There’s an interesting piece on the Pricewatch blog today about customer service in Ireland. Definitely worth a read. Check it out here.
After becoming a new user of the Nokia N95 late last year, and more particularly the mobile client version of the Slingbox, free WiFi hotspots have now become like the holy grail for me. I had been using this site to base my research on previously.
There used to be one close enough to my office (thanks to some lax security within some government or European institution), but that one’s gone now.
All you need now is your Gmail account log-in to add any sites you’re aware of – I’ll be adding McGowans in Phibsboro myself if it’s not there already.
If the Eurocrats are going to stop us getting city wide free WiFi, the least we might do is patronise business that provide this value added service – maybe more of them might start to provide it also, or at least stop charging ridiculous amounts for accessing their service.
Thanks to Primal Sneeze for the link in the “Serious Rant” section of the links on the site. Some very interesting comments on Primal Sneeze and worth keeping track of. His current post A Shopping Un-list is interesting in the light of some of the coverage following our Lidl and Aldi addition to the NCA Grocery Survey.
While we did point out the fact that these two could be cheaper than the big 4, we also said that you may have to compromise on brands. Pricewatch coverage in the Irish Times mentioned the issue with the dodgy cornflakes – but as pointed out on Primal Sneeze, there are some fantastic products you can also get in both shops.
Conor had a few questions for us, some of which were used in the article. Of particular interest was the following question, where Conor used part of our response.
Do you think the Web is an effective way of challenging businesses and airing consumer grievances?
Yes and no. It’s an effective way for airing consumer grievances and bringing certain matters to the attention of the broader population. The fact that certain websites are now constantly monitored by the media also helps in this regard.
However, at this present moment in time, the internet is a pretty much useless way of challenging business. Most businesses pay no heed to items published about them on the internet. While companies may follow up on blatantly inaccurate comments about them on various website, it seems that most companies aren’t all that bothered about any negative commentary on the internet.
But then again, there seem to be many Irish companies who shrug off any negative commentary in the broader media as well.
It’s easy for them to do so – Irish consumers don’t seem to punish companies for any indiscretions. As we’ve constantly highlighted on www.valueireland.com, about 1.3m Irish consumers have been overcharged by in excess of €111m by upwards of 20 of Ireland biggest companies.
But all these companies still have hundreds of thousands of customers, and are still making hundreds of millions off those consumers every year.
I’ve mentioned the great work by Conor Pope in the Irish Times a couple of times here already, but had lamented that they had made the Pricewatch section part of their premium section in the Ireland.com site.
Now however, the Pricewatch has started a blog. So, you can get a look at some of the topics from the Pricewatch articles every Monday as well as getting the chance to submit your own comments.
If you’ve any consumer affairs issues you want covered, you can try submitting your comments 0n the blog and seeing if they make it through to the paper itself.
So much for value for money, or not as the case may be. Early on in this blog I gave PriceWatch in the Irish Times a thumbs up (wonder where they got that idea from), particularly because you could access it for free online.
No more unfortunately, as it has become part of the premium Ireland.com service. Having read the last couple of weeks installments, I don’t think this is any harm really. The feature has been full of people complaining about the terms and conditions of products and services, rather than the price or any kind of unfair or illegal activity on the part of businesses.
As we’ve always said on Value Ireland, if you read the terms and conditions up front, you have a choice. Take it or leave it. If you take it, why would you bother complaining afterwards- you had the choice. If you didn’t read the conditions, then more fool you.
When Value Ireland was started in 2003, the Irish Times was one of the few national newspapers which provided the least amount of coverage to the perceived phenomonen of “Rip Off Ireland” at the time. By extension, they weren’t interested in giving any coverage to Value Ireland, unlike some of their competitors.
Things have changed. The Irish Times now has a PriceWatch section every Monday in their printed edition. The full page normally covers a feature article regarding consumer affairs in Ireland, and then has smaller sections devoted to reviews of a particular kind of product, e-mails from readers, and a section devoted to items given either a “thumbs up” or “thumbs down”.
The PriceWatch section is definitely worth a quick read each week to see what’s going on. It has actually taken over, in my opinion, from the previous leading position which the Irish Independent Business Section on a Thursday had when it came to consumer affairs in the national press.
You can access the PriceWatch column online for free via the Ireland.Com website. Look to the left hand side of the page in the Weekly Index section for PriceWatch on a Monday. Unfortuntately, I can’t provide a direct link – well, here’s a direct link for Monday October 23rd.