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Eir customer woes: ‘Telecoms are designed to drive people demented’

Two customers try to cancel their contracts with Eir, but find getting a response next to impossible

A reader, Joanna, contacted us in desperation after being given the runaround by Eir. She said she had been a customer of the company since 2017 and was out of contract.

“I only went with them as I have external insulation and after toing and froing, they were the ones who could get the wifi into my house at that time,” she starts, adding that the connection speed is “brutal, averaging a speed of just 3-5mbps and on an exceptional day, 7mbps”.

Earlier this summer she started contacting the company’s customer care by phone to seek a contract review and improved service and or cost. “I pay around €70 per month for awful speed broadband and a phone line,” she says. “I spent between 45 and 75 minutes on hold for customer care each day for three days and then messaged, as per their automated message while on hold, their Twitter account seeking a call back for contract review.”

When someone responded they only did so to say they could not help her or arrange a call back.” They then sent a feedback question without addressing the issue.”


'I wrote on February 10th seeking a refund, but I never received any form of acknowledgement or reply'

So, Joanna went back to trying their phones daily for another week with the same wait times. She messaged their Twitter account on June 18th and someone messaged her back to say she should call customer care again.

“On June 20th, I messaged their Twitter saying I wanted to cancel the account but couldn’t get through to anyone. I cited July 29th as the date to cancel (it allowed 30 days’ notice, actually 39 days, and was the next billing date for me).”

She then got a call from Eir’s loyalty department on July 22nd. She said the person she was speaking to didn’t like her frustration. “I certainly was frustrated but not rude ... I used to do a call-centre job, I know the line and [he] said I now needed to process the cancellation online myself and he emailed me a code. The code didn’t work with the email address so I couldn’t do this, nor could I get back in touch with anyone to say that the code didn’t work and so I went back around to being on hold for hours and messaging Twitter.”

She was given an email address to complain to. She emailed it “but it bounced back saying it is no longer in use. Eventually on July 29th I got [another] call from loyalty, a nice chap who was very apologetic and insisted on posting me a new modem to try to boost my signal and that he would call back on August 7th to process the cancellation.”

The nice chap said the modem would arrive on July 31st. “It arrived August 5th and has made no difference. I was clear with him that I was still cancelling and wanted the notice period backdated and agreed to the week later call back, as it gave me time to arrange for another provider. [He] did not call me on August 7th, so back to Twitter I went seeking another call back.”

Then she got another call from the loyalty team on the day she contacted us. “The person hadn’t read the file and started to assert my 30-day notice period would start today. I resisted and outlined all of the above.”

The Eir staff member said [Joanna’s] cancellation request had not been logged and she needed to escalate the situation to a supervisor who “would listen back to the call and ‘adjudicate for or against’ me in terms of notice. Now I am waiting for this adjudicating supervisor to call me”.

“I have said I will simply cancel the standing order if [there is] no call as I will have done six weeks of this with them and will log a formal complaint with the ombudsman . . . of course [the person in loyalty] doesn’t care about that but I do wish to log a complaint . . .  Telecoms are designed to drive people demented, I think. I’m trying to get Sky in as provider next week . . .  if I can get rid of Eir asap.”

Customer two

We could certainly detect a certain level of frustration in Joanna’s words and the story we then got from John Lynch was similar. “I had a contract with Eir for home phone, broadband and TV last year. In early December I signed up with Virgin, and contacted Eir to give the required one month’s notice of the cancellation of their contract,” he writes.

“I had been paying Eir by direct debit in advance, and the following bill showed a credit balance of €135.87. I tried to call them to ask for a refund, but I could not get through – their automated system insists on the input of an account number, but it wouldn’t accept my account number, presumably because the account had been closed by this stage – the result was that I couldn’t get through to anyone.”

So he searched in vain on Eir’s website for a chat or email option but couldn’t find either. “I resorted to ‘snail mail’. I am of a generation which considers a letter through the post a matter of some seriousness, but dealing with Eir has educated me that my old-fashioned standards no longer apply.

“I wrote on February 10th seeking a refund, but I never received any form of acknowledgement or reply. The next thing that happened was that I received a message (I can’t recall if it was SMS or email) claiming that my new bill had been issued and I owed them money.”

I believe their treatment of me shows the contempt in which they hold their customers

When he went online he could now access his account again. “It turns out they had charged me for equipment not returned, and claimed that now I owed them €44.10. Their restoration of my account was not updated to the software running their telephone answering system, however, so I still couldn’t call and speak to them.

“I wrote to them again on April 27th, disputing their charge for unreturned equipment, and giving them the Parcel Motel reference number for the equipment return (their choice of courier, by the way). Once again, I have not had the courtesy of an acknowledgment or reply, let alone payment of the money they owe me.”

He outlines his criticisms of Eir:

"1 Their contract is unfair in that the customer is required to give one month's notice of termination (fair enough), but is then required to return the equipment before the expiry of the notice period – why should I have to pay for the equipment if I can't use it? I should be allowed a reasonable time after the end of the contract to return the equipment. Where is the regulator?

“2 Their convenient (for them) practice of barring a customer’s account from the phone answering system once a contract is terminated is self-serving – I suspect it saves them a fortune in refunds.

“3 Their complete failure to respond to customer’s letters is ignorant and inexcusable.

“4 Overall, I believe their treatment of me shows the contempt in which they hold their customers.”

He says he wishes he could honestly say that “Eir’s abuse (and such it is) of their customers is out of kilter with their competitors, but I know it isn’t, and when my current contract with Virgin is up, I may find myself back with Eir! Why do regulated industries seem to have such contempt for their customers? And what are the regulators doing?”

Eir statement

We highlighted both of these issues with Eir. In a statement the company said the following:

“We have spoken with the first customer, resolved this issue and arranged a refund. The customer raised some points we would like to address. Return of equipment no longer required is due within 30 days of the cease of the account, rather than notice to cease. We have a range of channels to speak with care, including over the phone, via webchat, or social media.

“Recently we introduced a range of self-service forms on for customers to manage many frequently requested actions including claiming of final bill refunds, without having to contact care. We have been experiencing longer than acceptable call wait times since the beginning of the lockdown and we apologise to our customers for this. To resolve this we have hired and trained new teams of care agents and we are introducing new care supports in our retail stores throughout the country. These are just some of the many new care initiatives we are introducing to support our customers.

“In relation to the other case highlighted, the customer is unavailable at the moment but a call has been scheduled for next week to resolve this matter.”

Conor Pope

Conor Pope

Conor Pope is Consumer Affairs Correspondent, Pricewatch Editor and cohost of the In the News podcast