€100m RIP OFF SHOCK

The Irish Mirror
Emily Miller, April 15th, 2005

Irish hit by mobile, insurance & bank bills

Irish people were ripped off to the tune of €100million last year – for their mobile phones, car insurance and bank accounts.

Internet consumer watchdog Value Ireland revealed 1.2million people were victims of fat-cat banks, phone companies, insurance firms and the Government.

So far six companies have come clean to the tune of €21million. AIB, Bank of Ireland and Vodafone were the main culprits, followed by Meteor, VHI and Irish Life. On Monday, insurance company Axa was slammed for not repaying customer sums of less than €25.

Consumers Association chief Dermott Jewell yesterday hit back with tips for every Irish consumer and top of his list was “Don’t get bored”. He said: “Check your bank statements. Demand records. It’s a dull job but we owe it to ourselves and each other to do so. Companies will have to pull their socks up now Ireland has a Financial Services Ombudsman, but there should also be a hefty fine. The sum should be proportionate to their own wealth and the amount they have taken from customers”.

A Vodafone spokeswoman said: “No billing system in the world is 100% accurate. But we employ people to go through bills to make checks. And if we undercharge, the customer keeps the cash”.

Axa now promises to repay €1.7million to 130,000 customers and Bank of Ireland is said to have planned refunds of €15million.

Value Ireland founder Diarmuid MacShane said more revelations of overcharging might emerge. Fine Gael TD Phil Hogan called for a “consumer rights enforcer” to fight on peoples behalf.

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