It is very unusual for the Ceann Comhairle of the Dáil to make any interventions whatever in political matters, given that the chair is generally sworn to neutrality. Which makes this one, then, all the more notable:
Ceann Comhairle Sean Ó Fearghaíl said he was refusing to allow debates on an “inordinate number of complaints from TDs about the service their constituents are receiving from Eir”.
He said he would have been surprised about the complaints only that he had a similar experience in his constituency.
Mr Ó Fearghaíl said: “Eir’s customer service is appalling and it raises profound questions about whether or not ComReg is doing its job”.
The Ceann Comhairle made his unusual intervention at the end of a discussion on the company’s customer service and broadband provision in Co Carlow.
Minister for Communications Eamon Ryan had said ComReg would have to address the “shocking poor performance” of Eir in customer service.
Mr Ryan said their customer service was “totally unsatisfactory and something the company is going to have to address”.
The reason for his intervention is simple enough: He’s getting bombarded by TDs who want debates in the Dáil about the terrible customer service provided by Eir. And they, in turn, are getting bombarded by voters who are experiencing that same terrible customer service. What’s happening?
Very few days go by without seeing tweets like these:
@eircare @eir customer service probably up there with the worst in business, is there anyone at the end of the phone lines? On hold nearly 1 hour, I hung up in the end, sent e mails no replies either. pic.twitter.com/xL0T2toN3P
— Michael (@murphytipp) November 5, 2020
@eircare I have just spent 47 minutes on the phone to log a fault, only for someone to answer and then hangup the call, eirs customer service is a disgrace. I messaged eir here only to be told I should go on line. What a joke pic.twitter.com/BBIh7rfXoH
— clive mc cormack (@clivemccormack) November 3, 2020
@eircare I'm a previous customer of Eir and left due to how poor your customer service was. I've now been charged €72 and when calling to sort this out the first call I made I was on hold for 1hr 30 and now the 2nd call I'm on hold without a response for 1hr 16+ please reply!!!!
— Fearghal Powell (@fpowpow) November 3, 2020
@eir your customer service is appalling
— Pat Sheedy (@Psheedy) November 3, 2020
Eir, is, of course, the successor company to the old Telecom Eireann, which was controversially privatised about two decades ago, giving rise to the famous Bertie-era complaint about the “eircom shares”. It’s now fully privately owned, but it owes most of its market position to inheriting a whole bunch of taxpayer funded infrastructure, and a dominant position in terms of market share from the old state-run company.
Despite these ongoing complaints about customer service – which include customers being unable to cancel contracts, get problems fixed, or even get an answer on the telephone – the company has been awarded massive state contracts in recent years.