Tag Archives | RTE

Will “naming and shaming” financial institutions make any difference to their behaviour?

Short answer, as I wrote about in detail back in 2010, Are Irish business so brazen that “naming and shaming” doesn’t matter any more?, is a big fat resounding no.

This topic has been around for a number of years now, and still the proposed “naming and shaming” powers have not been given to the Financial Services Ombudsman. The Ombudsman, Mr. Bill Prasifka was on the RTE “This Week” programme back in March when he reiterated a call for his office to be granted powers to release details of complaints against individual banks.

In the interview, Mr. Prasifka specifically said that:

Making the complaints record of individual banks public would influence how they behave.

Earlier this month in response to this call from Mr. Prasifka, it was reported by the Irish Examiner that he would soon get his wish. According to the article, Minister for Finance Michael Noonan will, on April 24th:

Bring forward an amendment at committee to provide the Financial Services Ombudsman with the power to name, in certain circumstances and subject to certain conditions, financial service providers about whom the FSO has upheld complaints.”

Never mind that the “certain circumstances” and the “certain conditions” will probably water down any proposals to a status of “let’s make it look like we’re doing something without actually doing anything”, I don’t believe, as I argued in 2010, that this will make any difference to how financial institutions will behave.

As I said back then, taking Allied Irish Banks (AIB) as a case in point:

Last week, I wrote about AIB admitting for the eighth time in 6 years that they’d stolen money from their customers. That’s them admitting to having unjustly taken nearly €34m from over 250,000 of their customers – an average of about €137.50 each. So why does AIB still have 4m customers when so many of them are being treated this badly?

Even with being named and shamed 8 times in 6 years for stealing money from their customers accounts (not to mention the balls they’ve made of their involvement in the property market in Ireland), they still have 4m customers.

How can that be? Do people never learn?

Why now then would any naming and shaming by a captured regulator in limited circumstances as allowed by a captured Minister for Finance make any further difference to consumer behaviour when having money directly stolen from their accounts isn’t?

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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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Buyer Beware on RTE – new series coming soon

You may remember that I wasn’t a particularly big fan of the first series of Buyer Beware on RTE 1, presented by Philip Boucher Hayes.

Philip is now looking for information and content for the second series which is in the planning stages at the moment.

According to their website, and some radio plugs I heard recently:

So if you have a complaint about your building work, your bank, your car, your holiday, or any goods or services that you’ve paid for only to be disappointed, you can contact us on 01 617 4725, or email buyerbeware@rte.ie

Lets hope that when they include the “your bank” comment, that they may actually go after the banks this time around rather than the peripheral small time rip offs that they covered in the first series.

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Why are RTE afraid of the word deflation?

Last week, figures released by the Central Statistics Office indicated that Ireland had entered a period of deflation – the aggregate price of goods and services in the country had fallen (not food though as the National Consumer Agency didn’t really tell us).

So, yesterday, as I’m signed up to the RSS feed for the RTE Consumer news updates, there were three updates to this article published – the current version is here.

At 12.30, the headline was as follows:

Negative Inflation Rate for January

Then, at 17:30, the headline was changed (but the story remained the same) to:

Deflation hits econony: 1st time in 49 years

And finally, at about 21:30 last night, the headline was again changed, but back to the original:

First Annual Negative Inflation in 49 years

Deflation isn’t a dirty word, it’s just an unfortunate fact of life in Ireland at the moment.

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Prime Time Investigates Customer Service, tonight RTE1, 9.35

In a programme subtitled, Service with a Snarl, Conor Pope of the excellent Irish Times PriceWatch column is fronting tonights Prime Time Investigates.

In a warm-up article in Saturdays Irish Times, Conor looked at some examples of problematic customer service experienced by Irish consumers. On the basis of that article, it looks like NTL/Chorus/UPC might be bearing the brunt of the coverage.

Lets hope this programme doesn’t unexpectedly and quietly get pulled like the last episode of Buyer Beware last Thursday night.

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Buyer Beware – Last in the Series – Tonight RTE1, 8.30pm

Tonight is the 6th and last in the Buyer Beware series on RTE1 with Philip Boucher Hayes. Tonights programme has a taster of what it’s about up on their mini-site:

We look at one specific very low calorie diet (VLCD) – Lipotrim, available over-the-counter in over 120 Irish pharmacies. We interview several people who have taken it, and ask whether closer medical monitoring of patients and sales regulation of these types of diets is needed.

Reporter Philip Boucher-Hayes looks at water safety and tests lifejackets and other types of personal flotation devices (PFDs), and discovers that a relatively new device, costing only €5-should probably be added to the list of must haves for all of us when we head out onto the water.

From a personal perspective, I think that the last item about water safety will be the most beneficial of the whole series for anyone who is watching.

The Irish News of The World picked up on my post last week criticising the programme for not really addressing the major concerns of the Irish consumer:

Rip-Offs TV Anger

RTE’s Buyer Beware TV show has been criticised by a consumers group. Diarmuid MacShane of ValueIreland.com said the show concentrates too much on foreign conmen.

He said: “They’ve taken the easy way out. If you look at the rip-offs by big first here, that’s where most people have problems”. “Not the Mickey Mouse operations from the show”.

An RTE spokesman said: “We are very surprised. We regard it as a very successful show and everyone in RTE is delighted with it”.

Well, they would say that, wouldn’t they. They’d hardly come out and say they were sorry they put the money into it because it hadn’t gained the success of other short consumer series, like those from Eddie Hobbs for example. I thought that was a stunning comment in its arrogance from RTE when I read it first.

I think that the best barometer on the success, or failure as I see it, of the show is the overwhelming silence and lack of coverage following each episode – no one really cares about the show or the contents.

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Buyer Beware, RTE1, 8.30pm tonight

ZZZZZZZzzzzzzz!!!! I don’t know why I’m bothering any more, but remember to check out Buyer Beware! tonight on RTE1 at 8.30pm. Even RTE aren’t bothering to update their mini-site for the programme, so it seems that even they’ve lost interest in it as well – this is the 5th episode but the site hasn’t been updated since episode 3.

Overall I think the programme is disappointing in its irrelevance to the majority of Irish consumers. Philip Boucher Hayes isn’t addressing the main reasons for consumer calls to the National Consumer Agency for example, and they don’t address the scams, ripoffs and consumer issues caused by Irish companies.

Instead they’ve taken the easy option of addressing peripheral ripoffs that most people should already be aware of. They’re focusing on scams carried out here by people based outside the country, and haven’t looked much at all at Irish ripoff artists. Obviously RTE wouldn’t want to be annoying anyone in Ireland that might be paying their tv licence, voting for the government parties, or more importantly, paying for RTE advertising.

Anyway, for the 5th episode, this is as much as I can find out:

Consumer series in which Philip Boucher Hayes investigates companies and individuals who have left customers feeling dissatisfied.

Maybe the true scam in all this is that RTE paid money to have this programme produced in the first place?

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Buyer Beware! RTE1 8.30pm

Don’t forget that Philip Boucher-Hayes is on again tonight on RTE1 at 8.30pm with the 4th in his Buyer Beware! series. According to the RTE schedule, this is the sparce detail of what tonights show is about:

Consumer series in which Philip Boucher Hayes investigates companies and individuals who have left customers feeling dissatisfied.

I did manage to watch the full programme last week. In case you missed it, this is what was covered:

The feature story in Episode 3 of Buyer Beware! looks at the activities of a British-based company Community Concepts which has approached Irish businesses for money which, it claimed, would go to publish a drug awareness booklet for Irish schools. And, as we come into the Christmas shopping season, the second item examines the burgeoning phenomenon of online shopping, and looks at some do’s and don’ts for purchasers in the light of some cautionary tales.

To be honest, I found the programme quite disappointing. While there was probably some entertainment value in watching the presenter chasing around a dodgy geezer in the UK, its all a little bit abstract and a little bit irrelevant to Irish consumers.

Wouldn’t it be much more interesting and relevant if Philip was chasing Brian Goggin of Bank of Ireland or Eugene Sheehy of AIB around their housing estate (or leafy suburban roads) trying to find answers as to why they rip off Irish consumers so much, or chasing the Financial Regulator Pat Neary around and around the Central Bank on Dame Street trying to find out why he lets them away with it all the time.

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Buyer Beware!

Not sure I can even promise to watch Buyer Beware! again this evening at 8.30pm on RTE1. It won’t be creamy pints distracting me this week though. I’ll be attending some consumer affairs related meetings following on from the bombshell this morning that one third of the Consumer Association of Ireland directors Executive have resigned.

Check out the RTE1 website here to see what they might be covering this week. At the time of writing, it hasn’t yet been updated. The best I can find is from their programme guide:

Consumer affairs series. A company which claims to have the best interests of children at heart is found to be offering dangerous drugs advice.

They’re still not covering anything that’s appearing in the top in the top listing of consumer complaints to the NCA. Nor have they covered anything to do with the systematic theft of money from consumers by some of Irelands biggest companies.

Let us know back here if you have any feedback on this evenings show.

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Buyer Beware! – An Apology

The temptation, and subsequent reality, of some creamy pints of Guinness on Thursday evening prevented me from watching the 2nd episode of Buyer Beware on RTE1.

And unfortunately, this isn’t one of the programmes that RTE allows you catch up on by providing it online.

Did anyone see the programme? Any comments?

As a matter of interest, I was doing some recent research where I was reading through the 2007 Annual Report for the National Consumer Agency. Page 52 of the report shows the top 6 reasons for complaints and information requests to the NCA (78,000 in total during 2007). So far, none of the 4 items covered in Buyer Beware! appear in the top 6 problems for Irish consumers.

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