Tag Archives | price comparison

New Price Comparison Website: Health Insurance

This press release came through recently from the Health Insurance Authority:

The Health Insurance Authority just launched a new website with in-depth consumer information pages and a new product comparison tool.

The product comparison allows consumers to compare benefits and prices of health insurance products, enabling them to choose the most appropriate product when buying health insurance and saving money in the process.

The Health Insurance Authority Product Comparison is available here.

I had a quick look at the site and first thing I noticed was that I was offered a health insurance product that seemed to be only available for credit union members – which I’m not.

Given that the myriad of health insurance products that are being made available by the three competitors in the Irish health insurance market, more information can only be better for consumers.

There are, however, a couple of points to note.

Firstly, this wide range of products and different price levels is purely intended to confuse the consumer and to make it hard to make a full price comparison between health insurance products.

Secondly, if this price comparison website is anything like the telecoms site, CallCosts.ie, you should be aware that the service providers could very likely find a way to “game” the website to find a way to always have their own products show at the top of any search that a consumer might make.


Latest National Consumer Agency Grocery Survey

I’ve nothing really to say on this latest survey – there was nothing new in February after the last survey, and nothing new this time around either. All we’re really seeing now is the NCA continuing to drive the grocery prices bandwagon – doing pricing surveys is a lot easier than confronting other organisations about their misleading of Irish consumers.
What I would like to know though, about the most recent survey, is why it was actually done at all on the particular day in question? Dunnes Stores had a 10% off weekend offer running on the day in question – surely something like that made the survey a little pointless by distorting the findings?
It’d be funny if Dunnes Stores knew that the survey was happening that weekend – there’s an interesting comparison between their 10% off weekend on the day of the survey and their appearance at the top of the comparisons between it, Tesco, Superquinn, SuperValu, Spar and Centra.

Sale. Discounts. Special Offers. Bargains. Money Off.

In the last couple of weeks there’s been lots of talk about downturns and recessions and businesses finding things tough. We’re being told that they’re offering us all sorts of discounts to entice us to spend our money with them. And of course, for any of us that might still have some disposable income, that’s great news.

I do have one word of caution though. I’ve noticed a lot of newspaper advertising, and some radio adverts too, that are offering consumers bargains and discounts and money off, but not specifying what actually is on offer. It may just be that I’m overly cynical, or that I just have a little understanding of how Irish businesses operate, but I would be very cautious in following up on such vague offers.

Why? Because such vague offers give the businesses involved the opportunity to potentially charge you more depending on when you ring and depending on their current bookings. It does obviously give them the opportunity to change less as well, but when did you ever see an Irish business less when they could get away with charging more.

Don’t get me wrong here. I don’t have a problem with businesses doing business. However, doing business in the way that’s being suggested here isn’t as clear as it could be from the perspective of the consumer.

What should you do? If you do see such unspecific advertising, and you’re drawn to the product or service being offered, by all means give them a call and get as much detail as you can. And then call again at some later point the next day, or a couple of days later. Ask the same questions, and see if you get the same answers and the same offer. You could also compare the alternatives available from other competitors. Once you’ve get full information on availability and pricing, make your decision.


Budget Travel crying wolf!!!

There were two recent interesting items in the news about airlines, both covered in the Metro on the morning of May 9th. Under the headline, on page 6, “Irish airlines ‘ripping off customers’”, the Head of Marketing at Budget Travel referred to the Ryanair baggage charges when saying that “a family of four carrying 4 pieces of luggage could pay €800 more”. He said that “it is quite clear that the “low cost” carriers are now using the revenue generated from baggage to support their profits while keeping lean-in fares attractive”.

This article also referred to the second item (also referred to here by Conor Pope) where a European Commission report found that one third of airline customers feel they are being ripped off or misled. The article states that “one in three sites contained information breaching rules on clear pricing, availability of offers and clear contract terms”.

So, let’s try a little experiment. My future wife, our two fictitious children and I are going to go on a trip to Biarritz in France for a week. We’re going to fly, leaving Dublin on June 19th, returning on June 26th.

First place to check – Ryanair.com

So far, so good – it’ll cost us €471 for the four of us to fly out and €325 to come back.

On to the BudgetTravel.ie site to book a flight only trip to Biarritz, same passengers, and same date.

This looks even more promising. Flying with Air France (better reputation than Ryanair), and the best price plus estimated taxes is €458. But I can’t really tell if this is for 1 person, or for the 4 of us, or if this is each way, or return.

Not very clear pricing there BudgetTravel.

Lets select the first option flight with Air France on the BudgetTravel site. And now the veritable kick in the knackers – that original price was actually per adult passenger, while the tax was per passenger (adult or child). So, what originally looked like €458 is now actually €1656.

Back to the Ryanair site, and our total (current) cost is €797 – less than half that of the BudgetTravel option.

Lets confirm the Ryanair flights and see what happens. We’ll take one bag each per person, and we won’t go for priority boarding. Oh, and no sneaky travel insurance either. This brings us up to €917, and because we’re paying by MasterCard, the handling fee raises the total fare to €949.

Back to the BudgetTravel site. Budget Travel does not charge for up to 20kg of baggage per person.

That link also highlights the fact that Ryanair only allow for 15kg of baggage per person, and that anything else costs extra.

So, for 4 persons that’s the difference between bringing Katie Taylor (the kickboxer) on holidays with you, or Eoin Reddan (the Irish scrum half).

Lets assume that we’re okay with our 60kg across 4 people travelling and therefore stick within the Ryanair limits.

Our choice then:

o Biarritz with Ryanair, 60kg luggage – €949
o Biarritz with BudgetTravel, 60-80kg luggage – €1656

Crying wolf? When you’re BudgetTravel and you’re selling exactly the same product as Ryanair, but you’re charging 75% more, it’s no wonder BudgetTravel are putting stories into the newspapers trying to scare people off from using the cheaper option.


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