Apart from the Boards.ie “Rip Off Ireland” Forum, Value Ireland was the very first internet site to address the concerns of Irish consumers.
The launch of Value Ireland in 2003 attracted a huge amount of attention, from internet users and the media alike. This can be seen in the media coverage the site received at that time.
Some media outlets were so keen on getting a story about Value Ireland into the paper that they didn’t even waste time speaking to me and simply copied and pasted bits off the website.
Value Ireland was quickly followed by RipoffIreland.org, Ripoff-Ireland.net, SoapBox.ie, RipoffIrl.com, RipoffCard.com, IrishShopper.com, ShoppingBill.com, IrelandsCheapest and a few others that don’t come to mind right now. Most of these are gone now, or are rarely updated.
What is it they say, “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery”? In that case, I was most flattered by the decision of Fine Gael to create their version of Value Ireland. Ripoff.ie came along in early 2004, and burned brightly for a while before they too realised that people don’t really care all that much about complaining any more. Obviously no votes in that any more.
All of these websites took the tone of focusing on the negatives of the perceived “Rip Off Ireland”. Value Ireland continues better than ever, focusing on the positives, and providing helpful advice to consumers on how to act in the consumer environment we’re facing today.
Value Ireland is also, to a certain extent, filling the void left by any of the established Irish consumer agencies (Consumers Association of Ireland, Office of Director of Consumer Affairs, National Consumer Agency) in providing consumer advice online to Irish consumers. And it’s intended to continue and strengthen this into the future.