RTÉ One, Wednesday, 8.30pm
The Consumer Show

The Consumer Show


Nissan Qashqai

We drink it, we flush it, we wash with it - water is the hot topic of the day and everyone wants to know how much it's going to cost us. The Consumer Show set out to discover just how much water the average family uses and how easy it is to reduce that usage and save money.

The Kinsella-Kenny family agreed to take part in our water experiment - Dublin City Council fitted a water meter into their home and we monitored the Kinsella-Kenny's daily water usage over a period of 2 weeks. Dad Donal was confident the family used 150-160 litres of water per day. Having taken regular meter readings over the fortnight, Eddie broke the news to the family that they actually used a minimum daily amount of 434 litres, while the maximum used on any day was 800 litres.

While we don't know how much this type of usage could cost an Irish consumer, in Britain it would cost about ¤500 per year, whereas in Denmark that level of water usage could cost as much as ¤1000 per year.

Shocked at these figures, the Kinsella-Kenny family readily took on the challenge to try and reduce their water usage over the following 2 weeks. They fitted gadgets such as a displacement device in the toilet to minimise the amount of water used in a flush, and worked hard to decrease the number of times the washing machine was used, to only drink from a pre-filled jug of water in the fridge and to turn off the tap when brushing teeth. As their levels of awareness rose, the Kinsella-Kenny family found themselves more and more conscious of every drop of water used.

Eddie returned at the end of the challenge and the family were delighted to hear they had reduced their usage by an average of 30%.

Conor Pope, Consumer Affairs Correspondant for The Irish Times joined Keelin to discuss the targets set for the installation of water meters throughout the country, and the costs involved.

Average Water Usage
Average daily use per person - 148 litres
Green Party recommended daily use per person - 40 litres
Washing Machine - 40 litres
Toilet Flush - 9 litres (per flush)
Hand Washing - 12 litres
Dishwasher - 10 litres
Washing Teeth - 6 litres
5-Minute Shower - 35 litres
5-Minute Power Shower - 125 litres
1-Hour Running Hose - 500 litres

Water Tips: Tips for conserving water at home

  • Keep a jug of water in the fridge.
    - Instead of letting the tap run when waiting for cold water, fill a jug of water and keep it in the fridge.
  • Use a basin to rinse/clean your fruit and vegetables
    - Instead of letting the tap run, use a basin to rinse/clean your fruit and vegetables. And you can use the leftover water to give your potted plants a drink.
  • Use a bucket of water not a hose
    - A hose uses more water in one hour than the average family uses in a day. The car will be just as clean using a bucket of water. Always use a bucket and sponge to clean windows or wash your car instead of a hose.
  • A third of all the water used in the house is flushed down the toilet.
    - Some larger toilet cisterns can continue to work effectively with a smaller flush. Place a displacement device such as a hippo bag or a bottle filled with water into the cistern.
  • Check that your home is leak free.
    - Check for running overflows and fix any dripping taps, cisterns or pipes. If you see a leak in a public place, please report it to us at the details below immediately.
  • Only use your appliances when they're full.
    - Turning the tap off when brushing your teeth can save over 7,000 litres of water per year.
    - Reduce the time you spend in the shower.
    - Know how to turn off your water supply . This could save thousands of litres of water and can prevent damage to your home in the event of a pipe burst.
    - Fill the kettle with enough water for your needs. You will save energy too!

Tips for conserving water in the garden:

  • Grass can survive for long periods without water and will quickly recover when the next rain showers arrive. Raising lawnmower blades to a higher level will help stop grass from scorching in warm weather. Leaving the clippings on the lawn protects roots and returns nutrients to the soil.
  • If you must water your plants, do it in the early morning or evening when it's cooler. Forget the hose and always use a watering can fitted with a rose.
  • Recycle your green kitchen waste in a compost bin. Compost provides valuable nutrients and helps retain moisture in the soil.
  • Don't use a hose when cleaning paths, patios and driveways. Use a shovel and brush instead.
  • Using mulch such as wood chips, bark or gravel will help prevent water evaporation and will suppress weed growth saving water and the need for weeding. These are especially valuable for shrubs, flowerbeds and new plantings.
  • Rainwater is excellent for your garden. Collect it in a water butt fed from your gutters but always make sure to securely cover large containers for safety.
  • Regularly weed and hoe your garden, to ensure that watering helps your plants and not your weeds.
  • Regularly check your outdoor taps, pipes and plumbing fixtures for leaks.
  • Use a basin in your sink to collect and reuse water for your garden plants.
  • Plant flowers and shrubs that like warm and dry conditions. Your local garden centre can give you advice. Established trees and shrubs do not need to be watered

Website: www.taptips.ie

Website: www.smartenergysystems.ie

  • Faucet aerators (from eur 4.31)
  • Showerheads - (from eur 34.44)
  • Water butts - (from eur 43.05)
  • Hippo cistern bags (eur 4.31)
  • Leak detection dye tablets- for wc's- (¤3.69)

Website: www.ecostore.ie Mecon Water Saver: 19.95 (button that converts a toilet to a variable flush) diy mountable in five minutes - saves up to 50% on water used in flushes.


Mortgage Interest Relief
In the last budget the government announced that a 30% mortgage interest relief scheme would be brought out to help those who bought their homes between 2004 and 2008. However, we have discovered that not all banks have implemented this scheme for their customers yet.

EBS - implemented since April
Bank of ireland - implemented since May
AIB - implemented since May
National Irish Bank - implemented since middle of May
KBC - implemented since May
Not implemented yet Bank of Scotland PLC (Certus) - will be implementing from June
IRBC (Irish Bank Resolution Corporation) *took over Irish Nationwide - will be implementing from June - 25% rate has been applied to accounts in interim period
Ulster Bank - changes will not be implemented until the end of year - 25% rate has been applied to accounts in interim period
Permanent TSB - will be implementing from June - 25% rate has been applied to accounts in interim period

Statements from Banks

"This is in place for customers since beginning of May after receiving relevant inputs from Revenue. It would not be appropriate for us to comment [on how many BOI customers qualify] on what is essentially a Revenue benefit and we receive instructions from them as to what customers qualify."

"AIB has worked in conjunction with Revenue Commissioners in relation to the application of the mortgage interest relief increase and confirm that the increase was implemented in early May. The total 2012 mortgage interest relief increase will be applied on a pro-rata basis for the remaining months of the year. Unfortunately, I can't disclose how many customers are affected by this."

"We can confirm that the Budget 2012's new TRS 30% rate has been implemented in National Irish Bank. On receiving the change specification from Revenue in late December 2011, the Bank immediately began the process of developing relevant systems. This process was completed by mid-May 2012, which means all relevant customers now benefit from these updated rates - together with backdated payments - on mortgage payments made on or after 17th May 2012. National Irish Bank administers TRS on behalf of Revenue to over 5,000 customer accounts."

"Yes, KBCI has implemented TRS relief to eligible customers. Customers received their first TRS at 30% on the 1/5/12. This included any additional TRS due since the new rate was introduced. Customers will receive their TRS on a monthly basis going forward at 30%. KBCI does not make public information on its customers who are eligible."

"EBS implemented the new mortgage interest relief rate of 30% for the April mortgage repayments. EBS has been passing on this TRS since April 2012. EBS currently receive instruction from Revenue to apply a TRS rate of 30% to approx 24,000 EBS mortgage accounts which we duly process on a monthly basis. Note these are accounts not the number of customers."

"BoS can confirm that the BoS mortgage account holding system has been updated with the new TRS rules and applied to qualifying mortgage accounts this month and those who qualify will see the impact of the increased TRS allowance in their monthly mortgage repayments from June 2012. BOS worked with the Irish Revenue to implement the 30% TRS rate in May 2012. TRS for 2012 will be pro-rated with increased TRS payments from June to end 2012 for qualifying mortgage accounts. The TRS for 2012 will be calculated on a pro rata basis we understand that this is in line with other financial institutions i.e. a customer will not receive a lump sum TRS payment in June to cover the period from 1st Jan - 31st May but will receive increased TRS payments from June to year end to take into account the increase from 1st Jan 2012. TRS will be applied from May and Borrowers will see the impact on their accounts from their June 2012 repayments. Bank of Scotland does not disclose customer figures."

IBRC (Irish Bank Resolution Corporation) *Took over Irish Nationwide
"The introduction of this new rate band necessitated all Lenders to make IT system changes to ensure that the new 30% TRS rate, including any previous amounts due to customers, can be processed and customer accounts credited accordingly. As a temporary measure IBRC customers entitled to the new 30% rate have been included in the 25% band rate in order to provide these customers with as much TRS as possible. IBRC plans to implement the 30% rate in June 2012 following the successful testing of those system changes. IBRC will, acting on instruction from Revenue, apply the full 30% TRS rate to customers together with any TRS amounts due from earlier months."

"We are liaising closely with Revenue to implement these changes for our eligible mortgage customers by the end of this year. A rate of 25% has been applied to these accounts in the interim period. We will ensure that our customers' Mortgage Interest Relief is brought fully up to date as the change is implemented."

As per information received from Inland Revenue in April 2012 35,365 Permanent TSB mortgage accounts qualify for this relief. Permanent TSB's schedule to deliver the TRS change is 1st June 2012.

The changes will be implemented on our mortgage system on 01/06/2012 and thereafter we can accept the new file-exchange structure from Revenue (inclusive of the new 30% tax rate and associated ceiling amount) which we normally receive from Revenue on the 12th of each month. Repayment changes will be applied to affected loans on a daily basis thereafter in line with the billing cycle and we will distribute any additional TRS due over the remaining months of 2012.

Due to the development changes required on our Mortgage System so that we can accept the new file-exchange structure from Revenue. The 25% interim rate has been applied.

A couple of weeks ago The Consumer Show reported on the high mortgage interest rates being endured by customers of Permanent TSB. Today PTSB announced a 0.5% cut in their variable mortgage rates for existing customers. Conor MacNally from the Action Group came back into studio and explained to Keelin that while the rates were certainly moving in the right direction, they still had a long way to go and the action group would be continuing with their campaign to try and have the rates reduced further.

Never before have we seen such a split in the mortgage market - some borrowers are charging variable interest rates that are 150% higher than their counterparts. Bill Tyson set out to explore why this is happening and meet the people who are affected by the extra financial burden they have to carry every month.

Karen & Paul Donohue took out a 35-year mortgage with Permanent TSB of just under ¤300,000 in 2005. They have worked out that if they had taken their mortgage out with a lender who charges more competitive rates than PTSB, they could be saving themselves between ¤360 and ¤380 per month. If they had their mortgage with AIB, over the lifetime of their 35 year mortgage they could have saved almost ¤160,000. Unfortunately the Donohues have found it impossible to change their mortgage provider in the current climate, and so have no choice but to keep paying the higher interest rates that are being charged by PTSB.

Michael Dowling, Independent Mortgage Advisor's Federation, explains that when the financial crisis hit, Permanent TSB had a disproportionate amount of tracker mortgages on their books and subsequently they have been trying to rebalance their books. The impact of this is being felt by their customers who are on variable interest rates and who are paying at least 2% higher than the best variable rate currently available. Unfortunately for these customers, the banks that are currently lending are not refinancing anybody else's mortgage, which means there is no alternative for PTSB customers.

Conor & Tanya McNally bought their home 3 years ago. The variable interest rate charged on their mortgage went from 3.1% (2009) to 4.65% (2010) then 6.15% (2011) and is now at 5.19%. The downturn in Conor's business, combined with the increase in their mortgage interest rate, meant that the McNally's struggled to meet their monthly repayments and they are now on an under-payment scheme with PTSB. This means that the capital of the mortgage is not getting paid off and Conor fears their situation is only getting worse.

Keelin spoke with some members of an action group who are joining forces to try and get a better deal from PTSB.

Permanent TSB bank recognises the difficulties facing mortgage customers in the current economic climate. The bank is committed to transparency between cost of funds and pricing of mortgages.

The question of mortgage pricing, however, cannot be decoupled from the broader question of permanent tsb's future.

The board and new management of the bank is currently engaged in detailed discussions on its future strategy with all stakeholders which it is determined will enable it to take action, amongst other things, to bring the standard variable rates for mortgage customers in line with the broader market over time.

The new management are clear that tackling this issue within appropriate financial constraints is a priority.

This matter will be considered again in the light of discussions with various stakeholders which are underway this week.

Permanent TBS bank works hard to avoid situations where repossessions are necessary and in over 90% of cases where customers are having difficulty, the bank makes an offer to restructure the facility. In terms of forced repossessions, the bank only resorts to these as a very last resort and was involved in less than a handful over the past year or 18 months. How much the bank makes from mortgages is driven by what is called the Net Interest Margin. This figure [NIM] has been falling consistently as the cost of money has risen over recent years. This table outlines changes to the NIM over some recent years.
Year NI margin %

1995 2.75
1996 - 2.72
1997 - 2.40
1998 - 2.15
1999 - 1.98
2000 - 1.58
2001 - 1.90
2002 - 1.78
2003 - 1.63
2004 - 1.40
2005 - 1.29
2006 - 1.19
2007 - 1.17
2008 - 1.05
2009 - 0.83
2010 - 0.65

The Central Bank has no statutory function in regard to interest rate decisions made by banks. The Central Bank has on-going engagement with all mortgage lenders to ensure that they enhance the range of options they are providing to borrowers in arrears and to improve their operational capacity in this regard.

Neither the Central Bank nor the Department of Finance has a statutory function in regard to interest rate decisions made by banks. The Deputy Governor of the Central Bank has stated to the Government that, within its existing powers and through the use of suasion, the Central Bank will engage with specific lenders which appear to have standard variable rates set disproportionate to their cost of funds. Within this framework, we will continue to work with PTSB on the development of its future plans.

We need to be absolutely sure that we do not do anything which restricts or hinders the flow of credit.

Catherine with Rosaria and Rosaria's daughter

Nissan Qashqai
Claudette Callaghan purchased her Nissan Quashqai new in 2008. In 2010 the driver and passenger internal door handles started to chip, causing papercut-type cuts on her hands and others when opening the door.

She went to the garage where she purchased the car, Windsor Liffey Valley, and they arranged replacements under warranty. However, the same thing started happening again in February 2012. When Claudette contacted Windsor Liffey Valley, they contacted Nissan Ireland on her behalf. Nissan Ireland advised that they would cover 50pc of the parts costs (but no labour) as a gesture of goodwill as she was out of warranty. The cost came to ¤181.

Claudette kept disputing this and Nissan said that if she paid ¤78 towards the cost of the handles, they would give her a discount of ¤78 off her next service. However, Claudette still felt frustrated by this as this is a problem which has reoccurred and the parts are still less than 2 years old. That's when she contacted The Consumer Show.

Eddie made contact with the MD of Windsor Motor Group to explain Claudette's problems with her car and remind them that while her car may have been out of warranty, her basic consumer rights still meant that the car (and its handles) should be fit for purpose. Windsor Motors agreed, as a goodwill gesture, to fix Claudette's car handles free of charge.

Statement from Windsor Motors:

Re: Claudette Callaghan

Thank you for contacting me in relation to Claudette Callaghan. This car is outside manufacturer's three year warranty and we had offered to fix the problem if she made a contribution to the cost.

I am delighted to say that as a goodwill gesture Windsor Motors will fix the problem with her doorhandle at no cost to her. Our branch in Liffey Valley will carry out the repair and they will contact her to arrange a suitable time.

Statement from Nissan Ireland

It is company policy not to comment in detail on individual cases. Nissan Ireland and its dealers takes customer care very seriously and offers a comprehensive back up service throughout a vehicle's life cycle, including a comprehensive 3 year warranty on all our passenger cars from date of first registration. We will also investigate any customer query with the individual & dealership involved and deal with the issue accordingly. This can also include goodwill gestures outside of the warranty period where appropriate.







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