herald

Wednesday 7 December 2016

Irish Water sends texts asking people to pay up

Irish Water spokeswoman Elizabeth Arnett
Irish Water spokeswoman Elizabeth Arnett
Tens of thousands of customers have now received the text message from Irish Water

Irish Water is now texting customers who have not paid their water bills and asking them to call the utility back so the payment can be made.

The move, which has been slammed by government opposition, comes after it was revealed the embattled company has also begun cold-calling customers who have so far failed to pay their first two bills.

A spokeswoman for the company confirmed that "depending on the contact information we have" some customers have received text messages which asks them to immediately contact Irish Water.

Tens of thousands of customers have now received the message which asks customers to call the company's customer care line or access their account online.

The spokeswoman added the phone number provided is the standard Irish Water customer support line which is a lo-call number.

Text messages are going out on a phased basis and only those who provided a mobile number when registering with the utility can receive the text.

The company said texting customers and asking them to call back is "not a money saving exercise".

Irish Water also confirmed that it is willing to engage with customers to enter into a "payment plan" to pay back the outstanding charges.

This would involve paying the bills in instalments, starting from €5 per week.

Fianna Fail senator Darragh O'Brien said the move to text customers was more proof Irish Water was "in a complete mess".

"While I have sympathy for the staff in Irish Water, they are fighting a losing battle. The government's policy on water is in tatters and the situation is now irredeemable," he said.

The company recently came under more fire when it emerged households were now being contacted by call centre staff working for Irish water.

However, the company's spokeswoman Elizabeth Arnett has defended the move insisting it is normal practise for all utility companies and denied that it is targeting older customers with phone calls.

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