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Still stranded without landline

We have reached the end of our tether with Vodafone and ComReg. In early February I wrote a piece about difficulties we are having with Vodafone.

Since then, readers of this column have been asking how things have worked out, the short answer is they haven’t.

To recap: after Christmas we decided to change our TV, broadband and phone providers, opting for a single-bundle package from Vodafone incorporating all three services.

An engineer arrived at the house on January 18 and did the technical bits. The broadband change was instant but he told us the landline and the TV could take 24 hours to go live.

We hadn’t been made aware that there would be any delay. As it turned out the TV service didn’t become operational for eight days and, believe it or not, we still have no landline, three and a half months later.

The current consort and I... rather let me say ‘my wife and I’ — there’s a bit of fun in the ‘current consort’ title but there is no fun in what has been going on with Vodafone. There is nothing to laugh about in the absolute frustration and daily misery involved in dealing with that company.

We work from home where the mobile signal is poor and a landline is vital not only for our jobs, but also for family reasons.

We have young daughters living away and we like to think that if they phone us at any hour of the day or night, they will be able to get through. There is no such guarantee with our mobile signal.

My wife has carried the burden of dealing with Vodafone: she has spent hour upon hour on the phone, listening to background music, repeating again and again the nature of the problem and detailing the case history to a myriad of mannerly Vodafone employees who cannot seem to solve our problem.

They listen and promise to call back with a resolution in an hour or in 24 hours. Rarely will they call back, and if they do they have no solution to offer.

The most frustrating thing is the absence of recourse. There is no-one of influence to whom you can appeal.

When you ask the Vodafone workers to put you through to a supervisor or a manager, they either offer to get a manager to call you back, or put you on hold until your patience runs out. On one occasion we were on hold for a manager for four hours before we hung up.

And then there’s ComReg. According to its own website, ComReg is the statutory body responsible for the regulation of the electronic communications sector and the postal sector in Ireland.

Its motto proclaims: “We work to protect your consumer rights.” The remit of ComReg includes helping to resolve consumer complaints. As per its website it can “escalate your complaint formally with your service provider [and] actively monitor and track the progress of your complaint to resolution, ensuring that you receive regular updates from your service provider”.

We have been dealing with ComReg since the end of February and the only satisfaction they have leveraged from Vodafone is a text acknowledging the difficulties, and a refund of €50 on one of our bills. There has been no update from either organisation on the status of the landline.

When it comes to “actively monitoring and tracking the progress of our complaint to resolution and ensuring that we receive regular updates from our service provider” ComReg

does not keep us informed of progress, it simply does what my wife is already doing, calls Vodafone.

At this point she is regularly making two sets of frustrating phone calls, one to Vodafone and the other to ComReg, but nothing changes. She has to initiate every contact; never do Vodafone or ComReg take the initiative.

After almost four months we have no landline and no satisfaction. All we can do is shout from the rooftops and tell whoever will listen.

As for engaging with ComReg, it’s like having a fierce-looking watchdog and being left to do the barking yourself.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

Perhaps I’m one of the, lucky ones in that I have some sort of platform on which I can air my grievances. I do so in the hope that it may create momentum around these issues and bring relief for people who are experiencing similar frustrations.

We have spoken to our local TD who tells us that legislation for dealing with situations like this is in the pipeline. Such legislation may well have provision for penalising utility companies that fail to deliver what they are contracted to deliver within a reasonable timeframe.

I think we are going to have to wait for this legislation to be passed before we get any satisfaction.

First published in the Farming Independent, Tuesday, May 4th 2021

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