Reader claims something rotten in Easter egg saga

You consumer queries answered


Ruth Chipperfield is not a happy camper. The cause of her unhappiness? It’s Pricewatch. Last week we ran a story about a man who was sold some rotten Easter eggs at his local Tesco, and then given the runaround by Cadbury in the UK. We contacted Cadbury in Ireland and it apologised and sent him some chocolates by way of recompense. We thought no more about it. But our reader did.

“So, a man found that Cadbury’s eggs in bad condition were sold to him by Tesco,” she writes. “He paid a chunk of money to Tesco and was ‘sympathetically’ given a €10 voucher, about 25 per cent of his total outlay.” She wants to know why Tesco arranged for Cadbury to phone him. “His issue was with Tesco, as you know. Cadbury’s had nothing to do with it. Their attitude was dismissive, understandably. It seems probable that Tesco’s displaying the eggs in full sunlight may have caused the damage.”

Well, as a consumer he can deal with either the retailer or the manufacturer, but his position was weakened by the fact that he did not have proof of purchase. Nor did he have all the defective products, as they had been distributed among his friends and family.

She then points out that it was “Cadbury’s UK which phoned the customer, but you went straight to its Irish arm. Why so? The Irish arm sent a ‘massive hamper’ within 24 hours, solely because The Irish Times muscled in. How disgusting is that?”

We used the most direct channel available to us to get the reader some redress.

She says the response of Cadbury in Ireland was not “a gesture of goodwill” but a “dishonourable self-serving response that does Cadbury’s no credit. Rather than winning back a customer’s lost goodwill, it should shed a blinding light on the company’s attitude to customer relations . . . ‘if a newspaper’s on to it, give them something to shut them up’.

“There are, of course, lots of newspapers and mags that offer this strange service and, with a bit of publicity, errant companies fix what they’ve done wrong. And then they are thanked.”

Calling it a “dishonourable self-serving response” seems a bit harsh. We do, however, agree with one aspect of her mail. It is depressing that it often takes the intervention of the media for companies to do the right thing by customers, a point we have made over and over and over again.

AvantCard switchover site bugs customers
Recently we got a mail that asked: “Are you getting much correspondence regarding the AvantCard takeover of MBNA? Since they transferred the administrative functions in early March, things have gone seriously pear-shaped.”

This reader pointed out that the new website requires re-registration “which is impossible as the server is permanently down.

“My own attempts to register invariably result in my being informed that I’m attempting to set an invalid password,” he says. “The submitted passwords do conform to the AvantCard rules, even if they keep changing.

“The advertised phone number goes unanswered. It is not staffed 24/7 and is the number advertised for reporting lost/stolen cards. I did not receive a statement this month.”

He says the problems raise two questions. “If a customer is unable to report a stolen card due to an unanswered telephone, where does the liability lie? And if a customer misses a payment due to statements not being issued, is the company entitled to levy penalty fees?”

He says if AvantCard “does not get its act together soon, they will haemorrhage customers, regardless of interest rates”.

We have received several other mails complaining about the switchover. Another reader said he was getting late and incorrect statements. He said that, as late as last Tuesday, it was still not possible to view statements or current transactions on the Avant website “four weeks from the date they took over”. This was “causing chaos among customers”.

He says this is “unacceptable in this day and age. Could they not have had all this prepped pre-March 15th?”

A small act of kindness
Brian McCardle contacted us because he wanted to share “a pleasant tale”. Not long ago, he was poorly and after paying out €50 to his GP went to Boles Chemist on the Lower Drumcondra Road in Dublin to pick up his prescription. “This came to nearly another €50, but the pharmacist, unprompted, took a few euro off the price.

“This little bit of kindness really made my day, and I wanted to let others know,” he writes. “I wouldn’t be a very regular customer there, and have no association with it or any of its staff.