Hand it over, fork it out: why is nothing free any more?
From parking to plastic bags, and from bins to banking, nothing seems to be free any more. We even have to pay to put air in our tyres in some garages
Money, money, money: not even paying bills is free any more
1 Parking: While parking meters and traffic wardens have long been with us, free on-street parking was pretty common until those ugly yellow clamps started appearing on the wheels of rogue cars back in 1998. That was the year clamping was first introduced in Dublin and it quickly spread to other urban centres. Although freeing yourself from a clamp can cost more than €100, that alone doesn’t make much money for councils. It has, however, proved to be an effective parking deterrent and helped local authorities make more than €115 million from parking charges in 2012. With just under two million cars on our roads, that’s an average of €50 a year each. Even parking in front of your home now comes at a cost, with a resident’s permit in many parts of Dublin costing €50 a year.
2 Television: Television was never entirely free for all, as the actual box and the TV licence had to be paid for. But once those two charges were dispensed with, people used to be able to plug the cable into the wall socket and watch what they wanted – well, they could watch between one and six channels depending on where they were in the country, for nothing. There are still ways to get your TV for free, but most people end up giving money to the two main providers, and few of them will have much change out of €50 a month.
3 Luggage: If you want to check in a modestly sized bag when flying with Aer Lingus, it will set you back €15 – or €20 if you are travelling in the summer or over Christmas. The charge with Ryanair is €15 or €25.
4 Air: A growing number of petrol stations are charging people for simply pumping up their tyres, and while most still give air away it is a trend to watch with trepidation. Some garages charge users a euro a pop and for that you will get five minutes on the pump. The AA tells us that around 40 per cent of Irish cars have too little air in their tyres, something that has a direct impact on road safety, not to mention the fact that it reduces a car’s fuel economy by 20 per cent. It says motorists should check their tyres every month, which will cost you €12 a year.
5 Bins: In the 1990s Irish households could throw out whatever they wanted at no direct cost to themselves – although the same can’t be said of the environment. Bin charges today don’t come cheap and there are few households that will have any change out of €150 a year.