Pricewatch readers: Eir is full of the hot stuff and Parcel Motel lost in transit

Phone and internet down over Christmas, and ‘appalling’ customer service makes it worse

Eir: “I said I’ve been waiting a week for a callback from a supervisor, and was told it could take up to 30 days to get a callback. I’m tearing my hair out with them at this stage.” Photograph: Maxwells

A reader called Cliona contacted us on behalf of her parents, who have had no home phone or internet since December 14th because of a problem with Eir.

“We eventually established with them that it’s a ‘major’ fault involving poles and wires near our house,” she writes. “We’ve been told everything from ‘It’ll be fixed in 48 hours’ to ‘It’ll take three days to fix’ to ‘It’ll be fixed some time in January’.”

Cliona has two issues with the company. “One is the fault itself, but the second is the appalling customer-service experience. We have been in touch with them every other day since December 14th, either via phone calls (very long calls to their 1901 number usually lasting at least 25 minutes, about 10 of which are on hold), via Twitter, direct messages on their website, Facebook messenger etc, chasing updates.”

She says it has been “extremely difficult to get answers from them. On my last few phone calls I’ve been trying to get put through to a manager, and have repeatedly been told a supervisor will call me back. This still hasn’t happened. My parents are Eircom customers for over 30 years, and throughout this whole issue we haven’t received one proactive call from anyone in Eir about it.


Early last week she rang Eir again and “after another 20 minutes on hold, eventually got speaking to someone in customer service. I again asked to speak to a manager. He put me on hold while he spoke to his supervisor, and the supervisor would not take my call because I’m not the account holder (my dad is).

“I said again that I’ve been waiting a week for a callback from a supervisor, and was told it could take up to 30 days to get a callback. I’m tearing my hair out with them at this stage.”

Downtime refund

Cliona also says that at one point Eir told her they would refund €26 on the account to cover the downtime – “but the impact for my parents is far greater. They have a daughter living in Thailand who we would usually facetime on Christmas Day, a grandson in the house over Christmas with no internet (not a good combo)”.

“The absence of any internet connection also made it harder, if not completely impossible, for other members of the household to work remotely over the Christmas break.

We contacted Eir and received the following statement. “We would like to say sorry to [our reader’s father] for the poor customer service experience and for the unnecessary stress caused to him. A fault was logged on December 14th and following further investigation it was discovered that the fault was not a straightforward repair. In order to restore service our crews needed to erect two new telephone poles and replace the overhead cabling.

“The crews ordered the necessary equipment promptly and all repair work is due to be completed tomorrow” – which was last Thursday.

It would be fair to say that Parcel Motel, the service that allows people buy products off UK websites and have them shipped to "virtual addresses" in Northern Ireland and then on to the Republic, did not cover itself in glory. We highlighted complaints about the poor customer service on this page in the run-up to Christmas. But this one is particularly bad.

“At the start of December, I decided to get as much shopping done as possible online so as to avoid the crowds and hassle,” writes John McDonnell. “So I bought a bunch of gifts from Amazon, eBay, and other suppliers. For some of these deliveries, I decided to use Parcel Motel.

“I had three deliveries in total. Two were delayed substantially (by over a week after the item was confirmed to have been delivered to them). But they arrived before Christmas and that’s all that mattered.”

The final parcel, though, was a brand new iPhone 6S, for which John paid €550. “The package was confirmed to have been delivered by Royal Mail on December 7th, and I could see the signature of the person who signed for it. Day after day passed by with no sign of my package being signed into the Parcel Motel system, so I contacted them via Twitter, by phone and by raising a ticket through their website.”

He says the company’s response was very poor. “Eventually they agreed to perform a full warehouse search, which turned up empty. So on December 21st, they deemed the package “lost in transit” and as per their terms and conditions offered me €100 compensation (as well as €10 credit on my account for any future transactions with them which I won’t be using).

“This was hugely distressing as it was only a few days before Christmas and it was a massive amount of money to lose out on. I felt sick to the pit of my stomach. After 90 minutes on hold, I eventually got through to speak to them but was told that those were the terms, and they were sorry but there was nothing they could do.”

He accepts that Parcel Motel does offer extended cover for an additional price, which must be purchased before the parcel arrives, but says he wasn’t aware of any of this. He now also knows that its terms and conditions state that it only offers €100 compensation for lost or damaged packages, “so legally I don’t seem to have any case”.

Limited liability

In a statement, Parcel Motel apologised for what happened but said “all couriers, postal operators and our competitors in the Virtual Address area have limited liability on goods in transit. This is not unusual and is a well-established business practice worldwide. Consumers should always be aware that their goods are not automatically insured for full value, with any service.”

A spokeswoman pointed out that its liability limit was higher than competitors and it “uniquely offers an extended liability”.

She said that the company has also been in touch with the customer and arranged to make up half of the difference between the claimed amount and the amount for which they are liable (ie €225 in addition to the €100). It has also arranged for two free stay credits on the customer’s account.