23 August 2014

The Many Scams of Eircom

When we first moved to Ireland, we knew from reading about the experiences of others, that it would take a while to get an internet connection. Like every other thing we have encountered here, this was a more complicated and longer process than it should have been, but I have to say that it tops the list. If there is one thing that Eircom knows how to do well--and it appears to be the only thing they do well--it is finding new and creative ways to rip people off. My suggestion to anyone needing internet service in Ireland would be avoid Eircom if you possibly can. They are terrible. I have written in the past about the hassles we had at the beginning. These have never ended. There has not been one month when Bill has not had to get on the phone and deal with some kind of billing problem. The lies trip easily off the lips of the people on the phone, too, so you can never actually believe the BS that comes flying out.

Here are some of the problems we have had:
1) We were told by another service provider at the beginning that it would take 4-6 weeks to get connected--if we already were wried for their service, which was unknown. We would have had to sign an 18 month contract or pay for a bunch of extras. Since we knew by then that we would probably not be here for more than a year, none of that seemed like a good option. Bill called Eircom. They told him 10 working days and a 12 month contract for 35 euro a month, including VAT. This included a phone line, which we did not want, but is required for the broadband. He agreed to this. We waited for our modem, which was supposed to be mailed to us. It never appeared and when Bill called to find out where it was, the guy said that the work order had never gone forward and it had never been mailed. He did not know why. In the meantime, though, we'd gotten the paperwork which gave us 14 days to opt out of the contract. By the time we got the modem, that was long past and we'd already gotten a bill for the phone line, which we were assured was activated and ready to go.

2) When the modem came, we set it up and nothing worked. Bill called for service. The guy showed up within a couple of hours, bringing a new modem which also did not work. He checked the line. It didn't work. He left to check at the exchange and everything seemed to be fine there. He traced the problem and informed us that there was no active line coming into this apartment. He found a line we could use and hooked up the modem. Mind you, this means we were billed for a nonexistent phone line after being assured up and down that it was activated. One of two possibilities here--either many of the people working at Eircom are incompetent or they are deliberately trying to rip people off.

3) The first bill we got was about 50euro--this was for set-up fees and the phone line (that we did not actually have) and the VAT. Bill was assured on the phone that there would be no set-up fees, the VAT was included in what was supposed to be the 35 euro bundle price, and of course, there was no active phone line at that point anyway, so we were paying for nothing, although we did not know this yet! Bill was told it was so high because the internet had not yet been set up, so the bundle price wasn't applicable. Nice move--avoid sending the modem so you can provide no service and charge people more for it!

4) The next bill came after the modem had arrived and the wifi was operational. It also included set-up fees. Back on the phone Bill went. He was told that the fee was a one-time thing that would not appear again. He complained about the previous bill as well and the woman gave him a credit for some of that amount. This bill also contained a "past due" 150 euro fee for something. Even though it was supposedly past due, this was the first we'd heard of it. Turns out it was a deposit that we were supposed to pay if we didn't want to do direct debit with them. It would be returned later, they said. Here was a tough choice--allow the direct debit or send them money and hope it was returned. Bill opted to set up the direct debit.

5) Last month's bill arrived with the deposit still listed, but everything else correct. He called again and was told that the 150 euro charge would stay on there until 3 successful direct debit transactions had been completed. So our monthly bill of 35 euro would be direct debited, but not the 150 euro deposit. Bill was watching the bank and the bill online. The monthly charge disappeared from the bill, but not from the bank and a few days later, the charge was back on the Eircom bill. He called again and was told that it got kicked back to them from the bank and the person he was speaking to did not know why. He paid the bill on the phone and we went to the bank where they told us they had no record of Eircom setting up the direct deposit. The bank is another idiotic institution, so we have no way of knowing who messed up here--Eircom or the bank. Either way is equally plausible. And either way, we're paying for it, not the incompetent morons running these companies.

6) The latest bill came today. We have been charged a 15 euro "invalid payment fee," presumably because the direct debit, which they may not even have set up, is not operational. There is also some VAT added in for some reason. That will be this month's conversation with the billing department.

At this point, I am considering reporting this company to the consumer protection people. Given what I know about the sheer BS that spews forth from almost every other Irish company/institution I have had the misfortune to deal with, I am not sure it would be at all helpful. In any case, if we cancel they will charge us fees for that--and probably VAT and stuff on top of it. I am really hoping there is some other option available when we move. There has not been a month when the 35 euro bundle fee we were quoted has been what has been on the bill.

This kind of thing is exactly why I am not bothering to attempt any kind of involvement in anything here. I have had a couple of good experiences dealing with institutions/businesses, but mostly it's been nothing but hassles.I go into any situation involving groups of people with caution, wariness, and the expectation that things will unfold in bizarre and ridiculous ways. I really do not mind living quietly and apart from the kind of stuff that goes on and when I can do that, I find myself quite content. I think that when we move I will probably seek out involvement in something, but experiences like this--which are ongoing and highly annoying--make me just want to go out walking or hang out with a good book, some yarn, and a bunch of podcasts and let the BS go on around me. It's there and seems to be normal operating procedure here. That's fine, but I don't have to step in it.

Anyone wanting to learn the art of the scam would do well to go and work for Eircom, where you can get paid to have training in exactly that!

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