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Consumer rights are not protected

This article in the Irish Times (now free) is an important description of the problems with the National Consumer Agency and other bodies by Michael Casey, a former assistant director of the Central Bank of Ireland.

UPDATE: Ann FitzGerald of the National Consumer Agency responds.

In my view and experience, Casey is right and FitzGerald is wrong. My experience is that the NCA is reluctant to intervene on behalf of consumers even in straightforward matters. They are much slower to act than the predecessor organization, the Office of the Director of Consumer Affairs. It takes months of calls and emails to get them to even respond on a simple issue. They have a load of powers, but don’t seem to be bothered to even write a letter to try to enforce the rules.

Their call centre is 150 miles away from the head office, and the calls that are logged there are mostly ignored in my experience.
Every strategic consumer issue FitzGerald mentions where the NCA has intervened has turned into a mess. The Dublin Transport Authority Bill fails to provide for a proper regulator for public transport in Dublin, with the Transport Authority having no meaningful power to sanction Dublin Bus if it its service is below-par. The e-tolling situation which FitzGerald mentions has panned out as a disaster for consumers, with a ridiculous minimum monthly charge, whether you actually use any toll roads or not.

Consumers are in a weaker position now than when the NCA was established. Hopefully it will be merged with another agency during the current round of cutbacks.

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