Pricewatch: readers’ queries

This week’s issues relate to restrictions on sales of painkillers containing codeine, and who should pay for an unrepaired laptop to be returned to its owner

Since the changes were rolled out, sales of pain-relief products containing codeine have fallen by more than half

Since the changes were rolled out, sales of pain-relief products containing codeine have fallen by more than half



A Wicklow reader called in to Boots on Dublin’s Grafton Street recently and asked for a packet of Nurofen Plus.

“I was told by the assistant that it was now a restricted drug as it contained codeine and would I mind answering a few questions,” he writes. He had no problem with this, and he was asked routine questions: was the painkiller for him, and what kind of pain was it. “The assistant said Nurofen was a secondary drug and that a person should try other stuff first. I said I had tried Panadol. He said he would have to talk to the pharmacist, which he did. When he came back to tell me the answer was no, I could not buy Nurofen from them.”

Tony says this was “quite puzzling and embarrassing, as it was a very busy store and I was in a large queue”.

So off he went. But there is more. “We stopped on the way home to do some food shopping in Superquinn. My wife went into the pharmacy in the shopping centre, and the only question she was asked was ‘12 or 24?’ I would be curious to hear what the story is on the sale of Nurofen, particularly as a friend informed me last night that they are available without hassle in the North, where you can buy 48-tablet packs.”

Tony is not the first person to contact us about Boots’ stance on pain-relief products containing codeine. The company has a long-established policy of restricted sales.

Under Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland rules introduced in 2010 in an attempt to deal with the problem of codeine addiction, such products can be supplied only under the personal supervision of a pharmacist. The pharmacist must advise customers to use such painkillers only when necessary and for the shortest time possible. All advertising and window display of codeine-containing medicines, which include Solpadeine and Nurofen Plus, is prohibited. Since the changes were rolled out, sales of such products have fallen by more than half, although the rigour with which pharmacies impose the rules can vary wildly.


A reader called Tara bought a Sony Vaio laptop for her family in October 2012 for €669.99 in Currys PC world in Cork.

Last September it stopped working, and just displayed the message “No operating system found” when it was turned on. “I dropped it to a local repair shop, where I was advised the hard drive was gone and I should return it to the shop under warranty. I brought it back to Currys with the receipt. They said they would return it to Sony for repair.”

Two weeks later Currys called to say the laptop was still in the shop, and Sony had advised her that the partition disk was damaged. She was told to bring in the “recovery disks that I made when I got the computer”.

So she did, but she was then told the disks didn’t work and she would have to buy new ones from Sony. Currys gave her a number for Sony in the UK, and she called and ordered the disks which cost €61.

“When they arrived I brought them into Currys and the next day I get a call telling me those disks didn’t work either and they were sending the laptop to Sony for repair. Eventually Currys called to tell me that Sony had said the computer had been damaged by a knock or bang and the repair was not covered by the warranty. The cost of repair was £344 and the cost of returning the laptop unfixed was £64.”

She says that at no point was she advised she could incur costs for the return of the laptop if the repair was not covered by the warranty.

“I couldn’t believe it. Under instruction from Sony via Currys I had bought disks for €60 which were now useless, and now they wanted me to pay to return my property. I went back to Currys and spoke to the manager, who has been contacting Sony on my behalf to try to get the laptop returned, and he has been promised many times that someone would contact me about it but no communication from Sony. Finally on Monday I had a call from Sony to tell me the complaint had been escalated and I would hear from someone within 48 hours. It’s Friday evening and still no word.”

We contacted the company last week, but had yet to receive a response at the time of going to print.

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