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

Deflated about having to pay for air at pumps

Mon, Feb 3, 2014, 01:20


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?”

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