The very serious problems that arose at the Barbra Streisand concert last Saturday night were, according to the promoters MCD, caused by the weather, traffic and the fans themselves. No blame whatsoever, it would seem, lies with MCD.
Consumers, many of whom paid up to €500 for a seat, think otherwise. They believe they have been ripped off big time by the debacle.
Initially, MCD just ignored all the complaints but as consumer anger turned up the heat MCD opted for the ultimate cop out, they formed a committee.
Led by former Garda commissioner Pat Byrne, this committee is expected to deal with the issue ‘effectively and efficiently’ and report – next September – when the heat is off.
But there is an even more serious question here. Why is MCD allowed to set up its own committee to investigate complaints against itself? Where is the National Consumer Agency?
Last March the NCA was given wide ranging powers, with real teeth to go after the bad guys, investigate suspected offences and refer cases to the DPP (Prime Time). Speaking on the same Prime Time programme, the NCAs executive chairwoman, Ann Fitzgerald pulled no punches in her determination to protect the consumer.
“Now there is a recognition that the consumers time has come.” We are been given huge powers and we as a board are not afraid to use them and we will use them.” “Business’ who treat consumers unfairly will be brought to court.”
In the Irish Times (Sub. required) she is quoted as saying “We’re direct and we’re prepared to rattle cages.”
Sadly, like the Financial Regulator, the Financial Ombudsman and the multitude of other so called regulatory/enforcement agencies in Ireland, the NCA is totally ineffective when it comes to protecting consumers interests.
Unlike the Consumers Association who rightly see this self appointed committee as an insult to consumers the NCA has actually welcomed its formation and are happy with a mere once a week update on its progress.
In a further abdication of its duty to protect consumers the NCA has advised complainants to contact MCD first before (bothering) NCA.
“Consumers time has come?” “Rogue businesses brought to court?” Cages rattled? – I don’t think so.