Tag Archive - National Consumer Agency (NCA)

News Flash – National Consumer Agency will do something about Aer Lingus

They’re going to release a press release if Aer Lingus do nothing. Straight from the horses mouth – Ann Fitzgerald on Joe Duffy, RTE1, 3pm.

NCA supports and takes it easy on big business yet again, at the expense of consumers.

Fine Gael Declares War on Useless Regulators

Eventually Fine Gael were going to come up with a decent idea – and yesterday it was announced that “Kenny declares €50m war against quangos“.

I’ve been pretty critical over the past couple of years about the dozens (and increasing number) of useless government created organisations which are effectively sub-contracted to do the job of the government itself.

According to this article:

OPPOSITION leader Enda Kenny has pledged to cull the huge numbers of Government-created agencies and other bodies, claiming it would save €50m a year.

The Fine Gael leader says there are now 1,000 of these bodies — known as quangos — and says he will abolish dozens of them if his party gets into power.

Our friend, Leo Varadker is apparently going to be publishing a document which will detail the plans, which will include a single Fair Trade Agency for the consumer which would take in both the National Consumer Agency and the Competition Authority. They are also proposing a consolidation of the many useless transport regulators – the agencies for taxis, aviation, Dublin and regional transport would all be amalgamated into a single national transport agency.

Of course, we should remember that Mr.Varadkers predecessor, the Fine Gael “minister for Rip-off Ireland”, Phil Hogan, called for the creation of a “Consumer Rights Enforcer” – effectively the National Consumer Agency, which they’re now going to get rid of. Are we just playing politics here?

Bad Law is hindering the National Consumer Agency

According to the Labour Party it is anyway, and it seems quite likely that the reason why the garage in Limerick who was recently caught clocking cars may well have gotten away with the of offense because of “bad law”.

According to the press release from Senator Brendan Ryan:

My advice is that the drafting flaw is fatal to the prosecution of the pyramid scheme offence in the District Court under the Consumer Protection Act, and would also appear to prevent the prosecution in the District Court of a number of other offences including misleading commercial practices; aggressive commercial practices; prohibited commercial practices; and contravening maximum prices order.

Another consumer website bites the dust

It looks like another independent Irish consumer website has bitten the dust and gone the way of many before it.

From their website, IrishFuelPrices.com is for sale. According to the text on the site:

IrishFuelPrices.com is for sale

Thank you for your support over the last 7 years. The great success of the site has been to make consumers more aware of prices but the site needs to be up to date and due to time constraints on our part, this is no longer possible.

Interested parties can contact us on info@irishfuelprices.com

This is a big pity. I wonder will anyone fill their shoes – will the National Consumer Agency maybe take up the mantle and have a petrol price survey in the same way they do their grocery price comparison, or maybe the Consumer Association of Ireland fill the gap.

March 15th, European Consumer Day

Blink, and you might miss it.

According to this Europa – Consumer Affairs website, the following are the activities planned for European Consumer Day in Ireland.

For Consumer Day, a Consumer Consultation Seminar will be held at the representation in Dublin, at which the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment will take part. In addition, a number of newspaper supplements will be published, with information on the ECC and shopping across borders. A press release will also be issued highlighting the advantages Irish consumers have by also being European citizens. The press release will take the form of a ‘story’ detailing a person’s day from morning to evening and all the things that occur where EU consumer legislation comes into play.

Anyone see any of this? I did see mention of the seminar mentioned above, but no sign of the press releases. If the National Consumer Agency wouldn’t keep republishing 200 odd press releases every night on their RSS feed, it might be easier to see if it was there. Nothing on their Press Releases link, nor on the ECC Dublin site either. Nothing on the Consumer Association of Ireland website either.

The useless NCA are at it again (or not, if you’re a consumer)

We’re told that we should be encouraged when a powerless regulator like the NPSRA actually does get it’s powers. Because then, apparently, they’ll be able to use those powers to protect consumers – in that case, home buyers and apartment residents for example.

Then people wonder why I’m skeptical about how positive any of these government regulators will actually be for consumers, even when they do get their powers.

Here’s why.

Apart from all my comments here about the National Consumer Agency, the Public Inquiry website today has a fantastic example of just why I think these government organisations are a huge pile of stinking doo doo. And to think, the employees of the NCA are so proud of their inaction in this situation, they’re going on national radio.

Apart from the quotes mentioned about the inaction of the NCA, here’s the most galling comment from their press release today:

The NCA chief also urged consumers to contact the Agency if they had suspicions that their car was clocked. “We will investigate all complaints. The Consumer Protection Act gives us wide ranging powers to take action.

This is truly unbelievable. “Please tell us about companies doing bad things, and we’ll do nothing about it”. Somebody, please, tell me what’s the point in having a regulator such as the NCA at all?

NCA Grocery Price Survey – Nothing New

The NCA have launched their new grocery price survey today – their press release is here. The headline of the release is as follows:

The National Consumer Agency (NCA) has published the findings of its survey comparing grocery prices between Ireland’s multiples, symbol groups, discounters and independents shops. Among its main findings, the survey found:

  • Only 35 cent difference between Tesco and Dunnes Stores for basket of 61 branded goods
  • Supervalu providing competition to multiples
  • Real competition between Aldi and Lidl, providing an alternative in value to multiples and Supervalu for own brand products
  • Independent butchers, fruit and vegetable shops can provide real value
Sound familiar? It’s exactly the same as they announced in July 2007 – only this time enhanced by the research done by Value Ireland when we included Lidl and Aldi in the mix.

So, 6 months later, they’re coming out telling us nothing new whatsoever. You can give me their budget of whatever number of million euro per year, and I’ll tell you nothing new either – damn it, I’ll take half their budget and I’ll tell you nothing new every month.

Further comments on the ridiculous NPSRA

Following on from the comment from Serial Complainer previously and my subsequent response, I thought I’d clarify my initial thoughts on the NPSRA and why I think it’s a pointless future useless regulator – one of many created by our current government.

As per my original post, I don’t believe that the proposed involvement of the NPSRA will have any positive impact on the current dodgy situations that exist between developers, property management companies and property management agents.

And regards to the proposal that the NPSRA regulate Auctioneers and Estate Agents and the buying and selling of property, this is just as ridiculous a proposal.

In my opinion, the processes and procedures gone through when buying and selling property are the problem – not the oversight of such processes and procedures.

And if the process stinks, you don’t create an oversight body for the process, you address the process and fix that.

How are the NPSRA going to know if when I’m making a bid for a house that I’m not bidding against a fake bidder created on the other side by the estate agent?

They’ll presumably ask the estate agent, “did you create a fake bidder on the other side in order to boost the price”? And the estate agent will say, “no, of course not, that’s against the rules of my professional organization – I’d never do such a thing”. What happens then? Stalemate? The NPSRA will resolve to “work with” the estate agent, but nothing will happen, and the consumer will still be left on the outside.

It will just be the same as the National Consumer Agency. It will just be the same as the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement. The NPSRA will become another agency set up with the notional idea that it will benefit consumers, but in reality it’ll just become another part of the governmental anti-consumer bureaucracy.

What can be done? As I mentioned above, we could address the process in buying and selling property rather than overseeing a rotten process?

Can I suggest that we adopt the Scottish model of buying and selling property?

Scotland has a very particular way of buying a home. I’ll post further tomorrow on how this system works.

Another useless Irish regulator on its way – lucky us!

I was prompted to this post by an e-mail from Gavin on Friday evening, and before weekend coverage of the same topic. The Irish Times on Friday had a couple of articles regarding the problems that apartment residents are having with property management companies and property management agents (sub required, but available here, here, here and here).

I’ve already commented about property management companies on this site and how the currently useless Irish regulator who’s empowered to act won’t actually do so – preferring to “work with them”.

So, the Irish Government response to the Irish problem is to set up another useless regulator, the National Property Services Regulatory Authority (NPSRA), to specifically regulate, amongst other things, property management agents – not the property management companies.

A quote from one of the articles above goes as follows:

The NCA is hopeful that the establishment of the National Property Services Regulatory Authority (NPSRA) will be a “big consumer win”, as it will eventually regulate management agents. “It’s going to greatly assist improving the quality of service that is offered by management agents, and therefore improve the experience of people living in multi-unit developments whose management companies have contracts with recognised and registered management agents,” says Hurley.

Apart from the unnerving fact that the National Consumer Agency is sticking its oar in in this area as well, I don’t believe it’s the management agents that are the problem – well, directly anyway.

The NCA and ODCE are keen to tell us that we don’t really understand the differences between property management agents and companies (cause we’re all stupid consumers and need useless regulators to save us from ourselves), yet by encouraging and supporting the setting up of this new useless regulator by the Government they’re showing us that they all really don’t have any clue of what’s going at all.

The primary problem, as per the articles above, is that residents don’t have control of their own property management companies in order to be able to control their own destiny with regards to where they live. Developers find ways, for whatever reason, to keep control of the property management companies, and in most situations appoint connected companies as the property management agents- keeping it in the family if you like.

Because the property management agents then know that because of the connections with the developers, and therefore with the property management companies, they don’t actually have to provide any value for money, or in some cases, even provide a service. They know that no matter what they do or don’t do, or how dissatisfied the residents are, they’ll always be reappointed.

However, if the ODCE, the NCA, and the already useless and irrelevant before it begins National Property Services Regulatory Authority (NPSRA) actually addressed the situation that allows developers maintain their place as directors of property management companies with block voting enough to always override the residents in all decisions, then we’d end up in a better situation.

In such a scenario, the residents can take control of their own property management companies, and then can appoint their own property management agents – ones that they know will provide a quality service, and value for money, and will actually be accountable to the residents who live there, and not the developers who don’t.

Leo Varadkar advocates consumers giving interest free 3 year loans to retailers

I was interested to read the results of a Fine Gael survey on gift vouchers. Leo Varadkar estimates that “€40 million worth of vouchers are never redeemed, representing a huge windfall for retailers“.

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?

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