Pricewatch: Readers’ queries
This week’s consumer concerns relate to Irish Water, Leap cards, and the Russell Hobbs registration system
Irish Water problem has caused ripples of dissatisfaction
Is Irish Water a figment of our imaginations?
Deirdre O’Leary wrote to us as “a last resort” with a query about Irish Water. She wants to know if it exists “or is it a figment of our collective imagination?”
What is behind this existential question? “I have had a problem with water pressure, resulting in an empty tank in the attic at one stage. I was dealing with Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council who suggested myriad problems, all in the house. Having had these suggestions checked out by a plumber, the problem remained. “The plumber thought dirt had got in when the stopcock on the road was replaced recently and it needed to be blown.”
After all that she got back to the council. It said Irish Water had now taken over and gave her a number to ring in Cork.
“I rang on May 6th, my complaint taken and allocated a reference number, and passed on to – guess who – DLRCC. I rang again on May 20th and the complaint was forwarded again. I rang last week to be told it had been dealt with, in other words no action taken. So their computer registers ‘complaint dealt with’ but customer is left in ignorance.”
She then asked for a name or number she could ring in Dublin or even where Irish Water was located, and was told “they could not release this information”.
She says an ironic feature of her story is that during this period a market-research company rang her on behalf of Irish Water to assess how her complaint was dealt with.
“Do you have any information about this very secret company?”
Well, no, but we thought we might be able to find out. We got in touch with Irish Water and were told that, with effect from the end of April, the handling of water service issues transferred from the 34 local authorities to Irish Water, making Irish Water the main point of contact for customers.
“In the seven weeks since, Irish Water has successfully responded to an average of 750 customer queries every day. Unfortunately, this was not the experience of this customer, and Irish Water apologises for any inconvenience caused. We have contacted with the customer and are working with her to resolve the issue.”
An issue making the leap to a new system
A reader called Richard commutes daily between Blackrock and Heuston Station. “For many years I have been able to do this on a single paper ticket moving easily from Dart to bus. But this ticket is shortly to be phased out, forcing me to use a Leap ticket for my “flexibility and convenience”.
“One of the great advances of the Leap card is that it claims to provide seamless interconnection. The small problem is that it is unable to link between Dart or Luas, or Dart and bus, so that I will now have to buy two tickets instead of one at twice the price.”
He says that it is his understanding from the “highly confused voice at the other end of the line when my call was finally answered that the Leap card is unable to do the main thing it was set up to do – to provide interconnection. Please tell me I am wrong or, failing that, who is responsible for such a fiasco”.
We got in touch with Irish Rail and were told the changes relate to ongoing transition to Leap card for various products, which means that paper Dart/bus and Dart/Luas tickets as well as other products on other operators are going to move to Leap. We were told that the customer will be able to make the journey with one ticket – the Leap card itself, tagging for each leg of the journey – and the Leap option will be cheaper than the previous Blackrock to Heuston ticket. The ticket, which did cost €4.20 for a single and €7.90 for return, will now cost €3.80 for a single or €7.60 for a return Dart/Luas combo ticket and €3.45 for a single and €6.90 for a return Dart/bus. Once you have taken the Leap, that is.
Registering not essential
A couple of weeks ago we featured an item about a number of people’s difficulties registering newly purchased kettles with Russell Hobbs. “I do not understand why that is necessary,” writes Jim Harding. “The products are guaranteed whether or not the products are registered. Sometimes the only thing registering does is to provide the manufacturer with contact details for you to receive unwanted emails.”
Registering a product gives a manufacturer your name and address in case they need to contact you for any recalls or safety issues. But your receipt is proof of where you bought the product. Sometimes registration will extend the warranty of a product but you have the same protection under the Sale of Goods Act if you register or don’t.