The Irish Mirror
September 1st, 2004
RIP-OFF Ireland is alive and well, an Irish Mirror investigation reveals today.
Consumers are being robbed left, right and centre of their hardearned cash.
Shoppers now pay way over the odds for everyday items such as groceries, petrol, CDs, car insurance, soft drinks, phone calls, electrical goods, health care and clothing.
Ireland is now Europe’s top ripoff nation, according to latest research which shows that consumers pay some of the highest prices for food, drink and tobacco.
A cup of coffee in an Irish restaurant now costs 46 per cent above the EU average, while Dublin is the third dearest city in the world in which to buy a hamburger meal – you’ll pay Eur6.50 compared to Eur3.65 in New York.
And instead of a thousand welcomes, foreigners visiting our shores are being ripped off by greedy retailers, publicans, hoteliers and B&B owners.
A glass of sparkling water in some bars now costs Eur2.80 – making a massive profit for greedy publicans.
Last night Michael Kilcoyne of the Consumer Association of Ireland said: “Everything is more expensive in Ireland.
“We are probably the most blatant country in the world when it comes to rip-off prices. We have the highest prices and the worst services. Retailers are literally robbing the money out of people’s pockets.
“It is sheer greed and it has got out of control. I would urge people to shop around, to shop on the internet and even shop abroad.
– You can take a flight to another country to do your shopping. especially if purchasing clothes and still save money.”
Indeed for every Eur1.40 an Irish shopper is forced to shell out their Spanish and German counterparts only have to part with 80 cent.
Irish consumers now pay Eur49 more for their weekly groceries than their European neighbours.
And Irelands credit card rates (16.7 per cent on average) are now almost 40 per cent higher than any other country in Europe.
In particular, there are massive price differences in the car insurance market and this reporter. posing as a 28-year-old provisional driver saved Eur747 by shopping around.
Quinn Direct insurance quoted Eur1,566 for comprehensive cover on a 2000 Toyota car, while Eagle Star came in at Eur2,313. Hibernian refused to give a quote.
Survey after survey shows there is now systematic overpricing across a huge range of services and goods.
A basket of grocery shopping in an Irish outlet is TWO AND A HALF times dearer than the equivalent shopping in a Polish shop. And stealth taxes introduced or sanctioned by the current Government have left consumers hugely out of pocket.
But the backlash against rip-off Ireland is firmly on the rise as, angry consumers flood websites with horror stories of overcharging.
A young man who contacted www.valueireland.com told how he was quoted Eur4,000 to insure his van. He later moved to Australia and insured a similar vehicle for Eur90.
One woman shopper recalled how a gardening centre in the midlands charged Eur16 for an apple tart.
Another angry consumer told how he was charged Eur4.50 for a plain scone in a hotel’s self-service bar.
A recent survey by Fine Gael showed that a basket of groceries at a Tesco in the Republic was 43 per cent dearer than a Tesco store in the UK.
The party’s consumer rights website www.ripoff.ie has been inundated. One consumer told how she was quoted Eur1,600 for dental work – she got the same work done for Eur270 in Enniskillen, Co Fermanagh.
Another shopper told how he was charged 30cent for a dollop of ketchup. Eur7.75 for a slice of quiche and Eur3 for a cup of tea in a restaurant.
Fine Gael said it is time for the Government to “put up or shut up on the issue of consumer rip-off’.
Deputy Phil Hogan, the party’s Trade and Enterprise spokesman added: Telling people to shop around simply isn’t good enough.
`The sense of anger among consumers is clear and our rip-off website has received more than 40,000 visitors since it was set up last December.
“These emails tell a bleak story of how Irish people are being ripped off every day. Put simply, there is no one in Government looking out for the consumer’s interest.”
And Fine Gael believes high prices are destroying the country’s tourist trade.
Social and Family Affairs spokesman Michael Ring said: “In particular the high costing of eating out is strangling tourism. Tourism is one of the main stays of the economy and it is in freefall.”
Our investigation revealed that consumers can make massive savings on items such as CDs, DVDs and flights, by buying over the net.
For example, HMV on Henry Street in Dublin charges Eur79.99 for the Godfather Trilogy on DVD – this can be bought on the website CD Wow for Eur45.99, including free delivery to your door.
Fine Gael now plans to publish new legislation to improve the level of protection for consumers.
The Private Members Bill to be published in the autumn calls for a Consumer Rights Enforcer who will have the “independence the teeth and the determination to tackle rip-off merchants”.
Deputy Hogan said: “We want a tough enforcer who will name and shame those who rip off the consumer. This enforcer will prosecute offenders and impose heavy fines.”
AN examination of 450 products in the 25 EU-member states shows that:
TOBACCO products sold here are 84 per cent higher than the EU average
ALCOHOL is 82 per cent more costly than the EU average
TEA and coffee are on average 46 per cent more expensive than the rest of Europe
VEGETABLES are 43 per cent above the average price in the EU
STEALTH TAXES Since 2002:
VAT has risen by eight per cent
MOTOR tax has gone up by 12 per cent
HOSPITAL charges are now 26 per cent higher
VHI rose by 18 per cent
BIN charges went up by 29 per cent
THE TV licence fee is now 40 per cent dearer
THE cost of cigarettes and cent alcohol went up by 15 per
BUS fares rose by nine per cent
ELECTRICITY costs rose by 30 per cent counting
A 20-YEAR-OLD German driver can be insured for Eur400.
His Irish counterpart would have to pay Eur4,000
A BASIC model Dell laptop computer costs Eur1,366 in the company’s Irish website. The same model on the company’s UK site costs Eur843 – a difference of Eur523
A PAIR of Levi jeans cost an average of Eur69 in Ireland compared to Eur36 in the USA
A SONY digital camcorder costs Eur800 in the Republic compared to Eur530 in America.