Abtran wins Irish water call centre contract

Company recently suspended worker in suspected credit card fraud case

The Government last year gave Bord Gáis the responsibility for establishing the new State water company.

The Government last year gave Bord Gáis the responsibility for establishing the new State water company.

Fri, May 24, 2013, 01:00


State company Bord Gáis Éireann is poised to award the Irish Water customer call centre contract to Abtran in a move that will ultimately create 400 jobs at the company.

The Government last year gave Bord Gáis the responsibility for establishing the new State water company. It began seeking suppliers for the equipment and services it needs more than six months ago.

It is understood that it will shortly announce that it has awarded the contract to run Irish Water’s customer support call centre to Abtran, a Cork-based company that already provides such services to both State and private sector entities.

The deal will result in Abtran ultimately hiring an extra 400 people, 100 of whom will be taken on before July, as the first steps to creating the utility and introducing water charges.


Revenue controversy
Abtran has been operating the Revenue’s property tax helpline and earlier this month had to suspend a worker suspected of attempted credit card fraud. The company discovered that the staff member had been seeking credit card details from callers when he had no authority to do so. It notified the Garda, which is investigating the matter.

The incident prompted Bord Gáis to delay awarding the contract. The State company sought a report from Abtran and a detailed timeline of the events that led up to the individual’s suspension.

According to sources close to the company, it also attached extra conditions to the contract, including requiring Abtran to boost supervision and provide extra training.

Bord Gáis would not comment on the deal yesterday. Its spokeswoman said Irish Water was in the final stages of a competitive tender process to appoint a call centre provider.


‘Confidential process’
“This is a confidential process and as a result, we cannot comment while the process is ongoing,” she added. “The tender process is expected to conclude in the coming weeks ahead of the start of the metering programme in July.”

Abtran employs over 1,000 people, mainly in Cork. The company’s clients include insurer Aviva, energy company, Electric Ireland, and TV and broadband provider Sky.

Its State contracts include the National Transport Authority, the Revenue Commissioners and Eflow, the National Roads Authority’s electronic tolling service.

The company’s website says that it provides services to every household in Ireland and processes more than €100 million payments a year.

Its head office is in the University Technology Park on Curraheen Road in the Bishopstown area of Cork and it has another centre nearby on Model Farm Road. Its Dublin base is in the Harcourt Centre in the city centre.

The creation of Irish Water and the introduction of domestic water charges are as a result of the State’s €67 billion bailout deal with the EU/IMF troika.

The establishment of the new State company means that households will have to pay for water supplies. Currently only businesses have to pay for this service.