News from Andalucia & Costa del Sol
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Warning to shoppers as summer sales start
Consumer watchdog Facua last week advised the public against being enticed by 'savings'
By Oliver McIntyre
SHOPPERS eager to snap up bargains as the summer sales campaign launches July 1 are being warned to be on the lookout for "possibly fraudulent offers."
Consumer watchdog Facua last week warned that some stores "manipulate price tags to make it appear that the original price was greater than it really was," or "present as sale items products that were not previously for sale."
Such practices are a violation of consumers' rights, said the group, and to prevent such abuses it says authorities should carry out inspections in the weeks before the summer and winter sales periods in order to record the original price of merchandise, to be cross-checked later with the sale markdowns.
Further, Facua urges authorities to carry out inspections during the second month of the sales campaign, when the group says many stores continue advertising their 'rebajas' when in fact very few markdown items remain on sale. Legally, the stores can only put out the 'sales' sign if at least half of the merchandise is available at reduced prices, says the group.
Facua urges shoppers to exercise caution and good judgement during the sales, looking at each product's quality-to-price ratio rather than being enticed by the 'savings' represented by the markdown. Before making any purchase, the shopper should confirm the store's return and exchange policies, it says.
Finally, the group says that anyone who believes they have been ripped off or unfairly treated should complain to consumer authorities. Help doing so is available via Facua's website (facua.org) or its consumer phone line (954 909 090, Spanish only).
Summer boost for beach and nightlife buses
Passengers' suggestions for improved routes have been implemented
By Oliver McIntyre
THE Málaga Transport Consortium has launched its special summertime bus services, with several lines from inland towns to the beach and shopping centres, and extended late-night service to popular nightlife zones. The services were rolled out on Monday and will run until September 9.
This summer's campaign includes two new routes: the M-560 (Totalán - Rincón de la Victoria commercial centre - La Cala del Moral) and the M-136 (Cártama - Alhaurín de la Torre - Plaza Mayor - Los Álamos), said the Transport Consortium in a statement.
Also, in an effort to reduce ticket price and travel time for riders, the M-552 beach bus from Colmenar and Casabermeja has had its terminus changed to Las Acacias in Málaga's El Palo district, rather than Torremolinos as last year.
At the request of users, the M-553 (the night bus from Casabermeja to Málaga) has had its schedule shifted, and this year departs Casabermeja at midnight and 2am, with return trips from Málaga's Muelle Heredia station at 1am and 5.30am. Also in response to suggestions from riders, the M-540 beach bus from Álora and Pizarra to Torremolinos now also includes a stop at Plaza Mayor.
Horror death crash at shopping centre exit
The victims were burnt to death after their car was pushed into a barrier and caught fire
By David Eade
TRADEGY struck at 13.20 on Monday as a couple were burnt to death in their car as it left La Cañada shopping centre and was hit by a run-away sewage tanker. They were victims at one of Marbella's accident black spots by the petrol station roundabout where it links with the A-355 road to Ojén.
The victims were a 35-year-old woman from the Basque country who lived in Marbella and her male companion, who is yet to be identified.
The lorry driver's breathalyser test proved negative and although the tanker came off the road and overturned the young local driver and his mate suffered only superficial injuries.
The lorry had been approaching the roundabout from Ojén when its breaks failed. It first collided with a Toyota injuring the 30-year-old driver then went across the roundabout and hit a second vehicle in which the couple were travelling. Their car was pushed along the road and against a crash barrier causing it to ignite. The lorry travelled on to hit a Ford Galaxy before finally leaving the road.
Local and National Police, Guardia Civil, ambulance crews and fire brigade all rushed to the scene.
Despite the fact the fire station is just yards from the collision scene nothing could be done to save the couple. Their Opel car was just a tangle of metal from the impact and flames.
BACK TO SPEED
Top motorway speed limit reinstated as price of oil drops
By Dave Jamieson
THE maximum legal speed limit on Spanish roads returns to 120 kilometres per hour tomorrow
The lower limit of 110 kph was introduced as a temporary measure on March 7 this year in a bid to save fuel at a time when oil prices were escalating.
Last Friday, ministers had a "heated debate" on the issue, according to Deputy Prime Minister Alfred Pérez Rubalcaba. Some had called for the 110 kph limit to be retained on the grounds that it saves energy, lowers emissions and reduces the accident rate.
Sr Rubalcaba said that since March, the temporary reduction had saved Spain 450 million euros and that the only expense in returning to 120 kph is the 230,000 euros it will cost to change the stickers on speed limit signs across the country tonight. He added that the measure, "now has no sense," as the price of oil is falling, "and forecasts are that it will continue to fall."
Three die in Torre del Mar apartment fire
The blaze is believed to have been started by an electrical fault
By Dave Jamieson
THREE members of the same family died and two others were injured in an apartment fire in Torre del Mar early on Sunday. The alarm was raised at 6.30am and 16 families were evacuated from a four-storey apartment block in the Las Malvinas urbanisation.
The dead are understood to be a 58-year-old man, his 48-year-old wife and their 23-year-old autistic son. The couple's 21-year-old daughter-in-law and her two-year-old son who also lived in the apartment were able to escape onto an outside terrace from where they were rescued by fire crews and taken to Vélez-Málaga hospital. They are understood to be out of danger but were kept in for observation. One firefighter was treated for burns and another for smoke inhalation.
Bigger tax write-offs for home improvements
Homeowners can take deductions of up to 1,350 euros a year for some upgrades
By Oliver McIntyre
HOMEOWNERS can take tax deductions of up to 1,350 euros a year for home improvement work under a new scheme announced last week by the government.
The new deal allows homeowners to deduct 20 per cent of the cost of home improvements up to a total cost of 6,750 euros a year. If the cost of the work exceeds that amount, the deduction can be applied over successive years, up to an overall limit of 20,000 euros - or 4,000 euros in deductions.
The maximum allowable deduction is reduced progressively for individuals with an income exceeding 53,000 euros a year, reaching zero for those whose income exceeds 71,000 euros.
The work must be performed before the end of 2012. It can include projects that improve energy efficiency or reduce water use, improve accessibility, or involve the installation of infrastructure for internet or digital terrestrial television access. Not included are purely aesthetic improvements, or work performed on garages, gardens or swimming pools.
The new scheme doubles the 10 per cent deduction for home improvements that was introduced in 2010 as part of the government's economic stimulus package, and more than triples the maximum 400-euro annual deduction that was available under that plan. It puts the maximum home-improvement deduction on par with the home-purchase deduction that beginning this year is no longer available to home buyers with incomes exceeding 24,000 euros.
Further, it allows the home improvement deductions to be applied to any home owned by the taxpayer, not just the primary residence.
To be eligible for the tax deduction, the work must have been paid for by bank card or by the transfer or deposit of funds into the contractor's account; it must not have been paid for in cash.
Ryanair passengers sweat it out in Sevilla
Air safety agency opens inquiry into the long, hot flight delay
By Dave Jamieson
A RYANAIR flight from Sevilla airport sat on the tarmac for over two hours last week after its air conditioning failed. Several adults passed out and an 18-month-old baby was later treated for dehydration.
Passengers on the flight to Italy were forced to sit and wait during the hottest part of the day, from 12.40pm until 2.50pm. The captain is reported to have told them that he was unable to start either the aircraft's engines or its air conditioning system, and that if he lowered the steps to let them off, Ryanair would lose its takeoff slot.
Passengers reported that there was not enough water for everyone, so it was distributed only to children in the cabin where the temperature is reported to have reached 50 degrees. Finally, one of the passengers got up and opened the front door to let fresh air in. The action triggered the emergency ramp to deploy, and enable the passengers to leave the aircraft. It was only then that the state of health of the baby was handled by an ambulance crew which was sent to the plane.
The airport authority Aena said that the Ryanair flight, which was due to leave at 12 noon, took over 45 minutes to call for the tow truck to take the plane back to the terminal. It then took a further 45 minutes for the truck, which is operated by an independent company, to arrive.
Passengers also reported that the captain explained the situation at first only in English, but after complaints, repeated the information in Italian.
The passengers were returned to the terminal where a Ryanair representative told them that the intention was to repair the aircraft, and where Aena supplied them with water. They finally left for Pisa at 5.30pm, more than five hours late.
Spain's air safety agency, AESA, has opened an inquiry into the incident, giving Ryanair two weeks to provide full documentation of the sequence of events.