Tag Archives | The Irish Independent

Government proposal to have NCT checks catch clocked cars is a joke

Though published on April 1st by Fiach Kelly in the Irish Independent, his story under the headline “NCT check will uncover ‘clocked’ cars in new plan” doesn’t appear to be an April Fool. I do think, however, that the proposals from the Minister for Transport, Leo Varadkar, will be about as useful as an April Fool prank.

According to Mr. Kelly, the Irish Independent has learned that 10% of cars checked by the NCTS have been clocked, and that the Department of Transport has helpfully “suggested there is a problem”. This means that their response will be that:

Under new plans, cars will have their mileage cross-referenced with their NCT history every time they go in for the test.

The aim is to have the system rolled out within around two years, and motorists would be able to check mileage history.

Effectively, they will check your mileage each time you send your car for its NCT, and if the mileage is less than the previous NCT check, you – the car owner – will be prosecuted. According to the article:

And it would become a crime to have your car clocked. At the moment, it is a crime only to sell a clocked car.

Bear with me here, but I don’t think that these proposals are going to have much effect at all. And worse, they have the potential of penalising consumers a whole lot more than garages who clock cars who may actually do the car clocking.

Won’t work in all instances (1)

Let’s take an example car, owned by Joe Bloggs, a travelling salesman, who does 100k miles every year selling widgets to €1 stores. Joe has the car for 2 ½ years and has put up 275k hard miles on the car. He trades it in for the newest model, and the car is taken in and tidied up by the dealer.

“Tidied up” just so happens to involved rolling back the mileage to somewhat more than the average annual mileage for a car in Ireland – 60k miles (2.5 times 10,837, plus change for good measure). That’s still a damn site less than the actual mileage, and something that the NCT won’t catch after the car was bought by Mick Smith, driven only 5k miles for 6 months, and subjected to the first NCT.

Won’t work in all instances (2)

If you're reading this, you're probably on a PC with internet filtering, or a poor connections, so you're missing a picture of the odometer in a carLet’s assume instead that Mike Smith buys the car first. He owns it for 3 ½ years, and does his usual circa 5k miles per year, and decides to upgrade after successfully passing the first NCT on the car. The car is sold with 20k miles on the clock to Joe Bloggs who drives the wheels off the thing for 2 more years, putting up his circa 100k average each year before deciding to upgrade the car before the next NCT is due after 6 years.

Now, the car has circa 220k on the clock, is 5 ½ years old, and in “tidying up” the car, the less than scrupulous garage owner decides that he could only ever sell the car and make money on it if there’s less than 100k miles on the clock, needing to wipe off over 120k miles.

And like magic, Mary Murphy who bought the car next, submits it innocently for NCT, and successfully passes the test with flying colours. There’s 95k miles on the clock, there was 20k on the clock at the last NCT, and no one is any the wiser.

Useless NCA must change approach too

Let’s now say that the car hadn’t passed the NCT, and Mary Murphy is told that the car she bought had been clocked. She’s now in possession of a clocked car, for which she’ll be liable for prosecution. By whom, we don’t know yet.

And for selling the car, the unscrupulous garage is also liable for prosecution. By the National Consumer Agency. Who rarely prosecute garages who clock cars, merely settling on “working with them” to make sure they don’t do it anymore.

So, there we have it. Yet another scenario in the making where big business, or any business for that matter, in Ireland will get away with anything, while it’s we, the ordinary punters, who always end up paying the price.

 

0

Dubious advice for prospective holidaymakers in The Irish Independent

Under the headline “Holidaymakers can save €140 each by flying from North“, Aideen Sheehan relays to us statements from an online travel agency telling us that:

Sluggish demand in the North means flight prices there are currently cheaper than from Dublin, resulting in significant savings for identical holidays.

SUN holidays can be up to €140 cheaper per person if you fly from Belfast instead of Dublin.

Presumably coming from a press release, the story is from travel operator ClickAndGo.com and is effectively free advertising for them through the remainder of the article.

Buyer Be Very Careful

If you're reading this, you're probably on a PC with internet filtering, or a poor connections, so you're missing a picture of the clickandgo.com logoWhat Ms. Sheehan fails to tell her readers is that anyone in Ireland booking their holidays with ClickAndGo.com and flying out of Belfast won’t have their travel covered by the normal licencing and bonding arrangements under the Commission for Aviation Regulation rules that they’d have if flying out of Dublin, for example.

They are, however, covered by the UK Civil Aviation Authority equivalent bonding scheme.

According to the Commission for Aviation Regulation website, who oversee licencing and bonding:

Under the Transport (Tour Operators and Travel Agents) Act, 1982, (the “Act), Tour Operators and Travel Agents are required to be licensed and bonded in respect of the sale and offering for sale, of travel originating within the State to destinations outside the State.

You’ll see that this says “within the State”. For the purposes of licencing and bonding, no matter what your politics are, flying out of Belfast means you’re not originating your holding from “within the State”, and therefore you’re unfortunately not covered unless there is the UK Civil Aviation Authority cover instead.

Independent Newspapers has “form here”

Back in 2009, Dan White gave travel advice in the Evening Herald which necessitated this warning post from me for consumers, Incorrect advice on Travel Agents in the Evening Herald. The key advice at that time, which is again relevant in light of this more recent article, was as follows:

If you book a holiday with an Irish travel agent, but if you’re departing from an airport outside the Republic of Ireland, then you are not covered by the Commission for Aviation Regulation bonding scheme. You would be covered by the UK Civil Aviation Authority scheme – assuming your travel agent has signed up to it (and many Irish travel agents don’t).

So, if you book your holiday from a Dublin travel agent but fly out from Belfast, you’re not covered by the Commission for Aviation Regulation scheme.

Another thing to be careful of – the Commission for Aviation Regulation only covers anything booked from a travel agent that includes travel (i.e. flights). If you book a villa in the south of France, but decide to book your flights with Ryanair, then your villa booking isn’t covered by this scheme either.

 

 

0

Irish Hotels? Struggling to survive? How about meeting customers needs?

Instead of doing the same thing that you’ve always done, hoping that eventually things will magically get better again.

There were two articles within 24 hours of each other recently that inspired this particular rant. The first was from Twenty Major in his “Tourism Suggestions” blog post. Straight out, he touches on a subject I wrote about here some time ago – the misguided focusing of tourism people on the so called “tourism tax” as the reason why people aren’t coming to Ireland:

So fewer people are coming to Ireland. Numbers are 25% down apparently and tourism bosses want the €10 tourist tax scrapped. Which kind of misses the point. That tax is no expensive, it’s everything else.

He goes on to point out how detached from reality many hotels in Ireland are with their “per person sharing” (PPS) room charges. This was highlighted also in a letter to the Irish Independent:

The hotel industry now finds itself in the position of having 10,000 excess hotel rooms to fill. The Irish Hotels Federation is reported as complaining that there is no sign of an upturn in the future.

Neither the federation nor the Irish Tourist Industry Confederation seem to have appreciated that the general hotel policy of quoting rooms at ‘Per Person Sharing’ (PPS) is short-sighted.

There are many single people who would jump at the chance of a hotel holiday but who are put off by the letters PPS.

While that letter writer makes a good point above, their next sentence threw me a bit for a loop, so we’ll move quickly on.

Moreover, there are also couples who prefer not to share a room.

Twenty Major also points out something I’ve been writing about here over the past couple of years – many businesses, though finding things tough – aren’t doing anything different to try to attract new, or extra, business.

Encourage bars and restaurants to offer real value, especially in Dublin. Gone are the days where location = profits. Fuck you and your €15 salad. Buy drinks all afternoon, get a round on the house. Requires a huge cultural change but it’s better than twiddling your thumbs, right?

It seems that some businesses would rather close down than try to encourage new business by trying something different. I’ve written about it before here, but a great innovation by the Insomnia Coffee chain was their breakfast (coffee and a muffin for €3.50) and lunch (coffee and a sandwich for €5) offers.

You only have to look around many other similar type businesses to see how staid their own offerings is to their office working potential customers.

Insomnia even tried another offer (the ill-fated 3 for 2 deal) which very quickly cost them a lot of money and it quickly stopped. But they tried, and went back to their other deals, and more importantly have kept them in place.

You can only admire businesses who try new and different things. And just feel sorry for those that are hoping for their fortunes to turn by doing absolutely nothing – such business don’t deserve our business, in good times or in bad times.

1

Why we shouldn’t give the diaspora the vote

This post has been brewing for a while. A letter appeared in the Irish Independent some time ago that took a theme that I’ve seen many times before, and which I’ve begun to form a strong aversion to. Here’s the text of the letter first of all (available here):

If David McWilliams (Irish Independent, December 16) is so concerned about the power of the ‘insiders’ in the political, social, financial and religious networks of Irish life, why did he not have that on the agenda of the recent Irish Global Forum held at Farmleigh?

He knows that for more than a century the networks of Irish life have been going to the Irish diaspora with begging bowls in times of economic stress. I suggest that if he wishes the power of the ‘insiders’ diminished that he offers Irish citizens in the diaspora a vote in Irish national elections.

Most modern democracies with large diasporas have done so. Indeed, some old democracies like Britain and France are now doing the same.

Firstly, this would be a sign of recognition of the contribution made by the diaspora.

Secondly, Irish citizens in the diaspora voting in national elections would hopefully burst the bubble of ‘insider’ personalism that permeates Irish life.

Thirdly, it would give Irish people in the diaspora a sense of inclusion.

Is that too much to hope for?

Bobby Gilmore
Navan, Co Meath

I’ve written about the Irish diaspora previously here, Diaspora, schmiaspora! How about the chickens who came home to roost?, so you can probably guess that based on that article, I am strongly opposed to us providing a vote to the Irish diaspora.

I can’t argue that the letter above may have an attractive proposition to providing the vote to the diaspora as it might dilute the impact of the so-called (by David McWilliams here) “insiders”.

However, what else was the Global Irish Economic Conference organised by the selfsame David McWilliams but one big love-in amongst the “insiders” – both the diaspora and the Irish based?

But that’s really an aside. I’m against providing the vote to the Irish diaspora because they have no true (interest) in how our country is run. The diaspora choose not to live in Ireland, for whatever reason, so why should they be allowed determine the destiny of those who actually do choose to live here (or live here because they don’t have any other options).

The reason that the David McWilliams “insiders” can wield so much power in this country is because those who live here decide to let them.

It takes, I think, about 1.1m people to change the government in this country.

But based on the 2007 election approximately 1.1. people didn’t actually bother to vote at all. That’s enough people to remove the “insiders” completely from Irish life, but those people who have the most to gain by doing so, don’t actually bother.

As the truism, or saying, or whatever goes – “we get the government we deserve”.

On a more positive note though, 507,000 people last year signed up in Facebook to demand a replay for the Ireland v France World Cup playoff game while 46,000 want John Joe from the Late Late Toy Show to fix their clocks.

That’s pretty much half way towards changing how our country is run. It’s a pity so many people just don’t care enough about the things that really matter.

3

Understanding “the angles” when reading the newspaper

Recently, I’m becoming more and more aware of “the angles” or agendas of newspaper journalists when reading their published articles. Some would say that I’m just becoming more cynical. While some angles and agendas are not always obvious, you would have to sometimes wonder where a journalist is coming from when they’re writing a story.

So, as an example, when a journalist wants to address the issue of mobile phone charges being very high in Ireland – say 3 or 4 years ago at the height of Rip Off Ireland, they won’t accept the networks reasoning that it’s because Irish people talk more. As far as they’re concerned, it’s because we’re being charged more. It’s good to knock the networks after all.

ARPU – Average Revenue Per User

One thing to remember here is that the measure of how much a consumer is charged, as calculated by the mobile companies, is ARPU – average revenue per user. This ARPU value is made up of two factors – the actual charges for services levied by the networks, and the amount of those services availed of by the consumer. So, a high charge with low usage, or a medium charge with medium usage, or a low charge with high usage could all provide the same ARPU calculation.

But back to angles and agendas!

Say in 2006, the ARPU for Irish mobile users is said to be high compared to Europe – this is can only be because Irish mobile users are being charged more for their services – not that they’re using the services more. Dan White of Independent Newspapers wrote about this way back then – The €300m mobile rip-off.

But say that in 2010, the ARPU value for Irish consumers has fallen by 8% and from €49 in 2005 per month to €37.40 now *, then this can only be because the “Irish cutting back on the auld chat” according to the very same Dan White of Independent Newspapers.

In 2006, Mr. White had this to say:

The massive margins being earned by Vodafone and O2 in this country are costing Irish mobile phone users about €300m a year.

Further proof that Irish mobile phone users pay over the odds is provided by the fact that the average European ARPU is just €30.26 a month (€363.12 a year), compared to an Irish average of €47.37.

Whereas in 2010, when the Irish ARPU has fallen to a level that is still above what the European ARPU was back in 2005 (not commented upon strangely), there is no chance that the increased market competion amongst the Irish mobile market participants is given any credit for this drop. If you’ve knocked the networks before, you can’t obviosuly give them any credit now.

In 2005, we had Vodafone and O2, with a little bit of Meteor pre-paid, in the Irish mobile market. We now have a much stronger Meteor, along with 3 Mobile, and Tesco Mobile, all providing strong competion to Vodafone and O2.

But this isn’t even entertained by Mr. White – he strangely now accepts the logic rejected back in 2006 that the usage costs of Irish mobile users is dependent on how much we use, and by extension, nothing to do with the level of charges applied by the mobile companies. He’s now on the side of the argument he dismissed back in 2006 and now uses it to justify a position he cannot back up in 2010:

Having long been the most prolific mobile phone users in Europe, it seems the recession is teaching the Irish to cut back on the gab.

And as we all know, competition can and frequently does bring down prices. So, Irish consumers could actually be getting the same mobile services from their providers as they were in 2005, but are just paying less for them.

As just one example, I’m paying less on a monthly basis now that I was 2 or 3 years ago, but I’m getting vastly more for my less money now than I was for my more money back then. My ARPU for O2 would be down, but I’m not using their services less.

0

Refund.ie – A service that I’d stay well clear of

Both the Irish Examiner and the Irish Independent (three times) have blindly (and misguidedly in my opinion) given coverage recently to a new service called Refund.ie.

Crazily, when the Irish Examiner gave the website publicity, they hadn’t even properly published the website – it was full of dummy text with zero information available at the time.

Refund.ie is a private company, set up to make a profit. However, it is claiming that it will pursue financial institutions in situations where consumers feel they have been ripped off.

According to their website:

Refund.ie is a 100% Irish owned company established to fill a vacuum. Refund will help and encourage individual and corporate entities to pursue legitimate complaints in the area of financial services. Our team of experts will review each case with the aim of achieving a refund and/or compensation. In addition to our financial advisers we have a panel of Solicitors who will enforce our findings through the courts where necessary.

As well as pointing out that Refund.ie is not regulated by the Financial Regulator, it also highlights:

However, Refund.ie takes a commission of 22.5pc of any settlement it agrees with a finanical institution, whereas the ombudsman offers the same service free.
The new company also wants a upfront fee of €242, although this will be refunded if there is a successful claim.

Why on earth would you give your money to an organisation like this? From the Irish Independent article again:

Managing director of Refund.ie John Prout said people were still free to go to the ombudsman if they were not satisfied with the service they received from a claims management company like his.

Or, even more of a ridiculous suggestion:

They could also come to Refund.ie if a claim was rejected by the Ombudsman.

I find it ridiculous that a company think that they can get away with inviting consumers to pay them money to follow up on a claim that has already failed when reviewed by the statutory body responsible for such complaints, the Financial Services Ombudsman.

In my opinion, a company such as this shouldn’t even be given such cheap, easy and unquestioning press coverage. As far as I’m concerned, it’s preying on the fears and insecurities of consumers who may have a certain apprehension about going up against their bank in a complaint situation.

But, much as I have issues with parts of how the Financial Services Ombudsman works, that is what they’re there for – to help consumers – and, shock horror, all for free.

From the Ombudsmans office website:

The Financial Services Ombudsman is a statutory body set up under the terms of the Central Bank and Financial Services Authority of Ireland Act 2004 (Section 16 and schedules 6 and 7).
The Financial Services Ombudsman is a statutory officer who deals independently with unresolved complaints from consumers about their individual dealings with all financial service providers. It is a free service to the complainant.

So, if you have a complaint against a financial institution – go first through their own complaints handling process. (Click here for top tips on how best to approach going through a compaints process with any organisation, including financial institutions).

And if you don’t get anywhere with your complaint by going direct, then go to the Financial Services Ombudsman.

And stay away from companies like Refund.ie.

4

How come we still can’t stop “Tiger Kidnappings”? Ability or inclination?

Tiger Kidnappings
Right, before I get into this post, regular readers are probably familiar that I’m quite keen on my conspiracy theories, but I’m not trying to build one in this article.
Having said that, I really really can’t grasp why we’re still seeing so called “Tiger Kidnappings” in this country.
Personally, I’m fully convinced that at least one recent tiger kidnapping (and fairly large) and robbery was an inside job, but you have to think that with the levels of technology and security available to banks these days, that a fool proof way of preventing these thefts could be developed.
Now, banks have put procedures in place in the last year or so that are supposed to help in these tiger kidnapping situations, but as this article highlights (http://www.independent.ie/national-news/gardai-to-grill-boi-chiefs-after-tiger-kidnap-security-lapses-1923541.html) there’s not a whole lot can be done if the staff in question don’t actually follow the guidelines put in place.
Bank management ignored alert guidelines, which were drawn up by all of the financial institutions with the gardai and the Department of Justice, to protect the hostages taken in a tiger kidnap and help end the spate of similar robberies.
Reacting to this, Charlie Flanagan of Fine Gael completely pointlessly had this to say:
Fine Gael’s justice spokesman has said internal security staff at Bank of Ireland should consider their positions if they are unwilling to co-operate with agreed procedures between themselves and the Gardai.
For someone who expects to be part of a Government in the near future that will probably still have these robberies to address, shouldn’t this really have read:
Fine Gael’s justice spokesman has said that Bank of Ireland management should review the positions of their internal security staff at the bank if they are unwilling to co-operate with agreed procedures between themselves and the Gardai. Mr. Flanagan said that failure to fulfill contracted paid duties as part of their employment should result in the dismissal of such staff.
Simple as – you don’t do your job, you get fired.
Back in December, the Sunday Business Post published this interesting article on the phenomenon – How can Gardai tame the tiger kidnappings? http://archives.tcm.ie/businesspost/2008/12/28/story38410.asp
many instances of tiger kidnapping have occurred throughout the world – with Ireland, Britain and Belgium being the more likely locations for such a crime. There are at least 30 tiger kidnappings a year in Ireland and most are perpetrated against the immediate family of a member of staff while in their own homes.
Obviously there remains the question as to what can be done to prevent these robberies from occurring. I mentioned above that sure the levels of technology and security at the disposal of banks could ensure that they don’t happen. However, this article in the SBP points out:
The nature of the crime could be described as ‘asymmetric criminality’, because it employs simple psychological coercion to combat hi-tech security.
The only way to combat the crime is through avoidance of routine and developing what is termed ‘situational awareness’.
So it actually could come down to very simple procedures that could be most effective at preventing tiger kidnapping and robberies.
1. Avoidance of routine – don’t always have the same person responsible for the money every day.  Have more than one person responsible – 2 different people randomly responsible each day. In a bank branch of 25 employees, that would mean more potential combinations of employees with access on any one morning for any of these gangs to be able to cover.
2. I presume bank staff are provided with some sort of home and/or car security in the event of being approached. Even personal alarms of some sort would be enough to alert the necessary authorities of a problem.
3. There are already procedures in place for what should be done in the event of a tiger kidnapping and attempted robbery. It would probably be a good idea if these procedures were followed.
4. How about a system that prevents access to a bank to any staff outside of working hours? Any access outside of hours must be arranged in conjunction with security personnel, bank management and the Gardai?
Obviously, the stress and fear that a bank employee is under in such situations is incomprehensible for me. This BBC story, Can ‘tiger kidnappings’ be prevented?, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/7154374.stm has a quote from John O’Connor, former head of the Flying Squad in the UK:
“One way (to prevent these occurrences) is to have a system whereby more than one person needs to be present for a door or a vault to open, but even then if someone’s family has been kidnapped, they will do everything they can to persuade their colleague to come in and help them.”
I referred to an “inside man” above – and obviously, the presence of such an inclined person within the staff of a bank may be hard, if not impossible, to prevent. However, having strict and always followed procedures within a bank would also mean that even if such a person was inclined, they’d know that in their particular branch, it would be pointless to even attempt such a robbery because procedures are followed so stricktly.
The infamous Securitas robbery in the UK in which £52 million was stolen depended on an “inside man” to get the key information necessary to allow the gang responsible to right man to target for the tiger kidnapping.
This “inside man” was familiar with the procedures within Securitas at the time:
“We were given a card with an 0800 telephone number on it, and were told that if we were kidnapped we should ring that number, which I thought was a bit strange.”
Strange? How about completely useless, pointless, inappropriate and unfeasible?
I really don’t know. Simple straightforward procedures, rigidly followed, combined with up to the minute technology and security techniques have to be the solution to preventing these robberies completely.
Then again, maybe I’m being too simplistic here. What do you think?

I wrote this post last week following some prompting from a ValueIreland.com reader, and based on some thoughts of my own. Given yesterdays events in Kilkenny, tiger kidnappings becomes topical again.

And just before I get into this post, regular readers are probably familiar that I’m quite keen on my conspiracy theories, but I’m not necessarily trying to build one in this article.

Having said that, I really really can’t grasp why we’re still seeing so called “Tiger Kidnappings” in this country.

Personally, I’m fully convinced that at least one recent tiger kidnapping (and fairly large) and robbery was an inside job, but you have to think that with the levels of technology and security available to banks these days, that a fool proof way of preventing these thefts could be developed.

Now, banks have put procedures in place in the last year or so that are supposed to help in these tiger kidnapping situations, but as this article highlights there’s not a whole lot can be done if the staff in question don’t actually follow the guidelines put in place.

Bank management ignored alert guidelines, which were drawn up by all of the financial institutions with the gardai and the Department of Justice, to protect the hostages taken in a tiger kidnap and help end the spate of similar robberies.

Reacting to this, Charlie Flanagan of Fine Gael completely pointlessly had this to say:

Fine Gael’s justice spokesman has said internal security staff at Bank of Ireland should consider their positions if they are unwilling to co-operate with agreed procedures between themselves and the Gardai.

For someone who expects to be part of a Government in the near future that will probably still have these robberies to address and deal with, shouldn’t this really have read:

Fine Gael’s justice spokesman has said that Bank of Ireland management should review the positions of their internal security staff at the bank if they are unwilling to co-operate with agreed procedures between themselves and the Gardai. Mr. Flanagan said that failure to fulfill contracted paid duties as part of their employment should result in the dismissal of such staff.

Simple as – you don’t do your job, you get fired.

Back in December, the Sunday Business Post published this interesting article on the phenomenon – How can Gardai tame the tiger kidnappings?

many instances of tiger kidnapping have occurred throughout the world – with Ireland, Britain and Belgium being the more likely locations for such a crime. There are at least 30 tiger kidnappings a year in Ireland and most are perpetrated against the immediate family of a member of staff while in their own homes.

Obviously there remains the question as to what can be done to prevent these robberies from occurring. I mentioned above that sure the levels of technology and security at the disposal of banks could ensure that they don’t happen. However, this article in the SBP points out:

The nature of the crime could be described as ‘asymmetric criminality’, because it employs simple psychological coercion to combat hi-tech security.

The only way to combat the crime is through avoidance of routine and developing what is termed ‘situational awareness’.

So it actually could come down to very simple procedures that could be most effective at preventing tiger kidnapping and robberies.

  1. Avoidance of routine – don’t always have the same person responsible for the money every day.  Have more than one person responsible – 2 different people randomly responsible each day. In a bank branch of 25 employees, that would mean more potential combinations of employees with access on any one morning for any of these gangs to be able to cover.
  2. I presume bank staff are provided with some sort of home and/or car security in the event of being approached. Even personal alarms of some sort would be enough to alert the necessary authorities of a problem.
  3. There are already procedures in place for what should be done in the event of a tiger kidnapping and attempted robbery. It would probably be a good idea if these procedures were followed.
  4. How about a system that prevents access to a bank to any staff outside of working hours? Any access outside of hours must be arranged in conjunction with security personnel, bank management and the Gardai?

Obviously, the stress and fear that a bank employee is under in such situations is incomprehensible for me. This BBC story, Can ‘tiger kidnappings’ be prevented?, has a quote from John O’Connor, former head of the Flying Squad in the UK:

“One way (to prevent these occurrences) is to have a system whereby more than one person needs to be present for a door or a vault to open, but even then if someone’s family has been kidnapped, they will do everything they can to persuade their colleague to come in and help them.”

I referred to an “inside man” above – and obviously, the presence of such an inclined person within the staff of a bank may be hard, if not impossible, to prevent. However, having strict and always followed procedures within a bank would also mean that even if such a person was inclined, they’d know that in their particular branch, it would be pointless to even attempt such a robbery because procedures are followed so stricktly.

The infamous Securitas robbery in the UK in which £52 million was stolen depended on an “inside man” to get the key information necessary to allow the gang responsible to right man to target for the tiger kidnapping.

This “inside man” was familiar with the procedures within Securitas at the time:

“We were given a card with an 0800 telephone number on it, and were told that if we were kidnapped we should ring that number, which I thought was a bit strange.”

Strange? How about completely useless, pointless, inappropriate and unfeasible?

I really don’t know. Simple straightforward procedures, rigidly followed, combined with up to the minute technology and security techniques have to be the solution to preventing these robberies completely.

Then again, maybe I’m being too simplistic here. What do you think?

3

NAMA. Some worthwhile reading.

I wrote back in April what my thoughts are with regards to how NAMA might actually be a good thing for some developers.

With the recent publication of the NAMA legislation (actually more like a wish list rather than legislation) by Minister for Finance, Brian Lenihan, one headline that did catch my eye was this from the Irish IndependentLenihan: Property won’t be bought back at discount.

The start of the article went as follows:

Mr Lenihan said the Government had the right to restrict certain individuals from acquiring land from NAMA.
“Yes, we will have the powers to preclude certain buyers, and, yes, it will be my intention to exclude the persons who brought us to this hazardous position,” he said.

All very noble, but I guess only time will tell how the very tight circle of Irish property developers and banking institutions will find a way around this.

Or even how tightly the government will stick to their intentions if the same property developers that are in trouble today are the “only game in town” in years to come if they end up being the only people willing to buy the property at any price from NAMA.

For some excellent reading on the proposed NAMA legislation, check out the following websites:

Anyone have any other recommendations?

0

Customer reaction to poor customer service and mistakes

There’s a right way and a wrong way to react to poor customer service and mistakes, and this letter from a couple of weeks ago in the Irish Independent highlights a few things done the wrong way in the face of E-Flow toll problems.

Sir — Your eFlow letter, (Sunday Independent, May 24, 2009) prompts me to relate my experience. I drove Southbound on the M50 on Bank Holiday Monday, May 4.

I returned Northbound. that evening, and paid the €6.00 toll on the website. Payment Number 440269.

Some days later, I received a request for payment of €6.00., which I ignored. Two weeks later, I received Unpaid Toll Notice, requesting €47.50, and advising that if this was not paid within 56 days, an additional charge of €104.50. would apply. I phoned and eventually got talking to a human (Tony). I explained the situation. He was not interested, and said that failure to discharge the Toll Violation Notice, would result in prosecution. As far as I am concerned I have a receipt.

They can eFlow off.

Martin Dunne,

Malahide, Co Dublin

First things first, if you have a problem with customer service or any issue with a company, you should not ignore it. I realise we’re dealing with E-Flow here, but I would hope that a quick phone call on the day when the next bill was received could have sorted all out.

If you get a bill from anyone, whether it’s paid or unpaid, you should always follow up to confirm that you’re understanding of the current situation (i.e. bill is paid) is the same as the company itself – and therefore they can update their records accordingly.

On another note, despite any and all provocation, you should also be polite when you’re dealing with customer service people. In this particular situation, I can’t say how the interactions went, but I’m willing to guess that if the writer of the letter is willing to have their “e-flow off” statement attributed to themselves in a national newspaper, then things might not have gone swimmingly between himself and Tony over the phone.

2

Businesses giving smaller portions, but charging the same

It was back in August last year that I contributed to an article by Linda Higgins in The Irish Independent – Good Buys: Products hit by ’shrink ray’.

The gist of that story was that businesses were starting to try to make extra money for themselves by providing smaller portions and measures while charging the same price as the original bigger portion cost.

I thought about this when I read this recent “Bad Value of the Week” story from Gareth Naughton in the Sunday Tribune:

The demise of Breakfast Roll Man has been much heralded in this recession, but then who can blame him if he’s decided to forgo his daily shop-bought roll when retailers have so blatantly begun skimping on fillings? These are tough times, fair enough, and cost-cutting is necessary, but if you are willing for fork out for a sandwich at a deli counter, you expect something more than a lonely slice of ham and some lettuce to bulk it up. Do not be afraid to ask for more if you come across mean behaviour.

Another place to watch out for this is Costa Coffee and their breakfast sandwich offering. This sandwich, enjoyed on many a recent Sunday over the Sunday papers, used to comprise a “club sandwich” 3 slices of bread with lots of filling. However, in the past couple of weeks, they’ve now started to make the sandwich with only two slices of bread and half the amount of filling. But all for the same price.

It frustrates me that businesses would do this. Its basically sticking up their two fingers to their customers. I suppose some people won’t notice, but I have, and I’m outta there.

(And yes, I know I’m getting what I deserve by going to an impersonal foreign chain like Costa Coffee, but up until recently, it was the only place I knew local to me that I could go to on a Sunday morning. But more on the replacement I’ve found soon).

4

Powered by WordPress. Designed by WooThemes

hit counter