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Consumer champion: Parking hitting the pocket? Not if you're sensible and plan ahead

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Drivers blame UFO on failure to pay parking fine

Drivers blame UFO on failure to pay parking fine

Drivers blame UFO on failure to pay parking fine

As we head into the final shopping days before Christmas some of the joy of heading into the city centre will be curtailed by thoughts of where you're going to get parking.

While the Garda seasonal 'Open City' policy tells people to use public transport instead of clogging up the streets, it's not very practical when you're lugging tons of bags around or a baby in a buggy and children in tow.

Many people feel it's worth the effort of bringing the car into town even if finding somewhere to put it can be a nightmare. This week, I'm looking at off-street city centre parking. There are dozens of car parks and lots of live-stream information on available spaces erected by the council.

Our table shows the most popular retail car parks and you'll see that for short-term stays of a couple of hours, you'll be sorted for under a tenner.

It does get very expensive after that, so look out for places which have a maximum day cap which lets you stay as long as you like.

Out of the city centre, Blanchardstown and Liffey Valley have free parking, with traffic marshals on duty to ensure a smooth flow. Dundrum Town Centre is €2 for the first three hours.

In department stores, Arnotts is open 7.30am-7.30pm at €2.80 per hour, although they'll give you three hours for €5 if you produce your receipt, so that's great value. The Jervis Centre is priced at €2.80 per hour and €12 for the day.

Q-Park operates a car park which services Clery's, open from 7am-1am and costs €2 per hour. They also allow you to pre-book in their 12 car parks in the city which avoids the hassle of searching for a space.

Their other facilities include Christchurch, Dawson Street, Setanta and St Stephen's Green. Fees are different in each and most have daily capped limits. See www.q-park.ie for more information. I like using www.Parkopedia.ie for live information.

This site offers not just off-street, but on-street parking zone information and private parking options, where people offer their driveways for a small daily fee. The site takes your location and works out the nearest facility.

A great app is Parking Tag which operates in conjunction with the city councils and Payzone.

LOCATIONS

By signing up, you can park in public street locations without fiddling around for change for the meter. It also allows you to 'top up' your parking time remotely and sends you a text 10 minutes before your parking expires. It's available for free on the App store or Android or go to www.parkingtag.ie.

Public on-street parking is regulated by the councils and divided into five tarriff zones: Yellow: €2.90 per hour (very high demand); Red: €2.40 per hour (high demand); Green: €1.60 per hour (medium demand); Orange: €1.00 per hour (low demand); and Blue: €0.60 per hour (Suburban).

The maximum you can stay is three hours at any one time and you can't park on the same street until an hour has elapsed. Pay and display is from 7am-7pm, Monday to Saturday unless otherwise indicated. Sunday pay zones start from 2-6pm.

Happy shopping!

House hunting? Use these simple steps to secure a loan

Ireland has seen the highest property price rises in the world this year. At 15pc, we're ahead of 54 other countries. It's completely unsustainable and is skewed by the investor rush to beat the Capital Gains Tax deadline of December 31.

We're also coming off a low base, given the slump up to 2013.

If you're in the market, you'll also be alarmed by the Central Bank guidelines on mortgage deposits - now 20pc of the purchase price - which is agreed by experts to be both unnecessary and overly burdensome. It's a good idea from a macro viewpoint, which is the way the CB thinks, but for ordinary people it's put them back on the first rung of the property ladder and with rents rising creating a double whammy.

If you're saving hard, there are a number of things you can do to make your mortgage application as smooth as possible:

1. A healthy deposit is really crucial. It must be in savings, not loans from parents or the credit union; lenders will look for a history.

2. If you have other debts like car loans or credit cards, clear them. It frees up disposable income, which lenders like.

3. Any missed payments on previous loans will have been recorded by the Irish Credit Bureau. For €6 you can see your credit record (www.icb.ie) which is invaluable.

4. Banks hate to see discretionary spending like bookmakers' accounts, store cards etc. Get rid of them.

Sweet Tweets best way to complain

I see that the 21st Century has caught up with our transport companies.

Under new National Transport Authority rules, they have to respond to complaints made on Twitter within one hour. Emails are given a day. I wonder why, but then again, there's nothing like a public forum to give a query an edge and on the whole, I've found @DublinBusNews and @IrishRail a good responder on Twitter. 

Other organisations which manage to blend a good mix of engaging with customers while getting good quality information out on social media include @meteor_mobile and @vodafoneireland. I particularly like the often funny/madly serious tweets by @GardaTraffic and they're excellent at responding to individuals too.

When complaining on Twitter, keep it tight (140 character limit helps!), don't be afraid to DM if asked and don't be abusive. You'll get a better response if you engage sensibly.


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