Monday 22 January 2018

Elderly will have to pay more as Eir raises its prices for 500,000

Eir (Stock photo)
Eir (Stock photo)
Charlie Weston

Charlie Weston

Telecoms giant Eir is hitting its customers with a price hike, just a year after a previous rise.

The higher costs are set to affect long-standing customers, with those who recently signed up for a deal with Eir set to escape.

This means that many older people will now end up paying more.

Increases will apply to consumer and business voice customers, standalone broadband users and those with broadband bundles. Some 500,000 customers are to be affected.

Consumers will see price rises of up to €84 a year, based on the rise in the monthly fee alone.

Price rises will be implemented on a phased basis from this month, the Irish Independent can reveal.

Eoin Clarke of Switcher.ie
Eoin Clarke of Switcher.ie

The monthly charge is going up by between €3 and €7, with the cost of calls rising by 33c. Call rates made outside voice plan allowances will also rise.

It is the third year in a row that Eir has raised its prices.

A spokesman for the company confirmed that the rises would not affect people who recently signed up with Eir, new FTTH (fibre to the home) customers and mobile users.

The deputy chairman of the Consumers Association, Michael Kilcoyne, accused Eir of singling out older and vulnerable customers with the price hike.

This is because the rise does not affect those who recently switched to the provider and older customers are the least likely to switch.

He said: "This shows there is no reward for staying loyal to a company. Some of these people who will be affected have been with the company since it was the P&T. They are hitting the old and the vulnerable. These people also lost their telephone allowance."

Mr Kilcoyne called on Eir to reconsider the hikes and instead offer a discount to long-time customers.

The telecoms company said: "Eir can confirm a price change impacting both consumer and small business customers across voice, standalone broadband and our broadband bundles. These price changes will be reflected in customer bills on a phased basis from mid-September.

"All standalone mobile customers who are either on pre-pay or post-pay will not be impacted. Customers on our new FTTH (fibre to the home) product are also not impacted."

The Eir spokesman denied that it was hitting loyal and vulnerable customers.

"I would reject any suggestion that we are exploiting loyal or older customers," he said.

The company insisted that even after the increase its triple and quad-play pricing was the best value in the market, both for mobile and TV bundles.

The price rises amount to a change of the terms and conditions, which allow customers to break out of their contract even if the term has not ended.

In a letter to customers, Eir states: "If you choose not to accept this change, you may withdraw from your contract without penalty by calling us on 1800 303449 before October 20, 2017."

Eoin Clarke, of the price-comparison site Switcher.ie, said price rises were now almost an annual occurrence across the broadband and TV market. This was despite the fact that Ireland already ranked as one of the most expensive Western countries for broadband, according to the telecoms regulator ComReg.

Last September, Eir hit thousands of homeowners with higher costs for calls and broadband, with some seeing price rises of close to €100 a year.

The latest Eir price hike comes after its competitors Vodafone, Sky and Virgin had all raised prices for their telephone, broadband and TV services.

Irish Independent

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