Tag Archives | overcharging

Vodafone are added again to the ValueIreland Overcharging Hall of Shame

I missed out on publishing this addition to the Overcharging Hall of Shame back when it happened, but it’s worth remembering that it’s the highest profile businesses in Ireland that are ripping off their customers the most.

Back in this instance, Vodafone admitted to overcharging their customers. According to this news article,

It has emerged thousands of Vodafone customers were overcharged on their bills in error last week.

The problem was due to a processing mistake in relation to credit card direct debits.

Vodafone has said it has now reversed all charges, and refunded any additional charges that were incurred.

The company is apologising their customers, describing it as “an isolated incident”.

Their last line is curious – “an isolated incident”. Isolated for this week maybe, but not isolated in general for Vodafone – April 2009, December 2004, November 2004, and June 2004 were the 4 other incidents of Vodafone overcharging their customers.

Even better was the headline on other news websites – “Vodafone Overcharges Customers in Error”. Yup, cause they mostly do it on purpose?

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What would it take for you to switch your bank?

There’s a lot of talk these days about how our choice in banking is slowly but surely being eroded with the closure of Halifax, Postbank, NIB branches, First Active and the looming threat that both AIB and Bank of Ireland will engage in massive branch closures to save cash.

On that basis, this post may not be all that timely – but I guess after years of recording incidences of where banks repeatedly gouge their customers through multiple overcharging scandals, this post may never be timely in Ireland.

Is there anything that would make you change your bank account – assuming that knowing that your bank is quite likely to steal your money from your account for themselves won’t do it for you.

This article from the Get Rich Slowly website, What Does It Take to Make You Switch Banks?, asks that very question and poses a few scenarios. Are there any of the following points that would cause you to switch your banks:

  1. Higher interest rates on borrowings than the competition?
  2. Lower interest rates on savings?
  3. Poor customer service?
  4. Length of history with your current bank?
  5. The principle of the thing?
  6. Accessibility – particular now with branch closures

Another way of looking at this would be if you imagined what a bank outside of Ireland might be thinking when looking at Ireland to see if it’s worth coming into the market.

We’re going to hear much bleating in the coming weeks and months about the reduction in competition in the banking market, but if people aren’t inclined to switch banks (even during times when we had plenty of competition), what’s the point in calling for more competition if most people are going to stick with the old unreliables?

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Buyer Beware on RTE1 – my thoughts on the new series

Buyer Beware on RTE1 – my thoughts on the new series
I wasn’t actually planning on writing anything about the new series of Buyer Beware with Philip Boucher Hayes that started on Wednesday night on RTE 1.
However, in the past couple of days there’s been a large amount of traffic arriving here where people have been searching for “buyer beware” so I thought I’d at least provide an update.
However, reading over my comments on the previous series, I could just as easily lazily repost those old comments rather than come up with anything new or original.
As it happens, that’s what Mr. Boucher Hayes did with one of the features in the first episode of the new series – went back over old ground with the calendar story.
Apart from a lack of imagination in covering the same story again, I don’t see how a company selling advertising space for calendars to other businesses is in any way “consumer related”. This “business to business” or b2b con doesn’t impact on consumers at all.
As for the alleged con artist getting people to invest in his “sports investment” investment scheme that wasn’t a gambling scheme, it never fails to amaze me why people will go on TV to show how stupid they can be.
But that’s an aside.
The point here is the relevance to consumers at large in Ireland – the viewers of this show. There are much bigger financial wrongdoings going on across the country at the moment, yet they’re not being tackled by Mr. Boucher Hayes and his producers.
How about insurance companies telling people that they need to increase the value of their home values for insurance purposes so they can cream extra profits by increasing premiums? I’ve covered this issue many times.
How about banks are with increasing frequency double dipping into customers accounts for Laser charges, or how credit card companies are pestering their customers or how mobile phone companies abuse their customers?
But wait! Hang on.
An alleged conman doesn’t pay substantial sums of money in advertising fees to RTE, so we’re unlikely ever to see Buyer Beware highlight the consumer problems caused by the big banks, insurance companies, mobile companies and others that actually do affect significant numbers of Irish consumers.
Opportunity missed – wasted really. Oh to have a true consumer Watchdog programme in this country!

I wasn’t actually planning on writing anything about the new series of Buyer Beware with Philip Boucher Hayes that started on Wednesday night on RTE 1.

However, in the past 36 hours there’s been a large amount of traffic arriving here where people have been searching for “buyer beware” so I thought I’d at least provide an update.

However, reading over my comments on the previous series, I could just as easily lazily repost those old comments rather than come up with anything new or original.

As it happens, that’s exactly what Mr. Boucher Hayes did with one of the features in the first episode of the new series – went back over old ground with the “pay for advertising in a calendar wall planner” story.

Apart from a lack of imagination in covering the same story again, I don’t see how a company selling advertising space for calendars to other businesses is in any way “consumer related”. This “business to business” or b2b con doesn’t impact on consumers at all.

As for the alleged con artist getting people to invest in his “sports investment” investment scheme that supposedly wasn’t a gambling scheme, it never fails to amaze me why people will go on TV to show how stupid they can be.

But that’s an aside.

The point here is the relevance to consumers at large in Ireland – the viewers of this show. There are much bigger financial wrongdoings and scams and cons going on across the country at the moment, yet they’re not being tackled by Mr. Boucher Hayes and his producers.

How about insurance companies telling people that they need to increase the value of their home values for insurance purposes so they can cream extra profits by increasing premiums? I’ve covered this issue many times.

How about banks are with increasing frequency double dipping into customers accounts for Laser charges, or how credit card companies are pestering their customers or how mobile phone companies abuse their customers?

But wait! Hang on.

An alleged conman in Sligo doesn’t pay substantial sums of money in advertising fees to RTE, so we’re unlikely ever to see Buyer Beware highlight the consumer problems caused by the big banks, insurance companies, mobile companies and others that actually do affect significant numbers of Irish consumers.

Opportunity missed – wasted really. Remember, it’s the biggest companies in Ireland that are responsible for ripping off nearly 2m Irish consumers by over €600m in the last 5 years. But we’re never going to see that on RTE.

Oh to have a true consumer Watchdog programme in this country!

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1.9m Irish consumers overcharged by over €632m since 2004

Last week saw Bank of Ireland added to the Overcharging in Ireland hall of shame for the 6th time since 2004.

According to this breaking news story from the Irish Times:

Bank of Ireland is investigating a technical error that led to 120,000 customers being charged twice on certain Laser card transactions that happened last Friday.

Bank Of Ireland have refused to say how much money was involved, and blamed a computer error for the problem happening in the first place.

According to Laser Card Service Ltd. the average Laser transaction amount since it was introduced is €64. That would indicate that Bank Of Ireland wrongly took over €7.5m from their own custgmers accounts because of the error.

The article above quotes a BOI spokesperson confirming that all money had been repaid to customers by Wednesday morning.

Based on those numbers, over 1.9m Irish consumers have been overcharged by some of the biggest and best known companies (and government departments) in Ireland by over €632m.

That’s €330 per person since 2004 – that’s been revealed in public. See here for more details.

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Undercharging of customers by Ulster Bank and First Active

This research page on ValueIreland.com tracks the number of overcharging incidents by some of Irelands best known companies since 2004.

Just to be fair, we also keep track where companies have revealed that customers have been undercharged – but have a look just to see how the overcharging (in favour of the company) vastly outnumbers the undercharging (in favour of the customer).

Last week, it was revealed by Ulster Bank and First Active (essentially the same bank now that they’re both owned by Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS)).

According to this article from the Irish Times:

AT LEAST 13,000 Ulster Bank and First Active customers have been told their banks under-deducted Deposit Interest Retention Tax (Dirt) on their savings accounts. The two banks have written to affected customers in the past week about the miscalculation of Dirt. A spokeswoman for Ulster Bank said letters had been sent to 6,500 customers of its subsidiary, First Active. The bank says the miscalculation occurred as a result of a systems error and the average amounts involved for each customer are small – just €1 in the case of First Active.

In this situation, as it’s a tax deduction, the extra money was taken from the customers accounts. In some previous cases, the undercharging banks took the hit instead of taking the money.

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Overcharged by the Revenue. That’s a new one!

There’s a form called the P21 Balancing Certificate that you can request from the Revenue. I wrote about this previously here.  Basically, if you think you’ve paid too much tax in the year, you can request a P21 to see what you’re due to pay vs what you’ve paid. If the Revenue owes you a refund, you can expect a cheque in the post as well.

It’s especially useful to request this form if you’ve either had to pay extra tax in a particular year (as a result of extra income from dividends, interest etc), or if you’ve claimed extra tax credits for any reason – basically if anything changed from the normal or ordinary in any given year.

On thing to remember though.

If the P21 form comes through telling you that you owe more tax, double check with the Revenue in case they’re overcharging you. You never know.

I received my 2007 P21 in the post earlier this week with a charge for over €500 on it, which they were going to take from me by reducing my tax credits for the next 2 years.

I didn’t think it was right so I rang them and after 5 minutes I discovered that the Revenue actually owed me money, rather than me owing them.

I suppose no one is above a little overcharging here and there, not even the Revenue. God knows, they need as much as they can get these days.

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Ticketmaster – Overcharging rugby fans

Over the years, ValueIreland.com has received many e-mails from Ticketmaster complaining about being ripped off through their extra charges when buying tickets from them. While these charges are entirely legal despite peoples complaints, this week has seen the first incidence of Ticketmaster actually overcharging customers.

According to this article from Saturdays Irish Independent:

Ticketmaster said a “minor glitch” had arisen that led to a number of fans paying an incorrect service charge for the tie between Munster and Leinster.

They were charged €5.25 instead of €4.50 on tickets for the hotly anticipated Heineken Cup semi-final at Croke Park on May 2.

Ticketmaster said only a small number of fans were overcharged, as the error was noticed quickly.

Check out here to see the full list of overcharging shame in Ireland since 2004.

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Vodafone added to overcharging list of shame, again

Vodafone has been added to the overcharging list of shame for the fourth time now since I started compiling it in 2004. They’re no almost as prevalent on the list as the Irish banks – not an illustrious claim to fame.

This time, according to the irish Independent, Vodafone has overcharged 100,000 of their bill-pay customers by upwards on €900,000. For about 60% of those impacted, the refund will be about €6.

In a perfect example of the need to check your bills, even online bills which many Vodafone bill-pay customers will have, this issue was only identified after a Vodafone customer checked their bill after seeing unusually high charges and contacted the company.

Since November 2004 since this overcharging list of shame was started, 1,701,628 Irish Consumers have been overcharged a massive total of €624,060,500 by Irish Businesses and the Government.

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O2 overcharging me again – check your texts this time

I meant to write about this last week, but it’s been a busy enough week. I received my monthly text message from O2 informing me that my bill was available online, so I went in and had a check.

I ended up having to ring them again to get a refund as this time they were charging me 32c for text messages I sent to a mate in Limerick that should have come from my monthly bundle. The reason for the charge was that their system recognised the messages as being roaming texts. Roaming when I was in Dublin and he was in Limerick. I don’t think so!

Now, I will admit, I rang to get a refund of 64c on my bill. Not a whole lot, I accept.

Then again, it’s the principle of the thing. That’s my money, and not theirs. And you could look at it in another way – practice!

Many people are too shy to ring up businesses to complain, no matter what the problem might be. Calling up for small simple things like O2 overcharging on two text messages can be great practice for when you might have to ring up someone else to get a larger amount of money refunded at a later time.

So, two things for now:

  1. Check your O2 bill to make sure you haven’t been charged for roaming text messages when you haven’t actually left the country.
  2. No matter how much money is involved, if you’ve been overcharged anywhere, complain. That counts for being short changed as well. Consider it good practice for when it might really matter.
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Did you make your commitment to AIB?

You’ve probably seen the ridiculous full page advertisements taken out by AIB in the newspapers on Sunday. The Angry Hedgehog has an image of one of the adverts.

The bank is making a commitment to us, the Irish people, as a “thank you” to us making a commitment to them. That commitment was where we gave them €3.5bn to bail them out of the hole that they’ve put themselves in by being shit at their jobs.

Let’s get things straight here. We, the Irish people, didn’t make a commitment to AIB – it was our politicians, helping out their banking buddies. And don’t say they were elected, because no one here elected Brian Cowen as Taoiseach.

The commitment is to play their role, as Irelands largest bank, in helping to get our economy back on it’s feet.

So there’s no truth in the rumours then that they’re going to hold on to the money for themselves until their own position strengthens before actually helping out those cash strapped businesses needing loans.

And let’s hope that AIB doesn’t put us first in the way they might have done in the past when stealing in excess of €50m from hundreds and thousands of their customers in the past 5 years through various different overcharging scandals.

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