But not for consumers. News here today about the fine levied on CDWow by the Irish and British music industries for apparently selling illegally sourced music to Irish and British consumers.
Just following up on last post, now that Ryanair site is available again, I can see that for the 55min flight to Stanstead from Dublin, they’re allowing from 1hr 15mins to 1hr 20mins in their timetable.
For reference, British Airways schedule anything from 1hr 20mins to 1hr 4omins on their timetable for flights from London Gatwick to Dublin.
Some interesting research in the US on this topic way back in 2ooo highlights this “padding” by airlines in their schedules. According to the report “Since the industry is highly competitive, airlines are eager to avoid the publication of negative performance results.”
I was reading this article in the Wall Street Journal online earlier today regarding how flights are supposedly taking longer now (in America) than 10 years ago.
The basis of this is the fact that airlines are scheduling longer flight durations now than previously, thereby building in an allowance for delays. So, for a 55 minute flight to London Aer Lingus for example, they allow 1hr 15mins in their schedule. So, the flight can actually be 10mins late, and still arrive on time.
Surprisingly, the Ryanair website is unavailable at the moment, so I can’t check their schedule, but I’m willing to bet they do the same thing.
Which brings into question the true meaning of airlines claims of “on time arrivals“. If you’re setting loose targets – 75mins for a 55mins – then of course you’ll always be on time. If only we could all set out work targets in such a manner as to be easily achievable.
There’s been a big hoo-haa in the last couple of days about the EU efforts to cut roaming charges for European consumers while travelling through Europe using their mobile phones. Some details are available here.
As a Vodafone customer, I’ve been taking advantage of their Vodafone Passport offering for mobile roaming. Only problem is, even with that offer, you still get screwed when sending text message.
And back to the small print I wrote about earlier. The EU efforts are only applying to voice calls, and not to text and data. And since most people will probably only text when abroad anyway, mobile companies aren’t likely to lose out much anyway. And unfortunately, the poor consumer won’t really benefit all that much either.
Well, it is if you’re selling your house through Sherry Fitzgerald according to this report on Ireland.com earlier today. They’re increasing their commission when selling a house from 1% to 1.5%, a 50% increase.
The useful intervention from the National Consumer Agency was “”estate agents had had ten years of a “gravy train” and were looking for an increase that amounted to 50 per cent after just six months of a downturn in the housing market”.
And that’s it. Not even a “shop around” quoted there anyway, but I haven’t heard the full text of the interview on RTE.
Hooke & McDonald have said they won’t be increasing their commissions – though I don’t know what their rates are to say whether or not people should use them instead of Sherry Fitzgerald.
Chances are most people using Sherry Fitzgerald know that they’ve a big name, see lots of “for sale” signs around with their name on it, and assume that that high profile will get their house sold. Unfortunately, there’s no guarantee – though, if the 0.5% increase in fees gave that guarantee, then it might be worth while.
People selling their houses should speak to several estate agents, and should more particularly ask for recommendations from other people they know, before selecting an estate agent. Word of mouth, combined with full information, should dictate who to use – and if it can be done better than at 1.5% commission, then avoid Sherry Fitzgerald.
Or, as per Dermott Jewell of the Consumer Association of Ireland on the radio this evening, people could take advantage of the growing trend here in Ireland of people selling their own homes, saving themselves the full commission altogether.
An interesting article on the Bloomberg site earlier today. They refer to US legislation which will make price gouging when it comes to gasoline prices over there.
The gouging bill would prohibit the sale of gasoline at “unconscionably excessive” prices or prices that take “unfair advantage” of consumers.
An interesting proposal, but as was mentioned in the article, there’s no definition of what “unconscionably excessive” might actually mean.
Given some recent examples in Ireland, would this mean the garage on the south Quays in Dublin charging over €1.50 per litre when the average price elsewhere is about €1.1o (or was at least the last time the story was in the press).
Compared to the puny authority of the National Consumer Agency, the punishments for this new crime in the US mean that companies would face criminal fines of up to $150 million, and individuals could be fined $2 million and face up to 10 years in jail.
We’re told that inertia is the reason why banks get away with all the overcharging they’ve admitted in the past. And that the inertia can in a lot of case be put down to the perceived difficulty in switching accounts. Basically, though customers are told frequently how their banks are stealing money from them, they continue to keep their money with them.
Not for those reasons, but I’ve decided that I want to change my bank account and my mortgage. I’m currently with Ulster Bank for both but have discovered better bargains elsewhere. Interestingly, Ulster Bank are offering €1000 to customers to move their mortgage from other banks to them, so I wrote a nice polite letter to them asking that maybe they could do something for me to keep my business as a customer, rather than them having to spend €1000 on trying to get a new customer to replace me if I left. And their response – No Response. My letter was ignored.
Having worked for another very customer focused business a couple of years ago, it was always said that it was cheaper to keep customers than to have to go get new ones. Obviously Ulster Bank are not of that opinion. They’re spending thousands on advertising their €1000 offer to get new customers, but will do nothing to keep their existing ones.
I’m not even going to bother now seeing if they’ll do anything for me on my current account. They’re currently offering €150 to customers of other banks to come to Ulster Bank. I’m presuming that if they’re not going to do anything to try to keep my mortgage business where they’re making a fortune, they’re unlikely to do anything to try to keep the income they’re making from my current account.
So, I’m moving. I’ve written to them to tell them I’m moving, and why. I’ve also told them I’m going to write about this here, so we’ll see what happens. More details later on the switching experiences.
I mentioned last week about calling into National Irish Bank with a view to switching accounts. Having been in there yesterday to go through the account opening process, to be fair, the staff member I dealt with yesterday is to be commended. I think I must have been unlucky in the person I dealt with last week – especially as I could hear more of her customer service “skills” yesterday, so it wasn’t just me.
The account opening process did take nearly an hour, but I’m assured that their “switching” service will do the rest for me over the next couple of weeks. It’ll be interesting to see how all that goes.
I was in Blackpool over the weekend and experienced one of the the scams we’ve written about in our tips article on how to avoid being short-changed here.
Just as the guy behind the counter was counting out my change, he struck up a conversation with someone else in the shop, and flung my change back to me.
I just checked it there and then and found that I was £5 short. I went back and said to the guy that I don’t think that my change was right.
Immediately he went to the till and took out a fiver that he handed to me. Remember, I’d only said that I thought my change was wrong – I didn’t say that I was £5 short.
An obvious sign that he’d tried to pull a fast one shortchanging me.
I see that the Irish Independent has made changes to their online product – the new site is here. Upon a quick review of it this evening, it seems pretty good, though I never had problems with its old version.
If it’s anything like the Irish Times and Ireland.com, I wonder how long now before they start charging for access to the new site.