No guaranteed refund if you don't take your Ryanair flight


We've Got Mail:Hats off to another reader who has bravely decided to take on Ryanair in order to get either a refund or a more detailed explanation as to what it has done with his money.

Recently, he booked flights for a number of people with this most parsimonious of airlines but it turned out that some of his party were unable to travel. He contacted Ryanair looking for a refund of the taxes which had been paid on the unused flights, something he is perfectly within his rights to do as the tax is payable only if the flights are actually taken.

"I received a mail back saying that the administration fee would cancel out any refund." He has since written to the airline "again and again" in an effort to find out exactly how much their administration fee was and where on the Ryanair website he could find out more about it. "I have still to receive a reply. What now?" he asks.

We went on to Ryanair's website and found this nugget. "Government taxes may be refunded. Ryanair apply an administration charge per person for tax refund requests. If the refund amount due to the customer is less than the applicable refund administration charge then no refund will be made."

There was no mention of the actual costs that Ryanair incurs for carrying out this fairly basic piece of admin. In order to find out more we contacted the airline and were told that the only tax which was refundable in the case of a Dublin to London return flight was the British Government Air Passenger Duty (APD).

"The administration fee of €20 exceeds the amount paid in APD, €15.43," Ryanair said in a statement, "and so a tax refund is not applicable in this case." The airline's terse statement did not say how it had arrived at this €20 per ticket fee, which seems a bit steep for a company that is expert at penny-pinching.

Incidentally, we did come across a number of disgruntled people on one online forum in Britain who were similarly miffed by Ryanair's reluctance to return their taxes if flights had not been taken. It might be interesting to find out whether any other readers had experienced problems getting their taxes back from the airline.

Mandatory delivery? What Next?

A reader contacted us to complain about what he believes to be a ridiculous delivery policy verging on sharp practice at Next. His wife bought a CD cabinet in a branch of the shop in the Blanchardstown Town Centre recently. The cabinet cost €340, which did not include the mandatory €45 delivery charge that was added on to the total.

"When we said we would collect it ourselves we were told this was not possible as the item had to be delivered," he writes. "Surely then the cabinet should have been priced at the higher figure of €385," as that was the cost to the consumer, he says. Nor was he best pleased that he had to hang about his house waiting on a day that suits Next because the shop said it could offer him only a single delivery date. "It would have been much easier for me to collect at a time which suited me," he says, as the delivery charge "is just a blatant rip-off".

We contacted Next to see what it had to say. A spokeswoman said that customers can collect smaller home items from stores, although she did not say what Next considered to be small. She said that more than half of the store's larger furniture pieces were sold pre-assembled. "These larger and heavier items need to be delivered directly to customers' homes in order to comply with health and safety policies," she said.

"All deliveries are two-man deliveries, and provided there is clear access to the room, we deliver to the exact location the customer desires and take all packaging away afterwards.

"The delivery charge for home items is charged per order, not per item - if the customer orders more than one item, the delivery charge stays the same."

'Fine' cheese, shame about the spelling

Following our recent review of Parmesan cheese, Denis O'Donoghue from Killarney was prompted to get in touch to tell us about a product he came across called "pamesan" cheese. "The description on the label said that the finest cheeses had been used in the manufacture but there was no mention of parmesan," he writes. He goes on to say that in his local supermarket the "pamesan" had sole occupancy of a shelf marked parmesan cheese. When he pointed this out to the supermarket manager, the misleading label was instantly removed. He doesn't know if this rogue cheese is still on the market so if any other readers have seen it recently, let us know.