Pricewatch: Readers’ queries
This week a Dutch man in Ireland vents about our banking and insurance practices, and another consumer has a concern about discounted utility contracts
“I shouldn’t have to worry about somebody having my account number and my name. If someone wants to transfer money to me they would need those details – that shouldn’t allow them to get their hands on my money.”
Then there is insurance. “When I first transferred my motorbike insurance to Ireland, I was asked how many years no-claims I had. I answered 17.” His insurance company then said they wanted the number of years on his no-claim statement, so again he answered 17. “Oh, but here we only count as far as six,” he was told.
“In Holland you reach maximum no-claims discount after six or seven years, just like here. The difference is that they keep counting the years. If you’ve had 15 years without a claim, then your first claim doesn’t drop you down to zero years and no discount. Instead you would go from 70 per cent to 60 per cent, and one or two years later you’d be back up to the maximum.”
There is still more. “Another interesting difference I found out recently after an accident. When you have third-party insurance and you’re involved in an accident that wasn’t your fault, you’re left to deal with all of it yourself. In Holland the insurance company takes care of you in that case and will claim all the costs back from the other party’s insurance. The result is a more efficient system, and it’s cheaper too. Rant over.”
An electric shock
Colette Sims from Limerick has been in touch to ask if Electric Ireland is allowed “not to notify consumers that their discounts are discontinued after 12 months if the consumer does not contact them in advance? They say it’s in the terms and conditions, but after 12 months I had forgotten.” This practice is employed by all the utility firms. Discounted electricity or gas is available only for a short time; it is worth switching and switching again to save money. Bonkers.ie is handy for finding out where the best value is at any given time. Electric Ireland told us that when a customer signs up to a discounted plan, “they are notified in the terms and conditions that they will revert to the standard rates after the contract [is up]. The same approach is taken by other suppliers.”