‘Price-gouging’ stories: Glass of house wine, €13. Flat white, €4.60. Car for a week, €1,000

The Irish Times asked readers for their experiences of high prices. They weren’t slow to respond

When Irish Times columnist Justine McCarthy expressed outrage at the price of a chicken wrap in a retail park restaurant recently she may not have known she was picking at an open sore point.

“One of the most indigestible greedflation examples I recently spotted was €15.90 for a Caesar chicken wrap,” she wrote.

“There must have been 24-carat gold filings blended into the mix of chicken bits, cheese, lettuce and “crispy bacon”, otherwise known as a fried rasher, to warrant that price.”

What she said was more galling still was that in another restaurant “immediately next door in the same retail park, an identical wrap was priced at €8.50.”


She wondered how it was possible for “one outlet [to] charge almost double the price of the other’s when, presumably, both pay roughly the same rent and appeared to employ a similar complement of staff?”

On foot of her entirely understandable outrage, The Irish Times reached out to readers on the off chance that they had come across any other examples of what might have been referred to in times past our Rip-Off Republic.

The responses weren’t slow in coming.

John Shannon said he had been charged “€4.60 for a flat white in [Dublin 4]. €4.60!”

It’s a lot for sure but readers were only getting started.

“I felt like I witnessed a crime when an Italian tourist paid €8.50 for a tube of toothpaste in a local shop yesterday,” writes Martin McCarthy. Toothpaste was not the only toiletry that was a cause for concern.

Peter Gaines was at a loss when it came to the €9 price tag attached to a can of deodorant in a large multinational supermarket and wondered how it could possibly be so. That is something we too have marvelled at in recent times incidentally.

Orla Brady wrote that she found herself in a restaurant in Dublin city centre “a while back and was told there was no house red wine available. The cheapest bottle was €40 and wasn’t nice”, Brady said. “How can mediocre restaurants get away with such a high mark-up? You can get a very decent bottle in the supermarket for €10 to €15.”

Eugene Canning was in Cork late last month and sat down in an establishment where he ordered one green tea, one decaf coffee, one sausage roll, which he said was, burnt and one chocolate bun.

And how much was he charged? €17.95, a price he describes as “scandalous”.

Gill O’Callaghan, meanwhile, had “coffee and scone [and was] horrified that the cost of the coffee was €4.30! Total for coffee, scone with jam and cream – €8.25. Will not be going back there anytime soon,” she wrote.

Taragh O’Kelly lives in France and was – perhaps understandably – less than impressed with the price she paid for a glass of wine in Dublin recently.

“I met a friend at [a city centre pub] and fancied a glass of rosé but not at €13.30 a glass. I have no doubt that if approached, the pub will attempt to justify this, they may even have cheaper options available. If there are cheaper options why are they not included in this list? Wine has always been outrageously expensive in Ireland but €13.30 a glass for a middle-of-the-road rosé?”

It does seem insanely steep to be fair and if you can get five decent-sized glasses of wine out of a bottle, the full 750ml of would have come with a price tag of €66.50.

But when it came to wine, there was something else coming up rosé... and it was, if anything, worse.

Neill Wylie got in touch to say he “was charged an eye watering €13.50 for a glass of rosé when I asked for the house wine” in a pub in Waterford.

Orla Ryan said her “drink of choice is a latte, but only with one shot. With coffee prices having increased, what I’m finding in many cafes is that there is no difference between one or two shots in price – how is this? I have begun to ask what is the price for one shot – there is less coffee should it not be less cost?”

Alan McCormack had just returned from a holiday in Portugal and like many Irish people – we suspect – found himself comparing the prices here and there and not in a way that made Ireland look great.

“Four pastries, an Americano and a chocolate milkshake cost €4.05 in the local cafe. In my local cafe in Dublin, a latte costs €3.95. How can we justify this enormous disparity in prices, even allowing for cost of living etc?”

Thomas Norris is Irish but has lived abroad for a long time. “I come home regularly and even more regularly recently for my elderly parents. I have flights booked for a weekend trip to see them. In the past I would only ever come back for an average of three weeks in summer with my own kids. Even four years ago I might have expected to pay €300 to €400 for a rental car. August was always more expensive, but affordable. We all know that prices for rental cars were ridiculous last year. I had one three week quote north of €2,500 but I thought, maybe this has come back to pre-Covid normality. Nope – €360.88 for a three-door mini for a weekend. The same weekend would have cost me €110. RIP Irish tourism.”

“As an Irish citizen living in France, I am sorry to have to say that my experience of Irish prices in recent years has had two major effects,” said Fiona Ecarnot. “Firstly, for three years (starting from the beginning of the pandemic), I couldn’t go to Ireland at all with my husband and four children; at the beginning because of restrictions, but later, due to the outrageous prices that were quite simply prohibitive.”

She said that last October, she was asked for €1,000 for a mid-range rental car for a week. “This is a major loss for my parents who have missed out on more than three years of their (only) grandchildren’s lives.

“The second effect, which to my mind is sadder for Ireland as a whole, is that I am reduced to discouraging any French friends from going to Ireland, be it on holidays or to live and/or study. French people are simply not accustomed to paying the sort of prices that have become routine in Ireland. The government here would never allow prices to spiral out of control in that manner, and the French wouldn’t accept it anyway. A bit of healthy demonstrating and striking can yield rewards from time to time. In addition, compared to the great value on offer in other European countries that are easier to get to from France (eg Spain and Portugal), there’s just no valid incentive to go to Ireland.”

Peter Gallagher was given a price of €109 (labour) by a car dealership “for affixing (or more exactly clipping on) a plastic moulding to the side of the driver seat. It took them over two weeks to return with this estimate. They said it will take 35 minutes to insert (because the seat needs to be removed – it doesn’t). I reckon it will take 10 seconds ... and believe me, I’m no genius at doing anything even remotely practical. Based on a 37.5 hour week, working 220 days a year, charging €160 per hour this mechanic will pull in €264,000 per year. Not bad ... Talk about price gouging.”

Conor Pope

Conor Pope

Conor Pope is Consumer Affairs Correspondent, Pricewatch Editor