Yo yo: another BT customer rings Eircom

Last week's column commenting on why people are returning to Eircom elicited a good response in my email box.

Reading through the messages was interesting, particularly as it threw up a few hoary old issues such as telco companies not taking responsibility for their customers.

One email I received said: "In answer to your question, I was with BT in order to get broadband. No problem there.

"I never had any problem with phone or broadband. But every so often my Outlook Express [email] went on the blink. I made contact eventually with BT to be told that the problem is with Eircom. They control either the incoming or outgoing line. I contacted Eircom to be told that my bill was with BT, so it is their problem.

"Eventually it was sorted, but the hassle of speaking with someone I could not understand and phoning back and forth and dealing with not very nice people at times… was not worth it.

"Eircom seem to hold the upper hand, so I felt it would be better to be with them. Touch wood, everything seems to be okay so far!"

This is classic head-in-the-sand stuff from BT and Eircom. Both companies claiming "it's not us, it's them".

In this case BT only has itself to blame for losing a customer, at least in the view of our disgruntled emailer. Instead of dealing wiith the problem it passed the buck. I've heard versions of this story many, many times. But it is not surprising. After all, we live in a country led by people and institutions that will not take responsibility for their actions so why should we expect anything less of the companies that operate here?

It is also a failure of the government and the regulator that many people feel that "Eircom seems to hold the upper hand" and it is better to be with the incumbent rather than use another provider. This fear factor has to be addressed and dealt with. Otherwise Eircom is the puppet master and the government/regulator is the puppet rather than the other way around.

Another correspondent writes: "You wonder in your article why 55,000 people rejoined Eircom. I am one of these and I am also wondering. I had been hearing Eircom ads 'Re: free minutes to meteor mobiles' when I got one of these calls from Eircom.

"Like a fool I rejoined from BT and have been regretting it. The broadband performance has deteriorated; there is a noise on our landline which they have failed to remove. Also when our broadband failed in late August it took about two weeks to get it working again. And our bill since rejoining was higher than the BT bill. So I'll probably be on the move again but this time I want to wait and decide where I'll go. I'd like to go to a provider who can provide broadband, landline and television."

Two weeks to repair a broadband line? More proof that we live in the third world of telecommunications infrastructure. The only advice I can give to this reader is to try contacting UPC as it is the main provider of triple-play packages in the country (phone, broadband, TV). Magnet entertainment also offers a service in this area. As does Smart Telecom, which, at the moment, is only offering the service to its fibre to the home customers (available, in most cases, to new estates).

Another reader commented: "I went back to Eircom after a year with 3 [the mobile-phone company] and another year with O2. I had the mobile 'midband' products from both. In both cases the initial quality of service was reasonable but then deteriorated to the point that it was unusable most evenings.

"Eircom offered 10 months free line rental leaving 3MB broadband, costing me €30 per month. I live in Dublin 22 but UPC don't service my area with broadband."

Unfortunately that's one of the failings with some of the alternative providers I mentioned last week. Not all of them encompass the entire country.

In my opinion it's best to avoid mobile-broadband products. I have heard too many complaints about them. They don't provide the speeds promised and in many cases they are little more than glorified dial-up.

The government is also using midband products to bump up our broadband penetration numbers.

It is a complete cheat when you consider the OECD disregards mobile-broadband products in its figures.

Some of the remaining correspondence centred on asking advice on how to get out of Eircom and sign up to someone else. In this case the only way is to ring the companies or check out their websites – these can easily be found by doing a web search.

Thanks to everyone who responded and best of luck staying with, or trying to get out of, Eircom.

Opportunities at start-up TV station

Do you think you have what it takes to be a TV presenter or get involved in the production end of a start-up station?

Well, if you do why not contact Fingal Community Television (FCTV).

This is a new project currently broadcasting on the web at www.fctv.ie until such time as its broadcast licence is obtained. The channel's content will centre on news and information from north county Dublin (or the imaginary county of "Fingal" as the county council prefers to call it).

Anyone who wants to be involved should contact Tony O'Reilly on 01 4433385 or at tony@fctv.ie.