Tag Archive - sterling euro conversion rate

Euro/Sterling Dual Pricing – UK Consumers loosing out instead?

Have you heard the recent radio advertising from Bewleys Hotels? They’re offering their hotel rooms in their January Sale for €50 in their four Dublin Hotels.

However, they’ve also offering their Leeds and Manchester airport hotels in the sale, but for £50.

Call out the dual pricing police! Those UK based hotels should be approximately £45 at current exchange rates.

Is this the first “reverse dual pricing” example, I wonder? Can we expect to see outrage building in the UK at this “blatant rip off” of UK consumers? Or will they just decide to go elsewhere if they don’t like the price?

Sterling Euro Dual Pricing – A reader perspective

We received this e-mail recently from a ValueIreland.com reader:

I am delighted to see that there is a campaign to highlight the price difference between sterling and euro still being charged in the UK stores.  I was in Boots in Galway recencly and saw and item marked £50 sterling and €75 euro, exactly the same as when the difference was at its highest. All the other UK stores, New Look, M&S etc are still doing the same.  Will this be highlighted in the Media  to make people aware of the ‘rip off’ that is going on.

Unfortunately, the only thing that we can do is to highlight this issue to people since there’s no way to control the prices that people charge.

It’s down to the consumers themselves whether or not they actually buy these overpriced items or not.

Since these prices have never changed, it’s obvious that there are still some consumers who are paying those prices – enough in fact that the shops don’t feel the need to drop their prices in order to attract business and sell their stock.

The only real solution to the sterling euro price differences in stores is for consumers to not buy the items and shop elsewhere.

Limerick Today, Live95 – Sterling Euro Dual Pricing interview

Earlier today, I had about 10 minutes speaking with Ed Myers on the Limerick Today programme on Live95 in Limerick City.

We spoke about many of the issues arising from the sterling to euro conversion issues – much of the discussion centred on the items I’ve raised here in the past.

The primary point that I hope I got across was that Irish consumers have the choice as to whether to pay these exaggerated euro prices we’re being subjected to. If we don’t like the pricing, and think it’s not value for money, then we should be shopping elsewhere.

Sterling to Euro Price Differences – A new resource for consumers

I’ve written here many times about the sterling to euro price conversion controversy – everything is available here.

We haven’t really jumped on the band wagon as we’ve mostly tried to be objective about where some of the price differences might come from – while also acknowledging that there is probably also some price gouging going on by many retailers.

Recently, a new website called DualPricing.ie has been developed which is designed to provide more information to help consumers work out if the conversion rates used are fair, or if they are actually being ripped off. From the person behind this great idea which you should definitely check out, Jamie Lawrence, here’s what the site can do for you:

A while back I remember reading (on ValueIreland) about a Dublin radio station that were running a campaign to expose stores that had excessive differences between their UK and Irish prices. Then came the VAT hike in Ireland and the cut in UK rates, which exposed how much of a difference tax actually made to the price gap.  Now that the currencies are almost on a par the subject of dual pricing has come up again but the problem with all the talk about price differences is the consumer’s lack of information.  On the one hand, the retailers will cart out every conceivable reason for the huge price differences: higher rates of tax, duty, wages, rent, utilities, transportation and currency fluctuations.  On the other hand, the consumer doesn’t really take anything into account when they see £10 translating into €15 on a price tag in the shops — they don’t have a calculator to work out the real difference. So, I went home that evening and developed DualPricing.ie.

DualPricing.ie is a really simple site that takes a UK (£) and Irish (€) price of an item from the same store and eliminates the known variables of VAT and currency.  Basically, if you deduct the appropriate VAT rate off each price and convert the ex-VAT UK price to euros, you can now get a clearer comparison between the two.  There are still unknown variables which might account for the price difference but we now have a more transparent comparison.  Of course, we also collect all these comparisons to produce average ratings for each store.

The site itself is educational and I learnt a lot from spending a morning in Mahon Point Shopping Centre, noting down UK and Irish prices (much to the bemusement of the staff) and comparing them.

First lesson: many of the stores have removed or covered up their Sterling prices.  I believe that this is to remove “customer confusion” — although where some say “confusion”, I say “information”.  From my brief expedition it seems that Ladybird and Principle tear off the UK price; Next, River Island and Marks & Spencers place labels over them; Adams Kids displays both; and Debenhams also carries both prices (except on fragrances).

Second lesson: Irish prices are, on average, 30% more expensive than UK prices (after eliminating the VAT and currency differences).  Many of the stores also seem to use standard numbers so, for example, £5 will convert into €7.50.  I find the 30% figure a little hard to swallow but I’m also suspicious of the nice neat numbers.  I’m sure that Irish prices should be more expensive but if there really was a defined rate wouldn’t our prices be a little more random? Perhaps €6.80 or €7.10 or €6.67 would be more believable?

Third lesson: The VAT rate can make a surprising amount of difference, particularly when different rates apply.  For example, in the UK newspapers and magazines are zero-rated VAT items but in Ireland they are taxed at the reduced rate — on an average magazine, about 9% of the difference is accounted for by VAT alone!  What’s particularly troubling is that items which are zero-rated in both countries (like children’s clothes) tend to have higher price differences applied to them, which implies that the company was accounting for VAT differences that don’t exist.

I’m not an accountant or economist so I’m trying very hard to be non-judgemental about these price differences and just let the facts speak for themselves.  I hope more people will contribute to DualPricing.ie so that we can build up a clear picture of how bad the price differences are, and which stores are the worst offenders.  It would be even better if someone could produce a complete breakdown and justification of those differences…

Top Tips for Shopping in Newry

In our second week of Top Tips for Irish Consumer, based on the searches people are doing in Google these days and arriving at ValueIreland.com, I thought I’d put together a series of Top Tips for anyone thinking of going to Newry to do their Christmas shopping.

What follows below are Frequently Asked Questions that people are asking Google about shopping in Newry.

We’re not advocating that you definitely shop in Newry, or that you follow your “patriotic duty” – that’s your own choice. If you think you’re going to get better value there than you will in your local supermarkets or stores, then by all means look after your pennies.

For further information, check out Boards.ie and AskAboutMoney.com.

Where should I do my shopping when I get to Newry?
The two primary locations of interest to Irish shoppers are the Buttercrane and The Quays shopping centres. They’re in the centre of the town, across the road from each other. For grocery shopping Newry has a Dunnes Stores and a Sainsburys. There is also a Marks & Spencers, but it’s grocery section is quite small.

Where else could I go instead of Newry?
If you’re heading north, you might want to find a Tesco Extra for the larger selection to get everything in one place. These are available in Banbridge and Enniskillen, with other Tesco stores in Ballymena, Belfast, Cookstown, Portadown, Lurgan, Craigavon and other locations.
If ASDA is more what you’re looking for, they’re in Enniskillen as well as Derry, Kilkeel, Strabane, Ballyclare, Belfast, Downpatrick and Cookstown.
If you can’t get into Sainsburys in Newry, you could check them out in Belfast, Ballymena, Coleraine, Craigavon and Derry.
Obviously there are many other brands and stores – this is a useful link to what’s available.

How far away is Newry?
I suppose it depends on where you’re coming from. According to the AA RoutePlanner, Newry is 116km and 1hr and 20mins from the M4/M50 junction. If you know how to get there, you’ve got just over 70 miles to go. Remember though, you’re not going to be the only person heading for Newry, so allow for a lot longer for getting stuck in traffic.

Do I need my passport to go to Newry?
Are you an EU national? Then no, you don’t need your passport to cross the border into Newry. If you’re from outside the EU, then technically yes, you’ll need your passport. If you have no other photographic identification it might be useful, but for travel purposes, it’s not necessary.

When should I go shopping in Newry?
You should get there as early as you can in the morning. Not only will you not get parking if you only get there around lunchtime, but chances are there’ll be nothing left on the shelves after the early birds get all the groceries.

Can I use my credit card in Newry?
Eh, yes! Credit cards can be used anywhere. You may not be able to use your Laser card though. Check if it has the Maestro logo on the back – that should increase your chances of it being accepted.

What currency can I use in Newry?
The currency in Newry is the British pound, but most stores will accept the Euro also. Be careful however what rate you’re offered. Anecdotal evidence suggest that the rate can vary from 85p to 95p for your €1.

What do groceries cost in Newry?
The best indication you can get before travelling north regarding what you might expect to pay is to check out the websites of the stores you’re planning to visit, so Tesco or Sainsbury or Asda will give you some idea.

Will I save money going to Newry?
That depends on what you’re buying I suppose. By all accounts in the media at the moment, you’ll save money buying most items up there at the moment. However, like everything else, it’s buyer beware. Make sure you know how much the items that you’re buying up there cost down south first – don’t just assume you’ll save money.

How much can I save by going to Newry?
This depends, obviously, on what you’re buying. Different reports suggest that you could save between 25% and 40% on your average weekly shop. However, given you’re travelling all that way, you’re likely to spend more. Just make sure you don’t get carried away and overbuy on groceries that might go off after bringing them home and not using them immediately.

Is there a Lidl or Aldi in Newry?
If you’re thinking of trying to save on the double, there are Lidl outlets in Northern Ireland, including one in Newry. Check the Store Locator on the Lidl site for locations. I can’t find information to say that there are Aldi outlets in Northern Ireland.

What is the customs allowance after shopping in Newry?
As Newry is technically part of another EU country, standard rules apply with regards to items that you’re bringing back into Ireland from the North. As long as the items brought in (groceries for example) are for your personal use, you’re pretty much okay to bring in whatever you want. According to the Revenue website, however, in the case of alcohol and tobacco products:

  • they must be for your personal use
  • you must retain your receipts as proof that you have paid duty and taxes
  • you must personally accompany the goods on arrival.

They also define what constitutes personal use for these items:

  • 800 – Cigarettes
  • 10 litres – Spirits (whiskey, gin, vodka, etc.)
  • 90 litres – Wine (of which only 60 litres can be sparkling)
  • 110 litres – Beer

Should I buy petrol in Newry?
That depends. Is it cheaper than you can get down south? It’s generally accepted that the average price of a litre of petrol down south is about 100c at the moment. According to the AA (UK) site, the average price in Northern Ireland is about 95c – which is about 113c. So, fill up before you leave, and don’t fill up again until you get home again.

Can I return items to southern versions of northern shops?
I guess what people are trying to find out here is whether something bought in a Marks & Spencers in Newry can be returned or exchanged in a Marks & Spencers in Dublin for example. It is probably safer to assume that you won’t be able to do this. For a start, it’s possible that different ranges of items are on sale in Newry vs Dublin. You may be able to do it however, so at least ask the question when you’re buying something. Obviously, the best thing to do is to make sure you’re happy with the purchase before you buy it. If you need to return something becaues it’s actually broken, then you’re more likely going to have to go back to where you purchased the item as southern shops are unlikely to want the hassle.

Do I need shots before going shopping in Newry?
Okay, so I made this one up, but this is the only one I’ve made up. All the other questions above are actual questions asked in Google.

Sterling Euro Differential – are the shops being honest?

With all the commentary recently about the price differential between southern and northern Ireland, I thought I’d republish a section of a post I originally wrote back in July when this issue was raised following a pointless survey carried out by the National Consumer Agency that told us that the Pope was indeed Catholic.

At the time, I had a few of observations, that are still relevant today. My main interest was to investigate whether or not businesses were actually being honest when they tell us that the price differences are due to the higher costs of doing business in Ireland, and not their naked profiteering greed.

  • On the same day as the NCA released their research results, it was revealed by the CSO that an average basket of goods costs 5% more in Dublin than it does in the rest of the country. All of the Northern based supermarkets chosen for this current research can easily be described as “country based” – Newry, Enniskillen and Banbridge. Yet all the supermarkets visited down here were Dublin based. I guess it’s reasonable to assume that a similar city (Belfast) vs country divide is just as applicable up there as it is down here. So, let’s assume we add 5% to the northern prices so that we’re comparing like (city = Belfast) with like (city = Dublin) – the “headline” figures from the National Consumer Agency now drop by 5%.
  • Now, let’s look at the price of wages down here compared to Northern Ireland. There’s no mention of this comparison of this in the National Consumer Agency report. Lets assume that the majority of employees in these stores on a fulltime basis are aged 22 and over. The minimum hourly wage in Ireland is, as of July 2007, €8.65 per hour. The equivalent national minimum wage in Northern Ireland is £5.52 per hour. That’s a Euro equivalent of €6.99. Therefore the cost of labour in Ireland is 24% more expensive than it is in Northern Ireland. I guess that’d be a good reason for things to be more expensive down here than up there.
  • What about the price of property – to either buy or rent? Do you think the cost of having a retail premises in Finglas, Blanchardstown or Rathfarnham is equivalent to having one in Banbridge, Enniskillen or Newry? If we look at house prices, which everyone is familiar with – a 4 bed, 2 bath detached house with garage in Newry would cost you upwards on €650k while a similar type house in Rathfarnham would cost you double that. A recent CBRE survey on the cost of renting office property showed that Belfast had a rate of €304 per sq metre, while Dublin had a rate of over twice that amount at $860 per sq metre. And on top of that, our comparison shops up north are based in areas there are probably even cheaper to rent – and all in a market where rental rates are falling in the north, while they’re pretty stable down here, over the past 12 months. Again, a legitimate reason for prices to be more expensive down here.
  • However, we also know that Irish shoppers are more strongly tied to branded items than many of our European neighbours, and as such, we will naturally pay a premium for wanting these branded items. But that’s our choice – we’re not forced to buy these items, but we like them and we chose to.

Irish based retailers will claim that the cost of doing business in Ireland is what causes the price differential we all know and see. While not trying to become an advocate for these businesses, I think that above 3 examples show how this can be somewhat justified.

I’ve written so many times before about this whole euro sterling pricing differential, and each time my message is the same – no matter what retailers or regulators or governments are telling us, the one main factor that will in the long term influence the prices is the shopping behaviour we ourselves follow.

If you think something is expensively overpriced, then don’t buy it. Tell your friends so that they don’t buy it. When that shop suffers a drop in sales, they’ll either drop their prices, or close down. It’s only consumer action that can cause that to happen – or not happen as was the case for the past few years.

Dublin’s Q102 launches ‘Ignore That Store’ campaign

We received this press release earlier this week – a campaign by the Dublin station Q102 against the dual pricing and exaggerated sterling to euro price conversion rates.

We in ValueIreland.com have always advocated that consumers should always vote with their wallets when it comes to where to spend their money. While it’s great to see a campaign of any kind to raise awareness of consumers, ignoring a store completely might not be completely in the interests of consumers.

As an example, what if a particular store that is “named and shamed” actually provides the best value going on a particular item – cheapest in the country. There’s no reason why consumers should ignore the whole store. Ignore the expensive items by all means, but take advantage of the value – wherever it’s available.

Dublin’s Q102 launches ‘Ignore That Store’ campaign to name and shame retail outlets who mark up prices when converting from sterling to euro

‘Ignore That Store’ initiative launched in conjunction with The Consumers’ Association of Ireland

Free Christmas advertising campaign on Dublin’s Q102 promised to first store which undertakes to convert sterling to euro accurately

Tuesday, 25 November 2008                For immediate release

‘On The QT’, the flagship current affairs programme on radio station Dublin’s Q102, in conjunction with The Consumers’ Association of Ireland, has launched a new innovative on-air campaign called ‘Ignore that Store’. The campaign is naming and shaming the many retail outlets that are ripping off consumers by marking up prices when converting sterling to euro on labels.

‘On the QT’, which is presented by Scott Williams, has discovered that certain stores are overcharging consumers by astronomical mark up’s when it comes to converting sterling prices to euro prices, in some cases by as much as 45%. In addition, some stores are going as far as blacking out the original sterling prices or ripping the sterling tag off in a bid to cover up the incorrect conversion rates.

Since announcing the campaign, ‘On the QT’ on Dublin’s Q102 has been inundated with texts, e-mails and calls from concerned listeners naming shops who are exploiting customers with unfair prices. Dublin’s Q102 has also visited some of the shops repeatedly mentioned by listeners to check their conversion rate, and found that many items were marked considerably higher than the actual sterling price shown.

Below are samples of the e-mails sent by listeners to ‘On the QT’ offering their support for ‘Ignore That Store’:

  • “My partner went to Claires Accessories to buy 2 baby headbands at 2 pounds sterling, and was asked for 7.60. I brought them back. Total rip off. Thanks for highlighting this.”
  • “I saw a dress in M&S for 105 euro, it was however only 55 sterling. That’s a huge mark up.”
  • “I was in Monsoon in Liffey Valley last night and was bowled over to see that a dress, marked £180 sterling was being sold here for 280 euro – disgraceful, Name & Shame!”

The ‘Ignore That Store’ project has already garned support from politicians across all parties including:

  • Chris Andrews TD, Member of the Joint Oireachtas Committee of Enterprise, Trade and Employment
  • Dr. Leo Varadkar, Fine Gael’s Spokesperson for Enterprise, Trade & Employment
  • Senator Brendan Ryan, Consumer Affairs Spokesperson for the Labour Party
  • Mary White, Green Party Deputy Leader and Spokesperson on Enterprise

The ‘Ignore That Store’ initiative follows hot on the heels of the extremely successful ‘Make small Print BIG Print’ campaign run by Dublin’s Q102 earlier this year. That project was focused on not only abolishing small print but making it BIG print, clearly highlighted, easy to read and in plain English to ensure consumers avoid getting trapped into agreements through the use of obscure and unwelcome terms and conditions. Furthermore, Scott Williams, CEO of Dublin’s Q102, was called to make a presentation about the ‘Make small Print BIG Print’ campaign to the Joint Committee on Enterprise, Trade and Employment sitting at the Oireachtas.

Scott Williams, CEO of Dublin’s Q102 and presenter of ‘On the QT’, believes that the ‘Ignore That Store’ endeavour will be as successful as the ‘Make small Print BIG Print’ campaign and he has promised free Christmas publicity to the first store which stops inaccurately marking up their prices.

“After the recent success of the ‘Make small Print BIG Print’ campaign we believe that we can do more for the Irish consumer and stop stores marking up their prices. The response from our listeners to the ‘Ignore that Store’ project has been astounding. We have received a flood of calls, texts and e-mails on this topic confirming that this is a huge problem for consumers. We hope that our offer of free advertising in the run up to Christmas to the first store which undertakes to use accurate prices will encourage the stores to do so!”

Dermott Jewell, CEO of the Consumers’ Association of Ireland, has expressed his committed support for the ‘Ignore That Store’ campaign:

“The actions and attitude adopted by many retailers in adding exorbitant, unrealistic and undeserved profit margins to Irish consumers needs to be highlighted. But – more importantly – consumers must acknowledge that this is unacceptable, that they are being fleeced and that they do have the power to do something about it and that they must do something about it.”

“The Consumers’ Association of Ireland, together with Q102, wants every consumer who sees anything more than 10% added to the euro exchange value of a £ sterling price to leave the goods there, to walk away and to tell their friends and family to Ignore That Store. Then, they should take their money to a retailer who values their custom with reasonable prices.”

“This is the one simple way we, as consumers, can send the message that until we see fair pricing we will not spend and we will leave products on the racks and shelves of the profiteers.”

And no, the irony of the CAI launching a campaign this week isn’t lost on me either.

Euro / Sterling Dual-Pricing – A different angle

I read with interest this piece from Conor Pope in Pricewatch on Monday morning regarding one of his readers observations about the dual-pricing that we experience in many stores at the moment.

A reader by the name of Helen was shopping in Wallis recently when she noticed they had torn off the sterling price, which had been attached to the price tags on the clothes along with the euro price – not the only shop operating in both the Republic of Ireland and the UK that has adopted such a policy in recent months.

“We all know that we are being ripped off in the Republic – the mark up between the sterling price and the euro price is blatantly obvious, even though the euro-sterling exchange rate has been trading consistently at around €0.78 for the past year. By tearing off the sterling price, does Wallis think that we won’t notice we are being ripped off?”

I was in a Boots store on Sunday where I saw a different perspective to this euro/sterling dual-pricing problem.

There was a small kid in the queue in front of me with some sort of Christmas present for his mother. He had his change counted out, and re-counted it a couple of times before he got to the top of the queue.

When he got to the cashier, he popped the gift on the counter, and unloaded his bundle of change for the cashier.

The cashier smiled at him, scanned the item, and asked him for €10.

“But it’s €8 on the label, I checked it myself” said the little lad, visibly gutted.

“No, it’s £8 I’m afraid. So that’s €10″ said the cashier.

I don’t think we’re teaching our 6 and 7 year olds about dual-priced labels and exchange rates, are we?

National Consumer Agency Surveys – tell us something we don’t know

Right! Let’s get one thing out of the way here. I don’t think we needed the fuckers* to tell us last week that things were cheaper in Northern Ireland relatively speaking than they are down here. We’ve been travelling north for our shopping in our droves. We’ve been stocking up on our Christmas treats and booze, and our all year round weekly shopping in Newry, and Derry, and Enniskillen and all points just over the border for years. Did we really need our National Consumer Agency to spend our money on a survey to tell us what we already knew?

I had this composed immediately after the initial press release and newspaper coverage, but I decided to hold fire just in case something different happened after this recent survey compared to the non-events that followed the other press releases telling us the blatantly bloody obvious from the National Consumer Agency.

Well, there were a couple of days of hoo-haa, people shouted, there was gnashing of teeth, and general disquiet. And then, nothing. Nothing changed. No one did anything. Everything stayed the same. I’d have to agree with An Fear Bolg who commented on Pricewatch earlier today – “the NCA seems to be on a crazed campaign that may yield little or no results.”

So, we didn’t really need the National Consumer Agency to travel to Newry or Enniskillen or Banbridge to buy baskets of 42 items and compare their prices to the same 42 items bought in Rathfarnham, Blanchardstown and Finglas. This is the same useless regulator who has 70,000 calls to their complaints line in 2007, yet only made 7 prosecutions during that year.

The full details of this pointless research is available here if you want to read more.

There is some useful background information on the application of VAT and Excise rates both here and in Northern Ireland. There is also some interesting information on the differences in rates applied to different products covered in the survey. However, it should also be noted that the price comparisons were made after the exclusion of the impact of VAT and Excise rates.

I just have a few of observations:

  • On the same day as the fuckers* released their research results, it was revealed by the CSO that an average basket of goods costs 5% more in Dublin than it does in the rest of the country. All of the Northern based supermarkets chosen for this current research can easily be described as “country based” – Newry, Enniskillen and Banbridge. Yet all the supermarkets visited down here were Dublin based. I guess it’s reasonable to assume that a similar city (Belfast) vs country divide is just as applicable up there as it is down here. So, let’s assume we add 5% to the northern prices so that we’re comparing like (city = Belfast) with like (city = Dublin) – the “headline” figures from the National Consumer Agency now drop by 5%.
  • Now, let’s look at the price of wages down here compared to Northern Ireland. There’s no mention of this comparison of this in the National Consumer Agency report. Lets assume that the majority of employees in these stores on a fulltime basis are aged 22 and over. The minimum hourly wage in Ireland is, as of July 2007, €8.65 per hour. The equivalent national minimum wage in Northern Ireland is £5.52 per hour. That’s a Euro equivalent of €6.99. Therefore the cost of labour in Ireland is 24% more expensive than it is in Northern Ireland. I guess that’d be a good reason for things to be more expensive down here than up there.
  • What about the price of property – to either buy or rent? Do you think the cost of having a retail premises in Finglas, Blanchardstown or Rathfarnham is equivalent to having one in Banbridge, Enniskillen or Newry? If we look at house prices, which everyone is familiar with – a 4 bed, 2 bath detached house with garage in Newry would cost you upwards on €650k while a similar type house in Rathfarnham would cost you double that. A recent CBRE survey on the cost of renting office property showed that Belfast had a rate of €304 per sq metre, while Dublin had a rate of over twice that amount at $860 per sq metre. And on top of that, our comparison shops up north are based in areas there are probably even cheaper to rent – and all in a market where rental rates are falling in the north, while they’re pretty stable down here, over the past 12 months. Again, a legitimate reason for prices to be more expensive down here.
However, we also know that Irish shoppers are more strongly tied to branded items than many of our European neighbours, and as such, we will naturally pay a premium for wanting these branded items. But that’s our choice – we’re not forced to buy these items, but we like them and we chose to.

I’ve written many times before about this whole euro sterling pricing differential, and each time my message is the same – no matter what retailers or regulators or governments are telling us, the one main factor that will in the long term influence the prices is the shopping behaviour we ourselves follow.

Irish based retailers will claim that the cost of doing business in Ireland is what causes the price differential we all know and see. While not trying to become an advocate for these businesses, I think that above 3 examples show how this can be somewhat justified.

Shouldn’t this type of information also have formed the basis of the research these fuckers* are carrying out in order to give us the full picture of what’s going on and the reasons behind the price differentials.

Unfortunately, we already know that all this is going to yield no results after the comments of John Shine, the NCA director of commercial practices “admitted there is little the organisation can do to help consumers get better value.” Well, apart from wasting time their time doing half arsed, incomplete and pointless research for crowd and press pleasing press releases.

The Euro – Sterling Dual Pricing Issue (2)

The Irish Independent are gamely trying to continue the “controversy” over the Euro to Sterling dual pricing issue. Their article in todays paper, Shoppers fleeced by cross-border price gap, is merely a rehash of what’s gone before, and what’s been pretty much forgotten since the issue was first raised a couple of weeks ago. The article did garner the largest number of comments I’ve seen on any Independent article since they facilitated them.

As I mentioned in my original post at the end of May, despite all the posturing from Government and NCA at the time:

The truth is that there is nothing within existing laws that can change what’s currently happening with regards to dual pricing and the euro price being more expensive than the sterling price. There’s nothing that the UK multiples (and some Irish ones too – take note Dunnes Stores, we know you’re doing it too) are doing that is illegal or in contravention of consumer law. So, what we’re seeing is a whole to-do about nothing. The government are jumping up and down about this, the opposition are taken up with it, and the media are pushing the whole bandwagon along about something that it’s only us consumers can really do anything about.

And now two weeks later our Government and Regulator finally wakes up to this point as well. We have the following statement from An Tanaiste Mary Coughlan where she “is adamant that there will be no legislative change to force retailers to cut their prices”. A spokeswoman said there is an “ongoing process of engagement” with supermarket giants but said the Groceries Order will not be reintroduced. ”

And from John Shine, who is the director of commercial practices for the fuckers*, “admitted there is little the organisation can do to help consumers get better value.”

The Consumer Association of Ireland (of which I’m a director) is, through the vice-chairman Michael Kilcoyne, pursuing a change in the Companies Law which will force UK based retailers to reveal their profits for their Irish based stores. I’m personally at a loss to work out how that’s going to force the companies change their pricing practices. We know that Vodafone and O2 consistently make about €1m profit per day, yet we still all give them our custom.

So, what’s the solution to this?

Basically, we’re the solution to this. If you don’t like that M&S or Tesco or Boots or any other UK retailer based in this country is charging you more than their UK customers for the same items, then don’t buy them. Don’t go back to those shops. These shops will have two options if their customers start deserting their stores – they’ll reduce prices to attract customers back, or they’ll shut down. Neither is happening yet, so Irish consumers must still be shopping there.

So, go elsewhere to do your shopping. Find an Irish equivalent store, or the German multiples. Change your buying habits to avoid these UK retailers – there are alternatives. Use them!

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