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Saturday 21 October 2017

Eircom fined €10,500 after overcharging pensioner by €148

Una Milton gave evidence. Photo: Collins
Una Milton gave evidence. Photo: Collins

Phone company Eircom has been fined €10,500 after it admitted overcharging customers.

Eircom Ltd, trading as Eir, pleaded guilty at Dublin District Court yesterday to offences under the Communications Regulation Act 2002.

The prosecution was in connection with complaints by five people who went to industry watchdog ComReg after Eircom's customer service teams failed to resolve their problems.

Cavan pensioner Irene McHugh, who attended the hearing, was an existing customer cold-called by an Eircom sales agent last year. She agreed to a fibre optic broadband plan for €65-a-month.

ComReg compliance analyst Una Milton agreed with prosecutor Ronan Kennedy a verbal contract was entered into.

However, a day later, Ms McHugh had second thoughts. She was concerned the payments would be difficult to make and made a number of calls to cancel, but ended up paying two bills - her old account she believed was cancelled and the new one.

Disconnected

Ms Milton agreed that the pensioner felt she was "talking to a brick wall" when she dealt with the Eircom's helplines.

Ms McHugh was eventually disconnected and left without a service for two weeks. The court heard she had a personal alarm on her wrist and would not have been able to contact anyone in an emergency.

The court heard she was overcharged by €148 but has since been refunded by Eircom.

Another woman, who had moved from Belfast to Glenties, Co Donegal, and opted for a landline and mobile broadband service, which did not work, was overcharged €592.

A third customer was overcharged by €205 and had a debt collection agency contact her.

The fourth complainant was overcharged by €31 after changing her package, and a fifth paid €149 too much after a discount was not implemented, Judge John Brennan heard.

The court was told human error and system errors were responsible for the overcharging .

Defence counsel Joe Jeffers said Eircom had refunded its customers. He also apologised on behalf of the firm, which has agreed to pay prosecution costs.

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