Pricewatch reader queries: Airtricity is great value, shame they won’t take my money
This week’s problems: energy provider ignoring calls; issues with checking lottery numbers; and desperately seeking an alternative to UPC
Airtricity spokeswoman said the company was ‘really sorry’. Photograph: David Sleator
Normally the queries we deal with on this page are from readers treated shabbily by companies after they have signed up and parted with money. Today we have one from a reader who is being ignored by a company before he has even been allowed to give them a cent.
“Being a lifelong user of ESB – and now Electric Ireland – I read your articles on charges and decided it was time for change,” writes Bob Barr. “ By coincidence, an earnest young man called to my door two weeks before Christmas. He was from SSE Airtricity, which my research had shown was the cheapest supplier.”
The salesman explained the rates on offer, and our reader agreed to change. “Using a handheld device we went through the questions. We were nearing closure when he asked me for my bank details. I refused, as I will not give this information to anyone before a formal online (or otherwise) agreement was drawn up,” he writes. “He told me my application would not progress but said he would get the office to call me. No call. I called their customer service number in the new year, explained the situation, received an apology and an assurance of a call-back within the hour. No call.
“I then went on to their website, filled out the customer service box requesting contact. No contact made. How do I avail of this great-value service? I now know if I haven’t changed my provider within two years I’m being overcharged. But how do I change?”
We thought we would do Airtricity a favour and put them in touch with a potential customer. Or to put it another way, we contacted the company to find out why it hadn’t made contact with our reader.
A spokesman said it was “really sorry and surprised that [our reader] found it so difficult to switch. It’s highly unusual, as we work hard to make it as easy as possible for customers to switch their energy supply. We’ve investigated why this occurred to ensure it doesn’t happen again; however, we’re pleased that we’ve been able to complete the switch.”
Checking the winning numbers is a bit of a lottery
Mary Dunn writes on behalf of “a group of us oldies”. She would love to know what is happening with the National Lottery. “We always played, from the time it started,” she writes. “Now, without notice, all seems to be changed. We can’t check our numbers in shops any more because the terminals don’t work. What is happening?”
Well, the National Lottery changed hands in November and is now being run by Camelot and An Post. As a result its technology system has changed. “As part of this change we replaced our old terminals with new ones,” a spokeswoman says. “These terminals came with new tickets (green in colour). Because tickets sold on the old terminals (yellow) before the changeover in November remain valid for a period of 90 days, it was necessary to maintain the ability of the in-store self-service ticket checkers to check these tickets for possible prize wins until the end of that 90-day period, as required by our licence. Unfortunately, for technical reasons, it was not possible to also check the new tickets with the same ticket checkers during this 90-day period. The technology in the self-service ticket checkers will be changed to facilitate the checking of new tickets after the 90-day period comes to an end.”
She said the National Lottery “understands that this is inconvenient for retailers and players, but it is a necessary and temporary issue. In the meantime players can ask staff in their local store to check new tickets on the new terminals.”
Pensioners explore other channels for TV services
We got a letter from “two pensioners” asking if we know of any “other broadband service providers apart from UPC, who have just written to us to say they are putting up their fees by 10 per cent, bringing our annual fee to just over €1,000. This is unsustainable for us. Help please.”
When it comes to cheaper television, the most obvious option is Saorview. A set-top box costs €60-€100, and an aerial might have to be installed at a cost of about €200. Once that is done, however, you won’t have to pay another cent for your television – at least for the Irish channels.
The most basic boxes will not give you access to British stations. For them you can get a combi-box, which will get you the Irish channels plus all manner of free-to-air satellite services, including all the main British terrestrial channels. When it comes to broadband, UPC does offer unlimited broadband with speeds of up to 240MPS for €45 a month.