Pricewatch guide: Is travel insurance an essential holiday item? Photograph: Thinkstock/Clive Mason/Getty Images

A guide to the advantages and disadvantages of getting cover while you’re on holidays

‘Our system cannot accept a membership application without the applicant manually entering their credit- or debit card details into the sign-up page,’ says Complete Savings

Plus: no refunds from Booking.com, and Irish Water’s stance on the singles market

Changes to health insurance rules introduced last week put pressure on more than 1,000 officers serving in the Defence Forces to take out private health insurance even though they already have full medical cover as part of their terms of employment.

Officers have to take out private health insurance even though they already have full medical cover

Under the new health insurance regime, which starts on Friday, anyone aged over 34 who does not have private  insurance will have to pay higher prices if they take out a policy. File photograph: Getty Images

In new regime, anyone over 34 without private cover will have to pay more for new policy

Enda Kenny and Joan Burton who said it might have ‘slipped’ bankers’ minds that people’s substantial pay cuts funded the banks’ recovery. Photograph: Eric Luke / The Irish Times

Ministers seek reduction from banks for people of Ireland who helped to bail them out

   Ulster Bank CEO Jim Brown photographed in 2014. File photograph: David Sleator/The Irish Times

Banks set for collision course with Government over mortgage rates

One complaint said he considered the King of Paws advertisement “to be part of a trend where men are belittled, mocked, painted as idiots and in this case compared to dogs”.

Nissan Ireland, VHI and Aer Lingus also run ads which breach rules

"We can no longer ignore the big, wet elephant looming in the corner."

Conor Pope: ‘I’m going to have to up my game if I am going to make it to the end’ Dominique McMullan: ‘After yesterday’s efforts, (...)

Ryanair ‘not liable for the passenger’s care and assistance’. Photograph: Anne-Christine Poujoulat/AFP/Getty Images

Plus: an unromantic end for an engagement ring; and another unhappy customer of Complete Savings

Going, going, gone: shrinkflation leads to ‘price increases by stealth’, says Dermott Jewell of the Consumer Association of Ireland. Photograph: Thinkstock

Yorkies are less thick than they used to be, a box of Surf washing powder has become lighter, and a bar of Imperial Leather soap i(...)

The deadline for new customers to sign up to avoid the extra payment levy is midnight on Thursday.  Photograph:  Lynne Cameron/PA Wire

Many people are still confused about what they should, or shouldn’t, be signing up for

David Duffy, AIB chief executive officer,  speaking to Conor Lenihan before addressing the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform at the Dail. Photograph: Alan Betson

David Duffy denies AIB has been profit taking from variable rate customers

Head of AIB Daid Duffy told an Oireachtas Finance Committee hearing that if market conditions and the bank’s costs of funding continue to improve it will be in a position to cut its SVR rates.

Mortgage rate reduction of at least 0.25% is anticipated in the coming weeks

 The Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald. Ms Fitzgerald was one of the speakers at the launch of the new male-focused Prostitution - We Don’t Buy It campaign. File photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

Prostitution - We Don’t Buy It is the first all-island effort aimed at male attitudes

The Minister for Justice has said she has no evidence of a lack of co-operation between the Garda and the Garda Síochana Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) in connection with the arrest of Clare Daly on suspicion of drink driving in early 2013.

Mick Wallace says GSOC claims gardaí had failed to co-operate in its investigation

 Tánaiste  Joan  Burton: said measures to penalise lenders, including hiking the levy were “a possibility”. Photograph: Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland

Government move to force drop in line with ECB cuts could backfire, warns broker

Kerrygold

Who’s got the greatest garlic bread?

If 70 per cent of Irish people think they are financially clued-in and only 50 per cent have a pension, then something is very wrong. Photograph: Thinkstock

A new survey finds that Irish people consider themselves good managers of their personal finances. But could they answer some basi(...)

Three has agreed to waive the balance on a former customer’s account. Photograph: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

Plus: a failed compensation claim over an Aer Lingus flight cancellation

Another glitch hit the National Lottery this week after a customer in Carlow bought four Quick Pick tickets each of which contained exactly the same six numbers. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill/ The Irish Times.

Carlow customer bought four Quick Pick tickets which contained the same numbers

Irish Water says an estimated 46 million litres of water per day - enough to fill 18 Olympic size swimming pools - is leaking each day.

Leaks see 150 customers use in excess of €1,000 worth of water over three months

According to  figures, the Insolvency Service of Ireland are rejecting more than one in four deals involving mortgage debt brought to the table by personal insolvency practitioners.

‘The idea that people would play the system to skip debt has no foundation’

Banks are losing more than €100,000 every time they reject a personal insolvency application but many continue to “defy commercial logic” by forcing distressed borrowers down the bankruptcy road, it has been claimed.

Each personal-insolvency rejection costs banks €100,000, says insolvency service

The value of debit card transactions is projected to exceed the amount withdrawn from ATMs in the Republic for the first time this year. File photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

Banking and Payments Federation Ireland figures show increase in debit card payments

Director of the Insolvency Service of Ireland, Lorcan O’Connor. Photograph: Eric Luke

Banks and PIPs using insolvency process will only use agreed documentation and standard terms and conditions

"I have gone on holiday by mistake. I am in Finland, and as luck would have it I have found myself in a hotel with a swimming pool(...)

Ben Dunne: ‘Michael O’Leary does not recognise unions. Why not pick on him?’ Photograph: Matt Kavanagh

Dunnes Stores treats staff in retail ‘rat race’ fairly, claims former managing director

Rebranding the 24 Superquinn stores under the SuperValu banner in February 2014 led to an immediate jump in market share from 20 per cent to 25.1 per cent

Tesco market share now down to 24.7% as shoppers desert retailer

Interest rates have never been lower, and anyone with a few bob to put aside is paying the price. Photograph: Thinkstock

As well as that, inflation and the taxman can quickly gobble up your nest egg if you don’t educate yourself on the best ways to sa(...)

Water charges: Some people will be billed for undrinkable water. Photograph: Getty Images

Some will be overcharged while others may discover they wind up getting the wrong bill

Under EU Regulation 261 airlines must offer passengers affected by cancellations a full refund or a rerouting on the next available flight or at a later time that suits the passenger

What if my flight is cancelled or delayed?

Ryanair was forced to cancel 250 flights, with many more cancellations expected

Thousands of air passengers have travel plans disrupted on first day of two-day stoppage by air traffic controllers

Irish Water is planning to send out about 1.7 million bills between now and early June to people who have registered, people who have not registered and people who have no need of its services. File photograph: Darren Staples/Reuters

Utility company claims blanket approach to billing is the only way it can proceed

The network problems which led to major disruption for almost 2 million customers of Three Mobile yesterday have been resolved, the company has said. Photograph: Bloomberg

Company apologises for fault which affected almost two million customers

I think my main issue is my total lack of inner thigh muscles so I’m going to practise that this weekend and am hoping for Victoria’s Secret legs sometime next week.

Conor Pope: ‘I am starting to quite enjoy the lengths’ Dominique McMullan: ‘Be kind and listen to your body’

Emma Leung (9) from Saggart takes part in RTÉ’s Road to the Rising on O’Connell Street on Easter Monday 2015. Photograph: Gareth Chaney Collins

The real star of the day is the sun, making its first lasting impression since the end of last summer

Irish Water’s head of communications Elizabeth Arnett; Minister for the Environment Alan Kelly; and managing director of Irish Water John Tierney. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Irish Water is posting out its first bills – 37,000 of them each day. The envelope will contain a summary of the charges as they a(...)

Vodafone’s Red Business Super plan roaming is ‘very clunky for what is supposed to be their top-of-the-range package’

Plus: the scratch card win that never was

Brendan Howlin, Michael Noonan, Enda Kenny and Joan Burton speak at small business funding event earlier this year. The four form the Government’s Economic Management Council. Photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

Economic Management Council understood to be pushing for revision to rules

AIB customers who find themselves in financial difficulty as a result of the shortfall have been advised to make contact with the bank.

Bank blames system error for failure to process February tax relief

I am nothing if not a slow learner, which is why it has taken me so long to realise that my breathing is all over the shop. In an ideal world, I would breathe every three strokes, alternating between my left and right sides. But this is far from an ideal world

Dominique McMullan: ‘I am falling in love with swimming’. Conor Pope: ‘It has taken me a long time to realise that my breathing is(...)

‘Consumers need to put more pressure on the banks by threatening to switch their business’

One Bank of Ireland customer saved €700 in mortgage interest payments last year after pushing his case; and the weird world of bon(...)

The mobile maze – by design or by accident – is always working against consumers, but they can fight back. Illustration: Getty Images

Getting the best value out of your mobile is confusing, and who do you think the big winner is from all that confusion? Hint: it’s(...)

Will queues for property rentals become a common sight  in Dublin once again?  Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

Rents across Dublin went up last year by just under 10 per cent, according to the Private Residential Tenancies Board

Almost 30,000 retired teachers, special need assistants and clerical officers have been left without their pensions  after an error by  Department of Education officials. Photograph: Alan Betson

Failure to lodge money into accounts affected almost 30,000

Suzanne Costello chief executive of Alcohol Action Ireland: ‘Like most systems of self-regulation in Ireland, the alcohol industry’s codes have proven to be wholly ineffective and has done nothing to protect the young and vulnerable members of our society from alcohol harm.’ Photograph: Bryan O’Brien / The Irish Times

Advertising affects children’s behaviour, says Alcohol Action Ireland CEO Suzanne Costello

Over the final three months of 2014, rents rose slightly in Dublin, notably in the apartment sector. Photograph: The Irish Times

Rent for houses outside capital up 4.4% from €639 to €667, apartments up from €595 to €612

Irish Water criticised the leaking of plans to allow it have water bills deducted from salaries.

Spokeswoman for utility says it has ‘no view’ on what Government decides on payments

People on a guided tour at Glasnevin Cemetery stop by Éamon de Valeras grave. The Glasnevin Trust has been accused of anti-competitive practices in its funeral services. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times.

Trust accused of anti-competitive practices over selling burial plots, headstones

February CSO figures show residential prices down 0.4% nationally, 0.7% in Dublin

The Central Bank’s stock of one cent coins is running low, prompting it to call on consumers to re-circulate coins they have behind sofa cushions or piling up in change jars.

Noonan considering dropping one and two cent coins following trial where everything was rounded to nearest five

The study found the cost of comprehensive cover can differ between providers by up to €1,249. For third party fire and theft, the difference  was up to €975

Difference between highest and lowest premium across the board, survey finds

Supervalu said prices may vary due to individual stores running a local promotion or extending a promotion

Prices in rural towns and cable provider’s €20 charge for a remote control questioned

Catherine Kennedy at her stall in Moore Street. Photograph: Aidan Crawley

Facing change from the council and German discounters, the market still wins on price

The required reserve was not reached on 17 of the 65 homes for sale in the online auction organised by Allsop Space.

High-stake eBay style process involved ‘bid extensions’ to prevent last second sniping

 Don Gallagher, chief executive of the Health Insurance Authority, with MInister for Health Leo Varadkar. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill / The Irish Times.

Cover by spouse’s policy will count under lifetime community rating plan

Dominique McMullan: ‘I’m slowly developing an addiction’. Conor Pope: ‘Things appear to be much better’

Convivial drinking in a pub is grand, despite what the new puritans might have you believe (see also: red fizz, stage left). Photograph: Getty Images

We take pride in ‘Irish’ goods made overseas but take much local produce for granted. We complain to the wrong people. And it’s br(...)

Rick Elice, co-writer of Jersey Boys: ‘I have never been able to hold down a job. I have had no plan to my life, wherever the stream has taken me, I’ve gone.’ Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Rick Elice co-wrote the record-breaking musical about the Four Seasons. He reveals how Valli and co’s tales of past criminal endea(...)

"Swimming, it turns out, is all about the Zen. Breathing, remaining calm and moving slowly are cornerstones of the sport. I really, really like this concept."

Dominique McMullan: ‘Sometimes I am like a torpedo' Conor Pope: ‘I am still struggling'

Dairy farmers say they make less than 2 cent profit on each litre of milk they produce

The Habitat shop that used to operate on Dublin’s  College Green.

Irish shops closed as recession took hold in 2008

A passion for fashion: Conor Pope working in the Oxfam Ireland shop in Rathfarnham. Photograph: Aidan Crawley

Our Consumer Affairs Correspondent volunteers in an Oxfam shop. Beyond the feel-good factor, it’s a fascinating retail experience:(...)

‘We have spoken to our customer, apologised and explained the situation, which is now sorted,’ says a UPC spokeswoman

Also, a problem with a Leap Card; and Lotto iPhone app ‘as useful as an ashtray on a motorbike’

Sovereign Hand Shears: This is a very good product; it is easy to use and makes light work of all but the heaviest branches

What’s the sharpest buy? Pricewatch’s value-for-money verdict cuts to the chase

When it comes to travel within Muslim regions, Malaysia is the most preferred global destination. Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Indonesia followed Malaysia in choice holiday destinations. Photograph: Getty Images

UK finished in sixth place in one of lists, with Ireland 24th out of 25

Solicitor Brian O’Donnell with his wife Mary Patricia O’Donnell. File photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

Couple set up investment vehicle Vico Capital and became major name in UK commercial property

Conor Pope:‘I can swim four lengths non-stop’

Limerick remains the best value destination in Ireland at an average of €76 a room. Killarney is the most expensive at €111

Rate of increase cited by hotels.com Hotel Price Index refuted by Irish Hotel Federation

“Overall, retail sales have turned a corner and are back on a growth path, although off a very low base”

Survey shows consumer spending contributed to economic growth for first time since crash of 2008

Bank of Ireland: ‘We never ask for personal banking details such as account numbers and pins’

Plus, Meteor finally agrees to replace a faulty Samsung mobile phone

Love/Hate: Shopping online is fast and easy (although sometimes, perhaps, too fast and too easy). Illustrations:  Getty, Thinkstock

Online shopping turns 21 this year, but Irish consumers have been slower than others to do their buying on the web. They’re quite (...)

New research from the Central Bank shows half of all mortgages taken out in 2007 were still in negative equity in the middle of 2014. Photograph: Frank Miller/The Irish Times

Prices fell by 1.4 per cent nationally in January. Is that good or bad news?

Thousands of Samsung smart TV users in Ireland were unable to access online services such as Netflix and Youtube. Photograph: Reuters

Irish users were unable to access online services such as Netflix and Youtube

Motorbike fanatics are now able to get the ultimate send-off thanks to Massey Bros funeral directors, who have   purchased Ireland’s first Harley-Davidson hearse in response to growing demand.  Picture  shows John Gibson of Massey Bros on a customised Harley-Davidson Electra Glide hearse, with Massey Bros business manager Peter Maguire in front. The  hearse will make its debut at the Irish Motorbike & Scooter Show  this weekend at the RDS. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons/The Irish Times

Massey Bros funeral directors unveiling Harley-Davidson Electra Glide hearse

Figures from the CSO show prices in Dublin fell 1.9% in January and by 1.4% nationally

Elizabeth Arnett: “Landlord and tenants can confirm details at any time.” Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Numbers registering in rental sector significantly less than among owner-occupiers

Fair play: The label means the product offers a better deal. Photograph: Jean-Christophe Magnenet/AFP/Getty Images

Fairtrade Fortnight starts today. But what does the Fairtrade label really mean? Do goods bearing it cost more? And does the conce(...)

Irish Rail says it will ensure it is clear that customers can leave a voicemail to change a booking in future

Plus: say a novena for Passport Express

75-78 St Stephen’s Green: bought by Charles Stuart Parnell in 1867. Photograph: Eric Luke

Karl Deeter and Frank Quinn’s research has thrown up some interesting facts. We dropped in to some of the houses to see what they’(...)

The research  by financial analyst Karl Deeter, Frank Quinn of the Blackrock Further Education Institute and David Duffy of the Economic and Social Research Institute looked at streets across Dublin city

Research shows there were worse crashes and recovery took centuries

The service has slowed significantly as a result of an increased demand following a glut of passport applications. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien/The Irish Times

Department of Foreign Affairs apologises for delays – now standing at 15 days waiting

From left, D is for detox, M is for mouthwatering, P is for pulled pork, S is for superfood

Retailers, restaurateurs and food producers will stop at nothing to sell us stuff we don’t really need at prices we can’t really(...)

Will Electric Ireland shed some light on this situation?

Plus: complaints about Yourtel lead to ComReg action

Valrhona Guanaja

Will the most expensive product win? Or will there be a dark horse?

At the launch of Swim Ireland’s  ‘Swim for a Mile 2015’  are, from left to right, Sam McGuinness, Simon Community, Erica Roseingrave, public affairs and communications manager, Coca-Cola, Sarah Keane, chief executive, Swim Ireland, Dominique McMullan, Conor Pope and Killian Byrne. Photograph:  Ramsey Cardy / Sportsfile

Water can kill you especially if you cannot swim: that's just one of the many reasons to learn how to swim a mile as soon as possi(...)

The European Parliament has approved plans that would force food producers to identify the country of origin of meat used as an ingredient in processed foods.  File photograph: Patrick Seeger/EPA

Parliament votes to force producers to identify origin of meat used in processed food

“The (European) Commission went to the industry lobby groups and asked if more transparent labelling would cost more, so of course it said it would,” said Sinn Féin MEP Lynn Boylan. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Irish MEPs to vote on country of origin labelling for processed meat products

A picture taken in Tuam on the day its sugar beet factory was demolished in 1987 became a talking point. Not why it happened. Or how. But who was the woman on the bike.  The jury’s in...it’s Catherine McGough.  Photograph: Eddie Kelly.

Facebook post helps find Catherine McGough who lives in only thatched house left in Tuam

Photograph: Thinkstock

Can you be romantic on the cheap this February 14th? If you plan carefully, act thoughtfully and are prepared to queue for roses, (...)

Smart move? An iPhone user was charged for Vodafone Live updates she didn’t want. Photograph: Johannes Eisele/AFP/Getty

Plus: LoCall numbers that don’t add up for consumers

Matcha

Which of these four tested teas will leave the others green(er) with envy?

An Post’s latest “love stamp” is the ninth of its kind and comes in pink, red and yellow at €6.80 per book.

GPO unveils ninth love and marriage-themed stamp in time for Valentine’s Day

Méribel  at twilight

The skiing in Méribel is undeniably great – and off peak is as attractive as high season – but the slopes are not the be all and e(...)

A 500ml can of lager has 20 grams of alcohol, so, based on a minimum price of 90 cent per 10 grams, which Leo Varadkar and his department are considering, the cheapest retail price under minimum pricing would be €1.80

Minimum price, expected to be between 90c and €1.10 per 10 grams of alcohol, will be imposed

Wow Air, which uses A320 and A321 craft, is a relative newcomer to the international jet set, having been set up in 2011 by Icelandic entrepreneur Skúli Mogensen.

Low-fare Icelandic airline promising to fly from Dublin to US for less than €300 return

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