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What did you do for World Consumers Day?

Yesterday was World Consumers Day. Personally, I wouldn’t have known about it except for someone forwarded to me a Consumers Association of Ireland press release sent out last week marking the occasion. I didn’t get it as they seem to have removed me from their mailing list for some reason.

As an aside, from the release I see they’re starting to use the old “truly independent” tagline from ValueIreland.com as well – they used to be plain old independent. You’re hardly “truly independent” however if you’re depending on a Government subvention every year to survive, and where some of your board members rake in directors fees from many state and semi-state organisations and quangos.

This is the Press Release:

CAI mark Consumer Rights Day with re-launch of Website WWW. THECAI.IE

The Consumer’s Association of Ireland (CAI) re-launched its new look website today and in doing so set out its stall in celebration of World Consumer Rights Day 2010.

Dermott Jewell, CEO of the Association, said that “The CAI, as a truly independent consumer Association, struggles to survive at the best of times. In times of recession it becomes almost impossible. We are hoping that consumers, by visiting the site, will see what we are about and support us in supporting them and their families.

We know – and guarantee – that any one becoming a Member and supporter will save the cost of their subscription and more through our recommended independent product tests and money and lifestyle advice. That – what consumers need – all day every day! Jewell concluded.

World Consumer Rights Day has its origins in former US President John F. Kennedy’s declaration to US Congress on March 15th 1962 of the 4 basic consumer rights:

The right to safety;

The right to be informed;

The right to choose and

The right to be heard.

“Consumers by definition, include us all. They are the largest economic group, affecting and affected by almost every public and private economic decision. Yet they are the only important group… whose views are often not heard.”

The site is a definite improvement over the previous incarnation – much clearer and somewhat easier to navigate.

Head over there and check it out – they are now providing access online to their back catalogue of product testing reviews from their Consumer Choice magazine – available at €96 per year.

If you head over there now, you can get 12-hours free access to the membership areas of the site – get a look at some of those product testing articles maybe.

This new site, and the above press release, seems to indicate the renewal of the annual efforts to boost what is a consistently falling membership base (according to the most recent accounts lodged with the Companies Office).

Unfortunately for the Irish consumer, the CAI, despite it’s slogans and aims, is no longer a consumer advocacy organisation. Can anyone remember what their most recent “campaign” was? And I don’t mean a reactionary soundbite on the radio.

I believe it’s three years now since a significant chunk of work was done to identify campaign items that the Association would stand work on.  I have not seen a single proactive measure coming from the Association in that time – despite there being some pretty good ideas on that campaign items list.

As was raised at the last AGM I attended – 2008 – it’s clear that the CAI is now no more than a magazine publication organisation that charges a ridiculous €96 per year subscription  – exactly three times that of Eddie Hobbs Your and Your Money magazine.

It’s interesting then, that as per the press release above, they “guarantee” that you’ll save at least €96 per year by subscribing to their magazine. One wonders what the small print is on that guarantee – “or your money back?” I wonder?

I can guarantee you a €96 saving right here and now, but you already know what I’m going to say now.

2 comments On What did you do for World Consumers Day?

  • Liked your blog, very interesting I never heard of the ICA before now what do they do???

  • Thanks Mel. The CAI is an outdated organisation from the 1960’s that was originally set up as a sort of pressure/representative group that would represent Irish consumers.

    The current board and management of the CAI have unfortunately lost their way in recent years and have become more interested in the pseudo power the organisation has from its position than in representing the interests of consumers.

    They are now more concerned with maintaining their places on government quango boards, and the boards of semi-state enterprises in the name only of being consumer representatives, yet still drawing down generous fees and expenses though the CAI claims to be a charity organisation where members “volunteer” their time on behalf of consumers.

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