MTTM Podcast 62: Voucher code trick, Council tax trap & going viral

22 min Read Published: 25 Nov 2015

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Andy: Hello and welcome to episode number 62 of the podcast with your resident expert as always, Damien Fahy and me, Andy Leeks. Damien, welcome back. How are you doing

Damien: I'm good, Andy. I am very good.

Andy: So, you seem to have a sheepish sort of smile, a bit of a strange look to you today. I'm assuming you've got something to tell me.

Damien: Well, it's been a slightly unusual day and as part of this podcast I’m going to have to explain the rather bizarre sequence of events that have occurred to me today. They are money related. But it just shows you how things in life can escalate way beyond what you think they are going to. So it's very, very funny and unusual so I'll fill you in on that. We have also got some money stuff but this is going to be one of those things that I think will make you laugh, being somebody who loves a viral incident on social media.

Andy: Okay, this is intriguing me because you said you've got something to talk about at the beginning of the podcast and I'm hearing this for the first time new, so it'll be interesting. Okay. Good. So there's no point in really asking what your week's been like. It sounds like your day today has been quite unusual, eventful?

Making a lost wallet go viral

Damien: The last few hours have been very unusual, people probably know I often work from my house because of the loft conversion I’m having going built and this story happened late this afternoon. So it's only, like I say, a few hours old.

Where it began was that my wife came into the house and said, "I found a wallet in the street and I didn’t see who it was who dropped it,  what should we do?" So, before people switch off and think, "This is some guy going about how he returned his wallet. Wow, how wonderful am I?" It is not that story. This is completely different.

Andy: So you dined out on that wallet this afternoon? You went to a few nice restaurants? It's not that story either.

Damien: No. I know what it's like to lose a wallet, and that first hour or so after you've done it, some people don't even realise, and then they're panicking, ringing up all their banks and trying to cancel their cards. So, obviously my wife and I opened the wallet and looked and there were loads of cards, there was a driving licence, like everybody seems to have their whole life in their wallet.

But it didn't have any contact details. So, I thought, "Well, do you know what? We're going to get this wallet back to this guy. I don't know where he lives. It's standing in the street near my house, but he could live anywhere. So, I tried to ring up the bank cards to say, "Look, I found the guy's wallet. Can you ring him and tell him I've got it? he can come and get it from me." They were no help. I tried to ring the gym that the person was a member of, and they refused to help me.

Andy: That was crazy. I can understand the bank, because of the strict laws and data protection, but there’s nothing really stopping a local gym. Even if you're a bit of an idiot trying to chance it, there's nothing stopping them from calling the individual and saying, "Look, it might be nothing, but can you at least check and see..."

Damien: Well, I can tell them everything about the guy because it had his driving licence in there, so I said, "Look, I know the guy's details. All I need to tell you is, this is his name, can you ring him and give him my name and number and say I found his wallet? Don't worry. He can come and get it from me and I'll return it." Of course, they didn't.

So, in the end, I looked and the driving licence obviously has an address on it. But the address was about two miles from where I live. I'm thinking, "Well, that's a bit obscure because this person was probably walking around the street near my house." I don’t understand why he would suddenly drop it if he lived in a very nice area near where I live. So we'd spent about 40 minutes trying to ring up these premium rate numbers to return this guy's wallet.

So anyway, the story then takes a bizarre twist because I said, "Look, I'll jump in the car and I'm going to drive the couple of miles to that guy's house and give him his wallet back, because he’s probably now fretting about it." So I went to this house and it's in one of these really nice estates where...

Andy: So it's a fair way away from where you live, then.

Damien: Exactly. And you know when it's one of those areas where it's got a name on each house and no door numbers so you can't even find number one or anything.

Andy: Oh, so you have to trawl up and down.

Damien: So in the end I ended up talking to loads of different neighbours, "Do you know this house? Do you know this guy?" I eventually found the house after about half an hour. And the person didn't live there anymore, because I ended up speaking to some other neighbour that said, "Oh, they've moved out."

Andy: Do you know what? That's illegal to have a driving licence in your wallet with the wrong address on, I know that for a fact. Anyway.

Damien: Bizarrely. So I thought, What do I do now? I'm not going to put it in his letterbox where he used to live, because I don't even know if he goes back there. And the people said they didn’t really know him and hadn't seen him for a long time. So I went back to my house and said to my wife, "Well, I'm not really sure what to do now." I tell you what. I just suddenly decided that I'd use the powers of Twitter.

So the guy's name was slightly unusual. So I Googled his name and I found his Twitter profile. I'm thinking, "This looks like the guy." Clicked on the profile and I could see the face matched that on his driving licence. So I was like, "Brilliant!" So I tweeted him.

I said to him, "Hi,” I found your wallet in the street. I've been trying to track you down. Can you message me?" And I thought, Well, what more could I do? Maybe he'll write back.

Andy: And again, you said message me rather than do it via Twitter. By messaging you can sort of handle it via direct messaging and it comes out of the public domain as well.

Damien: Yeah. And I'm thinking, I can see it is this guy, because I can see his picture and I'm thinking, Oh great. I might be able to reunite him with his wallet. Maybe he doesn't even realise.

Andy: He obviously tweeted you straight back and said, "You're an absolute legend, Damien Fahy. I've heard you do good stuff for the masses. But now you're helping me out personally. Thank you very much," and that was the end of the story.

Damien: This is where it took a bizarre twist because he sent me back a message saying, "Even though it's in my pocket, you banal low life. Watch out everyone. This one is a real chancer.” What did he say? A real clever, sly operator, mug a mug or something. Mug of a mug. And basically, he just started abusing me on Twitter and I was like, oh right because I then suddenly panicked in a really bizarre way, thinking maybe I've got the wrong guy. I've actually just worried somebody unnecessarily. And I'm thinking, "Oh God, now people are going to think I'm trying to scam them."

Andy: And actually, with the work that you do for your day job, the last thing that you want is someone to start retweeting that tweet to say that you're some sort of a scammer. It could damage your business.

Damien: I thought this has just backfired, I was just trying to do a good deed for somebody and get their wallet back.

Andy: So you lobbed it in the canal.

Damien: No what I did is I wrote back to him saying, "Oh sorry, please do check because I have a wallet with your name in it". "Apologies if it's not you. I just didn't think there'd be many people with your name on Twitter." Then suddenly, about 20 minutes later, I got a tweet that said, "Oh, actually, really should have checked.”

Andy: Brilliant, so he comes back and...

Damien: “Really should have checked first. Apologies. I thought this was some scam. I can't find my wallet," with about a million exclamation marks.

Andy: The reason it took him 20 minutes to reply is he was tucking into that humble pie, wasn't he? Just before he managed to press “tweet” or reply.

Damien: The reason why then this story took a bizarre twist, because it obviously had played  out on Twitter and I don't know if people know that I have a Twitter following and a lot of the people who follow me on Twitter are journalists.. So a lot of newspapers out there, The Times, The Telegraph, you name it, they do follow me and I've exchange tweets with them before.

Of course, they've seen this ridiculous exchange, the way I've been abused, you find the guy's wallet, trying to do a good deed and this is what you get. I don't know why I bothered. And of course then, that just went viral because they saw it, and retweeted the whole stream thinking it was hilarious. And the thing just took a life of its own and it just went completely viral because obviously, I was only trying to help him out and then suddenly I get abused for no apparent reason, called a scammer and he hadn't even checked to see if his wallet was there and then had to apologise.

So next thing happens, is it took a life of its own and, I mean as I said, this was a few hours ago and I ended up turning my phone off because by the point that it got retweeted about a hundred and twenty times by various people in the media and and globally and it just got out of control, everybody’s now thinking, "It's one of those hilarious streams of somebody having to eat humble pie." And I know what your next question is probably going to be, is did he get his wallet back?

Andy: Yeah.

Damien: And this is the even more bizarre twist of the story which is funny, is that suddenly the guy appeared at my front door.

Andy: He appeared at your front door?

Damien: He appeared at my front door. And there were obviously, a few of the builders and he was sort of calling down the corridor because the front door was open, "Oh, Damien," and I saw this guy looking really sheepish and...

Andy: Hang on a minute, you're going to explain, I'm sure, but this guy has randomly somehow tracked you down.

Damien: Do you remember like Mr. Ben? Like the cartoon when suddenly the shopkeeper appears? This guy who's been abusing me on Twitter suddenly appears. And it turns out that not only is he a financial adviser, which a weird twist of fate, but he's actually operating in kind of the same industry as me, of all the jobs he could do in the world. But it also turns out, he has just moved in four doors down the road from me.

Andy: Oh no.

Damien: Of course, he's come up. I don't know how he knew where I lived, if he'd seen me in the street. I've never seen him before. I don't know how he found out where I lived, that I had his wallet, maybe because I'd mentioned it to the guys at the shop. But of course, what happened, I returned his wallet to him and he's apologised. He seemed a decent enough bloke in the end, actually. And I sort of laughed with him about it, and he apologized for abusing me and I said, “Don't worry about it. I was just trying to get it back.”

And of course, then what happened, in the background, I hadn't really been paying attention, but this has gone viral on Twitter, and more and more people are retweeting what's going on and of course...when you read the comments, if you’re listening to this podcast, go on my feed because they're on there and obviously, it's public. The next thing I knew, the Daily Mail newspaper have tried to contact me and I'm thinking,

I'm thinking, I've got the guy's wallet back, that's what I cared about so I didn't want to encourage more exposure. When I was sitting later on this evening, just before I come on here to talk to you, Andy, the Daily Mail have only just gone and run an entire story on the whole saga. You can Google it, and it says, it got a ridiculous headline. It's something like, "Good Samaritan tries to return wallet via Twitter and gets called a lowlife." That's the headline if you Google it, I just laughed at it.

Andy: That's literally gone to press. I mean, it's Friday night we're recording, that's literally gone to press a couple of hours ago. I mean, who knows where that might lead by the time this podcast goes out? This could be a front page news.

Damien: I'm just ignoring it, playing it down because all I was trying to do. When my wife found out she was actually furious because when she came home I said, "Oh look, I just got really abused on Twitter. It is that guy, I'm sure." Of course, the next minute he actually appeared and he obviously had to eat a bit of humble pie and apologized about it.

Of course, this is the lesson from all this, is that when you do things on Twitter, and you are abusive, because he thought it was a scam which I kind of get. If somebody thinks that somebody's maybe trying to scam them, but the best thing to do with a scam is to ignore it, not to reply to it. And that was the thing that he did wrong and he just started hurling abuse. I mean, I don't mind, I'm fairly thick skinned if someone wants to hurl abuse at me. But, at one point, you kind of think, “You know, why do I bother even trying?” But it just proves it's worth trying because he got his wallet back and he was happy.

I'm not quite sure now what he's going to think when actually opens the newspaper and finds a story in the biggest newspaper in the UK based on the Twitter conversation.

But the reason I was talking about it, is because that's the behind the scenes of what actually occurred. Me driving around two miles there and back to try and reunite a wallet, not found the guy. The banks not helping. The gym not helping. Of course, in a rather bizarre twist of fate he now seems to be in the Daily Mail because of his aggressive streak when he thought he was being scammed.

So it's a very bizarre series of events. If somebody told you that they found a wallet a couple of hours ago and the next minute they're on the front page, basically, of the Daily Mail you wouldn't believe it.

Andy: What I find mildly amusing is that it would've actually been far quicker for him to just quickly check his pocket than it would to fire off a tweet. So, even if you're not going to ignore someone, perhaps just pat yourself down first before you act. But in a way, that's what this brilliant podcast is doing, we're giving people the scoop. We're giving people the real story through this podcast.

Damien: That's what's funny, is that you can have a lost wallet, you try and return it to a guy and the next minute, it blows. Because the thing is, what is important, if you do any social media, is that you always play it with a straight bat because the thing is it's then indexed by Google, and unfortunately, they don't even ask you because if it's on Twitter, it's public. It's in the public domain, is they can print stories and the Daily Mail obviously printed the story.

Andy: Is that the same with pictures as well, I suppose?

Damien: Yeah, my picture’s on the story and so is that chap's. So, there you go. That's the story and there are some lessons to be learned there. Social media, be very careful, whether you abuse people or not, with what you say. It can do marvelous things, get wallets back. Also, if you've got a wallet, do put something in there so people can ring you and give it back to you because I could've rung him and said there you go. It is a really bizarre twist of fate that he happens to live in my street ha ha ha.

Andy: Awkward few days.

Damien: You couldn’t make this up. Right. Moving on to the money stuff. The stuff that's everybody's listening for. I've got a couple of things that I'm going to rattle through to this week, one or two money tips. And an interesting thing about council tax that a lot of people won't realise. So we'll start with a bit of a money tip.

Andy: Okay.

Voucher code trick

Damien: Now, did you know, when you download a voucher, say you're going to go to a restaurant or something, you get a voucher code, what they tend to do is limit the number of times that you can download that voucher. So you have to put your email address in, don't you? And then they'll send it to you, but of course you can only do that once. Now, did you know there's a nice trick to get around that, so you can get as many of those vouchers as you want?

Andy: No. Put in lots of different email addresses? That's a lot of work, though, for some vouchers.

Damien: That's a lot of work. Now this has come via somebody I know who works in IT who often use this when they are testing emails.

Andy: OK.

Damien: What they would do is rather than register johnsmith email and another, say, johnsmith email 1 or whatever it is and keep registering lots of them to see what happens, what you can do, is if you put johnsmith+, so the plus symbol, and then a number behind it, so it'll be like [email protected], then what happens is that, any email system will send it to that email address but Hotmail will recognise it as just johsmith. So in theory, you could have, on any email address, a million emails, you could have [email protected], [email protected] Do you get where I'm going with this?

So what you can do, is if you go onto a site and you want to get a voucher more than once, then you could go in and enter those different variations and they will all end up in your [email protected] inbox. You'll have different emails, have a different code and you can download them all.

Andy: Okay. So you need a Hotmail address but other than that...

Damien: No. It doesn't have to be Hotmail, it could be Gmail, it could be anything. It's an IT trick to be able to use the same email address multiple times...

Andy: Oh, sorry. Yeah.

Damien: Maybe I didn't explain that properly. But it's an IT trick because otherwise, if you worked in IT and you're testing systems in an office and trying to fire multiple emails, you’d have to create thousands of addresses. But it's a quite quick way, they can just do it by adding that +1 or + a number, and it all just goes to the same inbox. I can just check that one inbox and say, “Yeah I got all 10 of those.” It's a very neat way. It definitely works with Gmail, definitely works with Hotmail, which is what most people use. And I think it works with pretty much nearly any other email exchange. The email exchange just ignores that number part and just read it as johnsmith or whatever your name is, [email protected] So do that and you'll get as many codes as you like.

Andy: Good tip. I like that.

Damien: Yeah, it's good stuff. And the next thing I want to go on about is council tax.

Andy: Okay.

Council Tax trap

Damien: In particular, council tax shocks. Because we did a podcast previously where we talked to people about how you can work out your council tax, check you're not paying too much, or even reduce it. So if you go and Google, or search down the podcast feed, you'll find it. Now this is something a little bit different, and there's a story that came out with an elderly couple. And what they've done is they built an extension to their home, like lots of people do.

The elderly chap of the couple I think, was struggling with stairs and stuff like that. So what they did is they built a bit of an annex to the house. It was actually a separate dwelling, but only very small, so they could use that rather than have to keep going up and down the stairs. And then what happened, a couple of years after they built it, the council wrote to them and increased their council tax but £1,115 a year.

Andy: Wow. They didn't back date is as well, did they?

Damien: They didn't back date it. Well, I don't think they did. But the reason that I'm bringing it up is because it raises an interesting point, that when you obviously have a council tax band for your house, then the way they're done, it’s done from years ago, very quickly, back in about 1990, when they first ever judged them. They just looked at houses and just went, “Right they're all the houses on this side of this street are in a certain band, they get charged X amount.” Well, obviously if houses change, they can revisit what they charge you.

What they deemed, is in this particular case, that extra little building, they decided it had its own facilities. The person could sleep in it, eat in it, wash in it, they had a toilet. So it could actually operate as a separate building. So they gave it its own council tax band, so if you add that to the original property's council tax bill, that's why it went up. So what I'm just pointing out to people, if you do build an extension, which lots of people do, be careful because it could be that you could see your council tax bill go up. The way they find out is that they will check, obviously, planning permissions and things like that and on the records, obviously, you've registered that the house has changed. They can look at it and then they can rebrand you.

Andy: Okay. So something to look out for.

Damien: Yeah.

Andy: Any sort of a danger for someone like yourself who's just putting in an extra room, because your housing isn't changing but you're changing the structure of the house, you put an extra bedroom maybe in the loft, could that affect your council tax banding?

Damien: Do you know what happens? The way the bands are done, they created them back in, I think it was 1990 or 1991. And it pretty much stayed the same and then they re-evalued it based on what every house's price went up. So, if you're in a block in the street, the chances are you're going to pay the same as your neighbour. You can check online. This is the previous podcast where I tell you how to do that. If your house did change substantially, then yes, you could, because it's based on really what the value of your house is, and if you have recently changed it substantially, then you would be in danger of them changing your council tax band.

Obviously a lot of people wouldn't just own up to the fact that their house has suddenly doubled in size. But this leads on to my next point, which is really interesting. There was a whole street in Hull that had the whole street's council tax went up because, what happened is where, if you don't like your council tax band, if you check against your neighbour, you can challenge it. What happened, there was a person who was unhappy he was paying more than his neighbour.

Andy: Instead of him paying less, everyone else ended up paying more. Brilliant. I bet that's an awkward situation in that street.

Damien: There was an image, I've seen the picture, and there was all these really grumpy looking people lined up in the street. I don't know if there was one of the people in there who sort of pretends to be grumpy and he was the person who did it because he was anonymous. They don't know who did it, but everybody's council tax went up by £160 a year and that is the danger. When you challenge it, you can actually cause yours to go up or you can cause your neighbour’s, or in this instance cause an entire street's council tax.

Andy: Wow.

Damien: The reason I bring it up is it's a funny story but this proves to people that your council tax is not a static thing, your band can move and be moved by other people. So just be aware and if you're going to kick up a stink, it could back fire on you.

Andy: Yeah. Okay. Good stuff.

Inheritance tax calculator

Damien: The last final piece, because the podcast, we've crammed a lot in after I told you my ridiculous story of my day. The last thing I want to just chuck in here is an interesting calculator I came across. We've talked about inheritance tax before and we talk about how much you might have to pay and how it works and that sort of thing. I've just come across another good inheritance tax calculator. I just wanted to sort of shout out about. It's free. It's done by Scottish Widows, the life insurance company.

Now, if you go to their website, We'll put the link in the notes and we actually publish the full transcripts of these podcasts these days. If you go to that web address, the calculator is pretty good so within two minutes can assess your potential inheritance tax bill, if you were to die. So I wanted to throw it out there because I like these sort of tools, and it's something we've talked about in the past but inheritance tax can be very tricky. A very tricky thing to work out if you don't have the time and expertise.

Andy: Good stuff. That's it. We're all done. We've popped in a few little tips and tricks, a couple of funny stories and obviously the big story at the beginning there as well from today. Good podcast.

How to have multiple phone numbers on one mobile phone

Damien: It was a good podcast. Before we go, Andy. I've got another one. I forgot to chuck this one in. There's another quick tip.

Andy: It's your floor, Damien, you carry on.

Damien: Don't abuse me, Andy, because you could find yourself inadvertently being put in the newspaper. What's the world coming to? But there's a new app that's come up I quite like the look of. I've not used it, but it's called Swytch, but it's spelled switch with a "y" instead of an "i" so S-W-Y-T-C-H.

Andy: Okay.

Damien: Now, what it does, it allows you to have multiple phone lines on your mobile phone. And I don't know, you might be thinking, why would I do that? Well it's an app you download onto your smartphone and what it does is it gives you up to five lines. But instead of having multiple SIMs or multiple mobile phones, it all comes through to this one phone, which is quite neat because it means you don't have to pay for more than one phone. So it actually saves you money that way, so you don't have to have multiple phones. You know where people have a work phone, a home phone and a personal phone. It kind of does away with that. And the way it works is that it uses your data allowance or wifi to make the calls over the internet via all the numbers that are stored in the cloud. So it's quite neat.

It does have a small price, you can get a free trial for six months. You get a free phone number. And it doesn't cost you to receive calls. It cost you about 5p a minute to make calls out from it. But you then, after six months pay about five pound a month line rental, or you can get more extended blocks which makes it cheap, there's no contract. The reason I just chuck it out there is that if there are people who are struggling with the idea of that home phone, work phone, or multiple ones, you can actually have up to five that all come through. You can give them out to people and if they ring you, it will come through to your one handset and you don't have to give out your personal mobile phone number.

Another way that people are using it is that, let's say for example you shop online and they require a mobile number to contact you, you don't have to give them your personal one. You could create a separate one for those sorts of sites and that so you can just send it to voicemail so you don't get harassed. And the other good thing about it, which, again I've not tried it, but I like the idea, if you're a UK expat, it gives you a UK phone number, so calling other UK numbers over the internet, that's how it works out to 5p, so it can save you money that way.

So it's a nice idea. Have a look at it. I mean, I've not tried it but it could save you money and I just like things that are trying to be a little bit different and save you a bit of money on the way.

Andy: Brilliant. I know, I like innovative things and yeah, I like that.

Damien: So that is the end of the podcast. I've stopped now.

Andy: Good. Okay. Well done, Damien. Good stuff. You can always get a hold of Damien whenever you wish and if you don't want to abuse him, you can just get on to Twitter and ask him a question and get in touch. Damien will always come back to you with an answer. On Twitter, Damien is @money2themasses with the number two, and you can contact him also on this podcast and the email address is [email protected]

Damien: Brilliant. We're done, Andy. Until next week. Listen, let's hope it's a little bit more mundane next week. I don't have such a crazy week.

Andy: Hey, you might be too busy next week to fit in a podcast. You might be on the sofa in the morning or on The One Show.

Damien: I certainly won't be going on any One Shows to talk about lost wallets. See you later.

Don't forget to claim your free copy of Damien's bestselling book, The 30 Day Money Plan. Sort your finances in just five minutes a day. Worth 4.99. Just go to to find out how.