24 January 2015

Redirected

I got a reply from the Consumer Protection Commission last evening. It was mostly a form letter with a bit of stuff tacked on at the end. They said that they would suggest a formal complaint, in writing--to Eircom, I assume--and if that doesn't produce results, and if I feel they are in violation of the contract, I should report them to ComReg, the regulatory body that supposedly oversees telecommunications.

The problem in this case is that we have no idea what the contract is. Nowhere in the paperwork they sent does it mention this 150 euro deposit. Requiring a deposit of this sort seems like a fairly common practice here. When we were setting up the electricity, we received paperwork that stated they would require a 400 euro deposit if we did not set up direct debit. We set it up, they took the 400 euro out and then put it back within days. We have never had a problem with them. They say what they will do and they do what they say.

With Eircon, you're told a different story every time, so who knows what the procedure is. If they were clear that they were going to take the money for a certain period of time and they did that, I would not have an issue. Instead, they simply tacked it on a few months into the contract. Then they said they wouldn't take it. Then they took it and have given us a bunch of different stories about how and when they will return it. I am not sure how anyone can be expected to enter into any kind of contract when things keeps shifting.

The latest thing they're pulling is sending everyone letters saying that their rates may be going up. Since they have new plans and bundles every week, it seems, it has been difficult to know whether this includes our plan. I was pretty pissed off at the idea that while we are legally obligated to abide by the contract, even if we have not given written consent, do not understand the terms, or cannot get a straight answer about what the contract entails. they are free to disregard the most basic part of the contract and raise prices on a whim. However, whether because of Irish laws or those of the EU, they have to offer customers a way out of the contract without penalty--at least in theory. So if we are a part of this rate hike, we should be able to cancel the contract--although it would not surprise me to learn that they have some other unethical plan to punish people who try. In any case, we shall see. If we can get out of the contract, then we may well avail of the opportunity to escape the clutches of Eircon, even if it means being without home broadband for a couple of months until we move.

23 January 2015

The Latest Chat with "Eircon"

Bill chatted again this morning with a rep from Eircom (they should be called "Eircon," but that would give the game away, I guess) regarding the unauthorized withdrawal from our bank account as I described in yesterday's post. I guess it will not be a surprise to anyone to learn that he got still another story about when and how we can expect the return of this money. This time the story is that they will take the December and January bills out of our bank account and the 150 euro credit will be applied beginning NEXT month. It is interesting how it always ends up being NEXT month, which never quite seems to arrive. This story makes no sense whatsoever, since if they were planning to direct debit the regular monthly fees, why did they not do so in December? Bill asked why the story this month was different yet again and the woman had no idea how to answer. He asked for contact information for someone with more authority and was directed to the same old number that he has had to use before--they are no better than chat. In fact they are worse, because we have no record of the phone conversations as we do with chat. He asked how much it would cost if we terminated our contract early (it runs until mid May) and was told it'd be 186 euro, so he asked her to itemize that for him. Turns out that, in spite of being told that we would keep the modem, we would have to pay 41 euro for that--or so she said. Since you never can believe anything they tell you, who knows?

I decided we needed some help here, so I contacted the Consumer Protection Commission. Hopefully they can give us some advice on what our rights are and how best to proceed with this. We both want to be done with this and we both want Eircon out of our lives. We are not the only ones to have this particular problem with them and I am sure we will not be the last. Other people have other problems and we have had many since this all started. They already got 50 euro from us by charging us for a phone line that we did not want, but they said we must have--only later did we find out that it was not even live. Bill was told at the very beginning that there would be no set-up fee and there were two of them--one for the non-live phone line and one for the broadband. We were told the modem was in the mail and when it didn't arrive, Bill called and the guy found the work order had not been forwarded or processed. The bill sailed through, though, because we got that before we got the modem. They've charged us fees because of their own mistakes and Bill has had to contact them and get those credited. Now they have effectively stolen 150 euro from us and promise to return it "next month." It's really the last straw. In my query to the consumer people, I mentioned that we've had a whole series of issues with them, but focused on this particular one. They are supposed to get back to me within 3 days. I have no way of knowing whether they will or whether this is yet another waste of time, but I guess I will find out.

22 January 2015

Eircom Raids the Bank Account!

In case anyone has missed my previous posts about Eircom, here's a recap: AVOID THEM LIKE THE PLAGUE!!!

We have had nothing but trouble with them from the start. We have been ripped off and it would have been worse, except that Bill has carefully monitored every bill we have gotten. Not one month has gone by without him having to call or chat in order to straighten out some crap that they have tried to pull. Chat provides a transcript, so he's been doing that, in case we need evidence. The last three months have been a doozy of a rip-off, because they went into our bank account and removed 150 euro.

This amount appeared on the bill as a "deposit." Bill contacted them to find out what it was about. The guy said that it would just sit there and after 3 successful direct debits, it would come off the bill. On the bills we would see the 150 plus the regular monthly fee, but they would only withdraw the monthly fee. The first time, this is exactly what they did. The next time, they took out the fee and the 150 euro. Bill chatted. "That will be returned to the bank account within 10 working days," he was told. Needless to say, 10 working days came and they went and there was no sign of our 150 euro.

Another bill showed up. Bill chatted again. This time there was a pause while Eircom dude went to investigate. He returned to his keyboard and informed Bill that he would have to open "a case." Bill would be given a case number and would receive a check in the mail within 15 working days. You will not be surprised to learn that 15 working days passed without any sign of a check.

Meanwhile, the new bill came. It sat there. Last week, Bill chatted again. He provided the case number and wondered where our 150 euro might be and what was going on with the current outstanding bill. This time he was told that there is a refund credit pending, so they will take the outstanding balance out of that. Everything would show up on the next bill, she said--the 150 euro credit and the fact that the December balance as well as the January one had come out of that credit.

Guess what!? We just got the January bill, which states that we are in arrears. There is no sign of the credit. So now we have to worry that they will extract even more money from our account.

This is the most toxic company I have ever had the misfortune to deal with. They are dishonest. They lie. They rip you off. Steer clear.

15 January 2015

Status Red!

We were warned for the past few days that we'd be getting a storm with high winds coming in from the Atlantic. Met Eireann set the warning status at orange, which is the intermediate level, with yellow being the lowest and red being the highest. Yesterday they changed it to red for exposed coasts and mountainous regions in several counties, including Mayo, suggesting that people could expect sustained winds of 80 km/h with gusts between 130-150 km/h. They urged people to stay home and asked local authorities to consider closing schools today because of the potential for very high winds overnight and into this morning.

Yesterday morning there was snow on the ground from the night before.
That soon melted as things warmed up and the precipitation changed to sleet and hail. By afternoon the wind was picking up and by evening it was really howling out there. It was wild and made all kinds of sounds as it whipped things around. It really does sound like a train at times. Our deck has metal railings and as the wind whipped around, we could hear the railings making noise--it was like the wind was playing an instrument.
We made sure our headlamps had batteries and the phone was charged. We made coffee and put it in our insulated stainless steel mugs in case we lost power. After that coffee was gone, I boiled some water in the kettle and filled them again, wrapping them in socks and a thick wool cowl and then placing them in the microwave--I figured with all of that insulation, the water would stay pretty warm and would allow us to have coffee or tea this morning if the power went out last night.

Our walls are more than a foot thick and this was not the first time I have really appreciated that fact. If I lived in a different kind of building, I would have been nervous. I would not have been surprised to lose power, as was happening to many around the country, but we didn't. I went to bed around 12:30 and was just drifting off to sleep when I heard the sound of water gushing nearby. I thought we'd sprung a leak or something, so I jumped out of bed and went to investigate. All was well. The water was pouring off of the roof outside and the wind was blowing it around, but it was staying outside. One of the first things we noticed when we got here was that there is a little lip all the way around the opening where the door sits--both sides, top, and bottom. We had to get used to stepping up and over the bottom lip. I realized it was probably because of wind, but I wonder if it has something to do with the rain, too. If the bottom of the door frame had been like the ones we had in the US (except Alaska, where they built for the cold), we would have had rain coming in under the door, I think.

I must say that I am pretty impressed with ESB, the electricity people. They are definitely no Eircom style company--they actually do a really good job. This afternoon there are still 16,000 people without power and that really is not bad. It stinks if you're one of the 16,000, I know, but this was some big wind and I would've expected that number to be much higher.

Apparently the storm was moving north of Ireland, so we got the southern edge, and Donegal, in the north, got hit the worst, although it sounds like Co Galway got hit pretty bad, too. It's heading straight for Scotland, where they can expect hurricane force winds. Keep your fingers crossed for the folks there!



07 January 2015

Signing Up to Be an Organ Donor

We got our organ donor cards in the mail today.
Bill had requested them from the Irish Kidney Association website. Once they arrived here, all we had to do was sign our cards and then sign the other person's card as next of kin. Now we will carry them with us. That's it. Very simple, very quick, and possibly very important to someone someday!

03 January 2015

Day, Month, Year

On Christmas Day, Bill told me that there was one more thing on the way, but it hadn't arrived yet. Yesterday, it did. He got me a secondhand, simple, small camera! Guess he got tired of me waving him over on our walks and giving him instructions for a photo that I envisioned--LOL. So if you notice that some of the photos on this blog are not up to the previous standards, it will probably be because I took them instead of Bill. I have no idea what I am doing, but I will have fun being creative and I already have ideas for art projects.

This calendar has been up for a few days. We picked it up at the library last month. It was only this morning that I noticed what was odd about it!

I shall have to remember the order of the days when I look at that one!

I am also careful about dates here. Today is 3/1/15, not 1/3/15. I have taken to writing or saying the month when I need to--Jan 3, 2015. I think many or even most people here would write 3 Jan 2015, but at least there's no misunderstanding there there, either way it's written!

01 January 2015

Happy New Year!

Welcome to 2015! May it be a wonderful year filled with lots of love, joy, laughter, curiosity, kindness, health, and happiness!

This is how the sun set in Ballinrobe on the last day of 2014. Since it's raining and quite windy today, we may have to wait until tomorrow for the first sunset of 2015 :-)