Sinn Féin Finance Spokesperson Pearse Doherty TD has warned people to be wary of so-called “unlimited” telephone call bundles offered by Eir, and other service providers, which will charge customers extortionate rates once the usage cap in the terms and conditions has been exceeded.
The Donegal TD has called on Eir and other service providers not to disconnect customers during this crisis and not to enforce any fair-usage caps which are hidden away in the small print of the contracts.
Deputy Doherty said:
“In recent days I’ve come across some harsh and unfair practices by some service providers, including Eir. These providers are offering so-called ‘unlimited’ calls to customers as part of their packages. The reality is very different, and these packages are in fact limited and subject to fair-usage caps in the small print of the contract.
“As people are cocooning and staying at home, they are depending on their landlines, mobiles and internet to arrange food, prescriptions and to stay in touch with family more than ever before.
“I have recently been contacted by an elderly couple in Donegal who had signed up for the so-called unlimited ‘eir Broadband Talk Mobile World’ package which offered them ‘unlimited anytime local and national calls to landlines, unlimited calls to UK and defined international destination landlines and mobiles, unlimited anytime calls to Irish mobiles’. The couple, who are pensioners, had chosen this package to make sure they could stay in touch with family and friends before the crisis. As the crisis developed, they relied on their landline as their link to the outside world.
“Having paid their bill on time each month, they were distressed when their landline was disconnected by Eir at the start of Easter weekend, in the middle of their billing cycle, without warning. They were told that they had exceeded the fair usage caps in the small print of the contract. Eir then refused to reconnect the couple’s landline without first receiving payment in the amount of hundreds of Euro. This is grossly unfair, deceitful and is deliberately misleading and dangerous.
“As monthly bills start to come through the letterbox for the period in which people have been staying at home, I am asking people to be mindful of the small print. It shouldn’t be the case that people with ‘unlimited’ packages have to monitor their usage but unfortunately the recent actions of Eir have shown this to be the reality.
“I am calling on Eir and other service providers to cut the nonsense and be clear with customers. Service providers need to stop hiding behind the small print and misleading people. The package is either unlimited or it is not. During this crisis Eir and others should not be enforcing the fair-usage policies that they have hidden in the small print of the contracts. By disconnecting landlines without warning, Eir have put this already vulnerable couple at risk during a public health emergency and it is disgraceful.
“My colleague and party spokesperson on Communications, Climate Action and the Environment, David Cullinane TD and I, are calling on the Minister to immediately engage with service providers and with ComReg to ensure that commitments given by service providers not to disconnect customers are honoured and that the fair usage small print is not enforced during this crisis.”