Tag Archives | Ripoff Ireland

NCA still failing to discourage car clocking

I had the post below drafted earlier this week. It’s still current, but given the recent budget, it does raise a key question.

How much better protected will Irish consumers be under the combined National Consumer Agency / Competition Authority than they are now under the separate entities?

This post below shows the complete inaction of the NCA to use the consumer protection legislation that they could use, while I’ve written before about the uselessness of the Competition Authority – witness the spectacular 2006 failure to act over the Shell / Statoil merger.

We can only wait and see. If the proposed amalgamation isn’t going to improve consumer protection, then we’ll have to see what cost savings are going to be implemented instead. Either way, I suppose consumer protection in Ireland can’t get any worse:

In July of this year we reported how the National Consumer Agency was taking it easy on garages that were ripping off consumers by selling them clocked cars. At the time we felt that the practice by the NCA of getting the garages to promise to be good wouldn’t be enough to get garages to stop this clocking of cars.

Despite this, Ann Fitzgerald claimed that this softly softly approach:

Sends a clear message to other dealers that they cannot mislead consumers by selling them clocked cars and expect to get away with it

Obviously not, given this report at the end of September that the Airport Used Cars Centre in Cloghran in Dublin was caught having sold 4 clocked cars to consumers.

An unbelievably, given this clear evidence that the NCA softly softly approach isn’t working, they still won’t prosecute and fine the car dealer for breaching consumer laws and ripping off consumers.

What will it take for these fuckers* to actually do something to protect consumers?

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Furious Broke Lark – The psychology of rip-off Ireland

Being at a loose end a few days ago at about 7.15am we decided to get some breakfast in a hotel on Dublin’s north-side. Outside the restaurant within the hotel there was only a welcome sign, but no indication of what was on offer, or the cost. We had joined the short queue when the gentleman in front of us asked and was told that for non-residents the breakfast was €20.50.

Our immediate comment amongst ourselves was that €41 would be far too much to pay for breakfast for 2. After a brief hesitation we left. Having no breakfast was a more desired option that paying that kind of money.

The “brief hesitation” got me thinking.

We made a “value judgement” immediately and without seeing the sumptuous delights that might have been on offer – breakfast in exchange for €20.50 wasn’t a fair deal in our minds. We didn’t HAVE to have breakfast there and then, so we left the hotel without giving them our business.

I wonder did the hesitation after the value judgement come from what I think is a concern deeply ingrained in the Irish psyche that we don’t like people to think ill of us. A great example of this was the recent furore over the infamous French (ladies) Letter in the Sunday Independent.

Though I knew were walking away because our value judgement said that €20.50 was too much for breakfast, since we hadn’t voiced our concern or decision to the restaurant staff, no one else would know that.

Was the hesitation because of a concern that the others in the queue who seeing us walking away might have thought that we couldn’t afford the €20.50 for breakfast, or were too cheap and mean to pay it – rather than the fact that we simply decided we just didn’t expect a value breakfast for that kind of money.

Had we stayed in the queue, and paid the €20.50 for breakfast, I think we could legitimately be accused of helping to continue the belief of many* that we’re living in “Rip Off Ireland”. Had we stayed, we’d have ignored our own value judgement and paid over the odds for something merely because of what we thought others might have been thinking.

New expensive car anyone – just because the neighbours or work colleagues have one? New branded sound system or LCD tv that you don’t really need? New extension to your already generously sized house? Fork out for expensive gym or golf club membership because everyone else you know has? New expensive holiday to somewhere because you’re neighbours went there last year? Shop in Tesco, Superquinn or Donnybrook Fair because you don’t want to be seen dead outside a Lidl or an Aldi?

It ain’t cheap keeping up with the Jones’. To borrow a little from Burger King – it’s your money after all – spend it your way!

* I personally don’t believe we’re living in what’s called “Rip Off Ireland”. We live in an expensive Ireland, but expensive is different to a “rip off”.
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Good Food Ireland – are you having a laugh?

I had to laugh after reading this recent article in the Irish Independent, Food industry bites back at rip-off claims. According to Good Food Ireland:

FOOD producers fed up with being blamed for “rip-off Ireland” prices have hit back, saying they are promoting Ireland as a foodie heaven to tourists.

Good Food Ireland said that with two of the country’s most important industries, tourism and agriculture, “on their knees”, now is the time to push ahead with top-quality artisan foods.

So what do they do in order to promote the fact that they’re not ripping off tourists in “rip off Ireland”?

They hold an awards dinner in the Shelbourne Hotel in Dublin (€199 room only), and give some awards to the Ballymaloe House in Cork (€220 B&B), the Park Hotel in Kenmare (€364 room only), the Merrion Hotel in Dublin (€199 room only), the Cliff House Hotel in Waterford (€200 B&B) and Gregans Castle in Clare (€160 B&B).

Given that the average cost of a hotel room in Ireland in 2007 was €100, Good Food Ireland are hardly dealing with hotels offering much visible value for money. Particularly since those prices are for a Wednesday night at the end of October.

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Taking a stand against ‘rip off Ireland’

1 down, 3,499,999 more to go. We in ValueIreland.com have always said that the only way to truly counteract the high prices, overcharging and the perceived “Rip Off Ireland” is through our own activities. This letter to the editor of the Irish Independent from a reader in Maynooth, Co. Kildare last Saturday is a good example of how we can make a start as individuals.

I am one of the idiots who generated “Rip-off Ireland”. I am a 35-year-old professional with an annual salary that is more than twice the average industrial wage.

I have no idea how much a litre of milk or a loaf of bread costs, with no hesitation I will easily spend €150 in Tesco comforted by the fact that I am earning bonus points on my club card (which I never cash in).

On Tuesday, I bought some kids socks for €7 in Mothercare and when I got home my wife pointed to the UK price tag of £3.50.

I just realised that I am spending 60pc more on kids’ socks than my brother who lives London.

This was the moment that I realised that I am the idiot that fuels rip-off Ireland.

It is nobody’s fault but mine.

Later that day, I was buying four tickets for ‘Beauty and the Beast’ in the Olympia Theatre.

There was a €19.80 service charge applied by Ticketmaster. For the first time ever, I refused to be ripped off and instead we are all going to the zoo next week.

Most evenings while stuck on the M50, I usually text into my favourite radio programme, Newstalk’s ‘Off the Ball’. I blindly pay a premium text rate of 30c every time I do this.

Well, not anymore.

Sorry lads, but I am getting wise to rip-offs.

Our annual house insurance has been automatically renewed for the last seven years; my bill last year was €825.

A five minute phone call and my house insurance is now €430 a year. I feel liberated by my conscious decision not to be ripped off anymore.

This weekend I am going to see what Aldi and Lidl offer and when I come home I am going to switch credit cards.

As the correlation between poverty and ill-health has long been an academic cliche before the latest expensive report by the Institute of Public Health and the Combat Poverty Agency (Irish Independent, August 29), one may well ask why the causes of poverty have not been tackled by now. We need firm action to eliminate poverty for the greatest number of people.

Let’s start with reducing the cost of a very basic basket of groceries.

– Maynooth, Co. Kildare

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Overcharging In Ireland: Bank Of Ireland at it again

I missed out on this news back in may, but given all the recent coverage regarding grocery prices, it is my opinion, the true “Rip Off Ireland” is what’s happening when companies overcharge (steal from) their customers, or in the recent Bank Of Ireland admission, don’t pay their customers whats their due.

We’ve been keeping track of this since 2004 – you can read the litany of overcharging and underpaying carried out by the largest and best known of Irish companies by clicking here.

In their most recent (of 5) admissions, Bank of Ireland have shown that children are their next target to be ripped off. From our Overcharging In Ireland roll call of shame:

May 2008 – Bank Of Ireland – The bank is refunding €200,000 in interest to 16,000 holders of child savings account. The bank will repay about €200,000 after paying the wrong rate of interest on the savings accounts. The incorrect interest was applied on these accounts because of an incorrect interest code applied during the period May 2003 to February 2008.

Just check out the banner below to see the scale of this overcharging in 4 years.

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Who’s really wrong? Businesses or Consumers?

I loved this headline in todays Sunday Business Post – Restaurants charging 300% mark-ups on wine. It’s really a bit of a nothing story – we all know that the mark up on wines are pretty big compared to what we could buy the same bottles for in a supermarket or off licence.

It’s kind of a similar nothing story that the fuckers* released last week telling us that things are cheaper up north than they are down here – as if we didn’t know that already! Duh! But more on this tomorrow.

Here’s my version of the same headline for the Sunday Business Post – Irish consumers willing to pay 300% mark-ups on wine.

When will our National Consumer Agency and our media get it into their heads that the reason for many of what they’re describing as “rip offs” are because Irish consumers willing pay the prices being asked by Irish businesses.

No restaurant would be able to get away with a 300% mark up on a wine if none of their customers ordered that wine. We get what we pay for – we pay for what we want! No matter the cost!

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Weights and Measures – some follow up comments

Recently I posted some comments about the Legal Metrology Service which is responsible for checking the accuracy of petrol pumps, measures in pubs, weighing scale accuracy, and taximeters.

This brought to mind two related points:

  • There’s been lots of commentary in the media recently about the increasing cost of carrying baggage on short-haul flights. However, via the Consumerist, here’s a cautionary tale about the accuracy of weighing scales at airport from Elliot.Org. The poster had a bag which they’d weighed as 45lbs which at 3 different US airports was weighed as 44lbs, 52lbs and 47.5lbs. While some airlines do allow some leeway, the 52lbs bag cost him $50 in excessive baggage charges.
  • There’s a pub in Dublin about which I’m planning (though I have been for a while) to confirm a story I was told about a friend of mine. If the story turns out to be true, the Legal Metrology Service may be interested. This friend went in after work for a few beers, which turned into a few more. Around 9 or 10 o’clock, my friend ordered another pint but he felt that the pint was “light”. It turned out that the glass provided was smaller than a pint, but in the same exact shape as the pints he’d been drinking previously. He confronted the barman who immediately took back the smaller glass, said nothing, and provided a normal sized pint glass again.
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Analysis – Marc Coleman – Sunday Independent

In this Analysis piece in yesterdays Sunday Independent, Marc Coleman had the following to say:

Of course, we can do something as well. For a start we can try breeding out of ourselves the diseased tolerance of being ripped off, sold out, and we can do as National Consumer Agency Chairman Ann Fitzgerald has urged us; start acting up about shops, pubs and restaurants that rip us off.

The old Irish adage “whatever you say, say nothing” should be replaced by “what ever you say, say it loud and clear”. Taking inspiration from the Land League over a 100 years ago, rip-off merchants should be named, shamed and boycotted until they bring their prices down. Starting with an overpriced and underdelivering public sector. Tolerance of dead weight in our economy should now be officially declared over. Competition is not just for private-sector workers.

ValueIreland.com has been calling for this for the past 5 years. This was our introduction to the website way back in August 2003:

The aim of Value Ireland is to provide greater information to consumers of Irish goods and services to allow them avoid the so-called “Rip off Merchants”, and to concentrate their purchasing activities on those providers that are known to provide value, as well as quality and service.

Unfortunately, as I commented recently here during the (very shortlived) controversy about the Euro-Sterling dual pricing issue, most Irish consumers still haven’t arrived at the crunch point yet where they actually need to be careful about their spending. There’s still more than enough money to go around.

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Rip Off Ireland is alive and well

I said earlier this week that I am of the opinion that we don’t really live in what many people call “Rip Off Ireland”. Yes, we have expensive shops, but we don’t always have to shop in them.

However, by the true definition of a “rip off”, the Irish Independent and Independent Newspapers (Evening Herald) seems to be singlehandedly keeping their own version of “Rip Off Ireland” going strong!

As you can see, from Answers.com, a rip-off can be defined as “something… such as a story… that is clearly imitative of or based on something else”.

I’ve already had my Charlie Weston experience, and Green Ink has highlighted a couple of more incidences in the last couple of days affecting Jazz Biscuit and Red Mum.

I reckon there must be enough regular content these days in our newspapers and magazines that’s plagiarised from blogs and uncredited by the publications concerned. I myself have 5 different incidences of journalists (and not all the Irish Independent) helping themselves to my own work without giving credit.

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