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RTÉ One, Tuesday, 8.30pm
The Consumer Show

The Consumer Show

Topics

Waste Charges
Beauty Trap
Rugby Routes
Energy Bill

Catherine with Rosaria and Rosaria's daughter

Waste Charges
The typical Irish household generates 840 kilos of waste a year - 10 ten times the weight of an average Irish male, costing most of us anywhere between ¤200 and ¤400 per annum.

Like many other Irish families, the Clarkes are not sure how much their bin charges are and feel there isn't much they can do to reduce their waste. We decided to put the Clarke family to the test to see if they could change their ways and put as little as possible into the black bin to become a zero waste house.

We installed a green cone into the Clarkes' garden which will break down all the food waste and kitchen scraps that were going in to the black bin. The family got to grips with recycling, as Dr Jonathan Derham of Environmental Protection Agency explained - "the more they recycle, the less they'll have to pay".

Two weeks on and the Clarkes are surprised at how effective their new recycling systems are - the Green Cone composter is eating a container full of cooked and uncooked kitchen scraps every day, so that hardly anything is going into the black bin. As the waste collectors came round, the Clarkes were delighted to learn that their black bin weighed less than 4kilos, more than 30kilos less than their average bin weight before the challenge. If they continue to be this waste-wise for the year, the Clarke family's waste charges should be ¤62.50, giving them an annual saving of ¤175.

Waste Wise Tips:
Don't forget that all of these items can all be recycled:
Food Waste
Vegetable Clippings
Aerosol Dispensers
Steel Food Cans
Shampoo Bottles
Shower Gel Bottles
Detergent Bottles
Soup Cartons
Aluminium Trays (from apple tarts, pies etc)

Recycle more materials more often:
Learn what your contractor will accept
Know yourself what materials you can put in each of your household bins
Use your local recycling centre
Use your brown bin to greater effect - if smells and residue are a problem purchase
Biodegradable bin liners - available from most supermarkets
Bring old clothes to the local clothes bank or charity shop

When recycling remember three things:
WASH - wash away any food or liquid residue in containers
SQUASH - if it squashes squash it
POP - pop it in your recycling bin or bring to your nearest recycling centre for recycling

For more information on how to save on household waste, check out our Zero Waste Guide (link to Zero Waste Guide) or visit www.recyclemore.ie and www.stopfoodwaste.ie

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Beauty Trap
We might be in the midst of our worst recession, but the average Irish consumer still spends over ¤1500 a year on the internet - and beauty products account for a big part of this spend. But some online purchases, as Bill Tyson discovered, can lead to a serious case of buyer's remorse.

Kitty Dillon from Dingle came across a website offering a free sample of beauty cream. As there was a small postage fee involved, Kitty inputted her credit card details in order to avail of the free sample. It was only once Kitty got her Visa bill that she realized she had been charged twice by the company, to the total value of ¤184. Kitty had not read the small print of the offer, which stated that if she didn't cancel the order within 14 days she would get a monthly delivery of the cream at ¤90 per month. Visa eventually agreed to refund Kitty's money pending a review, and for peace of mind Kitty also cancelled her credit card.

When Trish Glynn from Greystones ordered a free sample of Acai Power Blast capsules online. Shortly after receiving her free offer, Trish noticed a deduction of ¤70 from her credit card. She contacted her credit card company straight away who said that they would stop that particular online merchant from taking any further payments from her account. But the payments continued to be charged to her card, under different online merchant names. Her card was debited four times by different online merchants before Trish cancelled her credit card.

Internet schemes such as those experienced by Kitty and Trish are a global business. The US authorities are cracking down on deceptive internet practices and only recently, the Federal Trade Commission secured a judgement of $359m against Jesse Willms, a 24-year old Canadian as a result of deceptive internet marketing duping 4 million consumers worldwide.

Caroline Curneen of the European Consumer Centre explains that while there is nothing illegal about offering a free trial which turns into a paying subscription, consumers should be wary that a 'free trial' frequently comes with a price tag for future supplies of the product. Online shoppers should always be careful to read the small print and keep a close eye on credit card bills.

If you do find that you have unintentionally signed up for a subscription you don't want you should:

  • Contact the seller and cancel the contract
  • Contact your credit company to stop payment to the merchant who deducted payment
  • As a last resort, cancel your credit card

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Rugby Routes
In just 10 days time we've got the all-Ireland Heineken Cup Final between Ulster and Leinster taking place in Twickenham. Thousands of Irish fans will be making the trip. Travel writer Pól Ó Conghaile joined us in studio to tell us about the best travel options available to the rugby fans among us:

Scheduled Flights
Main Options: Dublin: Aer Lingus to Heathrow, Gatwick; Ryanair to Gatwick, Stanstead, Luton; Air France to London City. We can check the current fares on Tuesday morning. Currently up to ¤300 one-way. NB: Ryanair has just put on 12 extra flights on May 19, 10 from Dublin-London Gatwick, and two from Derry to London Gatwick. Prices currently quoting at ¤144/£139 one-way - what the airline says are "the lowest Heineken Cup fares".

Alternatives:
Look at flying from Cork, Shannon or Knock. Look at flying into Birmingham (an hour by train from London) or Bristol (2hr15mins drive from Twickenham), as alternatives to the London airports. Can you travel midweek, and make a holiday of it, staying with friends in London? Could you fly via Paris? ¤130 Dublin-PCDG; PCDG-LHR (¤116) on May 19.

NB. Heathrow is the closest airport with simplest connections, just six miles from Twickenham, so I'd advise it as the best one to fly into. Twickenham is 20 miles from London City Airport, 30 miles from Gatwick, 30 from Stanstead and 40 miles from Luton.

Charters / Packages
Options:

Joe Walsh Tours (joewalshtours.ie): ¤329 plus ¤75 tax. As the official partner to Leinster Rugby, it also offers face value match tickets at ¤77.
John Galligan Travel (jgt.ie): ¤329 plus ¤70 tax.
Killester Travel (killestertravel.com): Packages include same-day return (¤400), one-night with accommodation 3-star (May 18-19, from ¤510)
Abbey Travel (abbeytravel.ie) has same-day flights and transfers from ¤390pp.

NB: These typically include flights, transfers to the stadium, and the assistance of reps. Same-day packages will save you the cost of accommodation. Match tickets NOT Included.
NB. They will depart around 8am, return 10pm approx. on May 19.

Ferries
Options:

Dublin:
Irish Ferries Jonathan Swift fast-ferry sails to Holyhead at 08.45 and 14.30 (sailings take under 2hrs), with the conventional Ulysses also departing daily at 08.05 and 20.55 (3hrs 20 mins).
Stena Line sails to Holyhead at 02.15, 08.20, 16.00 and 21.15 (3hrs 15mins). The Stena HSS fastcraft operates a summer route from Dun Laoghaire with a daily departure at 13.15 (sailings take 2hrs).
Prices from ¤200 each way for car plus four passengers (i.e. ¤100pp). Both companies offer 'Sail & Rail' prices from ¤45 each way.

Rosslare:
Stena Line sails to Fishguard daily at 09.15 and 21.00 (3hrs 30mins).
Irish Ferries also sails twice a day to Pembroke.
Stena Line is offering return travel by car from Rosslare to Fishguard from ¤87.50pp return, Dublin Port to Holyhead from ¤99.50pp return ¤107pp return from Dun Laoghaire to Holyhead - all based on a car and four people travelling.

NB: All prices based on availability.
NB: This is definitely the longest route to get to Twickenham, but if you group four passengers into one car, it could also work out as the cheapest. You may need to depart the previous day.
NB: London is a 5 hour drive (450km) from Twickenham, for example. So you need to factor petrol too, and parking. Pembroke/Fishguard are about 380km (allow 4.5 hours).
NB: Ferry companies have reported a surge in bookings since Leinster qualified. Irish Ferries alone will be providing capacity of 8,000 passengers, the equivalent of around 50 flights.

Belfast
Options:
Scheduled flights to Heathrow, Luton, Stanstead, Gatwick. Current prices looking at ¤400pp return with AL, but an overnight is necessary on this flight. Packages - e.g. Ulster Sports Travel has same day return from £275 plus tax, or one-night in 4-star from £255 plus tax using Birmingham scheduled flights.

NB: Normally, travelling fans might look at driving to Belfast and taking a flight to avoid the price hikes in Dublin, but this won't work --- ULSTER are travelling too!

Energy Bill
We received an email from Mike Webb in Clonmel to say he was seriously taken aback when he opened an ESB bill for his storage room. This storage room was rarely used but had one lightblulb and did have its own separate meter. Mike was shocked to discover that while only one unit of electricity had been used over the past 58 days, that one unit cost Mike nearly ¤50. When Mike broke down the bill he found the one unit of electricity cost 18c, but there was a VAT charge, a standing order charge, a levy and a low usage charge of ¤22.

Mike contacted ESB and was told that they had introduced a low usage charge in February 2012 to cover the costs of supplying to premises with low consumption.

The Consumer Show got in touch with the Commission for Energy Regulation and they say that since the market was deregulated they have stop setting the prices charged by Electric Ireland, but they do advise all consumers to shop around. Providers Bord Gais and Airtricity have said they will not be introducing a low usage charge for energy.

Do remember to compare all the standing charges and tariffs as they do vary significantly between the companies. Check out comparison websites such as www.bonkers.ie

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