Pricewatch: Readers’ queries

Conor Pope answers your consumer questions

Mon, Apr 29, 2013, 07:00

Reader can’t vouch for what seems like gem of a deal
A reader from Dublin bought vouchers through Living Social last November for some jewellery which he wanted to put in the Christmas stockings of both his wife and daughter.

“Around six weeks before the big day I redeemed them on the site,” he writes. “I placed my orders and was told to allow 28 days for delivery. Nothing ever arrived. Five days after I placed the order I got an automated email to say that the deal expired soon”.

The mail also said he “may have already redeemed this deal” so he thought nothing of it. “Until Christmas came and went and my presents didn’t arrive. I have tried to contact both Neverland and Living Social but they do not supply phone numbers and I have had no response to emails.”

This is one of those deeply irritating scenarios that can develop when you buy through one of the more than 40 deal sites now operating in Ireland.

He bought the voucher, cashed it in good time and trusted the company to deliver within 28 days as promised. They failed to do that. This was made worse because he wanted the items – two pieces of jewelery with Swarovski gems – as presents so not only was he let down but so were they. And he couldn’t even tell them because he was hoping the gifts might arrive after the big day and anyway who wants to say I got you a present at a 60 per cent discount and now it hasn’t shown up? So he had to fume in silence.

The other issue was the difficulty he had making contact with the companies.

We contacted Living Social and we were told it “prides itself on exceptional experiences throughout every stage of its interaction with customers and business partners alike, and is disappointed to learn that, on this occasion, we have fallen below the high standards we strive for.” It said it had carried out “a full investigation” and offered this person a “full refund in the form of Living Social credit, along with an additional €5 credit as a gesture of appreciation for his custom.”

Notice account holder irate at no notice of rate change
Three years ago a reader from Cork opened a 40-day notice account with Bank of Ireland in Douglas. “Now the interest rate wasn’t much but it was substantially better than their ‘on demand’ rates,” he says. “It’s not a huge amount of money and I only get a statement once a year so you can appreciate the surprise I got this morning when I received my statement to see that since last August I have only been receiving 0.1 per cent interest, from which DIRT still has to deducted.”

He says he always knew the rate was variable and appreciated rates were going down “but it seems that Bank of Ireland no longer offer this 40-day account so they put me on the 0.1 per cent rate which is their ‘on demand’ rate without any consultation with me. Now, so far you might say that BoI could be accused of poor communication practices but (and here’s the kicker!) my money still remains only accessible by giving 40 days’ written notice”.

When he called the bank, the staff “understood my frustration” but he still has to wait 40 days to access his money or move it to a higher yielding account. “This strikes me as sharp practice at the very least. Is it any wonder the bank’s reputation is where it is?”

The bank had just this to say: “From a contractual basis we are limited in our ability to break the terms and conditions of notice accounts. Interest rates have reduced over the past 18 months reflective of the market. Customers who wish to guarantee their rate for a term should look at fixed rate/term products which cannot change until maturity, thus avoiding any potential of rate changes.”

On mature reflection, why Irish cheese has UK stamp
Margaret Smith contacted us with a question. “Has anyone noticed that Wexford Mature Cheddar is stamped with the EU mark for the UK?”

She suggests that it “is misleading to picture a named farmer as one of several Wexford farmers who 'produce only the highest quality milk by grazing their cows on the lush, green pastures of the Wexford countryside.'”

She goes on to say that as the packaging says the cheese is “made in Ireland maybe they all moved to live in Antrim.”

This is not the first time a query of this nature has come up. The simple answer is that much of the cheese which comes from the Republic’s cows is packaged in the UK which is why it carries the stamp of that country. It doesn’t make the cheese any less Irish though. Or the farmers for that matter.