#Thrifty Thursday- Online Billing

Utility companies have been accused of “fleecing” their customers by charging them for paper billing.

And there have been calls for An Post branches to put systems in place to help people who are missing out on savings of hundreds of euro a year because they do not use the internet to pay bills. Research has found those who do not use websites to get the best deals are losing out on savings of up to €400 a year.

Almost one in five adults do not use the web, according to the Central Statistics Office, and utility firms reserve their best deals for those prepared to make transactions online and switch from getting a bill in the post to online billing. One TV and broadband supplier, UPC, charges €42 a year for issuing postal bills. Insurance firms offer discounts of up to 20pc for families prepared to use the web to conduct business, with mobile phone, energy companies and banks all offering the best deals for online transactions.

Our Thrifty Thursday advice is ‘Don’t get fleeced’, many utility firms will use any opportunity to add on extra charges to loyal customers. So, until there is some reform to this area of unfair charges- get wise and get online!

Subprime Borrowers -Four Times More Likely To Be In Arrears

PEOPLE who took out a mortgage with subprime lenders are four times more likely to be in arrears than if they took a loan with one of the mainstream banks, new figures show.

The level of arrears for people who took out subprime mortgages is so high it makes up more than half of the value of all the mortgages owed to subprime lenders.

Subprime mortgages were issued to people who were turned down for finance by a mainstream bank. These people had a poor credit history or an irregular income. Start Mortgages, Springboard, GE Money, and Stepstone were among the subprime lenders during the boom.

Fianna Fáil’s Michael McGrath, who obtained the figures, said Government inaction on subprime mortgage arrears was “inexcusable”.

The figures supplied to him by Finance Minister Michael Noonan show that 19,935 mortgage loans issued by subprime lenders were in arrears of more than 90 days as at the end of December. This is an increase of almost 2,000 since end September.

The subprime sector now accounts for one in five of all the residential mortgage accounts that are in arrears for more than three months.

The value of subprime arrears amounts to €4.6bn, Mr McGrath was told. This is more than 54pc of the total outstanding mortgages issued by subprime lenders.