Pricewatch 1+1

Sort the crackers from the turkeys with this review of seasonal supermarket trimmings

Some  Irish-based Ryanair  pilots are to take pre-Christmas strike action. Photograph: PA

If your flight is cancelled you must be offered a refund or a seat on the next available flight

Adjusting the lights on College Street for the Luas. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Malfunctioning traffic lights contribute to city-wide gridlock during morning rush hour

There were delays on sections of the Cross City Luas during its first morning rush hour on Monday. Photograph: Collins

Commuters frustrated as congestion causes early morning delays in Dublin city centre

No one is going to thank you for giving them  a  voucher with ridiculously restrictive terms and conditions for Christmas. Photograph: iStock

Pricewatch: We are being fleeced by unregulated, restrictive vouchers – when will it end?

Rehab lottery:  any prize money won up to December 1st will be paid in full.  Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Charity says lottery was losing money. Radio bingo also ends at 12 stations

Mr Men framed family portrait, €30 unframed, €50 framed, Arnotts

Avoid tears with our tips on secret gift-giving

'Before bed, I tally up the number of times I have used my phone today:  167.'

Conor Pope tracks his smartphone usage for 24 hours to find out how he measures up

Reader Query: Her Eir broadband was useless so she tried to cancel - then the real frustration began

Only 10 per cent of phone users have switched mobile phone handset due to coverage or signal problems and of those, 55 per cent found that switching improved their coverage, compared to 4 per cent who found that their service deteriorated. File photograph: Steve Parsons/PA Wire

Just 62 per cent of people living in very rural areas happy with coverage

 “Social norms will develop over time, and it will be interesting to see if the fear of being without one’s phone – nomophobia – starts to become more widely recognised.” File photograph: iStock/Getty Images.

Just under third of users look at devices when crossing road, Deloitte survey finds

“It’s far from smug and intelligent robot toys that I was reared, but Cozmo – set to be one of the big toys this Christmas – is a small signpost to a changing world.” Photograph: Anki

Once you’re beaten, this toy can sing in a way best described as irritatingly triumphalist

Gift idea: Designist   on Dame St in Dublin, or online at shop.designist.ie, have Edison or antique filament light bulbs  set in concrete blocks for €46.50

Where to shop to raise your Secret Santa game and presents that are best avoided

Chris Donohoe booked two tickets to see Peter Kay in Dublin in 2019 through Viagogo. It ended up costing him almost €700. File photograph: Jim Dyson/Getty Images

Pricewatch: Three purchasers forced to pay ‘booking fee’ of more than €100

Ibec predicts an increase in total sales of more than €100m, with sales during the Christmas season expected to top €4.5bn, up from €4.4bn in 2016. Photograph: Stephen Collins/Collins Photos

Rising wages and falling prices may lead to average monthly spend of more than €2,500

Rory and Mary McGuire from Castleknock.

‘It is the most reasonable and rational thing in the world to respect the life of the unborn’

Delegates at the Pro Life Campaign’s National Conference 2017 which took place on Sunday, December in the RDS, Dublin. Photograph Nick Bradshaw

One speaker in RDS suggests British model would be replicated in Ireland

Staff at the GPO in Limerick celebrating the Lotto win. Roger Mc Mahon, manager, with Audrey Downes, Aileen Sheehan, Rose Leahy, Eamon Leen and Lisa O’Donnell with Mary Grace and Fran Whearty both from the National Lottery. Photograph: Liam Burke/Mac Innes Photography

After windfall, Limerick winner promises to keep working but looks forward to some sun

The Irish Times has decided to embrace the Christmas music dirgefest. Photograph: Getty

Almost 3,000 people on Twitter returned a clear winner from a four-strong shortist

A bowl of Kellogg’s Coco Pops currently contains 30g of sugar per 100g. Photograph: iStock

Sugar levels to be cut in popular kid’s cereals Coco Pops and Rice Krispies by up to 40%

 European Commissioner for agriculture and rural development Phil Hogan said the document marked “a significant step change in the implementation of the CAP”. Photograph: Olivier Hoslet/EPA

European Commission document looks to provide more equitable support for farmers

When taxes are excluded the Republic is  the second most expensive place for domestic electricity in the EU. File photograph: Dave Meehan/The Irish Times

Six of nine providers in State have announced price increases recently

Don’t let Cyber Monday be a retailers’ fun day. Photograph: iStock

Do your research and don’t get carried away. Many ‘bargains’ are not what they appear

Repak chief executive Séamus Clancy says waste wrapping from online deliveries has to be “collected, gathered and recycled” which leaves Repak members paying approximately €500,000. Photographer: Dara Mac Dónaill

Likes of Amazon paying nothing towards recycling of wrapping waste, says State body

Studies have shown that more and more people want early retirement

Can retirement turn into an extended holiday when you are still full of vigour?

An international affair: A worker places a sign  announcing Black Friday sales at a shop in Valencia, Spain, today. Photograph: Juan Carlos Cardenas/EPA

Black Friday – or an extended discount period around it – has been embraced in Ireland

We were quite taken by the suggestion from Penny Petrovski. “To swim with the humpback whales again”. Photograph: Getty

We asked twitter what one place in the world you would like to see (or to see again)

Irish broadband: quality of service is a pressing issue for thousands of households. Photograph: Rui Vieira/PA Wire

Average cost of €60.57 a month compares with €16.16 in Poland

In the days before storm Ophelia supermarkets were buoyed by a sales bounce as shoppers battened down the hatches, Kantar Worldpanel has said. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill/The Irish Times

Storm had ‘surprisingly strong effect’ on Irish grocery market, Kantar Worldpanel says

Pricewatch has been hard at work sampling coffee from a range of machines. Photograph: Getty Images

Pricewatch casts a cold eye on coffee makers and narrows it down to this fantastic four

More bang for (foodie) buck in Tesco and M&S up North, but smaller price gap for toys

The Dublin at Christmas procession on  Grafton Street as the city’s Christmas lights are switched on. Photograph: Dave Meehan/The Irish Times

Families and shoppers come out in large numbers for switching-on ceremony

The gift voucher business is worth more than €300m in the Republic each year. File photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

Social Democrats co-leader brings Bill aimed at stopping firms using overly restrictive terms

Our reader booked the elements of the trip separately so requested the cancellation confirmation from Aer Lingus for the outward journey and the accommodation provider, Sixt car hire and Ryanair (for the homeward journey). There was no problem with any provider but Ryanair. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

All our very patient reader asked for was a cancellation confirmation for their insurance

Comfortable clothing, eye mask, cushion and ear plugs will make for a pleasant journey

Conor Pope asked readers how they make airports and planes a little less stressful

Minister of State for Trade and Employment, Pat Breen said that while progress was being made and while information and training were available to farmers, there was a need to change the mindset and culture. Photograph:  Arthur Ellis

Of the 21 fatalities so far in 2017, 12 were of farmers aged over 65

Prof Mike Barnes outlines the scientific and medical evidence to back the Cannabis Medicinal Use Regulation Bill 2016. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Proponents say political fear and misinformation behind State’s failure to allow drug

Prof Ronan Lyons, the author of the report, said those who campaign for improved housing outcomes – from fewer people homeless to better standards in rental accommodation – “need to realise that the solution to all these is more supply”. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Rate of increase in Dublin 12.3%

A new report from property website daft.ie says rents have risen by more than 11.2% nationally over the last 12 months. Photograph: Frank Miller

Think tank says the figure could be even higher if housing supply issues are not addressed

ESRI warns of danger that potential credit growth could fuel greater house price inflation. Photograph: Frank Miller

Think-tank says houses more affordable here than in many developed countries in OECD

The tracker mortgage scandal has been described as one of the greatest financial swindles in the history of the State. Photograph: iStock

From financial services to broadband to air travel, there are several public bodies charged with protecting the consumer. But what(...)

Conor Pope in Val d’Isère: “I start barrelling down the final slope on my final day in the French Alps in a style and manner which –I presume – makes me look the spit of James Bond fleeing baddies and try to banish the unwelcome thoughts of crunching teeth.”

An all-inclusive holiday almost turns Conor Pope into Homer Simpson’s fat cousin

Irish Water is set to issue almost one million refund cheques. File photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

3,000 people have phoned every day since 1st November to change address details for refunds

Research found that 35 per cent of children in third class have their own smart phones with many young people opting to spend First Communion money on such devices. File photograph: Getty Images

Twenty per cent of children spend more than four hours a day online

Some 94 per cent of families reported being affected by the recession, with 23 per cent saying they had been “very significantly” affected. Photograph: Getty Images

Those earning least hit hardest and faced the largest increase in economic stress

Limerick city. Residential property prices outside of Dublin are 29.9 per cent lower than their May 2007 peak.

Increase has accelerated with prices rising 12.8 per cent over past 12 months

“Pedestrians should be held to the same road safety standards as drivers, who after all are paying the price on their motor insurance premium for these kinds of accidents.” File photograph: Getty Images

John Lahart warns distracted pedestrians are ‘more likely to step into oncoming traffic’

The key to good cooking is good shopping. And the key to good shopping is lists. Photograph: iStock

The secrets of buying healthy food cheaply? Smart shopping, porridge, cheap cuts of meat

Air pollution: the EPA is concerned about particulate matter, which largely comes from the burning of solid fuel. Photograph: Matt Cardy/Getty

Burning of solid fuel poses biggest air-quality threat to public health, says EPA

IDA chief executive Martin Shanahan    admitted that doubts about Apple’s commitment to building the data centre in Athenry had mounted over recent months as the delays in the planning process continued. File photograph: Alan Betson

Martin Shanahan disappointed at how planning delays had impacted on ‘hard won’ investment

Home-heating costs have seen the biggest jump, according to the AA’s cost-of-living survey.

When costs of mortgage, food, utilities, motoring, education and health insurance are added up, a family of four faces significant(...)

The Miele Dialog oven is programmed to understand the energy inside the food and it then “measures and controls and regulates the cooking process”, depending on what it is it is cooking, to deliver perfect food all the time.

Conor Pope goes to Germany to discover what's so special about Miele's Dialog oven

People taking part in an anti-water charges protest. Photograph: Eric Luke

Refunds may take place before Christmas but this is dependent on Bill becoming law

Twenty years ago – if you were lucky – you had a landline and if you didn’t you had to rely on a pay phone. There used to be queues at telephone boxes. Photograph: Aidan Crawley

Pricewatch: Things we take completely for granted today would have been unimaginable to consumers 20 years ago

The Louvre museum in Paris: one of the most popular attractions in the city. Photograph: Getty Images

Conor Pope asks readers for their best travel tips

A reader writes to say he believes he was initially given the wrong or at best incomplete information on rebooking flights by Aer Lingus.  Photograph: Cathal McNaughton/Reuters

Pricewatch: Readers’ consumer queries and observations

Is Gillette really the best a man can get, or is there a lovelier lather elsewhere?

Banks are horrible to people who are guilty of the most minor transgressions. Spend just a few bob more than you have and you will be hit with ridiculous charges.

From the tracker mortgage scandal to closed branches and ATMs loaded with €50 notes

The Central Bank of Ireland (Dublin HQ above) was harshly criticised by TDs and Senators for the length of time it had taken to hold financial institutions to account over the scandal and accused of a “dereliction of duty” over its handling of the issue. File photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Mortgage scandal described as ‘greatest consumer rip-off in history of the State’

Philip Lane, governor of the Central Bank,  arriving for the Oireachtas committee meeting at the Dáil with Derville Rowland (left), director general of finanancial conduct, and Sharoin Donnery (right), deputy governor of Central Bank. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

Governor says Central Bank has no power to force banks to restore tracker mortgages

Philip Lane, governor of the Central Bank, arriving for the Oireachtas committee meeting at the Dail with Derville Rowland (left), director general of finanancial conduct, and Sharoin Donnery (right), deputy governor of Central Bank. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

Bank’s governor says customers affected are entitled to redress and compensation

The Central Bank of Ireland is “the only game in town”, says financial consultant Padraic Kissane. Photograph: Alan Betson

Not sure what the scandal is about or whether your mortgage is affected? Read on

 Governor Philip Lane. The Central Bank has defended the pace of its inquiry, which started two years ago. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Philip Lane says not all lenders addressed ‘unacceptable failings’

Case studies: Victims of tracker mortgage scandal speak out about their ordeal

The Central Bank in Dublin. File photograph: Matt Kavanagh

How badly have the banks behaved? Could it happen again?

The CCPC is acting in the wake of reports that some nursing home residents have been charged as much as €20 if they attend religious services and as €100 a week for other activities. Photograph: Getty Images

Competition and Consumer Protection Commission says it has information ‘which raises serious concerns’

The aim of the scam is to encourage those who see a missed call on their phone to ring the number, after which they will be ripped off. Photograph: Getty Images

Thousands of phone users targeted in telephone scam using international numbers

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said “as a Government we have lost patience” with the banks over the tracker mortgages issue, and described the controversy as “scandalous”. File photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Action including sanctions to be taken if banks do not move to solve issue – Taoiseach

Governor of the Central Bank Philip Lane has defended the pace of the inquiry into tracker mortgages, which started more than two years ago. Photograph: Alan Betson

Central Bank issues warning over overcharging

Only 23 per cent of the 13,000 mortgage borrowers who were wrongly moved from their tracker rate have received redress and compensation so far, the Central Bank has said.

Number of people affected by scandal rises to 13,000 and is likely to increase further

One in four people sitting on any plane has at least some fear of flying, with one in 10 suffering badly. Photograph: Getty Images

A fear of flying makes sense during a storm, but what about the rest of the time?

Dublin Airport: more than 25 per cent of flights to and from it were cancelled, although the Dublin Airport Authority said a secondary runway had operated for much of Monday afternoon despite the high winds.

Ryanair, EasyJet, Aer Lingus and Flybe halt many flights but secondary runway operates

People watch waves splash over the wall on Coast Road Clontarf, ahead of Hurricane Ophelia hitting Dublin. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

Here is what to do if your house is flooded, your car is damaged or you miss a flight

“We are regularly asked to vacate a seat by passengers who have booked online and have reserved a seat,” says an irked Irish Rail user, who says the signage does not always reflect such bookings. File photograph: Frank Miller/The Irish Times

Regular user ponders lack of ‘reliable system’ so passengers can avoid taking reserved seats

William Prior, the Phoenix Project. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

Phoenix Project says courts should wait until new mortgage-to-rent scheme is in place

Carlow Institute of Technology. Photograph: Paddy Whelan

Funds will allow major building projects in 11 third-level institutes across the State

The six months of winter will cost us an average €570 more on gas and electricity than the six months of summer.

How the season’s cold, dark nights can make your wallet a whole lot lighter

Boats moored at Carrick-on-Shannon, Co Leitrim. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Fáilte Ireland want to create a new Way to follow the success of the Wild Atlantic and Ancient East

The Central Bank published new figures showing 12,500 customers were identified up to the end of June as having their mortgages changed.

Call comes as new figures show 12,500 customers had mortgages changed

 Padraic Kissane (left) following a Finance committee meeting.Photograph:  Gareth Chaney Collins

Up to 30,000 homeowners may have been wrongly removed from tracker mortgages

Tracker mortgage scandal: As a result of the banks’ negligence - wilful or otherwise - people were unnecessarily put under huge financial pressure

Q&A: Conor Pope explains the home-loan controversy

(Left-right) Helen Grogan, Hazel Melbourne, Padraig kissane, Thomas Ryan and Niamh Byrne arrive at Leinster House in Dublin, to give evidence during the Oireachtas Finance Committee. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Homeowners tell of trauma, stress and trickery over higher than necessary repayments

The trickle of customers who came into Colm’s Shop on Dublin’s Townsend St ahead of the lunchtime rush on Thursday afternoon were conflicted about the sugar tax and the hike in the price of cigarettes.

‘You could probably improve the way people eat without hitting their pockets’

 People who bought between January 1st 2004 and the end of 2012 will get at least some relief on their mortgage payments until 2020. File photograph: Rui Vieira/PA Wire

Budget move to close scheme will increase cost of 300,000 loans

Tan tax: VAT on sunbeds is rising from 13.5 to 23 per cent. Photograph: iStock/Getty

Otherwise, Budget 2018 found a little – perhaps tiny – something for everyone

Third price hike in two years will take price of 20 cigarettes to €12

Photograph: Lewis Whyld/PA Wire

Measure could raise €40m a year but reaction to its introduction has been mixed

 Centra, Supervalu and Daybreak stores were targeted by cybercriminals. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill / The Irish Times

Supervalu, Centra and Daybreak stores were targeted by criminals attempting to steal numbers and expiry dates of credit cards

Hotel toiletries, one of the most common items taken from hotel rooms around the world. Photograph: Getty Images

Vodka tumblers, a ‘fancy bag’ ... Readers and hotel staff share their tales of theft

“If you are just a retailer now you are going to have to be a tech company tomorrow.” Photograph: iStock

Traditional retailers are turning to ‘experiential shopping’ to compete

Electric Ireland has become the third energy provider to announce an electricity price increase this week. Photograph: iStockphoto

Price increase follows others announced by Bord Gáis Energy and Airtricity this week

National potato day: try Maris Piper for making chips and for roasting. Photograph: iStock/Getty

We don’t eat as many as we used to. But we know how to grow them in space

Ryanair letter: Michael O’Leary said he was criticising rival airlines’ pilots, not his own, at last month’s agm. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

‘Our members have experienced Ryanair promises before,’ says Ialpa

Reader query: Aer Lingus ignored me when my bag went missing before cruise

Brennans Bread

Among those we didn’t mention were Chef, Baileys, Aer Lingus and a certain newspaper

Eir: “Our customer care team has been in contact to apologise.” Photograph: Maxwells

A long-time Eir customer got more than she bargained for when signing up for a bundle

Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary  has been accused of insulting the Oireachtas transport committee by failing to attend a hearing over the flights cancellation controversy. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Ryanair chief’s absence is described as ‘insulting’ at Oireachtas committee meeting

John O’Dwyer,  chief executive of VHI. File photograph: Aidan Crawley.

Insurance consultant says news highlights need to shop around prior to policy renewal

Ryanair is likely to come in for more flak at the Oireachtas committee on transport on Wednesday. Photograph: Clodagh Kilcoyne/Reuters

In Strasbourg speakers accuse airline of ‘slavery’ conditions and of misleading people

The ‘Hospitality Hero’ award went to  James and Beryl Kearney and Gary O’Hanlon of Viewmount House in Longford.

Georgina Campbell award winners include Dax restaurant, Twelve Hotel and Dromoland

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