Internet saga makes mockery of phrase ‘customer service’

Trevor Laffan says he is a long-suffering customer of Eir
Internet saga makes mockery of phrase ‘customer service’

SHORT CIRCUIT: Trevor Laffan’s long-running woes over his broadband installment have proved very frustrating

EIR claims to be the country’s biggest and best network with Ireland’s fastest broadband.

If you click on their website, you will find a blurb proclaiming their vision for the future of the company. ‘Our vision is to be at the centre of your digital world. We’re here to help you work, play and learn, to connect everyone and everything from large cities to small villages.’

It goes on: ‘Everything we do is built around our customers. You’re an essential part of our vision of a brighter, modern more dynamic future. At home, on the go, or in the office, we aim to make things easier with 24/7 tech support, longer opening hours, and an improved customer experience for you.’

That sounds great, but as a long-suffering customer of Eir, I can tell you my experience is completely at variance with their vision, and it appears I’m not the only one.

The Irish Examiner reported earlier this year that Eir had faced high levels of customer complaints, something it claimed to have largely brought under control.

Last May, the company claimed they had turned a corner in terms of their customer care issues, citing new figures from regulator Comreg showing a fall-off in complaints.

The Irish Times reported that many punters would probably take this with a pinch of salt, and said that the company, principally for its poor record in dealing with customer queries and problems, had turned into one of those companies that consumers love to hate.

In response, Eir claimed they were aware of the problem, and were attempting to fix it.

Chief executive Oliver Loomes said that their utter focus was on improving the quality of their customer service.

At the worst point, call waiting times were averaging about an hour, while customers complained of calls being dropped and of routine issues being left unresolved. The company later apologised for the poor performance.

That was back in May, and whatever about the chief executive’s utter focus being on improving the quality of customer service, I can say without fear of contradiction, I haven’t seen any improvement.

From my experience of dealing with their customer service recently, I am of the opinion that it is so bad, it can’t possibly get any worse.

In 2019, I spent a stressful six months dealing with Eir, trying to resolve an issue over incorrect billing. I lost count of the number of calls my wife and I made to them, but we were certainly in regular contact.

Each time we got through, we had to explain the problem to a new person. Most of these calls lasted anywhere between 15 and 30 minutes.

After each call, I was assured the problem was sorted, only to receive a further text message or phone call threatening to suspend our service if the bill wasn’t paid.

My wife’s phone was cut off at one point while we were on holidays and the incorrect bills continued to arrive.

Finally, at the end of my tether, I contacted the Communications Regulator, and the matter was eventually resolved.

Last year, I was in regular contact with Eir again in relation to the poor quality of our broadband service. Three new routers were delivered to me over the course of the year, none of which made a blind bit of difference to the signal.

In August, I was advised that fibre broadband would soon be available to me, so I signed up for it, thinking it could only be an improvement on what I had.

In the meantime, while I was waiting for the installation, my internet had deteriorated to such an extent that we were reduced to using our data on the mobile phones while at home.

I kept ringing eir and they told me repeatedly they couldn’t do anything for me because I had signed up for the fibre broadband, and this somehow prevented them from improving with my signal.

It seemed that all hope now rested with the fibre broadband, so I was delighted when I was given an installation date of November 30, 2022.

Two guys duly arrived on that date, but they couldn’t find the ducting for the existing line and advised me to have the footpath dug up, at my expense, to locate it. They also discovered a blockage in the ducting out on the roadway and they would summon another crew to look at that.

I located the pipe within an hour and contacted eir to let them know. They told me it had nothing to do with them. It was up to the contractors to bring in the line and deal with the blockage.

I contacted the contractors, and a few days later a different crew arrived but they couldn’t clear it either.

I rang the contractor again to be told another crew with larger equipment would have to dig up the road, and that was eir’s responsibility.

On December 15, I received a text message from eir advising me that my broadband order was in progress and was due to be completed in six weeks, so I rang them again.

I explained how I still had no fibre broadband, and my footpath now had a large hole in it.

The lady I spoke to promised to contact the contractor to get an exact date for the work and she would ring me back.

I’m still waiting for that call, but that doesn’t surprise me. Eir staff have often promised me a return call from a supervisor within 48 hours - but I haven’t got one yet.

Four days later, on Monday, December 19 , I got another text message from eir telling me my installation had been arranged for the following day.

That didn’t happen either, and the latest date I have is March 14.

Their chief executive might be happy with the service, but I’m certainly not.

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