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customer complaints

Eir refuses invitation to discuss customer complaints in front of Oireachteas committee

Comreg will appear before the committee tomorrow.

EIR HAS DECLINED an invitation to appear before an Oireachtas committee tomorrow to discuss how it handles customer complaints.

In a submission from the company, it states that as it is involved in an ongoing regulatory process with Commission for Communications Regulation (ComReg) “it would not be appropriate to comment in any further detail at this time”.

“We would not want to place any party in a position of inadvertently intervening in, and potentially prejudicing, an ongoing regulatory process and Eir’s procedural rights as part of that process; or indeed of prejudicing any legal proceedings that might follow,” said the statement. 

Last month, a judge described as “disgraceful” how telecom giant Eir threatened staff with “disciplinary action” if they handled customer complaints according to its own code of conduct and in compliance with Irish law.

Dublin District Court Judge Anthony Halpin convicted and fined the company €7,500 after it was prosecuted by the ComReg over its former customer complaints procedures.

Eircom, which trades as Eir, said it had remedied the problem. The company also paid €10,000 in costs and pleaded guilty to 12 offences for breaching the Universal Service Regulations for two years commencing in mid-2021.

The court heard that a mother who was unable to make 999 calls when her daughter needed “urgent” medical attention was wrongly told there was nothing wrong with her service. Her dad also ended up in hospital after a missed delivery of his breathing machine.

Barrister Shelley Horan, for ComReg, said Eir did not adhere to the legal requirements and made “deliberate decisions” not to handle complaints in an acceptable manner.

ComReg compliance analyst Michelle O’Donnell told the hearing that customer care staff were warned not to give out the right customer complaint numbers or website address unless callers used specific “trigger words”.

O’Donnell said several Eir customers informed ComReg that they could not make complaints.

In some cases, they went unacknowledged and unresolved for weeks or months.

The Joint Oireachtas Committee on Transport and Communications invited both Comreg and Eir to a hearing to discuss the issue of customer care and complaints. The regulator accepted the invitation and will appear before the committee tomorrow. 

The submission to the committee regarding Eir’s customer care states that the has invested “significantly in making clear and demonstrable improvements”. 

The company states that it has a multi-million Euro investment in modernising older IT systems.

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