The Irish Times view on customer complaints: paying for bad service

For far too long, customers have been given the runaround by their providers without any meaningful sanctions imposed on miscreants by ComReg

When it comes to shambolic customer care, the poster child today is most certainly eir. Photograph: Alan Betson

When it comes to shambolic customer care, the poster child today is most certainly eir. Photograph: Alan Betson

 

It is not unreasonable to expect companies whose business is in communications to be good at communicating with their customers both when they have deals to boast about and when people need help. However, as the seemingly endless stream of readers’ stories featured on this newspaper’s Pricewatch page over recent years has made depressingly and irrefutably clear, virtually all the telecoms companies doing business in Ireland have been found wanting, some more than others.

When it comes to shambolic customer care, the poster child today is most certainly eir. Over the last two years, hundreds of people have contacted this newspaper detailing a litany of complaints. The grievances are, by now, wearyingly familiar and typically see the company ignoring queries or making it next to impossible for people to make contact with it or reach someone with the authority or skills to resolve even simple issues.

Anyone listening to Dáil proceedings last week, however, would be forgiven for thinking the problems are new. On Wednesday, Minister for Communications Eamon Ryan told the chamber eir’s customer service was “totally unsatisfactory and something the company is going to have to address”. He said ComReg would have to do something about its “shocking poor performance”. Ceann Comhairle Seán Ó Fearghaíl was more forthright, describing eir’s service as “appalling” and adding that the issue raised “profound questions as to whether ComReg is doing its job”.

Many have wondered the same thing. In response, the communications watchdog has defended its role in handling consumer complaints and promised to seek a meeting with Government to ascertain if legislation is needed to give it more teeth. Such a meeting is long overdue.

More must be done to bring the telecommunications operators in the lucrative Irish market to heel to ensure they deliver on their commitments to their customers, whatever the cost. For far too long, customers have been given the runaround by their providers without any meaningful sanctions imposed on miscreants by ComReg.

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