Tag Archives | Conor Pope

Hard lesson learned on the pointlessness of paying for mobile phone insurance

There is a regular segment in the Irish Times Pricewatch column each Monday that this week is likely to fall foul of misleading descriptions regulations in the 2007 Consumer Protection Act. The Consumer Protection Act prohibits a consumer from being misled in relation to “the main characteristics of a product” (e.g. a newspaper article).

Under the headline “Your consumer queries answered”, with the tagline “Conor Pope answers reader’s queries”, an unfortunate reader went to extensive lengths to describe an issue she had with iPhone insurance.

The particular article concerned, Insurance upgrade did not come with iPhone upgrade, ends:

“She would like to know who is at fault here. “Am I stupid to think Vodafone and Carphone Warehouse should have updated the files at the time of the upgrade?”

And that’s it. The article ends. Journalist gets copy, but reader’s query not answered.


Or maybe, since the answer to the readers query is “yes, you are stupid”, Mr. Pope decided to spare their blushes. The situation the reader found themselves in was as follows:

  1. Bought iPhone in June 2010 from Carphone Warehouse on a Vodafone contract
  2. Insured iPhone for €13.75 per month via Carphone Warehouse with Lifeline, New Technology Insurance.
  3. Upgraded iPhone with Vodafone in November 2011
  4. February 2013, child drops iPhone and breaks screen
  5. Reader tries to claim on insurance, but can’t because new phone wasn’t insured

Which led to the readers query again – “Am I stupid to think Vodafone and Carphone Warehouse should have updated the files at the time of the upgrade?”

And the answer, yes, you are stupid to think that.

Basic rules of Insurance

You insured phone A with Lifeline in June 2010 for €13.75 per month (now that’s stupid right there before going any further).

You bought phone B in November 2011, and you didn’t ask for it to be insured. You assumed it was covered, but we all know what assuming does.

When you trade in your Ford Mondeo for a Volkswagen Passat, you don’t assume that the insurance passes from the old car to the new car automatically – you have to ring your insurance provider and have cover switched.

Just because mobile phone insurance is cheap, stupid and a waste of money doesn’t mean that the same basic rules of insurance don’t apply.

It gets worse?

We’re not told, but based on the readers own assumptions, they have been paying insurance on phone A at a rate of €13.75 per month since November 2011. A phone that’s most likely being used as a paperweight, or has already been chucked in the bin.

That’s 16 months of pointless premiums. Or €220 wasted.

Or look at it another way. It’s quite likely to be more than the cost of an upgrade of a broken iPhone to a brand new one on Vodafone.

It’s just a pity that Mr. Pope didn’t highlight the mistakes that this particular reader made so as to enlighten others who may be in the same situation.


More on Buying Irish – the Irish Question from PriceWatch

I didn’t get around to writing about this article when it was published a couple of weeks ago, but it’s definitely worth a read – The Irish Question. At the very end is something all Irish consumers should be aware of – particularly if you’re trying to support Irish businesses by buying Irish.

Conor presents a listing of items that you may think are made in Ireland, but in reality are not – worth remembering so you don’t get caught out.


This company says that the fig roll has been “Ireland’s favourite for over 100 years” which may well be the case. The secret of how Jacob’s gets its figs into the rolls has, however, been lost to this country for ever and when we called last week, we were told that the biscuits were now being manufactured in Malta.


The only thing that’s Irish about this brand is the name. All the beet factories have long since been shut down so not so much as a single grain of sugar is produced in Ireland. Greencore, the company which owns the Siúcra brand imports it from elsewhere in Europe, most frequently Germany, before repacking it for our supermarket shelves.


The “Olde Worlde” packaging and dewy-eyed shots of Limerick in the “rare auld times” in the advertising campaign used to promote this product could lead people to think this is made with Irish meat. Shaws is not, however, owned by a Limerick butcher called William, it’s owned by Breeo Foods, a subsidiary of co-op giant Dairygold and its bacon could just as easily have come from the Netherlands, Denmark or Scotland, or, indeed Ireland.


You’d be forgiven for thinking that Boyne Valley Honey contains honey from the Boyne Valley or, at a pinch, Ireland. And there is a chance – admittedly a small one that it does – but the packaging tells us no more than it is made with both EU and non-EU honey which suggests that many of the bees involve in the process were buzzing a long, long way from the Boyne.


If for some inexplicable reason you assumed that the fish caught by Donegal Catch came from Donegal you’d be wrong. This company’s salmon might have been farmed in Ireland. Or Scotland. Or Chile.

Another that comes to mind immediately is Fiacla Toothpaste – no longer made in Ireland either.


Top Tip when booking online for anything

In this post last week, I referred to this thread on Conor Popes Pricewatch blog where there was some discussion on the pros and cons of Ryanair.

One item that was mentioned that deserves to be highlighted as a Top Tip came from someone calling themselves Lil:

What I do do, is, when printing the boarding pass after online check-in, is to print a copy to PDF (i.e. create a PDF file using the print function) and this way, I can email myself a copy in case I need to print a copy closer to time if I’ve left the printed copy elsewhere, and not have to worry that I can’t access Ryanair’s website to reprint my boarding pass.

This is something that I do myself with all online confirmation pages – as well as just being a record for your own purposes, it could also be useful if any questions were to arise with your bookings in the future – it contains the web page details and so on necessary to indicate that a booking was made and confirmed to you.

You can download the free PDF writing application called PrimoPDF if you don’t already have the necessary software on your computer.

Update 22:45 – Thanks to the ValueIreland.com who sent in this related tip specifically for when travelling.

Liked the tip about e-mailing a copy of a boarding pass. In a similar vein, it is useful to e-mail your passport number to yourself so you can access it from abroad if necessary.

I’d add, just in case, make sure it’s not an e-mail that’s downloaded onto your phone in case your phone is stolen. If it’s on GMail or somewhere, then that might be safer. However, remember that that’s not 100% safe given recent issues with GMail as well.


Ridiculous consumer views about Ryanair

This thread on Pricewatch recently, which I’ve referred to a few times already, is a gold mine of information and absolute stupidity. It’s a “must read” to see the two extremes of opinion when it comes to flying with Ryanair.
You can understand when people feel aggrieved when they’ve got problems as paying passengers, but the sentiment in this particular comment shows how some people will always (for whatever reason) just “have it in” for Ryanair.

Well all, see Ryanair at it again inconveniencing there passengers by leaving Manchester because they wont drop there fees to suit Ryanair and now forcing passengers to travel to other English airports costing them more in Bus/Train fares to get to there destination Manchester.

As if Ryanair have any responsibilities to anyone who wants to fly to Manchester? What is it I said before about Irish people and their sense of “entitlement”?


Ireland deserves foreign holidays!

A few times over the past couple of weeks (over a few pints mind you), the term entitlement and the Irish race came up.

One particular acquaintance of mine referred again and again to how they view that many (their term, not mine) Irish people believe that they are deserving of anything that they want – that there is an expectation of attainment rather than any serious effort to actually go out and attain.

Sort of related, but I had to laugh when I saw this ridiculous comment on a blog post by Conor Pope over on Pricewatch recently which caused a heated debate amongst the commenters.

Some people have little choice but to fly with Ryanair unless they want to stay stranded in Ireland for the rest of their lives and read about travelling via AA Gill /

Never mind the (baffling “Ireland deserves Sun” campaign at the moment, Ireland deserves foreign holidays (whether they can afford them or not).


UK Government proposes a “Consumer Tsar” – do we need one too?

Recently, I asked the question here as to whether Irish consumers should expect a better level of consumer advocacy and protection than is currently provided by either the Consumers Association of Ireland, the National Consumer Agency or other consumer related agencies, quangos and other supposedly responsible organisations.

In the past few days, on a slightly related note, we’ve also seen a number of calls for retail or grocery ombudsman. Whether or not this would add to the protection provided to the consumer, or would just become another useless quango organisation set up to give the impression of something being done, but actually isn’t, remains to be seen. My two (initial) cents is that it’s a ridiculous idea based on what I’m seeing proposed at the moment but I’ll come back to that in the coming days.

Maybe the solution to all our consumer woes here in Ireland can be seen in the framework currently being proposed in the UK where there are moves afoot to provide what’s being called a “consumer tsar”?

According to an article in The Guardian, National consumer champion to help people get their money back , the British consumer will benefit from a proposal that:

A high-profile national “consumer champion” is to be appointed by the government to help people get their money back when things go wrong and fight for redress over personal finance problems such as unauthorised overdraft charges.

Whilest this proposal is amongst a raft of other consumer related legislation being proposed to help out the British consumer, this particular proposal interestingly came about:

After recognising the valuable role of newspapers’ own consumer champions in exposing bad practice by financial companies and publicising key issues of consumer concern, the government is to appoint a new “consumer advocate”.

A key feature of this proposal is that the consumer be educated to help them fight for their rights and to get their own money back. Though, as pointed out by the Guardian Money Blog, maybe it’s the businesses that are screwing the customers who need to be educated rather than the consumer.  As I’ve found with many of the e-mails I receive at ValueIreland.com, Irish consumers know their rights and what they’re entitled to in many cases, but they just struggle to get them from many businesses.

By the sounds of things, what’s being proposed in the UK is almost an institutionalisation of the BBC Watchdog programme – a high profile consumer advocate taking on big business on behalf of consumers.

Would this work in Ireland? In name at least, it does sound like the “Consumer Rights Enforcer” that was proposed some years ago by Fine Gael. (Though, upon reading that legislation proposed, that role proposed by FG was no more than the National Consumer Agency with a different name but appointed in a different way).

On the basis that, as I have opined many times here already, consumer advocacy and protection in Ireland needs to be completely shaken up in order to truly advance the cause of the Irish consumer, and not the vested interests supposedly protecting them, then maybe a well thought out position such as this could work here.

What do you think? Who could do this – Eddie Hobbs? Or based on the journalistic slant of the UK proposal, how about Charlie Weston? Or Conor Pope?


Ringing Government Departments on 1890 LOCALL numbers

This article from Mondays Pricewatch column in the Irish Times from Conor Pope highlights a reader, Mannix, who takes issue with the fact that many government departments provide 1890 contact numbers. While these numbers appear to be cheaper, given their LOCALL and CALLSAVE descriptions, for the reader who uses an O2 mobile, it actually costs significantly more.

This is an issue that I’m constantly highlighting on the SayNoTo1890.com website. In fact, a very committed reader has been chasing many of the regulatory organisations within the country to see if anything can be done about this issue, but without any success. ComReg, the National Consumer Agency, the Competition Authority, and the Minister at the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Eamonn Ryan, all say its not their problem. And obviously, the mobile companies who make a huge profit from these calls don’t want to know either.

The research, referred to in Conors article, carried out by Leo Varadkar and Fine Gael is available on their RipOff.ie website here.

The SayNoTo1890.com A-Z geographical alternative telephone number page on the site provides landline numbers for many government departments, including all but 2 of the 21 departments referenced on the Fine Gael website. Calling these numbers instead of the 1890 numbers means that people can call from their mobile without incurring the higher costs.

I’m constantly on the look out for more of these geographical alternative numbers, so if you know of any others, please let me know and I’ll add them to the list. The two from the Fine Gael listing that I don’t have are the National Treatment Purchase Fund and bizarrely given that it’s most likely to be called from a mobile, the Garda Traffic Watch hotline.


Click here for the SayNoTo1890.com Website.

Click here for the SayNoTo1890.com Website.


More silly bank charges – this time from NIB

Obviously the credit crunch and the banking crisis is having it’s impact on the banks in Ireland and their need to keep their profits up.

Following on from Conor Popes experience where Bank of Ireland charged him €5.90 for a new Laser card, I was this week charged €1.95 by National Irish Bank for them to re-issue me with a PIN number for my credit card.


Stop Wasting Your Money, from Conor Pope

Having just finished Twenty Majors The Order of the Phoenix Park, I’m moving onto another book by a blogger. I’ll leave the introductions to the authors journalistic colleague Paul Cullen, also of the Irish Times, from Saturdays Irish Times Magazine (sub required):

For more than five years, the PriceWatch column in this newspaper has been guiding readers through the pitfalls of shopping, as well as seeking out the best in value and quality for consumers. Now that its editor, Conor Pope, has distilled his wisdom in book form, there’s really no excuse for not making some changes to your finances that can result in serious money savings.

Stop Wasting Your Money promises to cut your bills by anywhere between €1,000 and €3,000 in a year, simply by following Conor’s month-by-month advice. It’s a mixture of the so-obvious-we-don’t-do it, such as shaving hundreds of euro off your insurance or health bills by one phone call, to the oh-really!-why-didn’t-I-think-of-that-before?

In the latter vein, I didn’t know you could access freeview TV satellite stations including all the BBCs and ITVs for the price of a €100 dish and a bit of wiring. Or that chicken pieces with the skin on are half the price of skinless pieces. Ok, maybe I did know the last one but just don’t want to get my hands dirty.

Written with a light touch, Stop… isn’t hectoring or judgmental (as Conor writes, “that’s what Eddie Hobbs is for”). At the end of your year’s belt-tightening, he reckons you deserve to blow the savings on a nice holiday. That we like. A snip at €9.99.


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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