Fine Gael doesn’t get much right these days but it has done the country a service with the launch of its consumer website, www.valueireland.com.
Having come to the site too late to benefit from Christmas shopping hints this year, I certainly intend to do my January sales hunting with print-outs of comments and the experiences of the hundreds of consumers who are now adding their rip-off and value stories on a daily basis.
A quick scan of the site last week showed that had I been a bit more purposeful in shopping online for the bulk of my CDs, DVDs, the DVD recorder, and Game Boy Advance purchases that were made at Christmas, I would have saved more than €110.
With a programme of home improvement projects on the cards for this year, I will be making a special trip to the DIY outlets in the north where lists of savings are posted.
It probably won’t last, but “thrift” seems to have replaced house prices as the most popular topic of the chattering classes these days. It has been a long time coming but the rot set in with the changeover to the euro and, two years into the single currency, we are all becoming a lot more aware of how expensive it is to live in this country.
According to this breaking news item on the Irish Times site, Deputy Ring had this to say:
“This issue has been discussed on TV3 and RTÉ and I want to know can we have a debate in the Dáil. It’s in relation to Tesco and Dunnes robbing the people of Ireland.” He added: “It used to be ‘rip-off Ireland’ and now it’s ‘rip off the Irish’ ”
Another classic from the Fine Gael party. I respectfully suggest that Deputy Ring contact An Garda Siochana if Irish consumers are being “robbed”.
On the other hand, if Irish consumers are willingly handing over cash to UK retailers who may be charging more in Ireland than they are in the United Kingdom, maybe Deputy Ring should use his Dail time a bit more wisely rather than jumping on the National Consumer Agency bandwagon.
Shops charge what consumers are willing to pay. If Irish consumers pay the amounts charged by UK based retailers, then they’ll continue to charge that, and possibly more. On the other hand, if Irish consumers become a little more discerning about how and where they spend their money, then such retailers will have to rethink their pricing policies.
How come we haven’t heard anyone seriously talk about a boycott if things are as bad as we’re being told?
Anyone see the photo on the front page of the Irish Times yesterday – available here on Ireland.com. Hat tip to Sheila for putting this horrible image in my mind.
- Announced today, by Ryanair, the first price rise that makes the most sense, ever – charging for priority check-in. Coming back from Stanstead recently, there was the ridiculous situation where there was a plane full of people in the priority boarding queue, and only 1 person in the regular queue – and they still had to wait for everyone else to board. Madness!!! At least now priority boarding might actually provide some distinction.
- Via Mr.Mulley again, further difficulties caused by Vodafone for one of their customers, BifSniff. One wonders how much you’d have to spend with them for them to actually attempt to keep one’s business.
- I’ve been fairly critical of the National Consumer Agency on this blog – and here’s another gripe. Their Press Release and News and Research RSS feeds are driving me insane. Almost every single night, they republish hundreds of items and confuse the dates so that nothing appears in order at all – basically negating the use of the feeds at all.
- Speaking of dodgy RSS feeds – it’s been months since I e-mailed Fine Gael about their faulty RSS feed for their news service. It’s still not working, and they don’t seem to have done anything to fix it.
- Finally, has anyone noticed the very frustrating way in which The Sunday Tribune manage their website on a Sunday? While it’s not a great website in the first place, their way of encouraging newspaper sales rather than charging for content is to simply take down the whole website, providing a 404 message rather than doing anything more elegant.
It’s worth having a look at the document (available here). It’s a hardly streamlined 83 pages, but it’s very interesting reading – particularly the appendices showing the details of our nearly 1000 useless regulators.
Obviously the cost of getting home to visit the relations at the weekends from Dublin is having an adverse impact on the deputys pocket.
Being from Mayo myself, for years the anomalies of the CIE/Irish Rail fares for the Westport to Dublin train were a mystery. Why did a single and a return cost the same money was a great example.
And more recently, it never ceases to amaze me that I can’t buy a return ticket from Dublin to Wexford on a Friday evening from the ticket machines in Connolly or Pearse stations. Nor can I buy a return from Wexford to Dublin on a Sunday evening in Wexford or Enniscorthy station ticket machines.
You’d have to say though, that the response from Irish Rail chief executive Richard Fearn does make a certain amount of sense when explaining the Tipperary price differential.
He said the Tipperary-Dublin ticket price was “a significantly discounted fare” introduced in a bid to “create a local market” in Tipperary for rail services.
The article goes on:
In response to questions from Mr O’Dowd, he said Irish Rail was committed to trying to converge fares, meaning a journey in one direction would be priced at the same level as a journey in the opposite direction.
Presumably, Deputy O’Dowd means for the prices to converge to the lower €27 fare (the discounted fare) rather than the normal price of €45. Shouldn’t the deputy really quit while he, and consumers, are ahead rather than pushing for a price convergence which is more likely to leave everyone paying €45 rather than some people paying €27?
Seriously though – who’s fault is that? It’s hardly retailers fault that consumers don’t use gift vouchers presented to them? Or is it the retailers fault that a consumer gets a voucher and doesn’t bother making an effort to use it in the time period stated on the voucher?
Leo – cop yourself on! If I get a voucher that says I have three months to spend the cash, it’s my fault if I try to spend it in 4 months time, not the retailers.
If the terms and conditions on the vouchers are “unfair” or have the potential of “callously ripping off consumers” then isn’t it up to the consumers who purchase the vouchers to not actually buy them in the first place?
And as for your suggestion that there be a three year time expiry on vouchers, that’s nearly just as much of a gift to retailers as not using the vouchers at all.
In your proposed NCA supported fantasy world, giving a retailer €100 for a voucher now and allowing someone 3 years to spend it is the same as a 3 year interest free loan from the consumer to said retailer. And then take into account 5% inflation per year, the retailer only then has to hand over €85 worth of goods at the end of the loan period.
Shouldn’t you instead be encouraging consumers to use their vouchers as quickly as possible? It’s hardly good “enterprise or trade” to be encouraging consumers to be providing interest free loans to retailers with discounted repayment amounts?
Now, we know you’re only bringing this up because it was on Joe Duffy last week. He was talking about Muslims in Ireland today – when can we expect your press release on this?
Don’t you have anything better to be doing – like “marking” your counterpart who’s in the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment at a time when we’re losing hundreds of jobs per week?
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.