Read the small print….

Ryanair have announced further offers today on their website – totally free flights, inclusive of all taxes and charges. Nice one!!!

But check out the small print – all be it fairly prominent where the offer is advertised on their site.

  • Travel Period: Sat 02nd Jun 07 – Sat 27th Oct 07
  • Applicable Days: Mon – Thurs
  • Blackout Period: 16th Jul ’07 – 31st Aug ’07
  • Notes on this fare: All Holidays, School Breaks and Major Sporting Events are excluded from this offer

Without even considering the holidays, sporting events and the school breaks, taking these restrictions into account, this offer is actually only available for 29% of the days in the timeperiod concerned.

The flights are not available for over 70% of the time period advertised. That’s some small print!!!

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Fine Gael – Manifesto for the Irish Consumer

The Fine Gael promises for the Irish consumer were trotted out by Phil Hogan and Richard Bruton. You can read their press release on the FG website by clicking here.

I can’t really comment because there’s nothing there. They’re mentioning their www.ripoff.ie website again as a positive step – not really a governmental response to a problem.

They mention better regulation, new institutional structures and laws and attention to something mysteriously called “sheltered sectors”. Have I won yet? I must have ticked all jargon words in some party political Wank Word Bingo.

Still they are the only party to promise Irish consumers not a whole lot in this election campaign. Lets wait and see what the rest of them come up with.

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Rip Off Ireland, or Overcharge Ireland?

Over time, we’ve been tracking all of the Irish companies who’ve been found to overcharge their customers – who’ve actually admitted to overcharging their customers.

The running total since 2004 is approximately 1.2m people overcharged by over €107m. And the companies are most of the best known companies in the country.

Click here to read more.

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What is “free self-installation”?

I was listening to Newstalk radio this morning on the way to work and I heard an advert from Eircom advertising some new broadband offer.

The interesting thing was their announcement as part of the deal that they were offering “free self-installation”.

Does that mean they won’t charge me for taking their equipment from them, and setting it up myself in my own house, without their assistance? How very generous of them!!!

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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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