Profound questions have to be asked about whether communications regulator ComReg is doing its job because of the level of complaints about phone and broadband provider Eir.
Ceann Comhairle Sean Ó Fearghaíl said he was refusing to allow debates on an “inordinate number of complaints from TDs about the service their constituents are receiving from Eir”.
He said he would have been surprised about the complaints only that he had a similar experience in his constituency.
Mr Ó Fearghaíl said: “Eir’s customer service is appalling and it raises profound questions about whether or not ComReg is doing its job”.
The Ceann Comhairle made his unusual intervention at the end of a discussion on the company’s customer service and broadband provision in Co Carlow.
Minister for Communications Eamon Ryan had said ComReg would have to address the "shocking poor performance" of Eir in customer service.
Mr Ryan said their customer service was “totally unsatisfactory and something the company is going to have to address”.
He was responding to Fianna Fáil TD Jackie Cahill who highlighted a number of examples of the company's "disdain" for customers, including one case where a constituent in the Thurles area "tried on numerous occasions to cancel her landline service with Eir" and was left on hold for up to an hour.
She could not cancel for months. She met “roadblock after roadblock with Eir’s customer service”.
Mr Cahill said that in another case a teacher giving online lessons had to teach her class from her car because she had such poor broadband.
He accused Eir of showing “complete and utter disregard for the concerns of ordinary people in rural Ireland”. The company ignored customers’ needs and concerns “in spite of a contract being awarded to them for €900 million.
“This cannot continue,” he said.
Mr Ryan said ComReg carries out regular assessment of the delivery of service and how companies are meeting their objectives.
The Minister added that the level of difficulty Mr Cahill identified with Eir “is something that the company and the regulator ComReg is going to have to address”.
Fianna Fáil Carlow TD Jennifer Murnane O’Connor asked about the timeline for the delivery of high-speed broadband to her constituency.
She said that when so many people were working from home a “robust” connection was essential. She said there were parts of Carlow where people were really struggling to get basic internet but she welcomed the €32 million for Carlow for broadband.
And she expressed concern that one house on a road might have broadband but half a mile further down a house would have no connection.
The Minister said the €3 billion National Broadband plan aimed to provide high-speed coverage to 1.1 million people, 544,000 premises, 100,000 businesses and farms and 695 schools.
He said the aim is to provide coverage to premises in all counties including Carlow within two years and to more than 90 per cent of premises in the State within the next four years.
There are 28,291 premises involved in Co Carlow and 29 per cent or 8,158 will receive broadband through State-led intervention with the remaining 20,000 premises provided for through commercial providers.
Mr Ryan added that 122,000 properties have been surveyed across the State including 4,889 in Carlow “looking to see exactly how you get fibre into the house”.