Archive | Your Say

Readers E-mail: Fine Gael Jobs Proposal

This e-mail came through from a ValueIreland.com reader some time ago, but I’m only getting a chance to publish now. What do you think?

Dear Sir/Madam,

I am enthralled by the continuous claims being made by Fine Gael with regard to creating thousands of new jobs if they were to get into power. How could it be that Fine Gael know how to do this and yet the government are unable to come up with such magnificent plans? Do Fine Gael have some strange ability to see what the government are unable to see?

Why is this government ignoring these ideas if they are worthwhile considering?

I fear this government is running scared and and feel they are unable to retrieve the situation and get it under control. At present they are negotiating with the Trade Unions which are behaving like terrorists by making threats on a daily basis.

This is no way to behave during times of financial trouble. True it is not the fault of the employees of the Public Sector that this country is costing too much to run on a daily basis. It is in fact a combination of the Trade Unions and the government that these employees have gained such large increments over the past decade that they now have financial commitments that do not allow them to absorb these reductions in salary.

However, it is also fair to say that these same employees are reasonably secure in employment and do not have the same security worries as being experienced on a daily basis in the private sector. Although this is no excuse for claiming the reductions in salary across the board in the Public Sector are justified.

I would like to know why Trade Union subscriptions are tax deductible. Would the Trade Unions have as many members if these payments were taxable? I feel the membership of these Unions would be possibly halved if this was to be the case.

Isn’t it time the Trade Unions told their members the real truth about the state of the countries finances. Ireland is spending too much money on a daily basis to pay for Public services. We have some employees in the Public and Civil service that are too well paid for the hours they work. We have frontline services suffering due to overstaffing in administration and senior management level.

Why do we need 166 T.D’s when 78 would be sufficient? This would give each county 3 T.D’s. These T.D’s should be forced to spend their time running the country and not in local clinics or going to funerals trying to secure votes. Votes should be secured by doing what we are all paying them to do. There are thousands of areas in Public expenditure which could be reduced without having to reduce anymore salaries in the lower to middle income earners in the Public Sector.

The HSE is purchasing products such as toilet rolls, liquid hand cleanser and hundreds of other products which are being sourced from outside Ireland. Why do we not have a factory in Ireland to manufacture these goods and supply the HSE among other businesses? It would create thousands of jobs through manufacturing and supply.

Ireland is a agricultural land and yet we allow so many goods that are being grown in Ireland to be imported into this country. It is time this government got behind the farming community and started to grow more produce to prevent or reduce the import of these goods. Manufacturing plants could be set up to process and package these goods into strongly branded Irish goods. A wholesaling and distribution division could also be formed to sell to the retailers in Ireland and retailers globally.

The possibilities are endless. All it takes is for the government to provide good financial incentives to producers and farmers. With the correct implementation of these incentives we will eventually become a stronger economy less dependent on foreign direct investment. We will become a sustainable economy with a much brighter future and one in which will become a better place to live and work.

Every cloud has a silver lining and this could be our silver lining if the government are willing to help get people back to work. It will not happen overnight but it could happen reasonably quickly. It would release the pressure being put on the employees in the Public Sector to take more cuts in their salaries. I would also suggest reviewing the performance of some senior Public and Civil Service employees.

I do not think they are all doing the work they claim. If they were we would not be in the mess we are in right now. It is unfair on the honest hard working employees within this sector to punish them for the behaviour of the few hundred or thousand that are not pulling their weight.

Ireland with less than 50,000 unemployed and a happy and prosperous population in excess of 5 million sounds like a good place to be. It is up to every person in Ireland to ensure this government gives us this future.

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Interested in being on TV with Eddie Hobbs?

Or at least in the audience for his new Consumer Show on RTE1? This arrived in the e-mail yesterday. It’s a pity Vicky didn’t bother to take the time to find out who the Sir/Madam might actually be – I don’t keep it a secret.

Dear Sir/ Madam,
The Consumer Show, which will be fronted by finance guru Eddie Hobbs and TV journalist Keelin Shanley is looking for people to be part of our studio audience.
This show will be recorded in the RTE studios, Donnybrook, Dublin 4 from the 6th September 2010 and every Monday thereafter for six weeks.
If you think this would be of interest to the readers of your website you can contact me on 01 2084643 or email me at vicky@cocotelevision.ie and I will send you on all the relevant information.
Yours Sincerely,
Vicky Taylor
The Consumer Show
Montrose House
RTÉ
Donnybrook
Dublin 4
Direct Line: +353 1 208 4643
Web: www.rte.ie/tv/theconsumershow/

Follow up as you chose – I won’t be going along anyway. I think it’s quite disappointing that RTE and COCO Television would return to the Eddie Hobbs well for a presenter for a consumer programme.

As someone who did some great work on behalf of consumers some years ago, I think he really is “gamekeeper turned poacher” in recent years. We’ve seen his promotion of property as an investment product through Brendan Investments. There’s also been his involvement in Cape Verde property promotion.

And more recently, with the decline in readership for the You & Your Money magazine that he fronts, there has been an increased dependency in that publication on advertising from CFD and spread betting providers.

I appreciate that he’s probably there given his past popularity, and that he’s trading on the success of RipOff Republic years ago, but I think those times are gone and that his impartiality isn’t what it used to be.

Still, we’ll be huddled around the tv watching the first episode – surely it has to be better than some of the other consumer related muck that RTE have been broadcasting in the past couple of years?

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More on buying Irish – cause and effect

Following up on my post yesterday about buying Irish, there was a follow up e-mail from the same reader with the following comments:

You might add a couple of other comments to the email. Since the increase in cross border shopping and the change in purchasing from Tesco to source their goods from the UK, we have seen unemployment grow by more than 50%.

We have a serious race to the bottom in Ireland and the consumer seems to think this is a good thing and they expect the retailer to constantly reduce prices.

Yet the worker in Ireland also expects to earn much better salaries than available in the UK or elsewhere in Europe. It is not possible to have it both ways.

Something has to give and appears it is through job losses, reduced quality of food products and reduced customer service.

Is this really the future we want in Ireland? I reckon if everyone in Ireland decides they are going to support Irish businesses and Irish goods we will recover from this recession as a stronger nation with a much more sustainable future.

Keep up the work and I like the new web site. It is very well presented and much easier to follow.

Again, nice to get the compliments, and while I can’t be sure of the correlation between the Tesco sourcing decision and the direct impact on Irish jobs, I’ve always maintained that we have to look to our own jobs and how much we might depend on other peoples buying habits to support us and how we should in return look at our own buying decisions and how they impact on the jobs of others in Ireland.

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ValueIreland.com Buy Irish Page

Some time ago I followed up on much of my writing about buying Irish by consolidating everything into a single page – available here. In response to that, I received this e-mail from a regular ValueIreland reader making some interesting points on the whole “buy Irish” topic:

Dear Sir,

I would like to compliment you on your new website and the basis of the content. I realise I have criticised your lack of buy Irish content but I feel you are now addressing this issue. As I have stated in the past I am a retailer with a supermarket in Abbeyleix.

I feel it is important to point out a few details I have discovered throughout the last 16 months.

Ireland has had the most competitive retail sector throughout Europe for the last decade. The main reason for the higher prices in comparison with the rest of Europe is the incredibly high running costs for a business in Ireland compared with the rest of Europe.

Ireland has a population under 5 million and yet we have a very strong independent retail sector of which accounts for 47% of the total sales within the grocery sector alone. This sector also employs over 60% the staff employed within this sector. We also have Tesco, Dunnes and Superquinn.

The UK has a population of 65 million and a small independent retail sector which accounts for less than 15% of the total sales within the grocery sector. The main competitors are Asda, Tesco, Sainsbury’s(Morrisons are now owned by Sainsbury’s) and a couple of smaller retail chains such as Kwik Save.

Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Asda were charged with price fixing during 2008 and paid in excess of 3 million pound in fines.

In Ireland retailers do not have the luxury of fixing prices as it is such a small market and so many competitors. Each independent retailer is striving to develop their own business and provide better value than the larger multiples. For this reason alone it makes the Irish market more competitive. Unfortunately the government is unwilling to assist Irish businesses in reducing prices by constantly increasing the cost of running a business in Ireland.

I appreciate the efforts you are making to provide some insight into the reasons for supporting Irish produce and Irish businesses and for that I applaud you.

Nice to get the compliments, but also interesting (once you appreciate the angle the writer is coming from) to see the comments on the costs of doing business in Ireland.

A couple of years ago, in response to the flood of shoppers heading north, Forfas completed a report that said (paraphrasing) that while costs were higher in Ireland compared to north of the border, the cost differences didn’t make up the full price differences we were suffering from when doing our grocery shopping.

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What can I do about pubs changing their prices?

An e-mail came through from a ValueIreland.com reader recently, where the answer is very simple to the one that I gave to this question, What can I do about petrol station changing its prices?

Can you tell me is it legal for pubs to put their prices up every hour?  I think it is an absolutely disgraceful practice and they definitely do not change their listed prices every hour.

Flannery’s, Camden Street
Oliver St John Gogarty, Temple Bar

There are no price controls in Ireland so business and pubs can charge whatever they want to customers. If customers are willing to pay those prices, then they can continue to charge those prices. If people aren’t happy to pay those prices, then they might drop them, or go out of business because they have no more customers.

The only law that pubs have to follow when it comes to the price of alcohol is that their price lists, which should be visible close to the front door, should always be updated to reflect the prices being charged at any time during the night.

Of course, who at 3am in the morning is going to report an incorrect price list to the National Consumer Agency, who won’t do anything about it anyway, more than likely. Or who’s going to remember or have legitimate evidence in the morning to make such a complaint.

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What are my rights when my computer software isn’t working?

This e-mail came through from a ValueIreland.com reader who had some computer problems.

Hi,i bought a computer from the store 7 months ago.When it was sold to us they never told us it was the last one in the shop which was the floor model. A few months later my wife brought it back in because the keys needed to be changed,and while she was there mentioned that she found some pictures on the computer that were of customers taking photos of themselves in the shop.

Be cause i knew the man that sold it to me she did not want to start any trouble and never mentioned the situation to me that they admitted to selling the computer to us without prior knowledge. But recently i had to go back in as the screen was playing up anytime i played dvds.

They told me that after looking at the computer the hardrive was ok, that the problem was the dvd programme on the computer, but that they were not in any way at fault that we would have to speak to the company that made the programme. But when i bought the computer that format stuff was already on it and sold to us as part of the computer. Can you inform me of any rights that i may have or not have if that is the case.

Your rights in this case depend on when you bought the computer. If you bought it within the last 12 months, then you are entitled to have the shop who sold you the computer sort out the problems – it doesn’t matter that the problem is hardware or software related.

Your contract of purchase was made with the retailer, and not with either the computer manufacturer who installed the software on the computer, nor with the manufacturers of the software.

If you bought the computer 12 to 24 months ago, then things are a little different. In this case, you would have to prove that the fault existed with the computer when you bought it. If you can do this, then you would have to follow up with the manufacturer of the computer. However, based on the e-mail above, I don’t believe this is relevant in this situation.

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A-Wear – more sterling to euro exchange rate rip-offs

I just want to air my grievances at the price difference between stg and euro with A-Wear stores. For example I see “military gold button day dress” is £30stg but €40 in this store to buy in ireland? This is charge 67p to €1? How can they justify in recessionary times to charge that much extra to buy in ireland vs uk?

The current exchange rate is 87p to €1.

I would be grateful if you would publish this on your website to highlight this to as many people as possible. I have written to their head office also but would like to advise ppl in ireland of this so they can vote with their feet until Awear reduce their prices !

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Readers E-mail – Irish Attitudes

This e-mail came through from a reader of ValueIreland.com some time ago. What do you think? Agree, disagree?

I am very concerned with the growing attitude that seems to be gripping the country. I have had numerous discussions with consumers over the past month regarding the growing imports from the UK within the grocery sector. It appears many consumers do not understand the importance of supporting Irish companies and Irish products. In fact some of the consumers I have spoken to think only about the price and not as to where the product came from or whether it was supplied by an Irish supplier. They simply do not care about the jobs being lost in Ireland as a result of goods being imported that were previously sourced through Irish companies.

My obvious concerns are for the financial stability of the local and Irish economy. Job losses appear to be accepted as part and parcel of this recession. Why should this be the case? Every person in Ireland has the ability to change this trend. It is as simple as supporting Irish companies and products. Yes I accept Irish products tend to be more expensive. This is due to the higher costs incurred in producing the product. If the Irish consumer wishes to retain the ability to buy Irish goods then it is vital to ensure the consumer is educated as to the benefits of buying and supporting Irish goods and companies.

Irish companies are lifeblood of each and every community. They provide the majority of funding for social welfare payments, public sector pay etc. etc.

The upcoming budget will provide a tough test for this government. One that will cause much upheaval in many households throughout Ireland. The government predict it will take 4 years to balance the spending between expenditure and tax revenue. With the help of each and every person in Ireland by supporting Irish businesses and products we can shorten this time span and make Ireland a much better and profitable place to live.

Ireland pre 2000 was a country built with great pride in the quality of Irish products and great support was given to Irish products. Unfortunately times have changed for the worse and the focus on lower prices has now encouraged UK and other companies in Ireland to source their goods from the UK and mainland Europe. This money is going out of the Irish economy and benefiting foreign economies. the loss of these funds are causing job losses, pay cuts, and what could be poorer public services.

The latter is a very sensitive subject at present. Many public sector workers are aggrieved with how they feel they are being singled out for the position the country is in at present. This is very unfair on the frontline staff. The lower paid if you will. They do not deserve to be treated with disrespect. Although any position of employment within the public sector is a much more favorable position than that being experienced within the private sector. Every position of employment, without exception, within the private sector is under incredible pressure due to cutbacks in spending throughout the Irish economy.

The consumer in Ireland is constantly told to demand lower prices by the National Consumer Agency (NCA). Although this seems to make sense, we must be aware of the repercussions of these actions. The drive for lower prices thus far has resulted in lower prices and higher unemployment, the risk of reduced social welfare payments and considerable reduction in vital public services such as health care, education and gardai. From the outset Ireland will not look like a very safe or healthy place to live for the next few years.

As I stated earlier it is possible to prevent or at least reduce the damage incurred upon the Irish economy by simply educating each and every person living in Ireland to support Irish businesses and Products. It is important to demand Irish produced goods or if the goods you seek are not produced in Ireland ensure they are distributed by Irish suppliers. This will encourage employment and with the correct approach from suppliers keep prices low.

One final point I must make is with reference to fresh fruit & vegetables being sold by Lidl. Four weeks previous to this letter my daughter while at college bought some vegetables in Lidl. She purchased tomatoes, peppers and lettuce on a Monday. She cut one tomato and one pepper in half and a small portion of lettuce. She used this and placed the rest in the fridge. As a typical student she forgot about them until the following Friday. She opened the fridge expecting the goods to be rotten and much to her surprise she found them to be in the exact same condition as the first day she purchased them. She was very concerned as to how this could be and decided to see how long it would take for them to go off. Four weeks later and the same goods are still in perfect condition. The question is how? I would like to think every Irish person understands fresh goods will only stay fresh for a couple of days before going bad. So why are these goods still in such good condition?

For those whom may read this email, I suggest you look at the possibility of educating the consumer to support Irish businesses and Irish products. This will help to generate the much needed funds for the exchequer and re-circulate the profits in the Irish economy and not foreign economies.

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Price Comparison (comparative advertising) is in the interests of consumers

This interesting e-mail came through recently to ValueIreland.com from a business person who is investigating providing price comparison in their particular market to try to show consumers that they actually do provide better value for money than their competitors.

I read, with interest, your article regarding a possible grocery price comparison site. It started me thinking about the legality of doing something similar in my own industry, on my own site.

I checked recently my pricing in comparison with my competitors and the so called discounters to discover that when all is said and done my prices are as good or better than the vast majority out there.

With every consumer now almost solely interested in price I think this would be worth shouting about.

My company enjoyed a reputation of having top quality products and service over the past couple of years but unfortunately, in a recession, people now associate this with being expensive which is simply not the case.

Obviously I will take legal advice about how I could show that my pricing is better than named competitors but I was wondering if you had any off hand info on the legality of showing price comparisons of similar or the same products on my website.

I would appreciate any assistance you may be able to provide me with, with the aim of offering savings to consumers.

I don’t have the legal specific expertise on this kind of thing, but I don’t believe there can be any problem if you were to report the prices of your competitors on your website.

I believe in advertising terminology this would be known as “comparative advertising”.

As far as I know, there was some recent EC regulations enacted in Ireland to cover “comparative advertising” – the EUROPEAN COMMUNITIES (MISLEADING AND COMPARATIVE MARKETING COMMUNICATIONS) REGULATIONS 2007 – details here.

This regulation is intended to prevent any comparative marketing communications which is misleading or confusing.

For this reason, I believe, if you were to gather your comparative pricing information and ensure that you present it accurately on your website, you shouldn’t have any problem. It might be a good idea to provide the time and date of the prices you’re using from your competitors as well – just in case they try to question where you got your information from. Even better, if you have photographs of the prices you’re using, there can be no misunderstandings (even if you just keep the photos in case any problems arise).

As you’ll probably have read in my comments regarding grocery price comparisons, the problem is to always make sure that the price information displayed is accurate and as up to date as possible.

I’m personally in favour of this kind of advertising but this isn’t something that’s been all that popular historically in Ireland, but is a whole lot more common in the United States. Maybe, if business people are starting to think like this one, we hopefully might see a bit more of it.

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H&M added to the “dual pricing rip off” hall of shame

This e-mail came through recently.

I have just returned from a shopping expedition with my wife and 2 daughters in Dublin city centre. My daughters are very fond of H+M and I also found 3 pairs of trousers that I liked. The Sterling price of the trousers per pair was £19.99 and the Euro price was €29.99. I’m absolutely flabbergasted by the extortionate exchange rate that is continually used by H+M since the Euro is now trading at 0.876397 which gives these trousers a Euro price of €22.80 if the true exchange rate were used. This exchange rate has been hovering around the 0.87 to 0.89 mark for some time.

A simple question must be asked. Why are H+M over charging the already hard pressed Irish consumer a whopping 32% more than their English counterparts? The answer I suspect is because they can. To add further insult, that wouldn’t take Sterling cash ( which I didn’t have anyway) for the Sterling price shown on the price tag. This just proves that it’s a carefully orchestrated pricing policy.

Any ideas on how to have this criminal practice highlighted would be appreciated.

A common topic from ValueIreland.com readers, but this reader has answered his own question – these shops charge these prices because they can, and because unfortunately there are still Irish consumers out there who’ll pay what’s asked unquestioningly.

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