This week Eddie was in Trim, Co. Meath to listen to consumers talking about the banks and their savings. He also met Noeleen Pearle from Summerhill who volunteers with the 'Third Age' national telephone helpline, fielding calls. She explained that many of the callers to the help-line are older consumers concerned about their savings.
Deposit Guarantee Scheme
If your deposits with a bank are ¤100,000 or less
The maximum you can claim is ¤100,000 for each institution in the scheme. The scheme works by adding up all the deposits you have with that institution, including your share of any joint accounts. If you have more than ¤100,000 with an institution, you will still only be entitled to a maximum of ¤100,000. You may be entitled to additional compensation under the Government Guarantee if you have more than ¤100,000 on deposit with one institution.
If your deposits with a bank are more than ¤100,000
The first ¤100,000 of your deposit with an institution is guaranteed under the Deposit Guarantee Scheme for the institutions listed in the scheme. If your deposit with an institution is over ¤100,000, the remainder may be covered by the Credit Institutions (Eligible Liabilities Guarantee) Scheme 2009 (the ELG Scheme). This is also sometimes called the 'Government Guarantee'.
The current end date for the ELG Scheme is 31 December 2011. This date can be extended further with EU state aid approval and any announcements regarding an extension will be made before 31 December 2011.
Useful Deposit Account Information:
Irish Deposit Accounts are subject to Deposit Interest Retention Tax (DIRT). Accounts opened outside of Ireland (both within and outside of the EU) are also liable for tax as follows:
DIRT on Irish accounts:
Deposit Interest earned in another EU State
Any interest earned on deposits with financial institutions in other EU States is liable to tax at the same rate that applies to deposit interest that is earned on deposits with Irish financial institutions (27%/30%) as appropriate.
In order to avail of this rate, the deposit interest received should be included on your annual return of income and be returned by the relevant return filing date (i.e. 31st October in the year after the year of assessment). If the deposit interest is not returned on the return of income or the return of income is not filed on time, the deposit interest received is liable to tax at the person's marginal rate of tax.
Deposit Interest earned outside the EU
Interest earned on deposits held outside of the EU is liable to tax at the person's marginal rate of tax. In both cases above, Self-Assessment rules would apply.
When you buy a leather sofa it could be covered in full grain leather (the whole hide) top grain (the topmost layer of the hide) or from what is called a 'split'. This is where the hide is split several times to create multiple hides but these are not of the same durability or quality as the top grain. If too many splits are taken from one piece of skin, they can be quite weak. Splits are sometimes finished with a Polyurethane or PVC coating, which can add to the strength of the split.
Are there any relevant labelling laws?
There is a standard on the characteristics of leather for upholstery but labelling legislation relating to leather is more complicated. Because it is an animal hide, leather is not covered by current textile labelling laws. So, at present, there is no legal requirement in Ireland for a sofa made from 100% leather to be labelled as such.
Furniture which is covered in at least 80% (by weight) of manmade textile components (such as Polyurethane) must be labelled as such. However if the covering consists of less than 80% textile it does not require a label.
Are there any other laws that protect the consumer?
Under the Sale of Goods and Supply of Services Act 1980, a product must be of merchantable quality, fit for purpose and as described. Also under the Consumer Protection Act 2007, which covers misleading practices, there is a section that is related to information on the "composition, ingredients, components or accessories" of a product. So in other words, the seller should be giving an accurate description of the sofa and if it is described as durable for example, then it should be.
TIPS when buying a leather sofa by Roy Mooney, The Consumer Show's leather expert
Is this natural grain or imitation grain?
If the seller doesn't know then walk away
Can I see a sample swatch of the leather?
This should always be available. Back and front should be similar in colour and the colour should match all parts.
Look at the back and side panels
If it's real grain leather the panels will be small. Large panels indicate the grain is not natural
Ask for country of manufacture
If far away consider the cost of freight
You only get what you pay for.
How to save on your Energy Bills
Bord Gáis Energy has warned that Energy prices will rise later this year, due to higher oil prices as the unrest in the Middle East continues. Architect Dermot Bannon has some savvy ways to save money on your energy bills. Changes as small as light bulb, to more major investments to make your home more energy efficient can save you money. Many of the measures suggested are eligible for grants from the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland; you can find more details on their website www.seai.ie
DERMOT BANNON'S VALUE FOR MONEY ENERGY SAVING TIPS*
* Costs stated above are approximate and based on an average three bed, semi-detached house.