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04 – It’s All About Value

Getting Great Value All the evidence shows that more of us are looking for better value in the products and services we spend our hard-earned cash on. Ben Murnane spoke to Fergal O’Leary at the National Consumer Agency to get the facts

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n recent times the word ‘value’ has become ever more important to Irish consumers. No longer a word we simply see on ads or in company slogans, value is something we are more actively looking for in our day-to-day lives. While this is of course as a result of the economic climate – we have less disposable income and so are looking to spend the cash we do have more wisely – it is still encouraging that consumers are driving increased competition and prices are coming down across a whole range of sectors. “Not only the research we’ve published but figures from the Central Statistics

Stretch Your Euro

Top Tips for Getting Great Value No matter what you’re buying, there are a few golden rules that you should follow to make sure you get the best deal possible. Know your budget and stick to it Nothing is good value if you can’t afford it or you need to get into unwanted debt to buy it! Make sure you have all the information you need before you buy. Shop around Use all the resources at your disposal to investigate the options available to you. Compare prices. Understand specifications, options, terms and conditions. If you don’t like what is being offered to you, you can walk away. Watch out for added extras Always check what is and is not included in the basic price of an item. Make choices based on what you want and need from a product or service. Haggle or negotiate when you can Your money is worth as much to you as it is to a supplier. Smart business people will never refuse a fair deal – so ask for a fair deal and see what happens! Use it or lose it – make the most of freebies, discounts and other benefits If you have coupons or money-saving vouchers, use them. If you are entitled to any benefits or tax exemptions, make sure you claim them. In many cases, consumers don’t get them because they don’t ask. The worst that can happen is that you will be told “No”! Irish Independent

Office show that prices are coming down,” says Fergal O’Leary, Senior Research Officer with the National Consumer Agency (NCA). A recent report from the NCA showed significant reductions in grocery prices across all the major supermarket chains since the start of the year – along with increased competition between brands and stores, which is all good for us, the consumers. Shopping around The National Consumer Agency commissions Amárach Research to do continuing market research on a range of consumer experiences. Their report from July 2009 shows that one in two shoppers have changed the way they do their grocery shopping since the start of the year – with price being the key factor for consumers in choosing where they do their main grocery shop, followed by convenience. Three in four consumers also now consistently shop around for better prices. “Another piece of research that we published recently was to do with switching,” says Fergal. “And in that we found that the number of people switching service providers is on the rise. There’s probably no great surprise there, but some encouraging things we did find were

Know Your Consumer Rights! Whenever you buy goods, you make a contract with the shop or seller who sold them to you. The seller agrees to provide certain goods to you for a certain price, and those goods should be: • Of an acceptable standard • Fit for the purpose they were bought for • As described. In other words, false or exaggerated claims must not be made by the seller If the goods fail to comply with any of these criteria – for example, if they turn out to be faulty – you have certain clear rights under consumer law. These entitlements are known as the three Rs: • Repair • Replacement • Refund

that of the people who had switched in the last 12 months, four out of five found the process easy, and then four out of five people saved money as well.” The people who take the time to do their homework and shop around for better deals are being rewarded. The NCA’s research also shows, says Fergal, “that businesses are listening to consumers”. Shopping differently The way Irish people shop for a whole

variety of products and services has clearly changed. We are not just going with the brands we’re familiar with anymore, but looking for good deals wherever they may be found. “Consumers aren’t as wedded to brands as they were in the past and if they see a deal out there they’re more inclined to go for it than they were before,” Fergal comments. “That’s very welcome because consumer inertia is a bad thing not only for consumers but for businesses as well,


05 – It’s All About Value

Prices

What You Need To Know As a consumer you have the right to clear indications of the prices of goods and where charges for services are displayed, these must be accurate. Legal obligations Shops have legal obligations to display truthful actual prices, previous prices and recommended prices of their goods and services. But if a shop makes an honest mistake – for example, some labels are wrong and the marked price is lower than what the price should be – you don’t have an automatic right to buy the goods at the marked price. All these laws are about protecting your rights as a consumer, and about helping you to compare prices and make informed choices. because it leads to poor customer service.” And what would be Fergal’s own top tips for getting value when you’re out and about shopping? “The top tip that I would have would always be to read the small print on any good or service that you’re buying. That’s where the little bit of homework that people do is so important. “Even in your day-to-day spending – know your budget. There’s an old saying that nothing is good value if you can’t afford it. Watch out for any hidden extras in the services you sign up to. Always check to see what is included in the basic price of an item. And shop around on everything you can!” The Consumer Value section of the NCA’s website, www.consumerconnect. ie, is constantly being updated with great tips and advice on a range of topics – so be sure to check it out for more about how you can save. While the current consumer trends are certainly a function of our economic times, Fergal hopes that Irish consumers’ interest in value and getting the best deals possible will continue long after the R-word has faded into memory. “In the long term maybe it will lead to a change in the consumer landscape in Ireland. We’re all probably more inclined to look into our wallets and see is there a better use of the money that is hard-earned by all of us.” The National Consumer Agency’s website is packed with even more great tips and advice for consumers on a whole host of topics – check out www.consumerconnect.ie Irish Independent


Getting Great Value  

Feature in It's All About Value magazine with the Irish Independent, September 2009

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