Bad timing from Aer Lingus
In early September, Pete Morriss booked a flight with Aer Lingus to Rome which was scheduled to leave the next month. The flight had a departure time of 2.50pm, which suited his needs.
British supermarket giant Asda has announced plans to cut all E numbers, aspartame and hydrogenated vegetable oils from its own-brand food and soft drinks by the end of March. The store has warned that some products will lose their bright glow – tinned peas for instance will be a lot less green while glace cherries will not be quite as red – but who cares!
Coca Cola have got themselves into spot of bother in Russia after over 400 residents from the city of Nizhny Novgorod filed a complaint against the company accusing it of insulting Orthodox Christian beliefs in an advertising campaign which uses images of Orthodox churches and crosses, including some which “were even put upside down”. Coca-Cola insists the ads are aimed at promoting Russia’s culture.
Claire Bruton got in touch to let us know about a huge difference in the price of the same product, depending on whether you order through a company’s Irish website or its US one. “I wanted to install a Norton anti-virus programme on my computer,” she writes. “I decided on the product Norton 360, which had a sterling price of £59.99 (€83.74). I checked out the US website and the same product was available for $79.99 (€54.75) . . . No prizes for guessing which site I ordered from!” We had a look at the Norton online store and noticed that it is selling its Norton 360 software “from €89.99″ through its Irish division and “from $69.99″ (€47.90), which is nearly half the price.
On a recent trip to Ireland for a wedding, Gerard Montague reserved and paid for a group C Hertz hire car to be picked up at Dublin Airport. The example given on the Hertz Ireland website for group C was a Ford Focus 1.4, which seemed adequate to his party’s needs, Montague writes. “But the car supplied was a Fiat Punto 1.2, at the very cheapest level of trim, lacking even such basic features as a trip odometer. The Hertz desk refused to offer us another car. The result was an extremely cramped and uncomfortable trip across country for a group of adults.”
Dubliners are expected to pay more than their country cousins for lots of stuff with booze, hair cuts and cinema tickets being particularly pricey, according to the CSO’s latest price survey. Alcohol in pubs is six per cent dearer in Dublin – even more if you’re drinking in Cafe Insane at midnight on a Friday night and meat, fish, fruit and vegetables all cost more in the capital while petrol and tobacco are broadly similar. Paul Cullen has the full story here (although subscription is required)
No one won the Lotto last night so Saturday’s jackpot is expected to be in excess of €13 million.
Today is the last day for buying Christmas card from a hooker in Minneapolis if you want to see hit the top ten for Christmas.
It’s official! Guinness is good for you. Although 8 pints at your office party might be stretching it a little.
And next year the economy is to slow to its lowest rate of growth since Everything I Do I Do It For You was number one.
There’s not much point in dreaming of a white Christmas in Ireland, but the prospect of a green one may be closer this year as a growing number of consumers adopt a more eco-friendly approach to the annual festive splurge.
Energy-efficient tree lights are reportedly selling fast in department stores, while major supermarkets have been talking up their green credentials in promotional literature in the run-up to Christmas.
Environmental considerations will not, however, temper spending. The average household outlay on booze, presents and food is expected to increase still further to an average of €1,431 this year, keeping us at the top of Europe’s Christmas spending league, according to Deloitte estimates.
While healthy brands such as Innocent Drinks and Danone Activia yoghurts have grown steadily more popular in recent years a list of the top 20 products sold in British supermarkets, off-licences and grocery stores was published today and could scarcely have been more unhealthy without the addition of lard sandwiches and deep fried Mars bars dusted in salt.
Britain was once described as a nation of shopkeepers but a nation of shoplifters might be a better description if a study published today is to be believed. According to the poll (from a security company, natch), two million people ‘fessed up to abusing the self-scan systems in their local supermarkets in order to save themselves a few bob last year. The survey, which was published by a company called G4S, said seven per cent of adults failed to scan the barcode of some items when using the self-service facilities at a cost of hundreds of millions of pounds a year to the supermarkets involved.
Add to that the 8 per cent of people who admitted to eating and drinking their way through their weekly shop and then not paying for what they’d eaten and the ten per cent who admitted to good old fashioned shop lifting and the cost to British supermarkets is over €1.5 billion annually. There are no figures readily available for Ireland but is there any reason to think we are more honest that our British counterparts? .
Oh, the excitement of it all! Ikea’s doors have opened to the Irish public for the very first time amid dire warning of traffic chaos and heightened security and long, long queues as thousands of people fight to spend their cash in the biggest temple of flatpack furniture we have ever seen. Ticker tape rained down on the first two customers through the doors this morning as they were presented with an absolutely ginormous bunch of flowers to mark their, er, achievement From all the pictures that were coming in on the newswires, I initially thought the happy couple at the top of the queue were Ian Paisley and Martin McGuinness but it turns out that the First and Deputy First minister weren’t first in today but the pair were still filled with smiles nonetheless. Over 15,000 people are expected to descend on the store today – just thinking of all the queues and all the stress and all the subsequent assemblage of cheap furniture is giving me a headache.
*** Later update Actually the crowds and the traffic never materialised and only 500 people were in the queue when the doors opened this morning. . .
On Pricewatch on Monday there was a piece from someone complaining about the time limits on gift vouchers – over a third of all vouchers sold in this country have some time restrictions on them and around ten per cent end up never being used. This reader had a One4all gift voucher which had passed its use-by date and she was wondering if there was anything she could do to have it extended. According to An Post, which backs the gift voucher system, all vouchers expire 12 months after the date of issue and the website says quite clearly that “unfortunately we are unable to extend this date”.
That turns out to be completely wrong. After the piece appeared, two readers got in touch saying that they had managed to have their One4All vouchers extended with a simple phone call and an admin fee of either €2 or €8. So I got in touch with the company to find out what was going on. A spokeswoman told me that “officially” there is an expiry date on the gift vouchers “so we have control over the life of the gift voucher to protect against lost and stolen gift vouchers” (I’m not quite sure how that is supposed to work). But if apparently if “someone genuinely has a voucher that is out of date we do over ride our own rules [and] extend the expiry dates for a fee of €8″ which is good to know.
It’d be nice it One4All or An Post let people about this override facility on their websites instead of telling them the complete opposite.
A reader from Cork contacted us to ask about the legality of imposing time limits on cashing in gift vouchers. She noticed just a little too late that a One4all gift voucher she’d been given last year had passed its use-by date.
“Is there anything I can do to have it extended, and is it legal to impose such a limit?” she asks.
Unfortunately, the answers are no and yes, in that order.
According to An Post, which backs the gift voucher system, all vouchers expire 12 months after the date of issue and “unfortunately we are unable to extend this date”. The problem is not unique to One4all vouchers, and more than one-third of all vouchers sold in this country have time restrictions.
The voucher market is worth around €330 million a year in Ireland. The gifts are so popular that, in the Christmas run-up, the National Consumer Agency felt compelled to remind people to ask retailers about voucher expiry dates before purchase. Incidentally, more than 10 per cent of vouchers are never redeemed, which a windfall of around €40 million each year for retailers.
Tickets for Radiohead’s summer concert in Malahide Castle went on sale today with a fairly hefty price tag of €70.70 and that doesn’t even include the Ticketmaster tax. Over on Jim’s blog there’s been a right old row about the price and today he has an interesting post with perhaps the most unconvincing and ill-informed “defence” from Radiohead’s Phil Selway of high prices I have ever heard.
It looks like there’s going to be no let up in the row between the Commission for Aviation Regulation and Ryanair following the nasty exchange between the airline CEO Michael O’Leary and the head of the commission Cathal Guiomard on RTE last night . The pair clashed after the publication of the European Consumer Centre survey which found that Irish airlines were the most-complained-about in Europe.
The must have game console this year is the Nintendo Wii. Apparently it is in very, very short supply across the country but we got a press release in from GameStop last night announcing that the store has just received a large shipment of Wiis.
The founder of Facebook Mark Zuckerberg has been forced to apologise for the manner in which it launched an appallingly intrusive advertising system on the social networking site. On his Facebook blog Mark Zuckerberg admitted Facebook had “made a lot of mistakes building this feature, but we’ve made even more with how we’ve handled them. We simply did a bad job with this release, and I apologise for it. “I’m not proud of the way we’ve handled this situation and I know we can do better.”
Everything else I have ever done in my entire life paled into significance last Thursday morning when I turned on the Ian Dempsey show on Today FM and heard an impression of me on Gift Grub. Me! I know that in the sketch which mercilessly – and hilariously – slags my TV show (actually it’s Joe Duffy’s TV show really) Highly Recommended, I only have a couple of sentences and if you weren’t paying close attention like I was you’ld probably have missed them, but even so, Woohoo! My sister assures me they had my voice down to a T but I’m not so conviced.
Irish airlines attracted more complaints from air passengers across the EU than any other airline last year and showed a three-fold increase on 2005, according to a report from the European Consumer Centre which is published today. Ryanair and Aer Lingus accounted for a quarter of all passenger complaints in the EU, according to the ECC’s annual report on consumer complaints. The three main causes of complaint were lost luggage, cancelled flights and delays. Ryanair accounted for almost 70 per cent of the complaints handled by the ECC’s Dublin office while Aer Lingus accounted for almost 30 per cent – both airlines are about the same size in the Irish market.
Sorry, it has taken me an age to post this and I know the world will have been waiting anxiously for the Pricewatch assessment of cream liqueurs in the run up to Christmas! I spent a long and solitary evening last week drinking five bottles of the stuff which is as much fun as it sounds…