Eir is understood to be considering the future of its contract with HCL Technologies, the Indian company to which it outsources its call centres, over a slew of issues surrounding poor customer service.
It is understood that senior managers at Eir, which came under the control of French investors in April, have in recent months tried to sort out the problems in a number of summits with HCL.
Some senior managers within the telco are known to be extremely concerned at the service issues allegedly experienced by some of Eir’s customers.
One major source of frustration is that some customers, who may be unable to resolve an issue via the outsourced call centre, end up going around it and contacting Eir directly through some other route.
Eir said its contract with HCL remained “ongoing” but it acknowledged that it was working with the Indian company to raise standards at the call centres: “Both parties are constantly striving to improve the quality of service delivery.”
The telco did not comment on rumours that it may eventually look to bring some or all of the call centre functions back inhouse, which could mean that some jobs were effectively “in-sourced” once again.
HCL employs close to 1,000 staff in Ireland on the Eir contract, the majority in Dublin at an old Eir building, Telephone House. Others are employed in Limerick and Cork at buildings that were also previously part of Eir’s estate. A number of HCL staff in India also work on the contract.
Fears of relocation
There are fears among some of the Dublin-based HCL staff working on the Eir contract that they could be asked to relocate out of the capital city if any major changes are made to the call centre arrangements in future.
Sources suggested Eir was preparing to extend its facilities at Limerick and Cork, and may also look to refurbish a facility owned by the company in Sligo that could be suitable for use as a call centre.
The fear among some staff is that, if the call centre function is taken back inhouse or otherwise altered, the Dublin unit could be a candidate for closure with staff potentially asked to relocate to one of the regional centres.
Some of the customer service issues experienced by those who contacted Eir’s call centre were, until recently, outlined on Eir’s “community site” forum on the telco’s own website. The forum was shut down by Eir last week.
In recent months, for example, one Eir customer told the telco he had spent nine months trying to get a refund of €540 that he said he was owed. He described it as “the worst customer experience I have ever had”.
Another poster on Eir’s forum, a small-business owner using the moniker “LizD”, bemoaned a “lack of ability to get problems sorted” as she tried to deal with an issue surrounding a €500 bill overpay.
After closing the community forum, Eir now directs customers who want to raise issues to its social media accounts or to its thread on Boards.ie. One poster there, “Johnneysul”, recently complained he had an “unbelievable experience”. He alleged it took him five hours on the phone to cancel an account.
HCL, a multinational provider of outsourced services with 120,000 staff worldwide, did not respond to several detailed queries submitted to it by The Irish Times via text, email and in conversation with representatives in London and India who had consulted with the Dublin operation. A statement last night said: "HCL respects the privacy of our clients and, therefore, we do not publicly comment on their business."