Milking the Tricolour to boost sales in supermarkets


YOUR QUESTIONS ANSWERED:There isn’t a supermarket in Ireland which doesn’t boast about its Irishness and its commitment to local producers. This desire to wrap themselves in the Tricolour can, however, lead to consumers being confused and quite possibly a diplomatic incident.

A reader by the name of Jack has been in touch to complain about Aldi’s packaging of some of its dairy products.

Its Clonbawn milk boasts on the packaging that it is “100 per cent Irish” underneath a small image of the Tricolour. Its Ardagh cheese brand similarly has the Republic’s flag displayed prominently on the front of the packet.

The problem is that our reader thought that neither of the products actually come from the Republic.

“My in-laws in Donegal were up in arms over this when we visited over the Christmas break,” writes Jack.

“They saw the Irish flag as a 26-county only flag, so to speak, and saw the lost jobs to the North as the issue.”

We got in touch with Aldi who said. “All of Aldi’s milk and cheddar cheese is 100 per cent sourced from farms in the Republic of Ireland.

“All of Aldi’s one litre Clonbawn milk sold in all stores is sourced from Republic of Ireland farms, packaged in the Republic of Ireland and carries the National Dairy Council (NDC) mark.”

The company said that all of its two and three litre Clonbawn milk is also sourced from farms in the Republic.

“In some of our stores, depending on location, this milk is packaged by a supplier in Co Tyrone. In all other stores, this milk is both sourced and packaged in the Republic of Ireland and carries the NDC mark. Aldi does not sell any milk sourced from farms in Northern Ireland. All of Aldi’s milk is sourced from farms in the 26 counties of the Republic of Ireland.”

It went on to point out that all of Aldi’s Ardagh cheddar comes from three Irish creameries, two of which are in Cork and one in Kilkenny.

“All of these products are matured and graded in Ireland, and some are then sent to be packed at an Irish Dairy Board packing plant in the UK with the remainder packed in Ireland.” Fair enough.

Questionable policies around payment protection

A reader called Liam has been in touch in connection with payment protection insurance (PPI). Specifically he wanted to know if the financial ombudsman has investigated complaints about the mis-selling of such policies or laid down a procedure for their resolution.

He also wants to know about advertisements from certain organisations claiming they will help people who were mis-sold PPI to recover their money. Such companies can charge a fee of between 20-25 per cent of the recovered sum.

“Do you know anything or have you heard anything about these organisations? Are they genuine or is it just another method of separating people from their hard-earned money,” our reader asks.

About 340,000 PPI policies were sold in the Republic from August 2007 to November 2011 in what was a hugely profitable enterprise for banks. The commission rates for their salespeople were high which is why those they acted unscrupulously when it came to flogging the policies. Some were sold to the self-employed who could not claim against becoming unemployed. Some customers were denied loans or mortgages unless they took out PPI. Some were not even aware they were paying for it.

All the leading financial institutions are in the process of carrying out “comprehensive reviews” of their PPI sales over the last five years with an outcome not expected until later this year. As in the UK there are dozens of companies offering to get people money back but most are doing things consumers can do themselves.

The first thing to do is check your bank statements for any unexplained deductions. Even if you see nothing you might still have a PPI as payments covering the insurance may be bundled into loan repayments. If you see nothing but have concerns contact your lender. Ask for a copy of your consent to the PPI policy. Ask for the terms and conditions and a statement of how much the premiums have cost.

If you believe you have a case, write to the institution stating the facts. If you are stonewalled, contact the Financial Services Ombudsman who can look into cases dating back to 2007.

Last week we carried an item on Bank of Ireland in which we described it as “one of a very select group which does bother to engage with its customers”.

What we meant to say was “Bank of Ireland is one of a very select group which does not bother to engage with its customers”.