Online Advertising – you can’t believe what you read

Interesting article linked here where Ryanair are trying to reinforce their own assertions that they provide the lowest price flights in Europe.

Ryanairs ire is directed towards e-bookers and their recent claims on their website that they provide the best price on flights to Europe.

Ryanair are apparently approaching Advertising Standards and the Office of Fair Trade in the UK to have their claim upheld.

As I’ve found in the past myself, if their focus of attention is purely on what e-bookers are saying on their website, then Ryanair won’t have much luck I think. Especially if the UK advertising regulations are similar to Ireland where online advertising claims are not subject to normal advertising rules.

Basically companies can say anything they like on their websites without any regard for advertising regulations. Smart Telecom used this to their (supposed) advantage when advertising telephony services on their site before they were finally found out, and I’ve also had complaints against Imag!ne online advertising rejected because they’re supposedly allowed say anything they like about their services online.

Which is probably how the mobile network 3 will never be challenged on their online assertions that they’re “offering an unprecedented level of value and service” compared to existing Irish networks. That is of course, unless they mean they’re offering an unprecedented level of service in terms of it’s BADNESS.

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All publicity is good publicity?

Over the years, there’s been a few companies where we haven’t really had cause to write positive things about them. 3 Mobile have been the recent recipients of my ire because of their customer service.

Back in 2005, we published this article about Advance Pitstop on the website. Basically, we discovered that their advertising tag line of telling customer to not shop around was shown to be bogus – even by shopping around amongst their own shops we found that different levels of value (or not) could be found.

Though this was back in 2005, this is still one of the most popular articles on the Value Ireland website. I wonder how many potential clients read the article and think better of giving Advance Pitstop their business.

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Tesco exploits law loophole

I spotted an article today in the Daily Telegraph about how Tesco in the UK exploits some loopholes in tax law by sending it CDs and DVDs to customers in the UK, from the UK, but via Switzerland. The article is linked here.

I’ve experienced this on a number of occasions, or at least something similar. My former employer in the UK regularly will send me pension updates etc, but the envelopes are nearly postmarked Switzerland, Sweden or Finland.

My guess is that it’s cheaper for them to bulk post items by shipping the post in boxes to these countries, and then having them posted individual from there. This actually used to happen even when I still lived in London. So, you had the crazy situation where I was getting post from 15mins walk up the road routed to my house via central or northern Europe.

Obviously there were money savings in this practice. Given the recent price increases for postage using An Post, I wonder are Irish companies likely to try this same money saving measure. Assuming of course, these companies are willing to suffer the An Post service deficiencies.

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Consumer Central, from the London Times

Another Blog I’ve discovered recently is the Consumer Central blog from the London Times, available here. While there are a lot of UK specific topics covered, there are some items general and interesting enough to have an appeal to Irish readers.

One of their contributors is Martin Lewis, the moneysavingexpert. Martin’s site is a great resource, with the same proviso as the Blog above – some UK specific items, but mostly interesting content.

I can highly recommend both these sites as worthy of bookmarks and regular reading.

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Pricewatch in the Irish Times

I’ve mentioned the great work by Conor Pope in the Irish Times a couple of times here already, but had lamented that they had made the Pricewatch section part of their premium section in the Ireland.com site.

Now however, the Pricewatch has started a blog. So, you can get a look at some of the topics from the Pricewatch articles every Monday as well as getting the chance to submit your own comments.

If you’ve any consumer affairs issues you want covered, you can try submitting your comments 0n the blog and seeing if they make it through to the paper itself.

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The Irish Scam Awareness Month… Finally!

As per the “anonymous” poster in response to my comments previously about the National Consumer Agency failing to follow the rest of Europe by not having a scam awareness month last February, I had an e-mail notification from them this week.

The National Consumer Agency has launched a major scams awareness campaign. Find out about the top ten common scams, how to spot the tricksters and who to contact. Tell us about scams you have experienced and listen to our new
podcast about how to avoid being conned out of your money.All at http://www.consumerconnect.ie

Better late than never I suppose! I’m only back from holidays, so I’ll have a look through the stuff and make more comment as necessary.

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Good News – The end of “rip off Ireland” is nigh!!!

Phil Hogan, the Fine Gael Enterprise spokesperson has promised to end “rip off Ireland” – as per reports of the Ard Fheis last weekend – article here. We can only but wait in hope.

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“Value Packs” – not always the best value

I was sent an e-mail recently from someone highlighting how people should be careful in shows when they’re looking at “value pack” deals. The person gave an example showing that you might not always be getting good value with these supposed offers.

I was a Dunnes Stores recently looking at bottles of still mineral water which had a “value pack” offer running, with bright stickers and posters advertising the deal. There were two bottles stuck together in this “value pack”.
Yet, a few feet down the aisle, I could have bought 2 individual bottles of exactly the same water for less than the price of the “value pack”.

Obviously it’s important that consumers keep an eye open, and don’t always believe that things do exactly what they say on the tin/labeling.

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What’s the actual cost of the M50 Toll?

For the most of 2004 to 2006, I travelled twice a day through the M5o toll bridge, paying my €1.80. It was a great way to get rid of beer change, albeit that it took a split second more to put in 9 20cent pieces.

It was very funny how some people in the traffic mayhem of the M50 would beep if you took more than 2 seconds putting the money in the hopper. Like it made a difference.

Last weekend and this weekend has been the first time for a long time that I used the M50 Toll bridge, and therefore noticed that it had increased from €1.80 to €1.90.

Which got me thinking? For people who’s time in their minds is so valuable that need to get through the toll bridge in rush hour traffic 2 seconds quicker, how much do they care about the difference between getting the right change, and just putting in €2 and moving on?

How many people, I wonder, just fire in a €2 coin into the toll hopper and drive on, instead of putting in the correct change? This is giving free money to the NTR company given that they won’t give you change.

NTR could probably tell you how much of this free money they’re getting as presumably their cash handling procedures would indicate how many €2 coins go through the hoppers on a daily or weekly basis?

And NTR doesn’t even have to make an effort to get this money back to customers, or even make donations of this money to charity (which I believe Dublin Bus do).

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Lidl, Podge & Rodge, and the “horsey set”

Last week, Podge & Rodge made great fun of the “horsey set” going to Lidl to buy horse riding gear – though some of the stuff mentioned wouldn’t necessarily have been used by them for riding horses.

I’ve been quoted previously in newspapers saying that there’s a certain level of snobbery involved in some Irish people rarely availing of the cheaper prices available in Lidl and Aldi, all the time preferring to spend higher prices in Superquinn, Marks & Spencers and the likes.

But who buys the horse riding stuff in Lidl then, as went on sale last week? Obviously, people who are too proud/snobby for it to be known that they were shopping in Lidl in Finglas. I can say this given the amount of packaging strewn around the Lidl car-park last week, and all of it packaging for horse riding gear.

No shame at all in chasing the best value for money and saving a few bob, whether it be buying the food essentials for the weekly shop, or for horse riding gear.

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