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Correspondent’s week

Unfortunately for me, the week starts on a Sunday. We have a skeleton staff in the office each Sunday to ensure the website is updated with all the news from the Sunday papers and, in particular, our sister publication, the Mail on Sunday.

I am greeted by a voicemail message from Ann-Marie Masson. We launched our campaign into the misselling of payment protection insurance back in June – when I quickly acquired the additional title of campaigns editor – and Ann-Marie is our first victory. She was forced into buying a PPI policy and last week the company agreed to refund her all her repayments plus interest.

I decide to return her call her on Monday morning and get down to the business of scanning all the papers and figuring out what we are going to run with as our lead, getting the Financial Mail copy on to the site quickly.

On Monday, after speaking to Ann-Marie, I have a long chat with another reader, Martin, who is unemployed and has personal debts of 85,000. He is attempting to sort out an IVA and is the perfect case study to go along with Michael Clarke’s plain English guide to IVA that we are putting on the site tomorrow.

Part of my job is keeping track of our readers’ emails and sorting out which ones we will follow up for stories for the site. I have been at This is Money for more than two years and I still cannot help but be staggered by what some of them tell us. Martin has 10 credit cards, several unsecured loans and minimum monthly repayments of more than 2,000 – tricky when you do not have a job.

Tuesday morning starts with a quick ring-round to the banks to find out what is happening with savings rates. I find that, er, nothing is happening, so I start the long job of scouring the results of our PPI survey before our weekly editorial meeting.

We have hit a nerve with this campaign and I am genuinely surprised, although very pleased, that so many people have filled in the survey. We did not even get this many responses when we hosted a survey for the Financial Mail on Indian call centres, which everyone seems to have an opinion about. We have had close to 1,100 people take part, which breaks all records for the site.

Wednesday is Northcliffe day. We provide the personal finance copy for the Northcliffe regional newspapers and I would like to include a piece on interest rates. We need something that will not date too quickly, as some of the papers do not publish our copy until the following week. We keep it fairly general with a “Ways to beat the rate rise” story from mortgages writer Simon Lambert.

On Thursday – the end of my week, thanks to my Sunday shift – I had planned to send out Northcliffe early and finish off the survey results so we could have a story ready for Monday morning. The airport chaos puts an end to that and instead I find myself thinking about consumer angles for the biggest news story in months. It is days like today that I particularly love working on the web and being able to update news as it happens.

Our new reporter, Ed Monk, starts figuring out what rights travellers have when it comes to insurance and compensation and we find that many of them – thanks to the small print in travel policies – will not be covered for any terrorism-related delays or cancellations. It is a good story and will make a strong lead for tomorrow morning.

I had plans to meet up for dinner with a friend who is flying into the country from Europe for one night before flying home to Australia tomorrow. We finally hear that he is in the country but his flight has been diverted to Birmingham. Dinner will be later than planned.

Any Out of Contexts or Diary stories? Send them to Diary editor Paul McMillan, email: or telephone: 020 7970 4776


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