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“It is only when you look at your credit card and you think God Almighty, that’s ridiculous.”
It is reassuring to hear that even consumer affairs queen Gloria Hunniford makes the occasional spending mistake. The distinguished broadcaster has signed up with Electric Ireland to share her top tips in ‘Gloria’s Guide to Staying Happy with Electric Ireland’ and I caught up with her to chat about spending and saving.
From Rip Off Britain to Charlie’s Consumer Angels, Hunniford has a long history of investigating scams and looking out for the average shopper on the street.
I asked the Portadown-born broadcaster what she thought were the most common mistakes people make and fans of a quick click won’t like the answer.
“I think we are all guilty of not reading terms and conditions properly. Some of them are so wordy and long it would take you a week to read them so a lot of us say ‘Do I just sign here?’.
“We sign too quickly without realising what you’re signing into. That is one of the most important things, know what it is you are buying and research it properly.
“We have seen some horrific cases on Rip Off Britain where people think that they are being ripped off, but then it is pointed out to them that is written in black and white — so I think you have to be very aware.”
Hunniford is a big fan of research and believes people should spend time to make sure they are getting a product that suits their needs.
“If you’re doing insurance, say for holidays, you’ve got to be sure that you have the right cover for the holiday. People can have inadequate insurance or wrong insurance and then get stranded abroad and wonder why.”
Managing money is something that should be taught to children from a young age, something she tries to do herself as a mother and grandmother.
“I have a grandson who has just moved into a flat and it has been a hell of shock moving from a well-provided beautiful home to moving in with a couple of mates and realising that you have to buy the food, cook the food, pay the energy bills, pay this, pay that.
“So I think it is really important that children know the value of money and how to get good deals.”
She also aims to practice what she preaches when it comes to keeping track of spending in every area of life.
“Since the recession set in we all have to count the pennies. There are times when you have to look at how much money you are spending in a certain area.
“We discovered at one point that we were spending too much money on eating out. It is only when you look at your credit card and you think, God Almighty, that’s ridiculous. So we cut that right back.
“So I think being aware of your bills and checking your bills all the time is important. I have found endless mistakes on my credit card bills over the year. You have to be really fastidious, which I am.”
And her personal pet hate when it comes to finances? “I personally never shop online and I would not trust online banking, not ever.”
Hunniford says she has investigated too many online scams over the years on Rip Off Britain to trust internet banking and this was compounded when she was the victim of an identity theft scam herself.
She recovered all the money that was taken but it has left her even more determined to stick with companies that offer consistent pricing and good customer service.
“I’m looking for that loyalty. It could be to do with my age but I am looking for reliability.
“I’m looking for customer service and I want to know that issues are being dealt with well. I want to be made to feel that I am being heard, because in some places you don’t.
“I’m not interested in being drawn into joining online and then after a year they whack your premium right up.”
Vodafone Ireland has launched a new pay as you go plan exclusively aimed at students.
Vodafone X is based on a €20 top up every four weeks and there are three different versions of the plan to cater for customers’ different tastes. All three will offer students a massive 20GB of 4G data and 100 minutes plus unlimited texts to any network.
In addition, customers who choose Vodafone X Music will also get Spotify Premium while Vodafone X Sport comes with Sky Sports mobile TV.
Vodafone X Weekend is for the true phone addict. In addition to the 20GB allowance it also comes with unlimited data, minutes, and texts from 3pm on Fridays until 11.59pm on Sundays.
Vodafone X is eligible to anyone with a valid Student ID, both existing customers and those switching from another provider. In both cases customers can keep their existing number. Sign up through Facebook or at any Vodafone store.vodafone.ie/vodafonex
If there are any consumer issues that you’d like Gráinne to address or if you have problems that Gráinne could help with, she can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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