Eircom Ltd used to be the only game in town when you wanted a telephone in this country but then came the mobile phone followed by deregulation of the fixed phone business.
I got an Eircom fixed line in 2003 and broadband for the home as well and the only change I've made in the last twelve years with them was to upgrade to fiber-optic when it became available. In my experience you have to go through your bill from them with a fine comb every month to ensure they haven't changed your 'package' and doubled the price. Otherwise, though it pains me to say, they've been OK.
A sad modern trend in all big business though is the new version of customer care. The platitudes like the claim to be customer driven are in stark contrast to the reality if you need to talk to them. FAQ's have replaced the human voice because a web page is created once and in theory, works away 24/7 without further cost to Eircom. There is the added FAQ advantage that they don't have to listen to their customers or have anything to do with them. If you really want personal contact with Eircom, stop paying their bills and you'll get to met representatives of their retained legal firm.
Eircom recently spent €16million on a make-over and are now calling themselves "eir." They are updating their corporate image but my recent exchanges with them tell far more about the new entity than some new stupid logo on vans, uniformed staff and revamped stationary. Lazy indifferent 'Eircom' still lurks underneath thinking it is the only choice we have.
The adventure began when two elderly relatives from the outlaw end of the family decided to get their eir ….. com phone cut off due to cost. Just a fixed line mind you because this old couple believe that the internet must be something to do with trawlers and fishing. But their home phone bill was averaging €100.00 a month so they decided to opt for a pay-as-go mobile to replace it. They have been with the same company so long they got their first phone from Telecom Eireann, the pre-cursor of Eircom which has now changed to "eir." So this addled older lady rings the 1901 helpline, waits fifteen minutes without reply, hangs up and tries again. After three aborted attempts she finally got a voice and told it she wanted a disconnection. At this point it is only an inconvenience to have to try so hard to even get a response.
The responder however was a typical 'jargon kid' who baffled and confused the woman before ringing off. All she remembered from him was that she had to send them an e-mail. That's where I came in. My better half then took up issue and phoned "eir" twice to be left holding until her patience ran out. I made the third call myself and managed to get a human instead of a recording, though I had to wait ten minutes on the phone before I did. I then verbily instructed the lad to cancel the account giving him name, telephone number and customer number. He stalled, talked in circles, tried to get me to read their FAQ's and all the usual bullshit. I pointed out to this teenager that their sales team would gladly accept my verbal order for a new contract but the lad wasn't nibbling. He insisted I had to send them an e-mail which turned out to be a form buried deep on their site. But I found it, filled it in and sent it with a clear unambiguous message to dis-connect. Job done and on to the next thing, says I.
Two days later an e-mail response is popped back to me from the customer-obsessed "eir." Acknowledging receipt of my mail they advised that it would days to "PROCESS" it. Just pull the switch and stop sending the bills, I hollered at the screen. Three days later I got another message telling me they'd soon be in touch but warning that a breach of contract fee could apply. These customers had been out of contract for about thirty-five years but I decided to fight that one another day. Sure enough the next morning there was another message from the bastards telling me that if I wanted to dis-connect, I'd have to ring 1091 ……. again!
So to remind you, if you want to cancel your account with "eir," you must ring 1901 and be told you must e-mail them. When you do as instructed, they will e-mail back to instruct you to ring 1901 if you want to cancel an account. It's an infinite loop and all the time the clock is running on your next bill from "eir." So I hit the reply button and sent them this:
Dear Can we help,
You most certainly can help by doing as instructed and canceling this account!!!!!
Surely you are not stalling and prevaricating in an effort to make a little more money? The reason for cancellation is high cost and Margaret & Timmy have now bought pay-as-go phones to replace their connection. It is therefore a simple matter for you to disconnect and cease billing them.
Your 1901 number is frustrating, badly run and time consuming and having tried that route several times already, we were finally told to e-mail your office, which we have done three times now. So please do not expect us to try that frustrating 1901 number again and begin your stupid run-around.
Cancel that account and do so this afternoon in a timely and professional manner. If however you prefer to drag your feet further on this matter, we can carry on our correspondence through the letter pages of the national press.
They were just as prompt by return with this:
Many thanks for your email.
In regards to your request as previously advised we would ask that you call 1901 to cancel services? We are unable to do this for you via Can we help.
If you have any further queries please call our Customer Care team on 1901 or reply to this email and we will be delighted to assist you.
Customer Care Administration Team
At the launch of "eir" Group CEO Richard Moat said the re-brand marked the logical next stage in the company's evolution as it establishes an identity that better reflects the company as it is today. If my experiences above reflects what Richard's company is like today then they won't survive in a competitive market. I could make a joke about the, "Moat around castle 'eir," but that would be a cheap shot.
Instead I'll worry the letter's pages of the three national broadsheets with the clear message, "Buyer beware."