Tag Archives | Dermott Jewell

iPhone comes to Ireland

Apart from my frustration about how the arrival of the iPhone to Ireland caused Vodafone to drop their Nokia N95 prices, I don’t think I can add a whole lot to the discussion that’s been published already:
It is interesting though, that the phone is only available on 18 month contracts – O2 are basically cutting themselves off from a fairly big prospective market. Though, I’m guessing there’ll be many Mums and Dads who’ll be under pressure to cough up.

However, to see how exactly O2 are going to do off the back of screwing Irish consumers, you just have to see this quote from Dermott Jewell of the Consumer Association of Ireland from The Daily Mail (no link unfortunately):

However, Jewell feels that Irish consumers, in their rush to get hold of their shiny new iPhones, will ignore the anti-competitive charges from O2.

“In this market economy, and with healthy waiting lists for the phone, its almost a self-fulfilling prophecy and there won’t be any complaints about the prices.

“Unfortunately, we won’t see the levels of consumer agitation that could deter this,” Jewell added.

Essentially, since the country’s still relatively speaking awash with cash (or easy credit), anyone who’s blinded by the iPhone bling will be splashing the cash on March 14th.

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Where does “supply and demand” end and “rip off prices” begin?

Our esteemed Minister for Trade, Enterprise and (rising un)Employment has promised to get to the bottom of our high prices being suffered by Irish consumers. I thought this was the reason he set up the National Consumer Agency a number of years ago. Are they unsuccessful at what they’re supposed to be doing, or as suggested by our friend Leo, is he stalling for time? But why would he be stalling for time? Waiting for prices to fall on their own?

According to this breakingnews.ie item:

Minister for Enterprise Micheál Martin is promising further investigation into why Irish consumers continue to pay higher prices for essential goods and services than their EU counterparts.

Mr Martin was speaking about a new Forfas report on the effects of the EU single market.

The report says that, while the single market has benefited business and trade, Irish consumers have been left with some of the highest prices in the EU.

Maybe he could listen to Dermott Jewell, Chief Executive of the Consumer Association of Ireland. Mr. Jewell was today quoted in an Irish Independent article referring to the cost of roses for Valentines Day – reported doubling in price compared to every other day.

Faced with the issue of retailers increasing their prices, Mr.Jewell responded “The distributors put it back to the growers and there is a bit of truth in that but, let’s be honest, every single person on that chain is trying to make as much money as they can.”

And more crucially, “It’s seen as an opportunity to extract as much money from the Irish consumer as possible,” he added.

And why do retailers do that? Because they can maybe? Because no matter what the price charged, Irish consumers will unquestioningly hand over the cash? The Indo article above is a good example.

Without seeing the direct comparison myself, how many people could really tell the difference between 12 €120 roses from a specialist florist in a vase compared to 12 €30 roses from Dunnes? So why spend the extra €90? Convenience? Snobbery? Or do some people show their love purely through monetary expenditure? Any way you look at it, it’s the consumers choice to pay that extra €90, so they’re not really in a strong position to complain – especially when there are valid and cheaper alternatives available.

If consumers don’t pay the specialist florist €120 for 12 roses, they won’t sell them. If a florist isn’t selling roses, they’ll have to do something – stop selling roses, or drop the prices to attract customers. As the Indo article says, it’s simple supply and demand.

We shouldn’t be only slagging off Irish retailers for the high prices they’re charging. We should also be slagging off all the Irish consumers who are stupid enough to spend such high prices and create demand at these high prices – thereby causing the rest of us to have to pay these prices as well.

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Mixed Responses to “just and no more” MCD Compensation

I wondered here last week what MCD might come up with as a response to the report into the Barbara Streisand concert fiasco.

The responses that I’ve seen have been 50/50. Dermott Jewell of the Consumer Association of Ireland said it was a “poor deal” for consumers.

In what I think is a disgraceful “archers salute” type response to Mr. Jewell and consumers, the acting chief executive of the National Consumer Agency, Ms.Ann Fitzgerald disagreed, said it was a good deal and said “if people were unhappy they could take a case to the Small Claims Court”. This is a shocking response from the organisation that claims to be “Putting Consumers First”.

If consumers are unhappy, they should be able to go to the NCA, based on the way the portray themselves, not be fobbed off onto another agency instead.

Personally, I think this mention of the Small Claims Court is a complete red herring. Based on my reading of the situation, in this case, what MCD have offered consumers is pretty much the minimum they would have to had to pay had things gone to the SCC.

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Should credit card surcharges be banned?

This article in the Irish Times today (sub required) pits Dermott Jewell of the Consumer Association of Ireland (in favour) against Brendan Burgess of www.askaboutmoney.com (against).

Personally, I’m in favour of the removal of credit card surcharges, but that’s just me. I was interested however in reading the reasoning behind Mr.Burgess’ argument in favour of keeping credit card surcharges.

He argues that as an empowered consumer, he will shop around. And if spending more than €100 he will ask for a discount. Which is all fine and well, but how can you ask for a discount or shop around when you’re buying a flight or concert tickets online.

I was particularly intrigued as to how he brought in twice the example of credit card surcharges when it came to buying art. Which is probably relevant to some of the readers of the Irish Times, but is hardly relevant to the majority of Irish consumers.

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Inflation running at 50%

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.

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