Smart Consumer: Another way to avoid online booking fees
Further to last week's column on avoiding airline charges, Katherine O'Boyle from Dublin got in touch to say that she used a Visa debit card, available from Ulster Bank, like a Visa Electron to book flights with Aer Lingus and avoided paying the booking charge.
The Visa Debit card is different to the Visa Electron card. Offered by Ulster Bank since last September, it works like your laser card except that you can use it abroad, online or in stores.
Visa Electron cards are not available from Irish banks but you can get one at www.entropay.com. However, with Entropay there is a 4.95pc charge every time you load the card.
Smart Consumer contacted Aer Lingus to see if, as reader Katherine says, a Visa debit card attracts no charge and they said they "cannot confirm that would be the case, as the matter is currently under review and subject to change."
"Our current policy is that only the Visa Electron card is exempt from the handling fee. At this moment we do not explicitly offer Visa Debit Card as a card type in our drop-down list, and do not explicitly differentiate it. Its inclusion is under review".
So, in other words, their booking process currently doesn't make a distinction between the two cards, but it seems likely that will change.
Q Emer Cullinan in Co Waterford contacted Smart Consumer about a Belling cooker she purchased in her local store Kelly & Dollard in the summer of 2008.
She says "after a few months the cooker control knobs started to fall off. What was causing the problem is that they were made of a plastic which over time got brittle, presumably from the heat."
She contacted Kelly & Dollard who sent out a new "bag of knobs" but they continued to break and drop off after a couple of months.
Emer says she is only being offered more knobs again and asks what her rights are.
AIf you buy a product that is not "fit for purpose", or faulty in some way, then you are entitled to a remedy from the shop where you bought it.
Smart Consumer contacted Kelly & Dollard who recognised that there was a problem with the knobs and confirmed that improved ones had been sent to Emer.
They confirmed that Emer received these new knobs and is waiting to see if they will take the heat. They also assure Emer that if she experiences further problems she can go back to them again for further assistance.