Pricewatch: Readers’ queries

This week’s issues relate to UPC Horizon, a Supervalu wine deal, and French tolls

Horizons not broadened by this UPC ‘upgrade’

About six months ago, Michael O’Doherty from Dublin upgraded to a UPC Horizon bundle, having already been a UPC customer. Two problems became quickly apparent.

“First, the wifi coverage did not extend to the entire house. Secondly, when watching TV, the picture would cut out for two to three seconds about three or four times an hour. Very frustrating if watching sport, in particular,” he says.

“We called UPC on three or four occasions about this. Various things were tried with the wifi (remotely) but ultimately the recommendation was to buy some sort of signal booster. I was not very happy about being told to buy something in order to get a service for which I was already paying,” he says, not unreasonably.


On the television issue, he was asked if he had a Philips television. He does. “Apparently, there was ‘a problem’ with these TVs, and UPC was working on a patch. Nobody ever followed up on this, and each time we rang we got the same answer.

“I decided, in advance of the World Cup, to switch providers. As we had been on the new bundle for only six or seven months, we were informed the €200 cancellation charge would apply.”

He called UPC to complain. “I had been paying for more than six months for a service that did not work properly. Indeed, when I rang to complain, the UPC representative acknowledged that we should have been asked if our TV was Horizon compatible. He promised to get back in a couple of days. He did not, and the charge has been applied. I think this is appalling service.”

We contacted UPC. “We are very sorry to hear of the inconvenience for this customer,” the company said. “We are disappointed the customer did not have a satisfactory experience. That is not the norm with UPC Horizon.

Where customers are within their initial contract period – in this case 12 months – an in-contract cancellation fee of €200 applies in line with the terms and conditions of the contract. However, we recognise that this customer had an unresolved service issue that they had already brought to our attention. Before this issue was raised with you, the customer’s account was cancelled on July 16th, and, while the above fee was charged initially, it was credited on July 17th. We have tried to contact the customer a number of times since cancellation to confirm the refund.”

Difficult to see what's special about Supervalu wine deal

Denis Mahoney was shopping in his local Supervalu when his eye was caught by a rioja from 2011 with the El Circulo label. The price drew his attention to the shelf: it was reduced from €23.99 to €12. "However, after checking around, I cannot find this for anything more expensive than £8 on the internet," he says.

He could not find it selling elsewhere in Ireland but sent us a link to the Asda website, where the bottle is selling for £7.48 (about €9.50). He wants to know if "Supervalu is misleading consumers . . . into thinking wines are on special offer?"

We looked at prices elsewhere. In the somewhat unfortunately named Alko in Finland, a bottle of this wine costs €9.98. We found it in the US for $14 (just over €10).

When we contacted Supervalu we were told the wine had been part of the Superquinn wine range and became part of the SuperValu range earlier this year. It previously sold at €23.99, we were told, "and since the Superquinn name change only took place in February of this year, it is the first time it has been sold as part of a SuperValu wine sale."

Since February the store has been reviewing its entire wine offering “and the El Circulo Rioja is under consideration.

“Comparing prices with competitors from other countries with different taxes and where it is potentially being sold as a loss leader is not a like-for-like comparison.”

French tolls not so au fait with debit cards after all

Positively the last word on debit cards on toll roads. We promise.

Last week, following a query from a reader the previous week, a chap called David O’Hanlon sent us a mail extolling the virtues of the French tolling system and the ease with which he used cash, debit cards and credit cards.

We got this response from Padraig O'Rourke: "I don't know where your correspondent was driving in the south of France, but I can assure you that the toll booths on the A7 and A8 do not like my Visa debit card, and on every occasion spat it out without ceremony and declare it invalid." Fair enough.

Conor Pope

Conor Pope

Conor Pope is Consumer Affairs Correspondent, Pricewatch Editor and cohost of the In the News podcast