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Top Tips for Irish Consumers from The Serial Complainer

Before Christmas, we ran a series of Top Tips for Irish Consumers. We asked a selected number of higher profile Irish consumers for their own top tips. Before Christmas, we had 17 very generous responses to our request – but we realised that a lot of time and effort was required to put together these lists.

Since December, a couple of other people have kindly sent on their own top tips, for which we’re really grateful, and we’ll publish them over time.

This week, courtesy of the Serial Complainer, here’s his own listing of Top Tips for Irish Consumers.

  • Give Feedback, both positive and negative: As a consumer, the more feedback you can give to a business, the more likely they are to meet your needs in future. Be sure to give positive as well as negative feedback, and try to ensure that you target the right person (the more senior, the better).
  • Use Conference Calling: When you have two businesses blaming each other (e.g. your bank and your insurance company), hook the two of them in together on a conference call and let them sort it out directly, rather than you being stuck in the middle
  • Use email: You can get directly to most Irish chief executives by email. Once you have any email address in that company, you can deduce the email address of the head honcho. Send your email between 5.30 pm and 6.00 pm to have a better chance of bypassing the secretary. Use Google Alerts to get regular email updates on topics of interest to you.
  • Be creative: If you want a response to your complaint, make it stand out from others. Attach photographs, or a bunch of flowers, or a ton of unwanted junk mail – whatever it takes to get some attention
  • Haggle, haggle, haggle: It’s not something that I’m very good at myself, but there are lots of opportunities to save a few quid. It is always worth pushing an insurance provider based on informed knowledge of competing offers to reduce the price. You can even haggle by email – I got €15 off a hotel overnight rate with a bit of email haggling!
  • Avoid big brands: Why would you want to spend 20%-40% of your hard-earned on morketing  and advertising costs, when you can get a no-name product of the same quality? Are you really that shallow that you think people are impressed by the label? It’s not a ‘bargain’ even when bought at a US outlet store, if you can get the same product for half the price in Penneys! [Are you listening, Mrs Serial Complainer?]
  • Use eBay: I got 16 AAA batteries from a UK eBay seller for the same price as Argos sell a pack of 4 AAA batteries of the same NiMh rating. Use eBay saved searches to get email notifications of bits and pieces that you are looking for.
  • Unit pricing: Check unit pricing (price per litre, or price per kilo) on the shelf label in the supermarket. I found that my preferred shampoo (Simple) was €20 approx per litre, so I switched to a nice, smelly Herbal Essences at a much lower €13 per litre.
  • Gift tokens/vouchers: Don’t buy them. It’s like handing over your cash to get a noticeably less useful form cash. Take that few minutes to find out a bit more about the gift recipient, and get them something they actually want. But if you do insist on buying them, don’t leave it until the day before Xmas and get stuck in a long, long queue (see attached photo).
  • Pick your battles: Ghandi said “Be the change you want to see in the world”. You need to focus your energy on the 1/2/3 big issues or organisations that really impact your daily life. Follow up on these issues tenaciously and persistently, and the change will come.

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