Frustration over Eir stance on services for deaf customers

Frustration over Eir stance on services for deaf customers
Cork TD Donnchadh O'Laoghaire (SF) meeting with Breda Brosnan (left), Graham O’Shea and Fiona Landers of the committee of Cork Deaf Club committee recently.

A member of the deaf community in Cork has highlighted his frustration with a national broadband company over its refusal to communicate with him over the phone through an interpreting service.

Graham O’Shea, chairperson of the Cork Deaf Club, said he is worried that people within the deaf community are struggling to access services due to General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). He told the Echo he has been struggling to cancel his contract with Eir since last October, following the introduction of GDPR.

Prior to these regulations, Mr O’Shea said he had no difficulties engaging with Eir, with whom he is a long-term customer.

Now, he said, they refuse to engage with him via the Irish Remote Interpreting Service (IRIS), which is part of the Citizens’ Information Board.

“They have said they can’t accept these calls because they view them as a third person or party call, and their policy is to not accept third party calls,” he said.

“I contacted Eir a few times via IRIS in October and November to request a broadband upgrade and to cancel my account. They refused outright to deal with my requests, requiring me to send on a consent document from IRIS,” he added. “I consider it unfair for me to have to sign consent forms for private sector organisations. I have had no problem with other companies, like Electric Ireland, SuperValu insurance and AIB, all of which have engaged with me without consent documentation.”

Mr O’Shea revealed that Eir also suggested he used the online chat function but that he explained he struggles with English and relies on Irish Sign Language or IRIS. He says he was told by an Eir staff member he required written proof from a doctor that he cannot speak on the phone. “I told them that this was not fair or acceptable.”

A statement from Eir to the Echo read: “We are working with Sign Language Interpreting Service (SLIS) to implement supports for customers with impaired hearing while also ensuring we have appropriate protections in place for these customers.

“In line with GDPR legislation care agents can only discuss account details with the account owner, or with individuals who have been granted an authorised authority by the account holder.

“Until appropriate supports have been agreed with SLIS, customers who wish to assign an interpreting service as an authorised authority on their account can do so by phone, online via web chat, or by writing to Head of Customer Care, eir Customer Care, Rathedmond, Co Sligo.”

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