Tag Archive - sterling euro conversion rate

Why are shops blacking out or tearing off price labels?

Irish News of the World

Sunday April 5th, 2009

Diarmuid MacShane

Why are shops blacking out or tearing off price labels?

In the past couple of weeks, ValueIreland.com has received numerous e-mails from readers asking why in many shops now they’re seeing labels that are torn up or have been blacked out with heavy markers.

The main reason, following the big euro-sterling price conversion controversy last year, is to hide from us what the sterling of the products in our shops are.

Shops mistakenly think that by tearing off or covering over the sterling price, that we’re not going to know that we’re still being ripped off.

And they’re doing nothing wrong – as long as the correct prices are shown in Euro on the price tags, there’s no problem in removing the sterling prices.

Another interesting phenomonen reported to us recently was where shops in are blacking out the old (pre-January price rise) pre-printed price on old stocks of tickets and then charging the new price.

Again, there’s probably no legal issues in doing this, but you’d have to wonder what the bus companies think of this practice?

Why are Tesco really dropping the price of clothes?

Irish News of the World

Sunday April 5th, 2009

Diarmuid MacShane

Why are Tesco really dropping the price of clothes?

In mid-March there was much hoo-haa over the Tesco decision to charge the hard pressed Irish consumers the same amount in euro as in sterling for all clothes sold in Ireland. An item costing £12 would now cost us €12 instead of the outrageously high original price of €18.

We were told how brilliant Tesco were to be effectively giving us a price cut of up to 30%.

But were Tesco really being that generous? They’re a business after all with the main aim of making money. It was interesting to note that they weren’t making the same cuts on anything else – we’d still be overcharged on groceries and electronics for example.

An eagle-eyed ValueIreland.com reader spotted what was actually going on. Tesco in the United Kingdom had already reduced their prices on their clothing range back in January.

Tesco UK had to cut their prices on over 700 clothing items because of a price-war that was hotting up between themselves and ASDA.

So, in cutting their prices here in Ireland, Tesco weren’t really doing anything as special as they made out for Irish consumers.

Unfortunately it was all just spin. Their price differences between Ireland and the UK were actually higher than the normal 30-50% for the months of January, February and March so when the price drop came in here in March, they were only restoring the differences back to the normal 30-50% price differences.

Do you boycott shops and businesses?

I was walking past a place this morning on the way to work and started trying to remember the last time I’d been in there. It took me a food few seconds to remember that I was actually boycotting the place and that that was the reason I hadn’t been in there for about 2 years.

Do you have your own personal boycotts of businesses? In the greater scheme of things, it’s not likely that individually any boycotts will have any impact, but it can make us feel better.

And despite our history, we’re not all that good at unified consumer action in our own best interests.

The Q102 and Consumers Association of Ireland “Ignore that Store” campaign before Christmas really fizzled out, and despite calls from a number of fronts for Irish consumers to boycott stores involved in the euro-sterling pricing controversy, the practice continued unabated.

While a minority of people may decide to take action by avoiding businesses, the example of the euro-sterling pricing controversy shows that enough people continue to shop in those stores meaning that it’s more profitable for the stores to continue the practice rather than change.

From my own perspective, there are a few businesses that I will conscoiously avoid.

  • There’s a coffee shop in Dublin 2 that I’ll avoid both for their extravagently expensive pricing as well as the owner/managers shockingly ignorent treatment of both his customers and his staff.
  • There’s the whole company group that I avoid any business or product that they sell because of their involvement in a predatory pricing policy a number of years ago with the sole intent of closing down one of their competitors (a successful action as it turned out unfortunately).
  • There’s also another whole company group that I avoid because of the other companies that they’ve invested in in the past – unsuccessfully as it turned out (to my delight).
  • I’ve added a new business to my boycott listing this week following weeks of suffering that persons guff on the Irish Dragons Den. And it’s unfortunate, because I used to enjoy their products and service.
  • I’ve also started to avoid local shop close to where I live because of their excessively expensive pricing, plus also the fact that the number of times I was overcharged or shortchanged just became too common to be coincidences.

I know these companies don’t miss my business, and wouldn’t care one way or the other, but it’s important for me. And the thing about it for me is that there are valid alternatives to all of the above where I’m more than happy to take my business instead.

I think that if more people acted when they noticed an issue rather than talking to Joe, the dodgier businesses out there would slowly but surely lose business and end up having to do something about it – ideally to the benefit of the consumer.

Going cold turkey on sterling to euro exchange rate stores

This e-mail came in to ValueIreland.com last week and gave us a little chuckle:

I just want to let you know, I am 40 days clean of visiting any UK Retailer who is robbing us on the Sterling exchange and it feels very good indeed. For food I have discovered the wonders of Aldi and Lidl, Dunnes and Superquinn, fresh vegetables and excellent quality fruit. No prepared meals from Marks, not when they are double the price they charge in UK, so happy days.  Maybe they did me a favour anyway!!

The thing to remember though, is that even some Irish companies, as we’ve shown you recently, are guilty of using extravagant sterling to euro exchange rates that basically makes them bigger profits.

Consumer examples of euro sterling pricing ripoffs

We received this e-mail from a reader this week giving their own example of the euro sterling pricing ripoffs:

Having read comments from your website I thought I’d bring to your attention something I saw yesterday evening in SPAR in Applewood Village Swords – a UK fashion magazine with a price tag of £1 – converted to €3.30.  In my experience the mark-up in women’s magazines generally ranges from 70% upwards but some are quite exceptional!

If you have your own examples, e-mails us and we’ll bring them to the attention of all ValueIreland.com readers.

Aldi – inflicting higher euro prices than sterling comparisons

We’re being told that it’s mainly the UK stores that are inflicting a higher euro conversion price of their sterling prices, but we’re seeing recently that some Irish businesses are doing the same thing. And now, a ValueIreland.com has shown us that our German grocery friends in Aldi are doing the same as well. According to our reader:

I do realise that Aldi are doing a good service but even they are milking us. Attached please find a comparison between Aldi.ie and Aldi.co.uk. Anyone can do the comparison and conversion.

This was the example that was sent in to us:

One important lesson here is that just because a company or shop is known to consistently sell cheaper items in the past, it doesn’t always mean that they’ll always sell you cheaper items. We should be careful to make those assumptions.

Even Irish companies charging Irish customers more euros than sterling

Irish Ferries have an offer at the moment where it’s €69 each way to take the ferry to Britain. But it’s only £60 (€62) to take the ferry the other way.

This is a straight rip off as you’re paying for exactly the same service, provided at exactly the same time, and no excuse to say there’s transport costs or currency rate timing reasons for the change.

Unfortunately though, you can’t even pretend you live in the UK to get the sterling price now – they must be checking cookies – as no matter what combination of trips I tried to book, it always gave me the higher euro prices.

More from the Consumers Association about Price Controls

Last week I wrote about the mixed signals coming from the Consumers Association of Ireland – where the Chief Executive and vice Chairman came out on complete opposite sides of Mary Coughlans suggestion that price controls may be brought back.

One thing from the comments on The Last Word with Matt Cooper on TodayFM from Michael Kilcoyne, the CAI vice Chairman struck me as completely bizarre:

And I think though, also, that there are many areas that are under the direct control of government like local authority service charges that would have to have the same controls. It may well be fine to impose controls on the private sector, I think it should also apply where there are services provided by the state.

Remember, price controls are being mentioned as a possible solution to the dual pricing sterling to euro conversion rate controversy that’s been rolling on for months now.

So where the hell would local government charges be relevant to all this? Why raise this issue on national radio when it’s got nothing to do with the issue at hand? Surely the price of services provided by the state are by their very nature price controlled?

Local government elections coming up in Mayo in June maybe?

Government to bring back price controls?

This RTE Consumer article refers to comments from the Táiniste last Sunday that the government may look at bringing back price controls to address the issue of the sterling euro conversion / dual pricing controversy.

According to Ms. Coughlan:

“What I have said to the groceries people is if we do not see a passing on of the sterling differential then draconian action may have to be taken.”

This suggestion has received a thumbs down from the Chief Executive of the Consumers Association of Ireland 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”.

What do you think? Given all the complaints that consumers have been voicing in the past 6 to 9 months, could price controls be the solutions to all our problems?

More Consumer examples of sterling euro price ripoffs

A ValueIreland.com reader sent us in this example of an item prices significantly higher in euros than the sterling equivalent should be – and this time not from a UK store, but from our very own Dunnes Stores:

I was in Enniskillen doing the monthly shop in ASDA (I stopped a few months ago handing over my hard earned cash to rip off merchants in the republic and with petrol I save about 40%) and I dropped into Dunnes just to see if they were as good value as ASDA and I noticed a 10 peice rustic dresser priced at €249 or £149.

“The difference is we’re Irish”.  Crazy just crazy.

As we’ve always said here, while there are some excuses for pricing differences between north and south, the size of the difference can’t be justified and has to be retailers simply ripping off Irish consumers. It’s unfortunate, but the only thing for it is for us to not shop in these stores until they bring their prices down to more realistic levels.

Obviously, since shops continue to charge these overstated prices, there must be enough consumers out there who are still paying those prices. Hopefully in a way, if the current economic climate continues, more people might start thinking more about how they spend their money and avoid these overpriced stores.

It’s only then that these stores will have to make the decision – reduce their prices to try to get the business back, or close down. We’re seeing some stores making those decisions already. Many are bringing down their prices, but some also (Zavvi and Land of Leather) are deciding they’ve had enough and are closing down.

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