A follow-up to “Ye gods, even the telcos in Ireland don’t answer their email!” And more bitching about “eircom”. There’s a moral – skip to the end if you don’t want to read the body.
I don’t know if I posted here about it, but I’ve recently been enquiring about a freephone number for ieWebs, that I would be using in print stuff and the like. So I sent Esat and eircom and email last Monday week, asking them to send me information on their services, costs, etc. It was a copy and paste job, they both got the same content.
I got a phone call the next day from a very nice chap in Esat. I was disappointed they didn’t contact me by email, but he soon made up for it – he went through all the options with me, explained most of the things I needed to know, and answered most of the questions I asked. And we had a grand ould chat too, about telecommunications in Ireland – the Internet, hosting, bandwidth, wireless comms, landlines, the whole shooting match. He genuinely seemed interested in what he did, understood what I was saying and actually *out-talked* me in some cases, which as you all know is pretty hard to do. The only bad side was that he didn’t answer one or two questions I asked clearly enough, particularly on pricing. However, the figures I got for the basic running of the number were – no setup fee, and the monthly fee was waived for a year. Which means it’s just the cost of the incoming call. Which is the part he was unclear about…
Someone reminded me the next day about Ocean, so I battered an email off to them through their website, in much the same vein as the other two. And from Ocean, I received a response the *same* day, late in the evening. This guy was even better than the Esat guy, he quite definitely loved his job and chatted away with me while I ranted on about the cost of hosting and bandwidth in Ireland, the lack of eCommerce facilities et al. He commented openly, but carefully, on the Esat merger and eircom’s inability to cope with privatisation and flotation. He answered all my questions frankly, and didn’t hesitate for a second when I asked if Ocean were cheaper or more expensive, without rambling numbers at me. He also took notes on my “feedback” on the hosting, bandwidth and eCommerce problems in Ireland, and said that he would pass it on to Ocean’s R&D department, and I think I actually believe him. Final result – no setup fee, no monthly charge (not waived, none), so again it’s just down to call cost. And he *insisted* that Ocean were cheaper than Esat, who were cheaper than eircom.
Yesterday morning, almost two weeks later, I received a phone call from someone in eircom. There was dead air on the line when I made the comment that I sent the email two weeks ago – she didn’t seem to understand the problem, so I dropped it. She didn’t understand when I asked what block of numbers* eircom have available for “telemarketing services”, simply saying that I would have to compile a list and they would check them for me. I decided to skip anything else of a technical nature and cut right to the chase, how much does it cost? £50 setup fee, £10 a month fee, with an extra £5 for *number rental*! When I told her that neither Esat nor Ocean had any of those charges, she was either dumbstruck or disinterested. So I hung up.
Here’s the moral. More advice, I guess. Don’t buy eircom products. Don’t rent eircom products, don’t use eircom products. You’ve got an eircom line – for the moment at least, you can’t do anything about that. But get rid of the eircom bill – lose the service and get another one. If you need a “proper” Internet connection, get EsatClear – I’ve saved a minimum of 20% on my phone bill since I signed up. If you don’t, get Ocean and a freebie provider. Actually, now I come to think about it, it isn’t advice, it’s a personal witch-hunt – I don’t want to see Irish people being screwed by eircom, which they are. The “equipment rental” is a major demonstration of that. Look at your phone bill – is there an “equipment rental” fee on it? If there is, that’s the phone you’re paying for. For a huge number of people, they’ve being paying rental on that phone for decades – how much does that add up to? Most people aren’t even aware of that. So if Â you do, pack up the phone and take it into your nearest eircom store, and tell them to take it off your bill. And GET A RECEIPT! They won’t want to give you one, but *insist* – it’s the law and they HAVE to give you one if you ask.
* The new providers are assigned blocks of numbers they can use, which is illogical – they should be drawn from a central pool, like the domain name system. Esat get 923000-924999 and Ocean get 925000-926999. It’s unclear what eircom have, but I’m under the impression that they actually assigned these blocks (which are useless for “name-numbering” – i.e. 1800-ieWebs, because the 9 key contains wxyz!) Since deregulation, it seems that there still isn’t a decent regulatory body in charge of assigning numbers and the like. Even the Ocean chappy said it was “still somewhat up in the air”.