It's easy to make a bags of it

Tue, Sep 11, 2012, 01:00

YOUR CONSUMER QUERIES: A reader got in touch to say she is travelling to Madrid later this month for 12 weeks to complete a work-placement programme and is flying with Aer Lingus.

Initially, she bought an allowance for one checked-in bag for €15 per flight. The bag can weigh up to 20kg. She also has an allowance for a carry-on bag which can weigh up to 10kg. She realised he would need a larger allowance so bought an extra checked in bag assuming that it would give her a further 20kg. It doesn’t. Under Aer Lingus rules, all checked-in bags can only amount to 20kg together, unless you buy “extra weight”. The reader says this extra weight option allows people to buy an allowance of extra weight for their checked-in bag(s) on top of the 20kg maximum. The options are as follows: €27 for 3kg, €54 for 6kg, €81 for 9kg, €108 for 12kg.

“Going back over it when knowing the rules, I admit that I wasn’t firing on all cylinders,” she says.

“In hindsight and knowing the policy, the situation is fairly clear, however I think it should be worded ‘irrespective of whether a passenger opts to have one, two or three checked-in bags, the total checked-in bags cannot weigh more than 20kg altogether, unless extra weight is purchased’. This would have (hopefully) made it clear to me that buying the permission to check in an extra bag did not mean I was buying extra weight allowance. It should be stated ‘buying an extra bag does not mean buying extra weight’. I think that it’s so fundamental that it should be spelt out clearly.

“The approach of Aer Lingus in this doesn’t amount to false advertising, or misleading advertising, but it doesn’t correspond with what a person thinks of when considering ‘adding a bag’ in terms of air travel.”

UK headphones complaint finally gets a hearing:

A READER CALLED Lydia has had her head wrecked by a pair of Beats by Dr Dre Solo headphones from Dixon’s in Heathrow Airport.

Just three weeks of “very light usage” later, she noticed that one of the headphone pads was coming apart. “Having paid £128 (€165) for them, I was extremely unhappy with this. The information that came with the headphones said to contact Monster’s customer service line in the first instance if they were faulty. I spoke to a woman at Monster who didn’t seem to have any concept of the problem. In the end, I said I would just take them back to the retailer myself.”

So she brought the headphones into PC World in Dublin’s Jervis Centre. “A member of staff looked at them and instantly said yes, they were faulty, and that I could exchange them. However, when his colleague realised the receipt was from a UK branch, he said it couldn’t be processed in an Irish store because of the different currency.”

Staff said she should bring them to a store in Northern Ireland. “When I said this wasn’t practical, he went off to speak to a manager. He returned some time later with a computer print-out that showed they could not take back items bought from UK stores.”

She got home and called the Dixons Travel customer service number in the UK and spoke to a woman who “was adamant that an Irish store should be able to take the headphones back for me and do a swap. I explained the problem with it being a different currency and she said it still shouldn’t matter.

“Unconvinced by her answer, I found the Irish customer service number for Curry’s and called. However, as soon as I got through, I realised I was back on to the same UK call centre.”

So she drove to Carrickmines Retail Park and went into Curry’s only to be told that “under no circumstances can they take back goods that have been bought in the UK. I explained it was not possible to return them to a UK store anytime soon”.

When she got home Lydia called the Heathrow store and was given a special airport returns address. “I had to download a form from the internet, fill it in, box up the headphones and pay €30 to send them registered post to the returns address. It was one of the worst customer service experiences I have ever had.”

A spokesman said Dixons was “sorry to hear about Lydia’s issue with her headphones” and said its policy “is to allow Irish customers to exchange faulty products bought at any of our UK stores – including Dixons Travel stores – in Ireland. Lydia should have been informed of this in the two Irish stores she visited for which we apologise. We will closely monitor the headphones she has now posted back to Heathrow, to ensure a refund is processed quickly. We would also like to invite her to her nearest store so we can give her a Currys Gift Card for all of the inconvenience.”

Campus accommodation fees

A READER by the name of Barry McDonnell contacted us to give out about the biggest student accommodation facility in Galway. He says that before would-be NUI Galway students get their Leaving Cert points, they must register their interest in taking rooms in Corrib Village on the fringes of the university campus.

“With this registration, students are required to pay a deposit of €250. Registrations can be made from February,” he says. “Should students either not get the required points or decide not to pursue the course, they are required to advise Corrib Village within three days. Their deposit will be returned to them within 20 working days. However, a fee of €100 is kept by Corrib Village.”

He says this is “grossly unfair and is taking advantage of hard-pressed parents in these tough times”. He says that when he challenged the accommodation provider “they hid behind their terms and conditions”.

“By way of contrast, my son secured a place with a university in Dublin. Their practice is not to take applications from students until a place has been offered to the student and then, should the student request accommodation, they submit a request with a €15 fee. That is reasonable and fair”.

He accepts that “some measure of a fee is required” and suggests that “€25 would be acceptable, €50 would be greedy, but that €100 is far too much”.

When he complained he was told that until recently applicants were required to send €800 with their application. So, in effect, Corrib Village would be sitting on €800 from each applicant from possibly February of each year for doing next to nothing. “I got the impression that they felt the reduction to €250 was to be applauded. I don’t share that view.”

Pricewatch was still awaiting a response from Corrib Village at the time of going to press.

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