Study shows many turkeys hate Christmas
More than three out of four Irish dentists have claimed to have treated patients for problems linked to treatment received abroad over the last 12 months, it was revealed today.
Good news from Galway this morning where the European Commission’s Consumer Affairs Commissioner, Meglena Kuneva announced her intention to introduce a range of new measures aimed at protecting consumers who use the interweb to book holidays.
She said the sector had “transformed in recent years” and millions of people were now putting together their own holidays using the Internet. This has resulted in many consumers “falling outside the basic package travel law and sometimes left badly exposed. The status quo is not good enough. Europe’s consumers are not getting the protection they deserve”.
“For Irish consumers it must seem incomprehensible, when two people sitting next to each other on the same plane, even going to the same hotel, find they have totally different levels of consumer protection when something goes wrong – simply, because the bookings were made in different ways,” Kuneva said.
She expressed concern that as technology evolved, the number of consumers covered by “very tough EU holiday protection laws is actually decreasing.”
She said that she plans to launch “a major overhaul of the EU’s consumer protection rights for holiday makers. “My message is very clear, markets only serve consumers properly when the right level of protection is built in …And when it comes to giving holidaymakers the peace of mind they deserve, I am convinced we need to look again.”
About time, I would say.
I have a friend who waits until Easter Monday ever year to buy his Easter eggs because retailers, desperate to shift suddenly undesirable stock, are willing to knock more than 70 per cent off the original price. He stoutly refutes charges of eccentric meanness on the grounds that the chocolate is exactly the same and possibly tastes even nicer because of its keen price.
There is certainly value to be found by buying as a season ends, and not just when it comes to something as ephemeral as a chocolate egg. Canny shoppers who buy their Christmas cards, trees (fake ones, rather than real, obviously) and decorations post-Christmas rather than in the frenzied days of early December and carefully store them in the attic can knock hundreds off their annual spend.
There are also substantial savings to be made at the tail end of the summer.
Each May, the country’s biggest DIY stores roll out their barbecues, garden furniture, clippers and mowers in an effort to convince us that this summer will be different from last.
The posters and promotions suggest that this year will see us spend our days pottering around the garden doing minor chores and sipping cool stubbies as the steaks sizzle on the barbie.
And each year, after a brief flurry of interest from optimistic shoppers in the early part of the summer, the barbecues and garden furniture start to grow distinctly cobwebby through July and August, as the rains persistently bounce hard on the DIY outlets’ corrugated roofs.
According to industry sources, shops that specialise in outdoor furniture and barbecues are unlikely to be too badly burned by yet another bad summer, as they work under the assumption that the summers here will be bad every year and are only likely to get caught out once a decade. However, they still have to shift the summer stock at knock-down prices.
A Sahara Three-Burner Roaster Barbecue that has an RRP of €429.99 is selling for €269.99 in Woodie’s this week.
The shop also has a five-piece Gateleg set of wooden garden furniture from Havana down from €399 to €199. A Turnbury seven-piece hardwood patio set which cost €599 at the beginning of the summer costs €299 today, while a Wicker gazebo which once cost €300 now costs €130 – although in truth that might still be too much for many people.
Lawnmowers, decking and all manner of other summery stuff is similarly marked down in Woodie’s and in Atlantic Homecare, where the names on some of the products might be different but the deep discounts are the same.
- It is always possible that you won’t have to wait until next year to take advantage of your new purchases. We contacted Met Éireann earlier this week to enquire about the possibility of an Indian summer to coincide with kids going back to school.
We were told to expect cool, wet and blustery weather for the rest of the week, with the slim possibility of some sunshine on Saturday evening, although with temperatures unlikely to get much higher than 18 degrees, it’s unlikely to be warm enough to take the wrapping off the newly purchased decking.
Some online scams are so blindingly obvious that it’s hard not to think that anyone who is fooled by them kind of deserves it. The widow of a sub-Saharan dictator is never going to send you a semi-literate e-mail completely out of the blue because she wants to share a suitcase filled with blood diamonds with you, and you haven’t won the Spanish lottery, mainly because you haven’t bought a ticket for the Spanish lottery, no matter what that letter says.
And the “lawyer” from Burkina Faso who sends you a message after apparently finding your name on a “register of good persons” asking if you’d have any interest in taking part in some class of insurance fraud in order to secure millions of euro left intestate by some random chap who shares your surname is probably not a real lawyer.
However, there are other online initiatives that are not scams but which nevertheless persuade you to spend money unnecessarily. They’re professional, convincing and legal too. The scores of websites, for instance, that offer to process the travel authorisation that all US-bound travellers now need are slick. They do their level best to create the impression that they offer consumers a great deal when they are just charging for a service that is freely available elsewhere.
Like it or loathe it, it can’t be denied that Irish Rail has been running some exceptionally good value-for-money online offers over the course of the summer, with one-way tickets on all intercity routes costing just €10.
The company clearly wants to encourage more automated online bookings in order to reduce staff numbers selling actual tickets. Another carrot being offered to rail users who book online is a relatively new seat reservation system which is supposed to allow people book ahead and show up at the last minute safe in the knowledge that a seat will be waiting for them.
The Cliffs of Moher, Ireland’s second most popular tourist destination behind the Guinness Storehouse, is currently competing with 28 other natural marvels including the Amazon, the Grand Canyon and the Great Barrier Reef to become one of the seven natural wonders of the world.
But it is not the natural beauty of the vertiginous cliffs but the charges associated with visiting them that has left many Pricewatch readers wondering. The cliffs attract in the region of one million tourists every year, many of whom – at least those who drive – have to pay €8 to park near the site.
Effectively, this is an admission charge to see the cliffs because it is almost impossible to avoid. Given their remoteness, most would find them hard to walk or cycle to and while public transport in the area is better than at some other rural tourist spots – it is serviced by eight buses a day during the summer – it’s hardly enough to cater for all visitors. Those who take a chance and park on the road adjacent to the cliffs are liable for a €40 fine.
I passed on just some of Ryanair’s “faults” submitted by “readers” on to its head of communications this morning and got the following response. I’ll say nothing about it…
Thanks for your latest email received at 10:18am this morning claiming a “very tight deadline” and seeking a response by lunchtime. We never realised that a consumer column had such tight deadlines! We trust that our responses will receive equal prominence.
Firstly, we asked you (not claimed readers) to set out what you meant by “all its (Ryanair’s) faults” and note that you have failed to do so. Instead you have sought subjective and patently unrepresentative “things” from claimed Price Watch readers. Since you won’t/can’t back up your claim may we respond to these so called “readers” claims as follows:
It will hardly come as much of a surprise to learn that there is a substantial difference between the price of renting similar cars in Dublin and Malaga for a week beginning on August 22nd.
However, what is surprising is that, in almost every case, Dublin is currently working out considerably cheaper, with cars costing up to twice as much on the Costa del Sol. Take that, Iberian peninsula.
The joy at finally being cheaper than the Spanish in at least one area is tempered by the fact that the people most likely to be hit with these hiked hire charges are those of us who decide to flee the gloom in Ireland and go in search of sun on the cheap.
Everytime I refer to Ryanair in the paper in all but the most flattering of terms, its head of communications Stephen McNamara sends me an angry letter in which I am accused of all manner of nasty things – mostly ignorance and bias, frankly. Mr McNamara always makes a point of cc-ing the editor of The Irish Times (and sometimes the MD of the company, although he tends to get her name wrong) so they will be aware that I have once again incurred his great displeasure.
Even sentences which others might consider positive can set him off. A couple of weeks ago, in a small piece I wrote about lost and damaged baggage, I said “for all its faults, Ryanair has a good record when it comes to lost and damaged baggage because it is an exclusively point to point airline and there is plenty to dissuade people from putting baggage in the hold”.
This fairly innocuous reference had him fairly frothing at the mouth.
Is it just me or does anyone else think it is
an absolute outrage just a bit annoying that we have to pay €8.45 to see the would-be-wonder that are the Cliffs of Moher? And how come it now costs €2 to see Dun Aengus? They’ll be charging us to just look at Newgrange from a distance next.
Can you think of any other bogus charges that have been imposed on natural wonders? Would like to hear about them if you can.
** Note: This post has been edited just a little to reflect the fact that you can actually avoid the charges if you walk or maybe cycle up to the cliffs and resolutely ignore all ticket desks. I’ve also realised that calling the charges an “absolute outrage” might have been just be a smidgen over the top.
The steam has stopped coming out of my ears now.
I live under the shadow of Croke Park and on any given Sunday between May and September tens of thousands of cheering – and mostly cheerful – people walk past my front door en route to shout for their county. And unlike some of my neighbours, I’ve absolutely no problem with the crowds because, even if it is sometimes a bit of a hassle getting in and out of my house on match (and concert) days, I’ve always figured that the stadium was there a long time before me so I knew what I was letting myself in for when I moved into the neighbourhood.
At least I thought I did but in the last eight days two things have happened which have left me absolutely fuming.
Having read recently that Ray Ban’s Clubmaster sunglasses are red hot this summer, Pricewatch felt it had no alternative but to dump its suddenly unfashionable pair in the bin and rush out to the local Sunglasses Hut, where this year’s model was selling for €129.
It turns out that, in our haste, we ended up paying way over the odds for our shades and, if we’d only taken a more considered approach to the purchase, we could easily have shaved at least 30 per cent off the price.
When Pricewatch received a press release from something called the G-Club recently, we fully intended to bin it, as we do with most of the promotional junk we get. In the 15 seconds it took us to get to the bin, however, we started reading about the club and it held our attention.
It was of interest partially because it claimed to be “aimed at people who enjoy the finer things in life” (which sounded like us), but mostly because it promised we could save ourselves €200 on a fancy weekend away by signing up.