Pricewatch: readers’ queries

Mon, Sep 16, 2013, 01:00

It pays to be diligent when getting health cover online
A reader by the name of Myra has been in touch asking us to “alert your readers to something that I have come across while renewing my European Health Insurance Card (EHIC)”.

The card is issued free of charge by the HSE to Irish citizens to allow them access to health services within the EU but Myra discovered that something that is supposed to be free sometimes isn’t.

“I went online to do this a few weeks ago but found myself logging on to a website called I filled in the application but when I got to the end I realised that there was a charge of almost €15. I looked more closely to discover that I was not on the HSE website (despite ‘HSE’ being in the address). In fact when I looked at the small print I could see that it was run by a company called Tad services in the UK,” she says.

“A ‘tad’ cheeky methinks, since the EHICs are free of charge and this website looks like an official HSE/EHIC webpage.

“Then, when I found the correct HSE website it warns users against having to pay online for the service. So if you are going online to get an EHIC please be careful which website you use.”

We did visit the site and – to be fair – it does have a line on the home page which says: “This website is not connected to or affiliated with the or any government department. Click here for the HSE website.”

Still we reckon they are being pretty cheeky charging for something which is available elsewhere for nothing. Be warned.

Sparing some tears with savings on onion gadget
Do you know what onion goggles are? No, Pricewatch didn’t either but a reader called Miriam does. Her last pair of the glasses which are supposed to spell the end of chopping tears broke so she asked her daughter to pick up a new pair in Stock Design in South King Street. “She obligingly did so and brought me home a new pair, price €29.50. I was in Nolans in Clontarf and saw the exact same pair of onion goggles for €19.99 – quite a big difference,” she writes.

So she went into Stock Design and asked for refund telling the lady at the desk of the price difference. “She said she could only give me a credit note but if I wanted to speak to the manager to come back. I said I couldn’t as I work down in the Docklands area and unhappily accepted the credit note.”

The price difference is indeed substantial and it does highlight the need to shop around. Having said that Stock was under no obligation to give Miriam any class of refund so at least it deserves so, um, credit, for that.

Meter reading with charges and a threat to disconnect
A reader called Sarah wrote to say: “I’ve been living in my apartment for over a year and only received an estimated electricity bill once. I raised this after I received my May bill and got a ‘read bill’ in June. This had charges of €540 for fixing the reading. I’ve asked Electric Ireland why I’m being charged this as my meter is outside my apartment in a room with all other meters for the building.

“After nearly two weeks of non-helpful answers they referred me to the meter-readings department. I received one phone call which I missed and haven’t heard anything since. I received a final demand letter this week demanding payment and threatening disconnection.”

We contacted the company whish said ESB Networks had problems accessing Sarah’s apartment block between May 2012 and May 2013. The company said attempts were made to contact her and get keys from the management company without success. “This is not an isolated problem, particularly with apartment blocks where meters tend to be together in a locked room. ESB Networks continues to strive to conduct four readings per year for every customer and encourages customers to submit their own meter readings.”