FAMILIES are facing price hikes on everyday costs such as haircuts, dental work and car insurance due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The rises are mainly due to local businesses having to invest in protective equipment so they can provide services safely.
Hairdressers, dentists and care homes have hiked prices to cover the costs of staff PPE
Today we look at how household budgets are being squeezed . . . and what you can do to recoup your costs.
TWO thirds of cars owners will drive to work after lockdown – up from a third before the outbreak, according to Compare The Market.
Adding commuting to your policy increases premiums by anything from £10 to hundreds of pounds a year, depending on your job and where you live.
Two thirds of cars owners are now expected to drive to work – up from a third before the outbreak
For example, a mid-30s man driving a Skoda Octavia in London could see cover rise six per cent, from £330 to £350.
Compare The Market also predicts premiums will rise for everyone over the next year, with millions more cars on the roads at rush hour after lockdown meaning more crashes are likely.
Hikes on fuel are also expected. In June petrol prices went up by £2.06 for a 55-litre tank, to an average of £60.97, according to RAC Fuel Watch. Diesel went from £61.64 to £63.23.
WE can finally get our wild hair tamed . . . but we will be paying between 50p and £5 more to cover the cost of protective gear such as masks.
Supercuts, one of the country’s biggest salon chains, is adding a £3.60 surcharge to every trim to help pay for disposable masks and gowns.
More than half of 30 salons surveyed by Mon Platin have raised their prices after lockdown
That works out at a ten per cent hike or more for most customers.
A cut and blow-dry for girls with shoulder-length hair is now typically £36.05 at its 90 branches in England and Wales.
Blokes are hit too. For example, Collusion Barbers in Hitchin, Herts, adds a £3.50 fee for “Covid-secure” measures to each haircut, including its basic £11 head shave.
And some are charging extra to cover the additional work and dye needed to get customers’ hair back in presentable shape.
M Salons, a hairdressing boutique in Bishop’s Stortford, Herts, has a “one-off first visit back” cost of £15 to those who have dyed hair.
More than half of 30 salons surveyed by hair products supplier Mon Platin are raising prices.
DENTAL patients face last-minute extra charges for PPE and are being told their appointment will be cancelled if they do not agree to pay.
MyDentist, which has 650 practices in the UK, is charging a £35 supplement for private appointments that use certain equipment, such as a high-speed drill, while for other procedures it will be £7.
Some dental surgeries are adding on supplements of up to £35 for private appointments
Paula Scurfield, from York, has launched a petition after being charged £25 for PPE at Clifton Moor Dental Centre.
She said: “Less than 24 hours before my son’s and my appointments, I was asked to pay £50. It is excessive, especially with people losing jobs.”
She is calling for Public Health England to cap charges for protective gear.
CARE homes are adding up to £180 to the normal bills for protective gear and to cover staff sickness.
Carol Brown, 60, pays £2,800 a month for her mum Wendy Tomlinson, 89, at the Foylebank care home in Chaddesden, Derby.
Care homes are adding up to £180 to customers’ bills to cover protective gear and staff sickness
She said: “I didn’t receive the bills until they were in the red because they’d been sending them to my mum’s room in the nursing home.
“We were driving and my husband started reading them off. One was £180 for PPE. And I said ‘we have to stop’. I couldn’t take it in.”
A spokesman from Agincare, the company that runs Foylebank, said the £180 charge was not just for PPE but also for covering staff who are off sick and self-isolating.
Arc is super sonic tonic for your television
GOT a giant flatscreen telly but fed up with its puny sound? A new gadget from Sonos has just landed to help.
The Sonos Arc is a soundbar, so it is designed to sit directly under the TV to make your flatscreen sound anything but flat. Here, we review it.
The Sonos Arc soundbar sits directly under your flatscreen TV and helps boost its sound system
Why do I need one? Flatscreen TVs don’t have room for speakers that are big enough for decent oomph. A soundbar solves that and can push out big, punchy sound with strong bass.
How big is it? It is quite long (114cm) but not very tall or wide. It can sit in front of your telly or be mounted on the wall.
It is designed for TVs bigger than 49in. Sonos has the smaller Beam for sets under that size. Both share the same curvaceous design and subtle speaker grilles.
What is so special about the Sonos Arc? For a start, there are 11 speakers inside the Arc.
These are designed to make sure everything sounds good, from the high notes down to the bass. It is also the first Sonos with Dolby Atmos.
What’s that, exactly? Dolby Atmos is brilliant. It uses speakers pointing in different directions – upwards, for example – so it can bounce the audio off the ceiling and make noises come at you from all directions.
Think of it as 3D sound – surround-sound without the surrounding speakers.
Does it actually work? Yes. You will get an even better effect if you have a pair of Sonos One speakers behind the sofa but this is pretty impressive on its own.
The Arc’s 11 speakers are designed to make sure everything sounds good, from the high notes down to the bass
Is there a catch? Not really. You need a specific HDMI socket on your telly for Dolby Atmos to work. It must say HDMI ARC, which most recent TVs have.
That stands for Audio Return Channel and it is no coincidence that is the name of this Sonos speaker too.
It still works just fine without this and can connect through a normal HDMI or an optical out connection. But Dolby Atmos is the icing on the cake.
How easy is it to set up? Sonos is known for its simple and intuitive set-up and that is again the case here.
Bear in mind, though, Sonos last month introduced an app with additional features for its new speakers, such as the Arc. You will need to download the Sonos Series 2 app.
Some older speakers, such as the original Play 5, do not work with the new app.
How good is the sound? Fantastic. The voice channel comes right from the centre of the television and you can boost the clarity of voices on the app.
There is also a setting to dampen down certain sounds, such as special-effect explosions – handy to avoid upsetting the neighbours at night!
At full blast, the bass is heavy and powerful. It is good enough to be your main speaker for music.
Anything else? It has microphones built in. This means you can control the Arc with Alexa or Google Assistant. Also, there is a Sonos feature called Trueplay which adjusts how the speaker pumps out sound depending on the size of the room and where the Arc is positioned.
Stuck in the corner of a small living room, it will fire out sound differently to when placed in the centre of a big, open-plan living room-kitchen.
Are there any downsides? At £799, it is not cheap. But it looks good, is easy to set up and sounds magnificent, giving rich, clear, detailed audio to fill any room. And you will likely use it for a decade.
Any alternatives you would recommend that are not so pricey? At £499, the Polk MagniFi 2 from Polk Audio, is the latest high-value speaker from a new brand. It doesn’t have Dolby Atmos but it sounds like it does.
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