly different from the cruise ships in service today. There was no luxury on these early Cunard ships. They were purposely built to be as simple as possible, with cargo storage taking up much of the space. Passengers shared cramped quarters, and there was a cow carried aboard for milk and chickens for eggs as commercial refrigeration hadn't been invented yet.  Over the years, many other lines were established and thousands of ships were built. The great ocean liners helped drive change in society, being instrumental in the immigration booms to the USA, Canada, South Africa, New Zealand and Australia.  Ocean Liners were also used to pioneer and perfect many technologies, with wireless radio, electric call bells and turbine engines all utilised aboard liners before they were widely adopted on land. These great ships were also used during both world wars, as Maritime Author Chris Frame reflects, "During both wars, the ocean liners were used by the military as troop ships."  He continues, "Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth were converted for use as troop ships in World War II and could each carry over 16,000 people per crossing. Winston Churchill actually acknowledged their impact on the allied war effort, saying they helped shorten the war by at least one year." To learn more about the ocean liner please visit www.chriscunard.com or you can hear Chris Frame's full one hour interview on the subject at ABC's conversations page: http://www.abc.net.au/local/stories/2015/07/01/4264798.htm  Servo appearance more important than petrol price, say motorists 2015-06-18T02:20:21Z servo-appearance-more-important-than-petrol-price-say-motorists What makes you return to a particular petrol station? Is it the price of fuel, a particular drink or snack, or is it the servo’s overall appearance and cleanliness? For many motorists, it’s the latter. Consumer research and ratings firm Canstar Blue surveyed more than 2,600 motorists across the country and found the cost of fuel was only the third biggest driving factor of overall customer satisfaction, behind service and appearance. Drivers of overall satisfaction % of respondents Appearance and cleanliness of station 29% Customer service 25% Price of fuel 22% Facilities (e.g. car wash, air pump etc) 15% Range of other items for sale 9% Source: www.canstarblue.com.au Service Stations survey of 2,629 adults. Head of Canstar Blue, Megan Doyle, says there is a perception that fuel prices vary little between different service stations, so consumers consider other factors when determining where to fill-up. “For some motorists, the bottom line is the only thing that matters. But others are clearly looking for more when they pull-in for fuel, and they’re more likely to return if they have a good experience,” she said. “That includes having helpful, pleasant staff – which isn’t always something you would associate with servos. “In recent years the big chains have focussed their attention on improving their overall package. They’re no longer just competing over the cost of fuel, they’re competing to offer the best facilities, the best snacks and groceries, and the best coffee. “Would you rather pull into a modern-looking, clean station with lots of others things to buy, or drive further down the road to an old, dingy-looking servo? There’s a reason why the big chains invest so heavily in the appearance of their stations. Image is hugely important.” The survey, of motorists who have refuelled their vehicle at a service station in the last month, found that 39% always fill up at the same place, while 13% often visit a servo to buy things like drinks or snacks even if they don’t need fuel. “It’s fascinating to see the evolution of service stations into more than just a place where you stop to fill-up your car,” added Mrs Doyle. “They’re convenience stores, coffee shops and for some people, a last-minute gift shop. “Supermarket loyalty schemes and discount vouchers also promote service station loyalty, and encourage us to buy other items for sale at that outlet. Consumers are generally happy to go along with such offers if they think it will save them a few dollars at the bowser.” Respondents to the survey were asked to rate the service station they most recently visited across a range of research criteria, including the cost of fuel, customer service and appearance. Australian-owned United Petroleum scored top marks for service, appearance, price of petrol and overall customer satisfaction. “It takes a lot for motorists to compliment a service station on the price of fuel, but that’s exactly what United customers do,” said Mrs Doyle. “They also report friendly, helpful staff and good facilities. Most people are convinced United ticks all the boxes. “This is the fifth year in a row that United has stood out from the crowd with regards to fuel price and overall satisfaction. Congratulations to United on another outstanding result.” Click here for more information on the customer satisfaction ratings. How do you measure up when doing the laundry? 2015-06-10T22:16:34Z how-do-you-measure-up-when-doing-the-laundry One in three Aussies fail to measure the amount of laundry detergent they pour into their washing machine and probably use too much. Consumer research and ratings company Canstar Blue surveyed more than 2,500 adults and found they spend an average of $12.52 on laundry detergent. But many will need to replenish their supply more frequently than they should, with 33% preferring to ‘wing it’ rather than follow measuring instructions and 31% conceding that they probably use too much. Head of Canstar Blue, Megan Doyle, said those who use liquid detergent are the most uneconomical. “Forty-percent of consumers who use liquid detergent don’t measure the amount they use, compared to 27% of those who favour powder,” she said. “Liquid-users also pay slightly more to do their washing, so they are being particularly wasteful. “Some people clearly don’t give much thought to the process – they just throw the detergent into the washing machine and away they go. Using too much detergent is unlikely to damage your clothes or washing machine, but it will hurt you in the hip pocket over time. Follow the guidelines and save yourself a few dollars.” Consumers who use laundry powder were found to spend an average of $12.07 on their purchase, while those who use liquid spend an average of $12.84. And what drives their satisfaction varies slightly. Drivers of satisfaction             Liquid            Powder Quality of clean 27% 34% Value for money 16% 15% Feel of clothes after wash 28% 16% Number of washes 15% 17% Smell 9% 10% Environmental friendliness 5% 8% Source: www.canstarblue.com.au Laundry Detergent survey of 2546 adults They may be more wasteful, but liquid-users (54%) are more likely to always buy the same brand of detergent than powder-users (49%), the survey found. But those who opt for powder (28%) are more inclined to buy the cheapest product available than those who reach for liquid (24%). Survey respondents were asked to rate their laundry detergent across a range of categories. Earth Choice topped the liquid detergent ratings for overall satisfaction, while ALDI Almat was the highest rated laundry powder. It is the second time in five years that Earth Choice – from Natures Organics – has won the award for laundry liquids, and the third time that ALDI has picked up the the prize for laundry powders. The two brands have performed consistently well across Canstar Blue’s home cleaning product categories since the ratings began in 2011, said Mrs Doyle. “The two brands always stand out from the crowd,” she said. “Natures Organics has enjoyed notable success in recent months, with Blast Ultra Plus winning our award for dishwashing liquids in January. ALDI also scored favourably in that category and consistently rates highly across all our home cleaning products. “Consumers are convinced that both brands offer the perfect balance between quality cleaning and value for money.” Aussies want vacuum cleaners that really suck 2015-06-04T01:51:02Z aussies-want-vacuum-cleaners-that-really-suck Aussies are spending an average of more than $370 on their vacuum cleaners, but many still aspire to own the best that money can buy. That’s one of the findings of a new survey from consumer research and ratings company Canstar Blue, which saw Dyson vacuum cleaners rated highest of eight major brands. “Consumers don’t mind spending a good amount on a vacuum cleaner that makes cleaning the home as easy as possible,” said Head of Canstar Blue, Megan Doyle. “We always want great value for money, but more than anything consumers demand a vacuum cleaner that lives up to expectations and really performs. “But it’s also got to be easy to use. There’s no point having a powerful vacuum if you struggle to manoeuvre it around your house.” Drivers of satisfaction      % of respondents Effectiveness of clean 42% Value for money 26% Ease of use 20% Noise 7% Size 5% Source: www.canstarblue.com.au 2015 Vacuum Cleaners survey of 1364 adults. The survey, of more than 1,300 adults who have bought a new vacuum cleaner in the last three years, found the average amount spent to be $373. Those in Western Australia spent the most ($464) and Queensland the least ($316). Almost half (48%) of respondents were replacing a vacuum cleaner that had stopped working, while 27% were upgrading to a better model and 12% wanted an additional appliance. Consumers who were replacing an old vacuum cleaner were doing so after an average of 6.7 years. Thirty per cent of survey respondents said they tend to buy cheap vacuum cleaners and replace them when they stop working, while 46% have more than one vacuum in their home. And two out of five (39%) dream of owning a top of the line vacuum. “Most consumers are convinced it pays to spend a little more,” said Mrs Doyle. “It can be tempting to take the cheap option when you’re shopping, but when you come to vacuuming your home, you might regret it. “Spending that bit extra may even save you in the long run if you have to replace your vacuum cleaner more regularly because you bought a cheap model.” Dyson delivers overall customer satisfaction Consumers who purchased Dyson vacuum cleaners were the most satisfied with their purchase, the survey found. Vax received notable recognition for offering value for money, but Dyson was the only brand to score five-star ratings for effective cleaning and ease of use. Dyson also recorded top marks from consumers for size and noise levels. It is the third time in four years that Dyson has picked up Canstar Blue’s Most Satisfied Customers Award for vacuum cleaners, with Shark finishing top of the ratings in 2014. “Survey respondents who bought a Dyson vacuum cleaner use few words to describe their purchase – because it simply does a great job,” said Mrs Doyle. “They report reliable, easy to maintain, easy to use and powerful vacuums that make cleaning the house hassle free. Most Dyson owners seem convinced they have the best that money can buy.” Would a single-sex gym ‘work out’ for you? 2015-05-31T23:12:32Z would-a-single-sex-gym-work-out-for-you Aussies are spending an average of more than $70 a month on gym memberships, but many would be willing to pay even more if it meant not working out in front of the opposite sex. Consumer research and ratings company Canstar Blue surveyed over 1,000 gym members across the country and found that one in four would be happy paying a premium to use a single-sex gym. And men (25%) liked the idea almost as much as women (27%). Head of Canstar Blue, Megan Doyle, said consumers are now looking for more than just barbells and mirrors, as single-sex gyms become more and more popular. “For some gym-goers, a positive, friendly atmosphere is more important than the equipment and facilities on offer,” she said. “Most adults head to the gym to improve their fitness or lose weight, but they also want to enjoy themselves and socialise with likeminded people. And for many it seems, that means working out in the company or other men, or other women only. “In the past there has been a perception that more women feel uncomfortable exercising in front of men, but these findings suggest that a lot of men would prefer a single-sex gym, too. If you’re paying more than $70 a month for your membership, it’s important to feel at ease in your surroundings – otherwise you might end up wasting your money.” The survey found adults in their 30s (36%) were the most likely to favour a single-sex gym, compared to just 3% of those in their 60s. More than half of survey respondents (54%) said they don’t go to the gym as much as they thought they would when they joined. The majority of those cited a lack of time as the reason, but 13% said they don’t like working out in front of other people and 12% said the general atmosphere of their gym was a turn-off. A further 14% said they feel intimidated by other gym-users, particularly those aged 18-24 (22%). “We received several complaints about loud, repetitive music, noisy groups and general sleaziness,” said Mrs Doyle. “Some people clearly feel uncomfortable working out in front of others, especially when surrounded by men flexing their muscles in front of mirrors! “Opening hours are also a major bugbear, as is the cleanliness of the gym and changing rooms. And of course, many people simply bemoan the amount they pay for their membership, and the lack of flexibility that comes with it.” Spending an average of $72 per month, the majority of Aussies (61%) are drawn to the gym between three and five times per week. Just 5% go every day, while 12% work out once a week or less. While the amount of time we spend at the gym varies little between the states, the amount we pay for our membership does, with survey respondents in Western Australia reporting the highest average cost at $84, and Queenslanders the least ($60). Men ($74) were found to be paying slightly more than women ($71). Do our gym expectations become a reality? Almost half (49%) of survey respondents said they joined a gym to improve their fitness, while 29% were looking to lose weight and 11% wanted to increase their strength. But whatever their motivation for joining, a significant 76% agreed their gym membership had helped them achieve their goals. Which gym chain do members rate highest? Survey respondents were asked to rate their gym across a range of categories, including access, equipment, social atmosphere and value for money. And for the second year in a row, female-only Fernwood Fitness was the only gym chain to achieve a five-star rating for overall customer satisfaction. “Fernwood members couldn’t be happier with the modern facilities, supportive staff and friendly, enjoyable atmosphere reported at their gyms,” said Mrs Doyle. “And the fact that it’s a female-only gym earned a big thumbs up from many ladies. “With happier members than any other commercial gym chain, it’s clear that Fernwood has struck a perfect balance – offering Australian women first-class facilities, but also a friendly and supportive environment in which to achieve their personal goals. “Choosing a single-sex gym has clearly worked out for Fernwood members.” Fernwood founder, Dr Diana Williams, said: “We’re thrilled to be recognised with this award for the second year running. We have always placed a high priority on member satisfaction, ensuring we provide all the things the female gym-goer needs to get the results they sign up for, so it’s great to have the public feedback that supports what we’re doing.” “Being a female-only full service gym has always been our point of difference. But we’ve grown and evolved as the needs of women have since we started 25 years ago. Many of our gyms are now open 24 hours due to the demand for better accessibility and every new member gets the advantage of having an online program as part of the first 28 days of their membership so that we can best set them up for success. “We also develop a number of in-club and online programs that run throughout the year to help our members continue to achieve their goals. This helps them feel part of a team even outside of being physically ‘at the gym’.” Motorists want mechanics they can trust 2015-05-31T23:09:14Z motorists-want-mechanics-they-can-trust Four out of five Australian motorists are wary of being ripped off when they take their vehicle for a service. That’s one of the findings from a new survey by consumer research and ratings company Canstar Blue, which found the average car service cost to be $380. “Motorists put their trust in the experts to do a good, honest job, but there is a perception that some can’t be trusted,” said Head of Canstar Blue, Megan Doyle. “Three out of five survey respondents claimed to have paid for vehicle repairs or maintenance they were not expecting, and while this is obviously no proof that people have been misled, it’s sure to raise a few eyebrows for some. “It only takes one or two negative reviews to create an air of distrust in some people’s minds, even if the vast majority of consumers report only positive experiences. And it seems that suspicion is hard to shake off, with drivers in their 70s just as wary of being ripped off as those in their 20s.” The survey, of more than 1,000 motorists who have had their car serviced by a vehicle servicing chain in the last two years, found 69% always take their car to the same place. Just 40% try to find the cheapest price. “It’s a matter of trust creating loyalty,” added Mrs Doyle. “Even if it means paying more for a service than you might elsewhere, many people would rather stick with the mechanics they know. Reputation is everything.” At $426, survey respondents in South Australia reported the highest average servicing costs – a significant $88 more than the cheapest average in Queensland ($338). But despite paying the least, motorists in the Sunshine State were the most wary of being ripped off (89%) and the most likely to have paid for repairs they were not expecting (65%). Men and women were equally fearful of being ripped off, the survey found. “Most of the complaints we received related to the cost of servicing and repair parts,” said Mrs Doyle. “Some people are convinced they’ve been ripped off, but most just begrudge having to spend money. The reality is most people have no problems, but that won’t stop some always fearing the worst. “We found 52% of motorists delay servicing for as long as they can and 38% often skip services if their vehicle appears in good health. That fear of unexpected costs will no doubt be one of the reasons why. “If you’re confronted by a bill you were not expecting and have doubts about it, get a second opinion. Find a mechanic that someone you trust, trusts.” Survey respondents were asked to rate their car servicing chain across a range of categories, with Midas the only one to earn five-star ratings across the board. “Consumers are convinced that Midas ticks all the boxes,” said Mrs Doyle. “Scoring top marks in every single research area is a fantastic achievement and a clear indicator that Midas has earned the trust and loyalty of its customers. “Motorists who had their car serviced with Midas reported competitive pricing, efficient service and helpful, professional staff. That’s exactly what consumers want.” Taste trumps cheap deals as pizza-lovers go gourmet! 2015-05-21T05:12:05Z taste-trumps-cheap-deals-as-pizza-lovers-go-gourmet Queenslanders do it online, South Australians look for quantity over quality, and in New South Wales… they prefer to go gourmet! Pizza is one of the most popular takeaway foods across the world and a new survey has revealed what drives Australia’s love-affair with the tomatoey, cheesy circles – and which store we prefer to spend our hard-earned dough at. Consumer research and ratings company Canstar Blue has surveyed almost 2,000 Aussies who have ordered takeaway pizza in the last three months to find out about our munching habits. Getting a pizza the action The survey found that 38% of pizza-lovers can’t resist adding extras like garlic bread, chicken bites or desserts to their order, especially those in their late 20s (50%). However, less than half of us (47%) always order from the same pizza store. “Everyone wants to get a great deal, but for most consumers it’s the taste of pizza that keeps them coming back for more,” said Head of Canstar Blue, Megan Doyle. “If a particular chain isn’t tickling our tastebuds, we don’t mind taking our cash elsewhere. “Ordering pizza has never been so easy, and with so much competition out there, the big chains have to try harder than ever to entice us – and then keep us. There’s a reason why they often bombard you with flyers and special offer vouchers! “The pizza store that can cook up the perfect balance of fresh ideas and great-tasting pizzas – at an affordable price – will be onto a winner. Even slow delivery time could be forgiven if your overriding memory at the end of the night is delicious pizza.” Just 15% of survey respondents said they tend to order low-fat options and a whopping 44% were perfectly happy to eat a whole large pizza on their own – with men (55%) more likely than women (33%) to go it alone. One in four (25%) tend to buy the cheapest pizza available, while 28% opt for quantity over quality from their order. But that might turn into regret for some people, with one in three (33%) feeling conscious about their size or appearance after eating pizza. Pizza takes a slice out of fine dining Aussies are increasing favouring premium pizza options, the survey found. Almost three out of five (58%) adults prefer to buy from the gourmet range of offerings – up from 52% in 2014. But we still love a bargain, with just 11% spending $50 or more on their orders. “Consumers are demanding more adventurous options, so the pizza chains need to regularly refresh their menus to keep us interested – whether it’s the toppings on offer, or what they stuff in their crust!” said Mrs Doyle. “Taste is king, but no one wants to eat the same pizza every time! “As consumers, we like to try something new and tell our friends about it. The pizza chains that deliver the big ideas are the most likely to attract our attention and get us talking, but if those latest creations don’t hit the right notes, it could be for all the wrong reasons. There is a fine line between genius and madness!” Our increasing app-etite for pizza Not only do 36% of survey respondents always order pizza online, but 22% have an app to do so, with those in their 30s (35%) the most likely to order with their smartphone. “Being able to easily modify your order, search through additional extras, and even track your order’s progress as it’s prepared, cooked and delivered, have become part of the pizza-ordering experience for many people,” said Mrs Doyle. “As a result, a pizza chain’s online service has never been so important, with consumers able to take their business elsewhere in a split second if a website isn’t easy to navigate.” How Aussies eat their pizza The survey revealed some interesting variations in our pizza-eating habits across the states. Respondents in Queensland (31%) had the biggest appetite for cheap deals and were most likely to order their pizza online (47%). Those in Victoria (25%) were least likely to order online. South Australians (37%) were the hungriest for quantity over quality from their order, the most likely to eat a whole large pizza on their own (50%) and the least image conscious after enjoying their feast (26%). West Australians (57%) were the most loyal to their favourite pizza chain and most likely to have a mobile app for ordering (27%), while those in New South Wales were most tempted by additional extras (40%), the most likely to order low-fat pizzas (17%) and the biggest fans of gourmet options (64%). What we want from different pizza chains The survey also revealed some fascinating insights into which pizza chains Aussies gravitate towards depending on what – or how much – we’re hungry for. Pizza-lovers looking for cheap deals and quantity over quality were drawn to Pizza Hut more than anywhere else, while those who ordered from Eagle Boys were most likely to include extra sides. And consumers who favour gourmet options were most likely to order from Pizza Capers. Which pizza chain do Aussies rate highest? The Canstar Blue survey asked respondents to rate the pizza chain they most recently ordered from across a range of categories, including menu options, special deals, delivery, taste and value for money. Pizza Capers and Crust earned five-star ratings for taste and menu variety, while Eagle Boys and Dominos got top marks for their special offers. Eagle Boys was deemed to offer the best value for money, but for the fifth year in a row, Pizza Cappers beat the rest for overall customer satisfaction. “Those who ordered through Pizza Capers reported fresh, quality ingredients, a great variety of unique – and unusual – toppings, and quick delivery time. That’s a recipe for success in anyone’s book,” said Mrs Doyle. “It also earned several nods of recognition for its vegetarian and gluten-free options. “Consumers are increasingly demanding high-quality, premium pizzas – and Pizza Capers is leading this pizza evolution. Congratulations to Pizza Capers for another outstanding result. To top the table for five straight years is a phenomenal achievement.” Pizza Capers General Manager, Yvette Shearer, said the brand continued to put the customer first year after year, with an increased focus on operational excellence putting franchisees’ focus on customer service over the past 18 months. “The past year or so at Pizza Capers has been about reinvigorating the operational excellence of our franchises, with a renewed commitment to excellent customer service, speedy delivery times and of course high quality, generously topped pizzas that look just as good as they taste,” said Ms Shearer. “It’s fantastic that our franchisees are getting recognised for the outstanding effort they put in each and every day to every single pizza they make and customer they serve!” Ms Shearer said the awards aligned with the bigger market trend towards healthy, real food and hand-crafted, gourmet products.  “The proof just keeps on coming in – consumers are rating gourmet pizza as the most satisfying product currently on offer from quick service restaurants,” said Ms Shearer. Consumers demand transparency from hire car companies 2015-05-13T01:14:20Z consumers-demand-transparency-from-hire-car-companies Aussie motorists are demanding complete transparency from hire car companies – but aren’t always getting it, according to a new study. Over half of rental car customers have found costs misleading, and almost one in four have disputed additional charges after returning a vehicle, consumer research service Canstar Blue found. But many will only have themselves to blame for failing to read the terms and conditions of their agreement. “Hiring a car is a serious responsibility, but it’s very irresponsible of motorists to enter into such an agreement without thoroughly reading the small print first,” said Canstar Blue General Manager Megan Doyle. “If you are driving a vehicle worth thousands of dollars it’s important to know exactly where you stand should something go wrong and what fees you may incur. It’s worrying that so many consumers are going into the process blind. “But it’s also concerning that many people have experienced a lack of transparency over costs. The operators should be doing everything they can to make all costs involved as clear as possible, including insurance, which many customers cited as a major frustration. “People don’t mind paying a reasonable price to hire a car, as long as they receive good customer service, and complete transparency over costs and potential fees.” Drivers of hire car satisfaction % of respondents Transparency of costs and fees 31% Customer service 31% Value for money 14% Availability of vehicle booked 10% Booking process 8% Availability of accessories ordered 6% Source: www.canstarblue.com.au Hire Car survey 2015 The survey, of 736 drivers who have hired a car in Australia within the last year, found that 81% always inspect their vehicle and 37% take pictures of it before driving off. Despite that, 43% fail to thoroughly read the terms and conditions of their contract. Fifty-seven per cent often find the original quoted price of renting a car turns out to be different from the price they are charged and 23% have disputed additional charges after returning it, usually relating to damage. “Some drivers claim to have been charged up to double the original quoted price, while others have been left waiting months for security deposits to be returned,” said Mrs Doyle. “Other common complaints include not being able to pay by debit card and charges for refuelling. “Nothing frustrates people more than being hit with unexpected fees, but unfortunately these are disputes that consumers are unlikely to win. Thirty-one per cent of survey respondents did not realise that operators could debit their card for an unlimited amount to cover vehicle damage and breach of contract. “It’s crucial that consumers thoroughly review the vehicle damage report and terms of their rental agreement, and don’t underestimate the significance of what they are doing – because it could cost them. If the contract is confusing and hard to understand, then don’t agree to it.” What you need to know when hiring a car Stephen Moir, Chief Executive Officer of the Motor Trade Association of WA, said some motorists are guilty of underestimating the additional charges that can come with hiring a car. “Many consumers fail to educate themselves on the fee schedule and additional fees that may apply – such as those for additional drivers, location fee, drivers under the minimum age, petrol, excess kilometres, damage to the vehicle and late return of vehicle,” he said. “Consumers should ask lots of questions and find out what the fees and charges are for the hire company they choose. It’s important to remember that different companies have different hire conditions. I recommend that consumers keep a note of their activity every day – for example, keep an eye on how many kilometres you’ve travelled each day to ensure that you don’t exceed the daily kilometre allowance. “It’s very important that the consumer conducts their own checks of the vehicle along with a representative of the hire company. If you notice any defects it’s imperative that they are noted in the hire contract. The hire contract is a document which protects both the consumer and the hire company. If a default is NOT noted on the hire contract it doesn’t exist at that point it time. Customers should ensure they receive a copy of the hire contract and are satisfied that all defaults are accounted for.” To make sure your next car hire experience goes smoothly, here are some tips on what you should do – and questions you should ask. ·         Find out what documents you will need Most companies will need you to present a valid driver’s licence and credit card at pick-up. International visitors will usually need their country licence, international licence and passport. Most companies need to sight these documents in their original format and many won’t accept photocopies. ·         Check the vehicle before you take it It’s important that you check the vehicle before you take it.  If you notice any defect on the vehicle you must notify the company and ensure that they have documented it in their records. If it is not in their records when the vehicle is returned, they may not accept other evidence such as photographs. ·         Find out what fees and charges apply Reputable companies will be able to outline all of their fees and charges. These could include additional drivers, location fee, drivers under the minimum age, petrol, excess kilometres, damage to the vehicle, late return of vehicle, returning the vehicle to a different location and credit card surcharges. You should be able to get a list of all fees and charges in writing. ·         Is there an age requirement for the driver? Many companies have an age requirement of 21 years or over. Drivers under this age may be required to pay additional charges. ·         Do I need to pay a bond? Many companies will require a bond to be paid when you pick up the vehicle. This will depend on the type of vehicle you hire. ·         Do I need insurance? Insurance is not compulsory but it is strongly recommended. Hire car company insurance packages are usually fairly low cost and in the event that something occurs it could save the consumer a lot money – and stress.  It’s important to remember that from the time you take charge of a hire vehicle you are financially responsible for any loss or damage to the vehicle or any loss or damage to third party property as a result of using the vehicle.  ·         Does the agreement include roadside assistance? Roadside assistance due to mechanical malfunction is usually covered in your hire charge. Non-standard assistance for things like locking your keys in the vehicle or a flat battery could mean additional charge. ·         What can I use the vehicle for? Many companies require that the vehicle only be driven on sealed bitumen roads. You should talk to the company if you intend to use the vehicle to tow or go off road. Which hire car company is rated highest? While several negative experiences were highlighted by the survey, many respondents reported great value for money and customer service. “It’s natural to remember negative experiences for longer than positives ones, but we did receive plenty of very encouraging feedback,” said Mrs Doyle. “Many spoke highly of quick and easy booking processes, helpful and professional staff, and clean and tidy vehicles. Others were grateful for being upgraded to newer, better models at no extra charge.” Respondents to the Canstar Blue survey were asked to rate the most recent hire car company they used across a range of research criteria, including the booking process, customer service and value for money. Avis was the only operator to earn a five-star rating for overall satisfaction. “Most people are willing to accept some faults, like accessories – or even the vehicle they booked – not being available when they arrive at the pick-up point. But they don’t want to be taken for a ride when it comes to costs,” said Mrs Doyle. “It’s a consumer’s responsibility to make sure they understand the agreement they enter into, but operators should also do their best to be as transparent and helpful as possible.”  Aussies favour high-end home appliances 2015-05-12T00:14:10Z aussies-favour-high-end-home-appliances Australian consumers are favouring high-end home appliances, choosing quality and longevity over short-term savings. That’s according to consumer research company Canstar Blue, which has this year seen Miele take the lead as the most successful manufacturer of household appliances, based on its customer satisfaction ratings. Winning Canstar Blue’s inaugural Most Satisfied Customers Award for Ovens, Miele has taken its accolades for the year to three – and eight since the ratings website was launched in July 2010. That gives Miele three more awards than any other brand in the market. Brands by number of Canstar Blue awards Brand     No. of awards Miele 8 Electrolux, Fisher & Paykel 5 LG 4 ALDI, Samsung, 3 Bosch, Daikin, Dyson, Fujitsu, Honda, Nespresso, Kelvinator, Simpson 2 Breville, Panasonic, Shark, Nutribullet 1 Source: www.canstarblue.com.au Head of Canstar Blue, Megan Doyle, said cost usually relates to quality when it comes to whitegoods, and those who skimp on spending might pay for it in the long term. “There’s no doubt there are some fantastic offers out there for households on a tight budget, but spending that little bit extra could mean the difference between replacing a washing machine or dishwasher after 15 years, rather than 10,” she said. “Across many of the categories we research, value for money is the biggest driver of customer satisfaction. But for appliances, long-term factors like performance and reliability take over in importance – because consumers want and appreciate appliances they can rely on. “Miele has a fantastic reputation as a leading brand of household appliances and our ratings over the last five years – from the people who matter most, the consumers – clearly show it is living up to that reputation.” Four of Miele’s eight Canstar Blue awards have come for dishwashers, with their run of success only briefly interrupted by Bosch in 2013. Three others were for front loader washing machines, including the last two years in succession. “No other brand of appliances has achieved the level of consistency that Miele has,” added Mrs Doyle. “Even across other research categories, it’s extremely rare to see one brand dominate its area of expertise in quite the same way that Miele has – particularly when those areas are extremely competitive. “Congratulations to Miele for continuing to provide Australians with quality home appliances.” Miele topped a table of 10 other leading brands to secure its most recent award for ovens. While others scored higher in some research categories, Miele was the only one to achieve top marks from consumers for even heat distribution and reliability – the two biggest drivers of customer satisfaction. Click here to read the full award report. The survey, of more than 1,200 households who have a working oven in their home, found the average spend to be $981. Miele’s Head of Category Management, Sacha Leagh-Murray, is delighted that consumers have recognised Miele with three Canstar Blue Most Satisfied Customer Awards so far this year. “This is an outstanding achievement by Miele,” she said. “We’re proud to be in such a defining position in customer satisfaction. It gives recognition to Miele’s premium position as the leading brand in whitegoods appliances.” Aussies take the DIY approach to quality coffee 2015-05-06T03:01:43Z aussies-take-the-diy-approach-to-quality-coffee Aussies have long had an obsession with coffee, but a new survey shows we’re now taking the DIY approach in our quest for caffeine perfection. Consumer satisfaction research company Canstar Blue has found that the majority of Aussies prefer the coffee they make at home, to what they can buy from their local café. The survey also found that consumers are investing more and more in their home made coffee – spending an average of $320 on their espresso coffee machines, compared to $296 last year. Head of Canstar Blue, Megan Doyle, said the survey, of almost 1,000 adults who have bought a coffee machine for their home in the last year, shows Australia’s coffee obsession is stronger than ever, but where we get that coffee from may be changing. “At a time when many consumers are watching every dollar they spend, it seems quality coffee is one of those luxuries we’re just not willing to sacrifice,” she said. “The majority of people are not buying coffee machines to save money at cafés or impress their friends, they’re buying them because they produce results as good as – if not better than – what a barista could. “For some, their coffee machine was an impulse purchase – but most are glad they made it. Rather than being put in a cupboard and forgotten about, coffee machines are becoming an integral part of Aussie kitchens.” Canstar Blue found that 53% of adults prefer the coffee they make at home to what they buy from cafés. This was particularly true of survey respondents over the age of 65, with 70% showing a preference for homemade coffee. At the other end of the spectrum, those aged 18-24 were the biggest fans of takeaway coffee, with 40% favouring what they make at home. Overall, 66% said they bought their machine to enjoy great tasting coffee at home, while 15% did so in order to save money and 12% were looking for the best way to cater for guests. Thirty per cent said their machine was an impulse purchase and 37% don’t use it as they thought they would. Survey respondents were also asked to rate their coffee machine of choice across a range of research criteria, including ease of use, ease of maintenance, reliability, value for money and overall satisfaction. ALDI was the only brand to achieve a five-star rating for overall satisfaction for its Expressi coffee machine, earning Canstar Blue’s Most Satisfied Customers Award for the third year in a row. “Consumers have agreed that ALDI’s Expressi machine ticks all the boxes,” said Mrs Doyle. “At a cost of $89, it shows that quality coffee at home doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Even taking into account the ongoing cost of capsules, it should result in a significant saving for those who usually get their caffeine fix away from home. “Consumers with an ALDI Expressi machine report delicious tasting coffee, an easy to clean appliance, and the feeling that they’re getting great value for money – a winning combination in anyone’s book. “As coffee machines continue to evolve and improve, competition is fierce and consumers are being presented with an increasing number of impressive options – from some huge brands in the industry. That is what makes ALDI’s continued success even more impressive.” ALDI was also the only brand to score a five-star rating for the cost of its capsules. “We’re delighted that our customers continue to praise the Expressi system. Thank you coffee lovers for your amazing support!” said an ALDI Australia spokesperson. “Of course, it never stops for us. Our quest is to create your perfect espresso, and more. Right now we are busy blending delicious new Expressi beverages and designing cool new Expressi machines, so keep an eye out in store at ALDI. “Naturally, you can expect brilliant value too. At just 37c per capsule, Expressi makes it easy to enjoy a café quality coffee any time you like.”