Pricewatch: Readers’ queries
This week’s consumer concerns relate to the price of air, promised phone credits that failed to materialise, and the grates of wrath
Deflated about having to pay for air at pumps
PAYING FOR AIR COULD COME AT THE COST OF ROAD SAFETY
Stéphanie Nouailhetas read our “things that were free that are no longer free” article last week with interest. One point in particular leapt off the page at her. “I am glad I have at last read something about the new machines put in place in petrol stations. Those are not the simple pumps any longer but fancy contraptions that beep once your tyre is properly inflated, as if you were too stupid to figure it out yourself,” she writes.
“The first time I noticed one of those monstrosities was when I came back from France last August. I take the ferry to France at least twice a year and spend every summer there.
“ So I am used to the way things are done over there and it is always a shock to come back here and have to pay between twice and three times the price for fruit, vegetables and dairy products. But the pump scam really took the biscuit,” she fumes.
She says she kept looking at the machine in disbelief “that I had to pay €1 for air. So I asked the gentleman beside me to confirm this dubious fact. And when I protested that the air was free, he calmly said: ‘Ah yes, but you see, the machine is not’. Even though I have been living here for over 20 years, I still wonder at the resilience of the Irish. ‘Ah sure, what can you do?’ No wonder everything is so expensive in this country. Most people are actually ready to pay.”
She then returns to the article and suggests that it is “not sufficient to write that tyres should be checked every month. In fact, they should be checked depending on how often and how far you drive. The pressure must also depend on the weight in the car. There must be more air in the tyres if the car carries more passengers and is full of luggage. So air pressure is something that should be checked regularly, and definitely before each long journey. That is why you have so many petrol stations along the roads in France with free access to pumps and water. It is a safety issue. You must be able to clean your windscreen at any time, and check tyre pressure. I marvel at the fact that we have to pay for something that is free (air) and that is necessary to keep our cars safe on the road. What’s next? Shall we have to slide money into a meter every time we put our seatbelts on?”
CREDITS ON HOLD AFTER VODAFONE SWITCH
In September a reader from Wicklow by the name of Derek got a call from Vodafone inviting him to switch from his pay-as-you-go O2 service to its service. “I was told that I could keep my existing 086 number and over the next three months my credit would be topped up free with €30 per month and I would also receive 20 free ‘cherry points’ to use in their gift scheme. I switched to Vodafone and duly received the credits and cherry points,” he wrote.
In November he got a text from Vodafone saying his account was to be credited immediately with an €80 top-up, and 1,000 cherry points would be credited in three months, which he could
use to upgrade his phone.
“When it became obvious after about two weeks that neither had been credited to my account, I phoned Vodafone customer care, and, after taking my details, the call staff member said he would take the query to his supervisor and I should receive the €80 credit within four days. This never happened and, despite numerous phone calls to customer care and promises by call centre staff members, no action has been forthcoming.
“I have also sent them repeated emails and texts, to no avail. If nothing is done soon I shall revert to my original O2 provider because if this is the way Vodafone customer service treat their clients on a relatively simple matter, I dread to think what their handling would be like on a matter of service breakdown or the like.”
We contacted the company and were told that, after Vodafone had investigated this query, “it came to our attention that [our reader] and a number of other customers were contacted and offered €90 credit, which they accepted. Following this communication they received a second text from Vodafone offering an additional €80 credit and 1,000 cherry points, which is a separate campaign and should not have been offered.”
The company has said, however, that it will honour the second SMS offer for our reader, and has credited his account. “We will also honour this offer with all customers who received the second SMS.”
DIFFERENCE IN PRICE GRATES WITH SHOPPER
Last week Brian Murphy bought an 18in fire grate from ABS Builders Providers in JFK Industrial Estate in Dublin and paid €17 for it.
So what, you might say. Well, he says he then saw the same size grate in Woodie’s, but selling for €26.99.
“A 60 per cent mark-up for Woodie’s. Nice if you can get it!”