Tag Archives | Eddie Hobbs

Interested in being on TV with Eddie Hobbs?

Or at least in the audience for his new Consumer Show on RTE1? This arrived in the e-mail yesterday. It’s a pity Vicky didn’t bother to take the time to find out who the Sir/Madam might actually be – I don’t keep it a secret.

Dear Sir/ Madam,
The Consumer Show, which will be fronted by finance guru Eddie Hobbs and TV journalist Keelin Shanley is looking for people to be part of our studio audience.
This show will be recorded in the RTE studios, Donnybrook, Dublin 4 from the 6th September 2010 and every Monday thereafter for six weeks.
If you think this would be of interest to the readers of your website you can contact me on 01 2084643 or email me at vicky@cocotelevision.ie and I will send you on all the relevant information.
Yours Sincerely,
Vicky Taylor
The Consumer Show
Montrose House
RTÉ
Donnybrook
Dublin 4
Direct Line: +353 1 208 4643
Web: www.rte.ie/tv/theconsumershow/

Follow up as you chose – I won’t be going along anyway. I think it’s quite disappointing that RTE and COCO Television would return to the Eddie Hobbs well for a presenter for a consumer programme.

As someone who did some great work on behalf of consumers some years ago, I think he really is “gamekeeper turned poacher” in recent years. We’ve seen his promotion of property as an investment product through Brendan Investments. There’s also been his involvement in Cape Verde property promotion.

And more recently, with the decline in readership for the You & Your Money magazine that he fronts, there has been an increased dependency in that publication on advertising from CFD and spread betting providers.

I appreciate that he’s probably there given his past popularity, and that he’s trading on the success of RipOff Republic years ago, but I think those times are gone and that his impartiality isn’t what it used to be.

Still, we’ll be huddled around the tv watching the first episode – surely it has to be better than some of the other consumer related muck that RTE have been broadcasting in the past couple of years?

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What did you do for World Consumers Day?

Yesterday was World Consumers Day. Personally, I wouldn’t have known about it except for someone forwarded to me a Consumers Association of Ireland press release sent out last week marking the occasion. I didn’t get it as they seem to have removed me from their mailing list for some reason.

As an aside, from the release I see they’re starting to use the old “truly independent” tagline from ValueIreland.com as well – they used to be plain old independent. You’re hardly “truly independent” however if you’re depending on a Government subvention every year to survive, and where some of your board members rake in directors fees from many state and semi-state organisations and quangos.

This is the Press Release:

CAI mark Consumer Rights Day with re-launch of Website WWW. THECAI.IE

The Consumer’s Association of Ireland (CAI) re-launched its new look website today and in doing so set out its stall in celebration of World Consumer Rights Day 2010.

Dermott Jewell, CEO of the Association, said that “The CAI, as a truly independent consumer Association, struggles to survive at the best of times. In times of recession it becomes almost impossible. We are hoping that consumers, by visiting the site, will see what we are about and support us in supporting them and their families.

We know – and guarantee – that any one becoming a Member and supporter will save the cost of their subscription and more through our recommended independent product tests and money and lifestyle advice. That – what consumers need – all day every day! Jewell concluded.

World Consumer Rights Day has its origins in former US President John F. Kennedy’s declaration to US Congress on March 15th 1962 of the 4 basic consumer rights:

The right to safety;

The right to be informed;

The right to choose and

The right to be heard.

“Consumers by definition, include us all. They are the largest economic group, affecting and affected by almost every public and private economic decision. Yet they are the only important group… whose views are often not heard.”

The site is a definite improvement over the previous incarnation – much clearer and somewhat easier to navigate.

Head over there and check it out – they are now providing access online to their back catalogue of product testing reviews from their Consumer Choice magazine – available at €96 per year.

If you head over there now, you can get 12-hours free access to the membership areas of the site – get a look at some of those product testing articles maybe.

This new site, and the above press release, seems to indicate the renewal of the annual efforts to boost what is a consistently falling membership base (according to the most recent accounts lodged with the Companies Office).

Unfortunately for the Irish consumer, the CAI, despite it’s slogans and aims, is no longer a consumer advocacy organisation. Can anyone remember what their most recent “campaign” was? And I don’t mean a reactionary soundbite on the radio.

I believe it’s three years now since a significant chunk of work was done to identify campaign items that the Association would stand work on.  I have not seen a single proactive measure coming from the Association in that time – despite there being some pretty good ideas on that campaign items list.

As was raised at the last AGM I attended – 2008 – it’s clear that the CAI is now no more than a magazine publication organisation that charges a ridiculous €96 per year subscription  – exactly three times that of Eddie Hobbs Your and Your Money magazine.

It’s interesting then, that as per the press release above, they “guarantee” that you’ll save at least €96 per year by subscribing to their magazine. One wonders what the small print is on that guarantee – “or your money back?” I wonder?

I can guarantee you a €96 saving right here and now, but you already know what I’m going to say now.

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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?

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How upset is Eddie Hobbs at leaving the NCA?

So upset that he’s refusing to believe that the National Consumer Agency exists at all maybe? His website still refers to the Office of Director of Consumer Affairs which ceased to exist in 2007 when the NCA took over it’s powers, and no mention at all of the NCA.

Then again, the National Consumer Agency is so useless and does so little, maybe it is difficult to actually remember that it’s there. Even Fine Gael, on their RipOff.ie website, gets it wrong:

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Eddie Hobbs’ “resignation” from the NCA

Cards on the table first of all, I’m not a fan of the National Consumer Agency, and I’ve long ceased to be a fan of the work of Eddie Hobbs.

But since you’ve asked, I think the resignation of Eddie Hobbs from the NCA, as covered in the Irish Independent (in 3 stories no less) and on Morning Ireland and Newstalk this morning, is nothing more than a publicity stunt for Mr. Hobbs.

He’s pretty much said that there’s nothing to this resignation when it comes down to it. Mr. Hobbs gave his reasons for resigning as his unhappiness with the performance of the Minister in charge of the NCA, Mary Coughlan, and the refusal of Celia Larkin to resign because of the shame she was bringing upon the NCA as a result of her involvement with the Mahon Tribunal.

Yet on Morning Ireland this morning he said that if asked by the Minister, in whom he has no confidence, to return to the board, he would, and he wouldn’t make the removal of Ms. Larkin a condition of his return either.

That’d make for some interesting board meetings – Mr. Hobbs on one side seething that Ms. Larkin still on the board and also seething that the chairman has publically backed Ms. Larkin. And all the other board members seething at Mr. Hobbs for upsetting the apple cart.

And to crown it all off, a couple of people have to retire from the board anyway and put themselves up for reappointment. So effectively this is a non-event being hyped up by Mr. Hobbs.

To me, what we’re seeing is Mr. Hobbs taking advantage of the situation to drum up a bit of self-serving publicity for someone who has a book out at the moment and who’s magazine sales have been dropping consistently and who, in my opinion, since the debacle of Cape Verde and Brendan Investments is trying to cross back over the line to becoming a consumer advocate again rather than the “game keeper turned poacher” I referred to before.

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Eddie Hobbs and that directory enquiries advertising

Pop quiz – what company us paying for the advertising of its services on those radio and tv adverts at the moment?

Over the past weekend, we were talking about those adverts and in the group, 2 people thought it was for 11811, while two others didn’t know which company it was for. Yet, everyone was familiar with the ads.

One would have to wonder therefore, whether those adverts for 11890 is actually doing much good for the company itself, or just being of benefit to Mr. Hobbs.

He’s not getting paid for the adverts, and he’s getting mentions for Jack And Jill included, but you’d have to think that 11890 could probably do without paying for advertising that’s doing more for Mr. Hobbs’ profile than for their own company.

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More about Brian Lenihans nominee panel for Bank boards

I posted a week or so ago looking for suggestions as to who should be appointed as the taxpayers nominees on the boards of banks following their bailout by the Government. We had some interesting suggestions from a number of people:

Wanted

  • Senator Shane Ross
  • Joe Higgins “has time on his hands these days – in fact why not make him Financial Regulator instead of that wimp we have?”
  • Eithne Tinney – “she shook up the EBS board”
  • Brenda Power – “she annoyed the HSE so much they won’t take her calls”
  • Nell McCafferty “she’d take on anyone”
  • David McWilliams – put his money (or action) where his mouth is
  • George Lee – lets see if he can act as well as he can talk
  • Bertie Ahern – he doesn’t trust banks
  • Grainne Carruth – great experience with cash handling
  • Dr. Alan Ahearne from UCG -He seems to make a lot of sense whenever he’s on the radio recently

Not Wanted

  • Celia Larkin
  • Glenda Gilson
  • Roseanna Davison
  • Eddie Hobbs – needs the banks now to fund his brendan investments
  • Anyone to do with the Financial Regulator – proven to be no good at their jobs already

Interestingly, there was a similar suggestion from the Irish Bank Officials Association who “don’t want the ‘old regime’ to be nominees“.

Unfortunately however, if Simon Carswell is to be believed, we’re going to get “same old, same old” in the names that are probably going to end up on this panel – former bankers, civil servants and regulators. More of the banking old boys network – there’d hardly be any concern on the part of the banks if that were to be the case.

No names have been announced by the department yet, but two former chairmen of the Revenue Commissioners, Dermot Quigley and Frank Daly, have been mentioned as possible appointees.

Former central bankers and regulatory figures are also likely to figure on the panel. The former chief executive of the Irish Financial Services Regulatory Authority, Liam O’Reilly, is already on the board of Irish Life & Permanent.

Expect other former senior public servants and ex-department secretaries to appear on this panel, which the Minister is thought to be planning to announce shortly.

Jobs for the old boys – but did we really expect anything different?

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Lidl Banker Chic – Autumn / Winter 2008

We’re in a recession now. The banks are taking a hammering on the Irish Stock Exchange. Eddie Hobbs is telling anyone who’ll listen that things are going to get worse before they get better – but that everything is different for Brendan Investments in Germany apparently (ahem, German government €500bn bailout anyone?).

Tough times ahead so! Anyone hear the joke that did the rounds over the weekend?

Q: What’s the definition of optimism?
A: A banker ironing 5 shirts on a Sunday night.

And so, ever at the forefront of timely offers, Lidl will next Thursday offer you a full new interview suit, shirt, tie and shoes for less than €100. Don’t think they’re offering hair shirts – though they wouldn’t be on time for Tuesdays budget anyway.

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Consumer confidence at its best

The Irish Times
Opinion, August 15th, 2007

Sales of SUVs are up, consumer confidence is down and, in other news, my cleaning lady, Maria, went home to Romania for a few weeks and came back with a new set of porcelain teeth, writes Quentin Fottrell .

She gritted them to show me. Clearly impressed, I said, “Wow!” which encouraged her to open her mouth even wider. They are beautiful, and natural, too. Like Madonna, she cleverly kept the gap between the upper two she was born with.

I don’t have middle-class guilt about having a cleaner. (On the contrary, it’s bloody great!) I do have middle-class envy. She has a Hollywood smile; I still have my old teeth and painful whitening strips. But we understand each other. I started on £11,000 a year in London but, like a good little immigrant tourist, I was a regular in Harrods. I didn’t have reason for consumer confidence, but that didn’t stop me.

We have been indoctrinated to have the same aspirations, Maria and I, as we watch Dallas on UKTV Gold. “Dallas? Very nice,” Maria said one day, as Sue-Ellen took another swig of bourbon. That was another thing we had in common. We both like a bit of glamour. She likes silk headscarves; I like cashmere sweaters. But we’re not stupid: we both love Lidl.

“Lidl? Very nice. Cheap!” she says. And that’s good enough for me. Unlike the dreaded Iceland, it has fresh produce, great parma ham, reasonable cheese selections and all kinds of everything. Everything except the brands we’ve been brought up with. This is what football teams and toothpastes have in common: they get you when you’re young. Once your choice is made, you are hooked for life. I use Colgate. Always have.

Some brands are like mother’s milk to us and, sure, not all Lidl’s are successful. Its cheap razor blades were too good to be true. Unless we return to sharpening cutthroat razors like our grandfathers, Gillette will remain one of those recession-proof brands for men. But this is no reason why so many customers at my Lidl are foreign. This is partly because it’s an urban area, but people have SUVs to get there, don’t they?

It is possible to debrand. Neil Boorman, author of Bonfire of the Brands: How I Learnt To Live Without Labels – published by Canongate in the UK next month – did just that. He lived without Gillette, advertising on TV and even made his own toothpaste. After years of being addicted to brands, he was free. He decided not to forgo his mobile phone. He used a recycled handset, which he got for £20.

When the National Consumer Agency (NCA) published its first national comparison of grocery prices recently, it left Lidl off the list. It only compared Dunnes Stores, Superquinn and Tesco because they do the same brands. It says it will do another list with Lidl and Aldi, but it was still slavishly trying to compare like with like, and buying into the snob value of these brands by limiting its study. While the NCA said convenience stores are up to 20 per cent dearer than the big supermarkets, ValueIreland.com found the big three supermarkets are up to

25 per cent more expensive than the more taboo Lidl or Aldi.

We should be secure enough in our skins to embrace our inner yellow packer, not live in fear of it. Sarah Jessica Parker was reportedly seen in Lidl in Donegal. That should be enough for us lemmings to follow.

Even Eddie Hobbs, a walking, talking brand, is part of this sale of the century, though his Yoda-, sorry Yeddie-like philosophy relies on gombeens who buy stuff on hire purchase and have multiple credit cards. His You & Your Money magazine has ads for furniture, timber floors and Scandinavian-style chalets with an orange glow, beckoning to be filled with your happiness.

Hang on. Wasn’t he supposed to be saving us money? Yes, but . . . What could be better for mortgage brokers, estate agents, insurers, security firms, lighting showrooms, landscapers and – last but not least – building societies, banks and online spread betting companies than to hitch their sails to his trusty pole? It’s not enough to keep up with the Joneses – we must keep up with the Dow Jones, too.

My cleaning lady may have the taste for the high life, but she is too wily to fall for stunts such as I’m Not a Plastic Bag, the limited edition “green” accessory by Ana Hindmarch. It was like the fall of Saigon when it went on sale in Dublin and Cork. Hindmarch cancelled launches in Beijing, Shanghai and Jakarta citing “concerns for customer safety”. Like, what are we like, like? I want a bag all right. A sick bag.

I don’t begrudge Maria her new chops. She could have saved for a Smeg oven or a Chevrolet, which advertise in Hobb’s magazine, though a new motor is a bad financial decision as it is a rapidly depreciating asset. (Sorry, Yeddie.) Let us hope that when Foxrock Fannies realise SUVs are really the preserve of the socially insecure, rather than giant baby tanks, they will go the way of Burberry check.

Still, I’m glad Maria didn’t spend her money on a new kitchen. They say that you can’t take it with you. But, at least in the case of porcelain teeth, you actually can.

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Irish consumer affairs according to Michael O’Leary of Ryanair

From todays Sunday Independent:

“What needs to be done, is to cut back public spending massively, sell off all the useless semi-states and get rid of all these useless quangos.

“The National Consumer Agency? Complete rubbish. What are you doing? You’re providing a board seat for Celia Larkin to do what? What does she know about a consumer? The aviation regulator? All he’s done is rubberstamp price increases,” O’Leary intones in relation to just a few of his own personal bugbears.

State authorities or “quangos” as they are more commonly referred to should also come under the hammer, according to O’Leary.

Bertie Ahern’s former beau Celia Larkin and consumer guru Eddie Hobbs are fixed firmly in O’Leary’s crosshairs in this regard.

He says: “We have had an explosion of quangos, putting the Celia Larkins of this world on the board of the National Consumer Agency and paying her a fee to do what? Get rid of her! And the other guy, that fella in Cork, the Show me the Money guy, what’s his name? Eddie Hobbs. Sack him! What are we paying any of those guys for?

“The National Consumer Agency is useless anyway as we in Ryanair have demonstrated with the “screen scraper” issue,” he adds, referring to his company’s current campaign to prevent online intermediaries taking bookings for Ryanair flights, and what he considers a hefty illegal sales commission in the process.

No complaints from us here in ValueIreland.com.

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