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Winnie Ferguson-Birkenhead

Help Winnie Ferguson-Birkenhead Gain the Citizenship She deserves

Friday, 23rd October 2015

Rip-Off Britain often supports injustice - and if there has ever been an injustice this case is about the worse we've come across.

Our appeal follows the incredible story of Winnie Birkenhead's fight with the Home Office & UK Immigration.

Winnie came to the UK in 1967 aged just 5 on her mothers passport from Malaysia. Her mother was made a British Citizen in the same year.

Now at aged 53 and is recovering from cancer, Winnie who lives in Burnley is both a mother and a grandmother, and since her mother became a UK Citizen in 1967 when Winnie was aged just 5, Winnie had no idea her status was nothing less than a UK Citizen herself!! Yet, the Home Office has now deemed her as an 'illegal immigrant'.

They have stopped her from working in a job she has held for many years and is threatening to DEPORT Winnie back to Malayasia - a country she has no memory of, cannot speak the language and has no family there. Having prevented her from working, despite the fact Winnie has been a UK taxpayer for over 35 years, has a National Insurance number, a UK drivers licence and has a mortgage and pays council tax - and to add to her distress, she's has been denied ANY support or benefits - because she is being prevented from working!

Rip-Off Britain is appalled by the stance of the Home Office. With many thousands of, without doubt 'true' illegal immigrants, to victimise a person who has been in the UK for 48 years since the age of 5 is totally ridiculous.

We have written to Teresa May, Home Sectetary, Julie Cooper MP for Burnley and Jeremy Corbyn and we urge you to do your part in campaigning to prevent this injustice to Winnie from happening.


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The BBC 'Rips Off' Rip-Off Britain!

Despite the fact my website has been going since 1998, Angela 'Rippoff' and the BBC decided to create their own programme 'Rip-Off Britain' and, without any consultation, have used the very name I created! Please support us by complaining to the BBC about this 'Rip-Off' by emailing them here: RipOffBritain@bbc.co.uk

How Rip-Off Britain started

In 1986 I campaigned British Telecom to itemise their telephone bills. It was absurd that a phone bill only showed the 'final amount to pay', leaving the consumer no idea whether phone calls were accurately recorded or not and, more importantly, leaving no recourse for challenge or complaint! It was akin to going to the petrol station and filling up the car with no visible pump meter present - and then handing over £X amount! After arriving back from Canada (where phone bills had been itemised for years), this was my first rude awakening to 'Rip-Off Britain'.

The 'Rip-Off Britain' campaign got into full swing in 1998 when I launched my website in an effort to get justice for the British public. I have since appeared on BBC2 Newsnight, Sky News, numerous national and local radio stations and talk shows, have written various articles, and have even 'duped' the scammers at their own game! I continue to vigorously campaign for the British consumer in one the most expensive, 'cutthroat' and consumer exploited countries in the World.

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The Rip-Off continues

The phrase "Rip-Off Britain" was originally coined during 1997 due to the vast difference in car prices in the UK - as compared with the rest of Europe. 'Rip-Off' is now part of our everyday language - especially when we realise or discover to our horror, anger and dismay we've been duped, scammed, 'taken for a ride', or have been plain diddled out of our hard earned money by shoddy goods, poor service, unscrupulous or sharp business practices, exorbitant charges, etc.

My aim is to ensure that 'Rip-Off Britain' remains ingrained in our mind-set, by reminding people to be more vigilant in their purchases and everyday dealings. However, if you do unfortunately get 'ripped-off', you're going to discover that by using my proven methods & tactics of complaint, you'll achieve a satisfactory outcome and a result in your favour in the majority of cases.

Public awareness behind the British 'rip-off' culture has vastly improved over the past decade or so. But despite our efforts and the many media campaigns on TV & Radio, the 'so-called' voluntary business codes of conduct that is supposed to be the 'magic bullet' to protect us all, and successive Government intervention by often weak and ineffective legislation; there are STILL significant areas within our economy and throughout society where British consumers are continually being Ripped-Off!

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"Never keep up with the Joneses. Drag'em down to your level. It's cheaper".

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Britain's Top Rip-Off's
As polled in a survey of over 8,000 e-mail and website responses from 1999 to 2005
(presented in random order)

Fraudulent schemes & scams

Shoddy goods & poor service

Unqualified & rogue trades people

Unscrupulous business practices

Bank charges & bad practices

Fraudulent e-mails

Water & energy companies

Council Tax *

Railway fares

High interest store & credit cards

Mobile phone charges

Capital Gains Tax *

Fuel duty *

House selling/buying practices

Inheritance tax *

Stamp duty *

Speed cameras *

Premium Rate phone numbers

Postal charges

Wages below the minimum

Low Old Age Pensions

High taxation of the poorest *

Motorway restaurants

Endowment policies & mis-selling

The demise of Final Salary pensions

Government wasting our money

Membership of the Euro

Stealth taxation *

CD's, DVD's

Car prices

Electrical goods

Hotel accommodation

TV Licence fee *

Food prices (supermarkets)

Extended warranties

Loan protection insurance

Import duty *

Value added tax (VAT) *

*Government taxation

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I've been Ripped-Off!
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Twelve Golden Rules to help you from being Ripped-Off


Remember - everyone is after YOUR hard earned money!


Avoid impulse purchases - think before you buy


Check out the business on Google for any complaints


If the offer looks too good to be true - it probably is!


Don't be bullied to buy an item or service you don't need


If offered something you don't want, simply say - NO THANKS!!


Shop around - use the Internet to find the best deal & price


For protection always use a Credit Card when buying on-line


Obtain references before dealing with trades people


Always take your complaint to the top person in a company


Keep records of your complaint - phone calls, emails, letters


Never take 'NO' for an answer - and keep complaining!

Lastly, please remember this fine saying
that originated during the Second World War.

Time spent on reconnaissance is seldom, if ever, wasted!

So, who's the culprit? Who's ripping us off?

After years of analysing this question and looking at the evidence (apart from the rogue plumber who just charged you £150 for a call-out to fix a washer), I've concluded that multi-national business conglomerates and our Government are the main culprits who have helped shape, and continue to maintain a 'Rip-Off Britain'.

Small and medium-sized business is often blamed for ripping us off either by their high prices, poor service, or both. Although this may have been the case many years ago, the vast majority of our 'home-grown' businesses are generally serving customers quite well - it's only a small percentage that rip us off which gains media attention and fuels our wrath. Poor service can be blamed purely on mismanagement and inadequate resources. High prices in the UK as compared with many other countries is another matter!

The major handicap to small and medium-sized businesses in maintaining low prices can squarely be blamed on a number of factors including, poor banking practices and banks grossly overcharging for their services (UK bank profits at £32bn!), high interest rates (as compared with the EU average), virtually uncontrollable commercial rents and high property prices, exceedingly high business tax rates, labour costs, high import duties and, of course, the high cost of transportation (fuel duty).

The high operating costs of running a business, combined with endless Government regulation, UK banking practices and multi-national profiteering, remains a major contributory factor that's induced a negative affect by forcing UK businesses to mark-up their goods and services far higher than is compared with many European and other countries in World - especially the USA! The end effect leaves UK businesses little option but to charge higher retail prices upon consumers. However, contrary to what many people may believe, 'home-grown' UK business profit margins are not excessive as compared with other 'home' businesses in the G8.

The multi-national corporations, with their massive buying power and profits, have been on a quest to capture the massive UK market since the early 1960's. Because we live on an island, they know only too well that cross-border shopping (such as commonly occurs in continental Europe without much Customs interference) is not really feasible for us 'islanders', especially with punitive Government import tariffs and restrictions on the value of some goods coming into the UK.

Since the introduction of the Internet, and where people can (according to EU law) buy goods from within the EU without import duty or UK VAT (which is generally paid in the EU country of origin - vehicles still being the exception), the multi-nationals (and the Government for tax revenue raising reasons) don't really want us to join the Euro in a hurry, where prices could be immediately compared and the abolition of current Custom controls would surely happen. Not being satisfied with their current market capture, with the Euro on the horizon, the multi-nationals are now seizing on this 'opportunity' by either squeezing out 'home-grown' UK businesses or buying-out their operations. Because of this 'imbalance' within the UK market place, the demise of the 'corner shop' and many other businesses, is now happening at an alarming rate.

Trading on the Internet, in order to keep overheads to a minimum, is fast becoming the only viable option for many UK businesses, and has indeed been driven by the consumer in their quest for lower and more competitive prices. Unfortunately, buying goods over the Internet is not always as competitive as consumers would believe - but of course, it's certainly the best place to compare prices.

The constant drive by multi-national companies to increase sales and create massive profits for their shareholders has fueled their expansion throughout the World in order to secure more markets and even greater profits. Many have created massive business cartels - many of whom trade away circumventing regulation because of their international corporate structure, whilst paying minuscule amounts in corporate tax. Combined with the zealous necessity (or by mismanagement) of Government to raise revenue by stealth, has created a monetary vacuum in a world that's bent on GROWTH - with the ordinary consumer (along with the poor in third world countries), 'sandwiched' in the middle of these two massive 'empires'.

As an Island (known as 'Treasure Island' in corporate circles), the UK has been literally plundered by both multi-national corporations and successive Governments over the past 50 years. But it's now time for the ordinary consumer to fight back - and many are doing just that!

Unfortunately, the ballot box just isn't working. Whatever Governments' in power they continue to raise massive tax revenues year after year (any increase is inflationary!), whilst invoking ever greater regulation by wasting billions in taxes to placate an ever increasing 'politically correct' agenda, and by creating 'social engineering' using stealth legislation. When Government declares a Budget and increases tax revenue by stealth, it becomes directly responsible for actually increasing the price of goods and services. But many big businesses have realised that consumer backlash is in full flight - and are at least trying to address our complaints. Others have yet to learn, and will ultimately fall foul by consumer pressure.

Depending upon your personal grievance or complaint, the phrase 'Rip-Off' is now being used to describe not only an array of different consumer issues, but other seemingly non-related issues. In the future, I'm sure this infamous phrase will be used to describe almost anything we disagree with or are concerned about, from our dwindling oil & gas reserves and faltering energy policy, to Global Warming.

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