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Clamping down on a pensioner's finances
Clampers are not liked at the best of times but we came across a story last week that, we think, highlights some companies’ meanness and intransigence.

Nuala Green (75) goes to an art class in Terenure every Tuesday. Each time she pays her parking fee, just as she did on September 27th.

When she got back to her car she was horrified to see that it had been clamped.

She saw that her parking stub had flipped over so the date and time were not visible. “It was a wet and windy day and it must have blown over as I was closing my door,” she says.

She called the clamping company, NCPS, and explained.

Minutes later a clamping van arrived and the driver said he would only remove the clamp if she paid €130. She pointed out that this was more than half her weekly pension and showed the NCPS employee her ticket – which was still valid. He was not for turning and said it was not his problem as he was about to finish work and she could call someone else if she wanted.

“I was standing in the rain and had no choice but to pay. I was crying as I gave him the fine,” she says.

She contacted the company who said she could appeal. So she did but it was rejected. She was told she could appeal again but it would cost her another €20 and “as the appeal is being heard by the same people who clamped me I doubt I will get any justice”.

We contacted the firm which agreed to give Ms Green a full refund without admitting any wrong-doing.

Another reader, Lynda, contacted us about the same company. “Do you have any names in clamperland where I can actually write to a human as opposed to a title?” she asks. “It’s like the secret service; they won’t tell you anything.”

Lynda got clamped and charged €120 plus €5 for using a card “which is a disgrace”. She appealed but heard nothing back so called them and “asked a few questions the operator didn’t like. He hung up and 20 minutes later my appeal was declined. In your experience, is it worth making the second appeal ?”

Shoe shop manager responds to medical issue with soul

Mary Rafferty has two good-news stories. “After surgery to repair a broken hip, my elderly father needed new shoes to accommodate swollen feet,” she writes. “As he was still in hospital, my brother and I went to get some new shoes.”

The siblings could buy only on the basis that they could return any shoes that were not suitable. Having identified several pairs in Phelan’s in Waterford they were told “only one pair could be bought and returned as ‘the system would not allow’ multiple pairs to be purchased and returned”.

They argued their case and were on the point of leaving. “Enter Natalie, a remarkable manager, who offered to bring any shoes we wanted to the hospital in her own time and bring any unwanted pairs back. She turned up at the time agreed, was utterly charming and helpful to my father, identified and fitted the only one of four pairs of shoes that fitted. A silly system compensated for by outstanding customer service.”

Rafferty has another good-news story. Over three years after she bought a compost bin from Waste Solutions (, the lid broke. “Amazingly, Daniel from Ecostore not only had a spare lid but he sent it by courier to Dublin at no cost!”

Phone buyer does not like tone of insurance cover

A reader called Declan bought an iPhone 5 from an O2 store in Cork. “I received a letter from Telefonica [O2] telling me that I now have iPhone accidental damage cover and thanking me for applying for the insurance,” he writes.

He says the letter said: “The first three months are free! €6.99 per month thereafter.”

The problem is he did not “at any time request or sign for phone insurance. When I rang, a very pleasant young lady told me that I was one of ‘hundreds of people’ in the past week or two who had contacted them regarding insurance which had not been requested.”

Declan was advised to ring O2 directly and take it up with them. “I have just rung the O2 shop where I purchased the phone to be told that the insurance comes with the phone ‘by default’ and that the first three months are free to ‘allow you to cancel the policy’ if you wish. The policy has now been cancelled.”

He asks how many other phone buyers have been subject to this. He also says the policy is “a total joke as the exclusions just about include every way you might accidentally damage your phone”.

We contacted the company, which said it was not policy to sell insurance by default: “Taking out an insurance policy requires them to explicitly choose to take this additional service,” said a spokesman.

“The issues experienced appear to have arisen as a result of human error and we are sorry that he has had a negative experience. In light of this case, we have taken additional steps to ensure that all stores fully understand our insurance sales policy and follow it rigorously.”

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