Tag Archives | The Consumerist

Cookies aren’t always nice, especially shopping online

Cookies, for the purposes of this post, are bits of information that websites will leave on your computer when you visit so that they can recognise you when you come back next time (a longer definition is available here).

In early January, the Consumerist website had a very interesting article entitled “Save Money Shopping Online By Deleting Your Cookies“.

The thesis of the article was that certain websites will offer better deals to people visiting the website for the first time compared to offers they give to people who’ve been to the site before.

Therefore, before going online to go shopping you should delete your cookies so that sites don’t “recognise” you and you may get better value for money.

I have a feeling that some of our more well known Irish airline websites might utilise this type of trickery, but can’t confirm one way or the other.

Of course, it could be possible that some online sellers have taken this type of thing a step further. Every time you log onto a website your IP address is stored (basically, where you’re logging on from). Some IP addresses are just a series of numbers that don’t distinguish exactly where you are – they may say Dublin, or Galway. But others actually have your company name included in it – so, Intel or Microsoft or many of the worlds bigger companies have their name in their address. Surely it’s possible that online sellers can identify these companies and then charge more, or less, depending on where their customers are logging in from.


Are you being “shortpoured” on your pint?

I mentioned here previously about an experience a friend of mine had in a Dublin city centre pub where after a few pints he was served another “pint” that turned out to be a smaller size glass than a normal pint, but costing the same.

The manner in which he was immediately given another pint to me shows that the barman knew what was going, and that a fast one was being pulled.

Never, I hear you say. A pint is a pint! They can’t mess with our beer.

Yet, it’s something that’s starting to happen in the US recently. This story via The Consumerist shows how a restaurant served a small “pint” glass of beer (14oz) when a pint (16oz) was ordered.

This Wall Street Journal article refers to this phenomenon of “falsies” – a smaller “pint” than the proper measure. It even mentions that bars are putting more foam than normal in pints – effectively also reducing how much beer is actually given to the customer.

Now, obviously our pints are larger than US pints anyway (ha ha!), but if my friends experience in Dublin is happening on a regular basis, it’s something we should be watching out for. Given many of the sharp practices we consumers experience in Ireland on a regular basis, we probably shouldn’t be surprised if it is.


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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