RTÉ One, Tuesday, 8.30pm
The Consumer Show

The Consumer Show

Catherine with Rosaria and Rosaria's daughter

Programme 2: 26th April

Mortgage Arrears
Are you in Mortgage Arrears? Or are you worried that you soon will be? If so, you are not alone. Almost 6% of mortgage holders are unable to meet their full repayments. Central Bank figures show how precariously balanced many of those homeowners on the edge are. More than 44,000 mortgage holders are over 90 days behind their repayments, with 32,000 of those six months behind. Almost 60,000 mortgage holders have agreed new deals with lenders in a bid to cope with mounting debts, but almost half of them have already fallen back into arrears. In effect, this means that almost 80,000 (or 1 in 10) residential mortgages are in difficulty.

This week on The Consumer Show, Joe O'Shea meets Kate Kelly who, like thousands of people across Ireland, was hit hard by the Recession. Unable to meet their mortgage repayments and with other debts hanging over them, Kate and her husband fled to the UK in 2009 to start a new life. However, their debt has caught up with them. Kate wants to share her story as she doesn't want to see anyone else to go through the same problems.

Salt
This week Keelin gets to grips with one of Ireland's most deadly silent killers - Salt. Irish people are eating twice as much salt as they should - over 9g daily, that's more than one and half tea-spoons. But the recommended amount is 4g per day, just over half a tea-spoon. The Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) has issued a voluntary code about salt content to food manufacturers but take-up has been very poor.

A small reduction in salt intake in Ireland could result in 700 less heart and stroke-related deaths every year. But as the FSAI is finding, it's difficult to persuade manufacturers to follow its voluntary code because consumers flee to competing brands when taste changes. Lifestyles now have a lot to do with our salt overload - we're time poor and more likely than ever to rely on processed foods, fast foods or eating out. Consumers can also sometimes be hampered by the fact that salt content isn't always clearly labeled on the foods we buy. To illustrate this, Keelin is visits the Smith family, with the help of nutritionist Janis Morrissey, she examines the family's salt intake on a daily, weekly and yearly basis extrapolating from their weekly shopping. In studio, Keelin talks to Dr Wayne Anderson of the FSAI about their commitment to reducing consumers' salt intake in Ireland.

Wedding Lists Unwrapped
Prince William and Kate made a public request to wedding guests not to give them presents. As a nation, the Irish are a bit shyer about voicing our gift preferences. This certainly seems to be the case when it comes to weddings. Research by www.mrs2be.ie found that cash and gift cards are a wedding couple's preferred gift option. Many couples set up a Wedding List instead. But what are the benefits of Wedding Gift Lists and are there any downsides to these services. Tina Leonard had a look at the small print in Ireland's leading department store...

Arnotts:

Perks Drawbacks
Option to take purchases home
Gift Card worth 5% of total spent on
list Gift Vouchers posted free
'Delivery and admin' charge ¤7.50 per order

Clerys:

Perks Drawbacks
Option to take purchases home
Clerys Gift Voucher worth 10% of
total spent on list 10% discount
off any gifts remaining on list
Gift vouchers posted free
Free Beauty Consultation 3 mini facials
Coffee voucher
Delivery within Dublin: ¤50.00 Outside Dublin: ¤100.00

Debenhams:

Perks Drawbacks
Option to take purchases home
€75 gift card
10% off any gifts remaining on list
Free delivery of your gifts
none

The Wedding Shop at Brown Thomas:

Perks Drawbacks
Gift Card worth 5% of total spent on
list 10% off any gifts remaining on list
10% discount for life in 'The Wedding Shop'
Delivery is compulsory
€7.00 delivery and admin charge per order
€500-€750 'Wedding Cancellation' Fee

Based on the drawbacks of the service provided by Arnotts and The Wedding Shop at Brown Thomas, The Consumer Show asked them to comment on these drawbacks, their responses are as follows:

Arnotts
Arnotts charges a €7.50 delivery and administration fee per order for wedding guests, to cover one or multiple items, irrelevant of the price of the item or items. There is no €7.50 charge for gift vouchers purchased and couples can chose to have a' gift voucher only' wedding list with Arnotts. There is no delivery charge for the couple and we make as many deliveries as necessary to deliver all gifts to the couple. We offer every couple 5% of the value of their wedding list as a gift on an Arnotts Gift Card.

The Wedding Shop at Brown Thomas
The Wedding Shop at Brown Thomas offers a highly personalised, first class service to both the couples and their guests alike.

We pride ourselves in offering a wedding gift list service that is second to none. Not only can couples compile a gift list from our unrivalled products available in store, they can also benefit from a wealth of brands far beyond the shop floor with over 250 brands to choose from.

The Wedding Shop at Brown Thomas likes to give something back, so our couples receive 5% of the total value of their gift list in the form of a Brown Thomas gift card, so that the enjoyment and indulgence of their wedding day can last that little bit longer. Couples also receive a lifetime 10% discount on any additional purchases made from brands included on the wedding list.

The couple also benefits from the full flexibility of the service provided and our flexible online service. Couples also have the option to change any gifts if they so wish. This allows the couple to take time with their selection and not to feel pressurised to make decisions when confirming the original list.

Our fully trained consultants help compile a gift list that is reflective of the couples requirements and individual style. They will also ensure that the list appeals to their guests, enabling the guest to purchase the gift effortlessly. The administration charge goes towards the additional cost associated with fulfilling, storing and delivering the wedding list gifts. We are aware that in these times of economic struggle our customers expect increased value for money, as such our policy is currently under review.

The wedding list cancellation charge is part of our standard terms and conditions, however in practice we take a very sympathetic view and approach each on an individual basis. A certain amount of discretion is used depending on the circumstances and also number of guests who have already purchased. This charge reflects the considerable time and resource that goes into the consultation process, compilation of a wedding gift list and the work generated in the professional handling of the cancellation process and the refunding of all guest purchases.

The Consumer Show Trolley
Since January The Consumer Show has been tracking the prices of everything from fruit and veg, to bread, milk, cereals, soft drinks even detergents. We have been tracking the prices of branded and non branded goods in Tesco, Dunnes Stores, Superquinn, Supervalu and Lidl and Aldi.

Since last week we have seen the following changes in price for the same 50 products.

Prices at Superquinn have risen 7 euro and 10 cent.

Prices at Dunnes Stores have risen 2 euro, 64 cents.

At Tesco our trolley of goods has risen 7 euro 58 cents

And the only supermarket where prices have fallen is Supervalu their prices fell 5 euro and 47 cent, making Supervalu the cheapest this week for the Consumer Show trolley by 19 cent

As well big four supermarkets. This week we've added Lidl and Aldi -

Between Lidl and Aldi there was very little variation in prices.

But with these two shops we could only compare non branded goods available in their two stores.

As between the big four the comparison was between an identical trolley of branded and non branded goods.

If you want to check the prices for your grocery shop or create your own shopping list with the cheapest products available, you can do it at one one of two independent supermarket price comparison websites.

They are www.fitthebill.ie (no subscription) and www.smartshopper.ie (¤11.99 subscription a year).

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