Pricewatch: Readers’ queries
Consumer concerns this week include Tesco’s creeping prices and the sluggishness of Sepa
The Tesco own brand tin foil has definitely gone from €1.09 to a staggering €1.99
A READER COTTONS ON TO
PRICE JUMPS AT TESCO
More on Tesco’s price increases. A reader, John Jameson, was thinking about emailing us about a number of price hikes he had noticed, but was spurred on by our item last week about the retailer’s decision to increase the price of its own-brand milk from €1.49 to €1.69.
John says that the Tesco Loves Baby cotton wool pleat has gone from €1.95 before Christmas to €2.49. “They did try to soften the blow on this one, and were doing it three-for-two for a few weeks. The Tesco budget brand 65 food/lunch bags have gone from less than €1 to €1.59.”
He has more. “I really can’t believe this one,” he says. “The Tesco own-brand tin foil has definitely gone from €1.09 to a staggering €1.99. It seems to me that they leave their goods at a low price until the name brands have gone a good bit higher over the years. Then they suddenly jump their prices to still be below the name brands, but significantly raising their prices and therefore their profits in one swoop.
“You stay true to their brands and then suddenly you get hammered by huge hikes that, if you didn’t look at the prices before you placed the goods in the basket or trolley, you wouldn’t notice until you actually paid at the till. Supervalu has had no increase in their cotton pleat.”
With grocery inflation running at less than 5 per cent and general inflation running at much less than that, these increases seem out of line with what is happening elsewhere so we contacted Tesco again.
We contacted Tesco and it appears that the products highlighted by our reader were priced incorrectly. A spokesman said that “when managing over 20,000 products, pricing errors, both up and down, do occur very occasionally. The errors in this instance are now amended to their previous levels.”
A WINTER OF DISCONTENT WITH AIRTRICITY
A reader, Colin, has been in touch. Last September he opted to avail of Airtricity’s Budget Plan billing option for his gas and electricity supply, beginning the following month. “At the time we were advised that the budget figure would be calculated based on the previous year’s consumption for both services, and we were told the budget figure would be €89 gross. It was also explained that, after four months, this budget could be reviewed upwards or downwards, depending on actual consumption.”
At the beginning of this month he got a phone call from a representative of Airtricity to say that the budget plan would now be €263 from March, “an unfathomable increase of 195 per cent. The main reason for us signing up to this budget plan was so we did not get any surprise bills in the new year, and that our energy costs would be spread evenly over the entire year,” he says.
“We have since been advised that the budget figure of €89 was based upon actual usage from June to September 2013. Basing a budget for winter consumption upon the four months of the year where average consumption is at its lowest is nonsensical and absurd. I am surprised any provider would be allowed sell a product such as this in any period outside those immediately after the winter period.”
He contacted us after waiting two weeks for written confirmation of the basis for both budget figures, and said he was also still waiting for the free energy monitor he was promised when he signed up.
An Airtricity spokesman said Budget Plan payment amounts were calculated based on 12 months’ previous consumption history. “While it is unusual for consumption between occupants of a property to vary substantially, it appears that since [our reader] opened his new account, there has been a significant increase in energy consumption at the property.”
This meant the initial monthly payment of €89 was insufficient. “Airtricity regrets any impact the revision of the account has had and has offered to explore different payment options with him on the amount outstanding.”
A reader has been in touch to express his disquiet with Sepa, the EU’s new payment system, which is supposed to be a faster and less expensive way to move money around. “I had a term deposit that matured in a Bank of Ireland branch. I wanted to have some of the funds transferred to an account in the same branch of BoI and the remainder to an account at AIB, ” he writes. “It took four banking days for the funds to get to the BoI account and about 11 days to get to the AIB account. Things only started to move when I went to BoI, and insisted that it recall the Sepa payment and issue a bank draft that I could bring to AIB. Sepa is not performing the way the public was told it would. Perhaps by slowing down the movement of funds the banks are making a little bit of ‘overnight’ interest.”