Independent T.D. Michael McNamara has described the decision by telecoms provider eir to introduce a second price increase in a year for its eircom.net email addresses as “opportunistic” at a time when the Irish economy is under increasing pressure.
The webmail service had been free for 20 years until a €5.99 monthly fee was introduced in July 2020. Customers have this week been informed that the monthly fee will increase to €9.99 from July 1st, which Deputy McNamara says is “unfair on customers at a time when the economy is struggling to get back on its feet.”
Customers received email and text notifications of the price hike today. The company had announced plans to charge for email last year but delayed the introduction of the fee for several months after coming under pressure from the public for doing so during a pandemic.
“The webmail service is used by tens of thousands of people across the country and remains particularly popular amongst voluntary organisations, schools and community associations,” explained Deputy McNamara.
The Clare T.D. continued, “In County Clare, many hundreds of people and businesses continue to use the eircom address which was originally provided free of charge after Ennis was the subject of a €19 million Information Age Town investment by Eircom in 1997. It almost would appear that eir is seeking to intentionally price itself out of the market for email services and further highlights the disconnect between private operators and fulfilling their corporate responsibility.”
“eir outlined that the original price increase would enable the company to invest in the maintenance and improvement of the service going forward but customers say there is little evidence that such improvements have materialised. Furthermore, it seems unreasonable that eir is now saying that the service will cease for customers and they will have their accounts permanently deleted if they do not provide payment arrangements after 60 days,” stated Deputy McNamara.
“I have been critical of eir for its poor level of customer service, particularly during the pandemic. I have repeatedly called on Government to expedite its proposed plan to provide ComReg with additional powers to impose additional sanctions on service providers. The longer this legislation is delayed the more I fear customers of our telecoms customers will lose out,” concluded Deputy McNamara.