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Ministers meet Eir and Vodafone over 'totally unsatisfactory' customer service

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Communications Minister Eamon Ryan told the telcos there is widespread dissatisfaction with the standards of customer service they provide. (Tom Honan/PA)

Communications Minister Eamon Ryan told the telcos there is widespread dissatisfaction with the standards of customer service they provide. (Tom Honan/PA)

Communications Minister Eamon Ryan told the telcos there is widespread dissatisfaction with the standards of customer service they provide. (Tom Honan/PA)

TELECOMS service providers Eir and Vodafone have promised to improve their customer service after they were called to a meeting with the Tanaiste, and the minister for communications.

Tanaiste Leo Varadkar and Communications Minister Eamon Ryan told the telcos there is widespread dissatisfaction with the standards of customer service they provide.

Eir has come in for the strongest criticism.

Last week Mr Ryan told the Dáil Eir’s customer service was “totally unsatisfactory and something the company is going to have to address”.

Ceann Comhairle Sean Ó Fearghaíl said Eir’s service was “appalling” and raised “profound questions as to whether ComReg is doing its job”.

Customers have been left hugely frustrated trying to contact the utility’s customer care staff to report faults, switch mobile phone Sim cards, or move provider.

There have also been complaints that calls are dropped, customer agents are rude or unhelpful and, that routine issues are not resolved, despite promises.

Mr Varadkar said a number of his constituents had contacted him about Eir. The issues were “causing a huge amount of frustration” for customers.

He said the meeting with Eir representatives was useful.

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“It was good to hear first-hand from the companies. Both companies set out their plans to resolve the issues causing problems, so I really hope we see things improving for customers soon,” he added.

Minister Eamon Ryan said he hoped that consumers will see improvements in services from both Vodafone and Eir soon.

He said it was important to relay the level of dissatisfaction being experienced by people who are doing their best to work from home.

Eir, whose chief executive Carolan Lennon attended, had no comment about the meeting.

But it insisted this week that speeding up waiting times for customers who contact it is its main priority.

“The average wait time for care in the last week was under 10 minutes, and while this is not where it should be, we are making steady progress and we wish to apologise for the delays some customers have experienced,” Eir said.

It said the Covid-19 pandemic has made managing its call centres in Sligo, Limerick and Cork challenging, with more than 400 care agents forced to work from home overnight.

Eir has also seen a dramatic increase in call volumes due to more households working and learning from home, it said.

It has hired 92 people to its care team since the summer, with more set to join in the coming weeks.

Vodafone, which was represented by chief executive Anne O’Leary, did not comment on the meeting with the ministers

But it said earlier this week the Covid-19 pandemic has brought challenges to it business.

It added that this month it employed 100 new customer service agents who are currently going through a rigorous training process.

The new agents will be in place from the start of December.

“We will continue to empower our agents with the knowledge, skills and training they need; and to do right by our customers through each and every interaction they have with us,” Vodafone said.

Eir’s Ms Lennon and other representatives are due to appear before the Oireachtas Committee on Transport and Communications next Wednesday.


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