Tag Archives | Pricewatch

Hard lesson learned on the pointlessness of paying for mobile phone insurance

There is a regular segment in the Irish Times Pricewatch column each Monday that this week is likely to fall foul of misleading descriptions regulations in the 2007 Consumer Protection Act. The Consumer Protection Act prohibits a consumer from being misled in relation to “the main characteristics of a product” (e.g. a newspaper article).

Under the headline “Your consumer queries answered”, with the tagline “Conor Pope answers reader’s queries”, an unfortunate reader went to extensive lengths to describe an issue she had with iPhone insurance.

The particular article concerned, Insurance upgrade did not come with iPhone upgrade, ends:

“She would like to know who is at fault here. “Am I stupid to think Vodafone and Carphone Warehouse should have updated the files at the time of the upgrade?”

And that’s it. The article ends. Journalist gets copy, but reader’s query not answered.

Stupid

Or maybe, since the answer to the readers query is “yes, you are stupid”, Mr. Pope decided to spare their blushes. The situation the reader found themselves in was as follows:

  1. Bought iPhone in June 2010 from Carphone Warehouse on a Vodafone contract
  2. Insured iPhone for €13.75 per month via Carphone Warehouse with Lifeline, New Technology Insurance.
  3. Upgraded iPhone with Vodafone in November 2011
  4. February 2013, child drops iPhone and breaks screen
  5. Reader tries to claim on insurance, but can’t because new phone wasn’t insured

Which led to the readers query again – “Am I stupid to think Vodafone and Carphone Warehouse should have updated the files at the time of the upgrade?”

And the answer, yes, you are stupid to think that.

Basic rules of Insurance

You insured phone A with Lifeline in June 2010 for €13.75 per month (now that’s stupid right there before going any further).

You bought phone B in November 2011, and you didn’t ask for it to be insured. You assumed it was covered, but we all know what assuming does.

When you trade in your Ford Mondeo for a Volkswagen Passat, you don’t assume that the insurance passes from the old car to the new car automatically – you have to ring your insurance provider and have cover switched.

Just because mobile phone insurance is cheap, stupid and a waste of money doesn’t mean that the same basic rules of insurance don’t apply.

It gets worse?

We’re not told, but based on the readers own assumptions, they have been paying insurance on phone A at a rate of €13.75 per month since November 2011. A phone that’s most likely being used as a paperweight, or has already been chucked in the bin.

That’s 16 months of pointless premiums. Or €220 wasted.

Or look at it another way. It’s quite likely to be more than the cost of an upgrade of a broken iPhone to a brand new one on Vodafone.

It’s just a pity that Mr. Pope didn’t highlight the mistakes that this particular reader made so as to enlighten others who may be in the same situation.

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Why I’m calling the end of Irish consumer writing in Ireland

I wrote last week that I believed that we’d reached the end of Irish consumer writing and that unless businesses and service providers innovated by changing and increasing their service offerings, nothing much would change.

Because our economy is being squeezed from all sides, business are likely to contract and consolidate rather than expand and innovate in the near to medium term, so until then, we’re going to continue to get recycled “top tips” and “how to” articles.

Three things happened in the past couple of weeks that have reinforced this belief for me.

Waste of time

First of all, the National Consumer Agency were searching the internet, hoping probably, to copy other peoples hints, tips and advice in their preparations for this article published during November – “Christmas Value”.

This, as I’ve said before, is the statutory agency who has the ability to prosecute businesses for taking advantage of consumers but who decide their time is better spent googling for other peoples Christmas tips and advice and then publishing on their own website.

Waste of money

Secondly, the other useless bastion of faux consumer protection and representation, the Consumers Association of Ireland, published this gem in a press release announcing their November issue of Consumer Choice (cost €7, but you must buy all 12 for €96 in a year):

Keeping hens
Never buy another egg again with our complete guide on how to keep hens.
Consumer Choice also features an in-depth look at keeping hens. We publish a complete guide for anyone interested in having their own eggs including information on how too source the hens, as well as a survey of what’s on offer from companies that operate in this area.

Use this information wisely!

Waste of effort

Finally, a couple of weeks ago, the normally wise Conor Pope, managed to get this published for his large audience through a national newspaper:

FREEZE YOUR ASSET Okay, we appreciate this may sound a little mad but we have heard of people who have done this with great success. Immerse your credit card in an ice tray full of water and freeze it. This is a great way of stopping spur-of-the-moment online spends as you have to wait until the ice melts before you can access the card. There is no point in trying to chip the card out as you’ll damage it and as for trying to defrost it in the microwave, don’t even think about it.

For someone who has such an audience with his weekly column (I’m assuming), such advise is more than a little mad – it’s downright idiotic – even if his audience is an Irish Times reader who’s scoffing at the premise that one would only have a single credit card.

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More on Buying Irish – the Irish Question from PriceWatch

I didn’t get around to writing about this article when it was published a couple of weeks ago, but it’s definitely worth a read – The Irish Question. At the very end is something all Irish consumers should be aware of – particularly if you’re trying to support Irish businesses by buying Irish.

Conor presents a listing of items that you may think are made in Ireland, but in reality are not – worth remembering so you don’t get caught out.

JACOB’S FIG ROLLS

This company says that the fig roll has been “Ireland’s favourite for over 100 years” which may well be the case. The secret of how Jacob’s gets its figs into the rolls has, however, been lost to this country for ever and when we called last week, we were told that the biscuits were now being manufactured in Malta.

SIÚCRA

The only thing that’s Irish about this brand is the name. All the beet factories have long since been shut down so not so much as a single grain of sugar is produced in Ireland. Greencore, the company which owns the Siúcra brand imports it from elsewhere in Europe, most frequently Germany, before repacking it for our supermarket shelves.

WILLIAM SHAW’S PORK PRODUCTS

The “Olde Worlde” packaging and dewy-eyed shots of Limerick in the “rare auld times” in the advertising campaign used to promote this product could lead people to think this is made with Irish meat. Shaws is not, however, owned by a Limerick butcher called William, it’s owned by Breeo Foods, a subsidiary of co-op giant Dairygold and its bacon could just as easily have come from the Netherlands, Denmark or Scotland, or, indeed Ireland.

BOYNE VALLEY HONEY

You’d be forgiven for thinking that Boyne Valley Honey contains honey from the Boyne Valley or, at a pinch, Ireland. And there is a chance – admittedly a small one that it does – but the packaging tells us no more than it is made with both EU and non-EU honey which suggests that many of the bees involve in the process were buzzing a long, long way from the Boyne.

DONEGAL CATCH SALMON

If for some inexplicable reason you assumed that the fish caught by Donegal Catch came from Donegal you’d be wrong. This company’s salmon might have been farmed in Ireland. Or Scotland. Or Chile.

Another that comes to mind immediately is Fiacla Toothpaste – no longer made in Ireland either.

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Top Tip when booking online for anything

In this post last week, I referred to this thread on Conor Popes Pricewatch blog where there was some discussion on the pros and cons of Ryanair.

One item that was mentioned that deserves to be highlighted as a Top Tip came from someone calling themselves Lil:

What I do do, is, when printing the boarding pass after online check-in, is to print a copy to PDF (i.e. create a PDF file using the print function) and this way, I can email myself a copy in case I need to print a copy closer to time if I’ve left the printed copy elsewhere, and not have to worry that I can’t access Ryanair’s website to reprint my boarding pass.

This is something that I do myself with all online confirmation pages – as well as just being a record for your own purposes, it could also be useful if any questions were to arise with your bookings in the future – it contains the web page details and so on necessary to indicate that a booking was made and confirmed to you.

You can download the free PDF writing application called PrimoPDF if you don’t already have the necessary software on your computer.

Update 22:45 – Thanks to the ValueIreland.com who sent in this related tip specifically for when travelling.

Liked the tip about e-mailing a copy of a boarding pass. In a similar vein, it is useful to e-mail your passport number to yourself so you can access it from abroad if necessary.

I’d add, just in case, make sure it’s not an e-mail that’s downloaded onto your phone in case your phone is stolen. If it’s on GMail or somewhere, then that might be safer. However, remember that that’s not 100% safe given recent issues with GMail as well.

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Ridiculous consumer views about Ryanair

This thread on Pricewatch recently, which I’ve referred to a few times already, is a gold mine of information and absolute stupidity. It’s a “must read” to see the two extremes of opinion when it comes to flying with Ryanair.
You can understand when people feel aggrieved when they’ve got problems as paying passengers, but the sentiment in this particular comment shows how some people will always (for whatever reason) just “have it in” for Ryanair.

Well all, see Ryanair at it again inconveniencing there passengers by leaving Manchester because they wont drop there fees to suit Ryanair and now forcing passengers to travel to other English airports costing them more in Bus/Train fares to get to there destination Manchester.

As if Ryanair have any responsibilities to anyone who wants to fly to Manchester? What is it I said before about Irish people and their sense of “entitlement”?

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Ireland deserves foreign holidays!

A few times over the past couple of weeks (over a few pints mind you), the term entitlement and the Irish race came up.

One particular acquaintance of mine referred again and again to how they view that many (their term, not mine) Irish people believe that they are deserving of anything that they want – that there is an expectation of attainment rather than any serious effort to actually go out and attain.

Sort of related, but I had to laugh when I saw this ridiculous comment on a blog post by Conor Pope over on Pricewatch recently which caused a heated debate amongst the commenters.

Some people have little choice but to fly with Ryanair unless they want to stay stranded in Ireland for the rest of their lives and read about travelling via AA Gill /

Never mind the (baffling “Ireland deserves Sun” campaign at the moment, Ireland deserves foreign holidays (whether they can afford them or not).

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Ringing Government Departments on 1890 LOCALL numbers

This article from Mondays Pricewatch column in the Irish Times from Conor Pope highlights a reader, Mannix, who takes issue with the fact that many government departments provide 1890 contact numbers. While these numbers appear to be cheaper, given their LOCALL and CALLSAVE descriptions, for the reader who uses an O2 mobile, it actually costs significantly more.

This is an issue that I’m constantly highlighting on the SayNoTo1890.com website. In fact, a very committed reader has been chasing many of the regulatory organisations within the country to see if anything can be done about this issue, but without any success. ComReg, the National Consumer Agency, the Competition Authority, and the Minister at the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Eamonn Ryan, all say its not their problem. And obviously, the mobile companies who make a huge profit from these calls don’t want to know either.

The research, referred to in Conors article, carried out by Leo Varadkar and Fine Gael is available on their RipOff.ie website here.

The SayNoTo1890.com A-Z geographical alternative telephone number page on the site provides landline numbers for many government departments, including all but 2 of the 21 departments referenced on the Fine Gael website. Calling these numbers instead of the 1890 numbers means that people can call from their mobile without incurring the higher costs.

I’m constantly on the look out for more of these geographical alternative numbers, so if you know of any others, please let me know and I’ll add them to the list. The two from the Fine Gael listing that I don’t have are the National Treatment Purchase Fund and bizarrely given that it’s most likely to be called from a mobile, the Garda Traffic Watch hotline.

 

Click here for the SayNoTo1890.com Website.

Click here for the SayNoTo1890.com Website.

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Getting around paying the Ryanair credit card surcharge?

There’s an e-mail doing the rounds at the moment with some advice as to how you might be able to get around the Ryanair credit card surcharge fee which is normally €5 per passenger per flight – €10 return. This is what I received earlier this week:

Just a tip for those of you who use Ryanair often. The airline charges 10 euro per person when booking flights by credit/debit card . There is a way around it though.

If you buy Ryanair vouchers on the website (very easy process) and then use the vouchers to buy your flights, there’s no extra charges for using your card.

When you buy the vouchers – You get the code immediately and then you just use that to pay for your flights therefore dodging the extra charges for use of debit/credit card.

You’ll have read previously that we’re not big fans of vouchers here at ValueIreland.com, so we checked this out a bit more.

This tip was mentioned on the UK MoneySavingsExpert forum before Christmas last year with no negative comments.

However, during 2008 there were a number of bad reports about consumer problems trying to redeem Ryanair vouchers – Pricewatch and Irish Independent – but that seemed mainly to do with the fact that it cost €1.75 per minute to call a number to actually redeem your vouchers. This is no longer now the case as you can redeem your vouchers online as part of the normal booking process.

So far so good then, until you read this account of problems in January of this year amongst readers of AskAboutMoney.com when trying to redeem vouchers.

So, some positives and some negatives. If you think it’ll be worth your while availing of this loophole, the you should at least finally check out the Terms and Conditions associated with the Ryanair vouchers – available here.

And after that, just remember, “buyer beware”.

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Does CAI mean “can’t agree internally” or “confused and incoherent”?

The Consumers Association of Ireland (CAI), which we found out in Mondays Pricewatch is in terminal decline now seems to not even be able to co-ordinate their pithy soundbites for the media. You’d think that €60,000+ in government grants from the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment could at least have funded a couple of mobile phones between them.

I mentioned earlier today that the Tánaiste, Mary Coughlan, had mentioned the possibility of bringing back price controls on Sunday.

First up from the CAI spokespeople was Dermott Jewell, the Chief Executive, quoted in this article from yesterdays Irish Independent, who said:

Price control was the last thing consumers needed, especially in a recession. “Once that happens competition goes out the window,” he said. “When that happens all prices find the one level at whatever is the highest possible price.”

Then, later on in the evening, on The Last Word with Matt Cooper on TodayFM, Michael Kilcoyne, the vice-chairman of the Association had the absolute complete opposite to say:

Well, I think that there is merit in the suggestion and it certainly should be examined. It’s an issue that I have raised on a number of occasions in the past. There is no justification for example for why some product should be up to 30% more expensive in the Republic of Ireland than it is in Northern Ireland. It quite simply is greed and a rip off.
….
Well, price controls would work, for example, where there’s a maximum price imposed on something. For example, it seems to me to make great sense that when you transfer the rate in sterling to euro and maybe allow a margin for fluctuations that it shouldn’t be any more than a difference of 2 or 3% rather than in some cases up to 30 or 40%.
….
What has happened is there are huge prices, that we all see evidence of great rip offs. There should be in some cases be a maximum price. There is no doubt about that. While the Tánaiste in the past has refused to consider that, I think that it’s one of the things that has to be considered.

So, one for and one against amongst the jokers at the Consumers Association of Ireland. Just as well the government isn’t trying to save money anywhere at the moment!!!

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Watchdog Woes – What’s the story with Consumer Representation?

Paul Cullen wrote an interesting piece yesterday morning in the Pricewatch column in the Irish Times about how Irish consumer are, or more particularly aren’t really, represented very well at the moment.

In talking about the Consumers Association of Ireland, the article says:

So the CAI is likely to stagger on, small, independent and hamstrung – which, you suspect, is just the way many powerful forces in society would like it.

And of the National Consumer Agency:

but has been less effective in countering the power of big corporations, such as fuel companies, food retailers and telecoms operators.

but the NCA has been criticised for not going for the jugular where traders commit offences

The article refers to the issues that I had with the Consumers Association back in November when I submitted my resignation. The article expands a little on the issues I had back then regarding the supposedly voluntary members of the CAI council making money through their multiple nominations to other government agencies. It also details a little more the extra cash that Dermott Jewell makes from his multiple external appointments which in my view have to take from his ability to effectively run what is already an ailing Association.

I guess that this is a little tongue in cheek, but the article speaks of ValueIreland.com as follows:

MacShane, who has effectively set himself up in opposition to the CAI through his website, ValueIreland.com, is critical of the organisation’s failure to make a bigger impact on public consciousness.

Oh well, I didn’t expect my master plan to be exposed in this way quite yet 🙂

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