eir Consumer Care

Summary

Consumers should be able to choose and use services with confidence. This includes having, at a minimum, convenient ways of contacting service providers, in order to obtain timely, effective and fair resolution of issues. In light of the above, ComReg regards the recent problems that eir customers have had in contacting eir’s customer service as completely unacceptable.

ComReg is using its powers to assist affected customers with their complaints, and to press eir to improve matters.

ComReg is also considering whether it would be possible to place additional obligations on service providers and we will discuss with the Government if new legislation is needed.

What ComReg does in relation to Complaints

1. ComReg specifies and enforces obligations related to complaint handling

  • All service providers are bound by a Code of Practice for Complaint Handling, must have channels for receiving complaints, comply with maximum times to acknowledge complaints (48 hours) and maximum times to resolve the matter (10 working days).

2. ComReg assists individual consumers with their complaints

  • ComReg provides a Consumer Line service that answers queries and deals with complaints, if not resolved to customer’s satisfaction or in a timely manner through their service providers complaint handling process.  ComReg has resolved 5,354 complaints in total, relating to all service providers, for the period January 2020 to the end of September 2020.
  • ComReg offers a dispute resolution facility when complaints are not resolved to consumer’s satisfaction, following completion of the procedures in ComReg’s complaint handling process.
  • ComReg publishes quarterly statistics regarding contacts from consumers about their service provider.
  • ComReg runs awareness and information programmes to inform consumers of their rights and how ComReg may be able to assist them.

What ComReg cannot do regarding customer service

  • ComReg cannot direct them to answer calls to customer service within a specified time.
  • ComReg cannot give customers the right to break a fixed-term contract early because of poor customer care (unless specifically provided for in the contractual terms).
  • ComReg cannot withdraw the authorisation to operate because of poor customer service.

What has ComReg done regarding eir Customer Care issues

ComReg is very concerned about eir’s ongoing customer care problems and it has engaged extensively with the CEO of eir. ComReg has sought a remediation plan from eir and has raised with eir the level of public dissatisfaction and consumer detriment as a result of its customer care. The Commission continues to have forthnightly meetings to monitor eir’s progress against its plan to remedy the situation. It is very unsatisfactory that eir has not yet been able to remediate its customer care to meet the needs of its customers.

ComReg’s Consumer Care team is actively engaged with eir’s customer care team to resolve complaints as soon as possible for those eir consumers who have contacted ComReg Consumer Care. ComReg’s quarterly reports illustrate that that the majority of customers complaints reported to ComReg are subsequently resolved within 10 working days (see charts below). Since 1 January 2020, 3,477 complaints have been resolved by ComReg’s Consumer Line on behalf of eir’s customers.

ComReg has reminded eir of its associated regulatory obligations, which ComReg is also continuing to monitor: –

  • eir’s obligations in respect of its code of practice for complaints handling;
  • its obligation to ensure that there are no disincentives to switching, no delays in terminating contracts or porting and its obligation not to overcharge customers.

What should eir complainants do?

eir customers who have complaints should contact eir using its customer complaints number (or via one of the other contact methods for complaints detailed on eir’s page at the link www.eir.ie/complaints/[opens external link])

eir customer complaints contact numbers are:

  • eir at Home 1800-200481
  • eir Business 1800-601701

ComReg understands that wait times for these complaint line numbers are substantially lower and more acceptable than eir’s general customer service number.

Customers whose complaint has not been sufficiently dealt with by their service provider within 10 working days should contact ComReg who will then contact eir on their behalf to resolve the complaint.

ComReg’s contact details are set out below:

Telephone01 8049668 for consumer queries
01 8049707 for business consumer queries
Emailconsumerline@comreg.ie for consumer queries
businessconsumers@comreg.ie for business consumer queries
LetterCommission for Communications Regulation, One Dockland Central, Guild Street, Dublin, D01 E4X0
TextText COMREG to 51500 (standard SMS rates apply) to receive a call back
Text ASKCOMREG to 51500 (standard SMS rates apply) outlining the issue you need assistance with, and we will respond to you by text
IMPORTANT – Please use keyword ASKCOMREG in all text messages, including replies

What actions is ComReg taking in relation to this

  • ComReg is advising consumers of their rights in respect of complaint handling with their service provider and how ComReg can assist them
  • ComReg will continue its consumer communications on switching, complaint handling and dispute resolution
  • ComReg is exploring ways to increase transparency around customer satisfaction and customer care performance, of different operators
  • ComReg will continue to monitor compliance and take enforcement action where appropriate
  • ComReg is exploring the possibility of other legislation/obligations
  • ComReg is working with Government to give ComReg powers to impose administrative fines

What else does ComReg do for consumers

In accordance with its legislative powers on consumer matters, ComReg is currently focused on promoting information and consumer choice and protection by ensuring, among other aspects, that:

  • consumers have relevant information
  • consumers can exercise their ability to switch with ease between service providers
  • service providers contractual terms are comprehensive, clear and that service providers deliver on them
  • customers are not billed incorrectly; and that
  • service providers publish and implement a Code of Practice (setting out how the service provider can be contacted and their complaints process)

Further details on the Code of Practice

Service providers are responsible for ensuring that complaints are dealt with in an efficient manner. ComReg has put in place minimum requirements for service providers’ code of practice for complaint handling. The code of practice must make provision for, amongst other aspects, a first point of contact for complainants.

At a minimum the first points of contact available for making complaints must be:

  • A Freephone (1800) number or a 19XX Customer Support Short Code number or a geographic or mobile telephone number or a number that is free to all end-users, and
  • An electronic means of contact, including an e-mail address and/or a complaints online form or direct online communication plainly associated with making a complaint that offers the ability to attach a document and does not have a word character restriction and provides a record in a durable form to the end-user, and
  • An Address (excluding an address for an electronic means of contact)

ComReg continues to monitor service providers’ compliance with these Code of Practice requirements.

Charts

Figure 6: ECS and PRS complaints and queries recorded Q3 2019 – Q3 2020 

Figure 18: Number of ECS issues queries and complaints by Fixed Service Provider Q2 2020 vs Q3 2020

 

Figure 7: Number of ECS queries and complaints by Mobile Service Provider Q2 2020 vs Q3 2020

 

Figure 22: Fixed Service Provider ECS complaints closed in Q3 2020 by number of working days open

 

Figure 11: ECS complaints closed in Q3 2020 by Mobile Service Provider and number of working days open