Mac Information

Apple Macintosh, iPod, iPad and iPhone news and advice in Dublin, Ireland


Dealing with broadband providers in Ireland

We have advised on this area before on Mac Information, but it is well worth repeating- if you deal with Eircom or BT Ireland or any internet provider, write down all details of your discussions with them.

In the last few weeks Mac Information have been dealing with Eircom, BT Ireland and Magnet on behalf of ourselves and clients. In our own case we were promised high speed broadband if we transferred all of your business over to Eircom, and yet after the transfer wasmade, were told that this speed was not available. The promise was 17mbps and the reality is 1mbps. We kept accurate records of all of the promises made and will keep you informed of the story.

Here are the main tips which we have used in these cases and would recommend to all users of telecoms and service providers:

1/ keep a log of all calls and emails: the telecoms providers will try to catch you out afterwards. Don't rely on their own phone records for the times and dates of your calls. We recently received a 104 euro refund from BT for poor broadband service, but only after we proved the times and dates of our calls, and we forwarded to them the emails we sent complaining about the broadband speed. If you don't have specific details, they will tell you your claim cannot be proved. Luckily in our case we had all records going back to September 08.
2/ write down the names of the people you are dealing with: try to get as much detail as possible- full name, job position and a contact number or email address. Email is better as it can be printed ad used as a written record of events. Ask for a surname and not just a first name.
3/ there is no point complaining to the call centre agents: the people who answer the phones for BT or Eircom tend to have very little knowledge outside their own area, and you will find yourself explaining your case again and again to different people on each call. Both BT and Eircom seem to keep very partial records of phone calls and the details discussed, so don't expect to pick up on a discussion with a new customer care agent where you left off with their colleague. Ask to speak to a manager or to a complaints officer. Things only moved for us when we were put in contact with the BT complaints officer.
4/ be determined: don't accept their first answer, and don't expect a high level of service. BT Ireland's customer care can border on rude at times, and Eircom support staff just sound bored and uninterested!
5/ double-check promises: when we applied for broadband we were sold 17mbps; but when we phoned Eircom sales they said the maximum on the line was 1mbps. When we contacted some of this salesman's other clients they gave us similar stories. So our advice is to phone back and speak to another sales agent, and try to get the details of the promised offering emailed to you to consider. At least then you have it in print if there is a dispute.

If you do feel you have a case, here is what we recommend:

1/ exhaust the telecom company's complaints procedure: you do need to exhaust this route first, to show good faith and that you did try to give them the opportunity to make things right again. This is recommended by ComReg before you contact them.
2/ prepare carefully: type out your case in full detail, and try to be as accurate as possible. Check your phone bills for records of calls, look for your emails and try to recall the detail of each conversation.
3/ contact ComReg: in our experience ComReg have been the key. Without them we would not have succeeded in each case we have taken for our clients. They have the power to at least get you in touch with the right person. In our complaint with BT, the BT complaints officer phoned us and kept us informed along the way as he investigated the case. Without ComReg we would not have been talking to this person.
4/ don't expect the complaints officer to do you any favours: they will try to prove you wrong and wriggle out of any obligation or refund. You will need to be accurate and informed to prove your case.
At the end of a month where we have won two cases against broadband providers, we do feel that it is a lengthy and tiresome process. You need to stick with it, be persistent and don't believe what they tell you. We would not recommend Eircom, BT Ireland or Magnet to anyone looking for broadband, but at times consumers have little by way of choice. In our case we have moved to "Vodafone at Home" broadband, and hope that this will be a better experience, but as ever, we won't bet the house on it...

Simon Spence/2009

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