Eir Blasted a “Disgrace”, as Service Staff Were Allegedly Instructed to Break Customer Complaint Laws


Eir has been accused of providing a customer service manual that encouraged its employees to disobey statutory regulations concerning customer complaints, with the judge labeling the telecoms provider a “disgrace”.

The Case

In a court case brought forward by ComReg – the independent regulator for telecoms, radio, and postal services in Ireland – Eir was accused of multiple customer service breaches of the law.

As part of ComReg’s case, an Eir manual was presented that the regulator claimed threatened employees with disciplinary proceedings for following customer complaint laws.

One section of the training manual, boxed off in red and underlined in bold, warned staff that “under no circumstances are the complaints number or complaints webpage address to be provided to any customer.”

It also stated that “any agent found to be doing this will be subject to a disciplinary under call avoidance.”

Finally, the manual revealed that customer service employees were expected to fast-track complaints that mentioned specific “trigger” words, claiming that customers who did not mention the words frequently failed to get their queries resolved.

The Verdict

While Eir and its parent company, Eircom, pleaded guilty to several breaches of law for failing to acknowledge customer complaints and respond within ten working days – the organization “categorically” denied instructing the customer care team “to not comply with regulatory obligations.”

In a full statement issued to the Irish Times after the case, Eir said:

During today’s court session, ComReg made serious, unprecedented and incorrect allegations against Eir, accusing us of instructing our customer care team to not comply with regulatory obligations; we categorically reject these accusations.

“The claims by ComReg, based on documents they interpreted incorrectly, could have been easily clarified had they engaged with us directly in advance of the court hearing. The slides in question were taken out of context. They are part of training material for new customer service agents, outlining the steps they should take to escalate calls to Eir’s dedicated specialist complaint management team.

“At no point has Eir directed any team member to act contrary to legal or regulatory obligations.”

However, after specifically citing the evidence prevalent within the manual, Judge Halpin – who oversaw the case – advised Eir to apologize to its employees who had been warned against following regulatory protocols under threat of disciplinary action, before fining the company €750 for each of the ten counts brought before the court.

Customer Experience Lessons

While the Eir case is an extreme example of poor customer complaint handling, it is a signifier of how the issue is growing within the customer service sector.

A recent report released by the Institute of Customer Service revealed that UK customer service standards around complaint handling were falling.

In the research, the category that measures how organizations respond and deal with problems and complaints showed that the level of support being provided to customers contacting UK companies with complaints had dropped by over eight percent year-on-year.

While many companies view handling customer complaints purely as an expensive necessity, they actually offer beneficial insights and can be used to help grow and sophisticate your contact center offerings.

Below is a list of the six ways that customer complaints can inform and enhance your customer service strategy:

  • Detect product or service issues.
  • Identify CX and journey bottlenecks.
  • Improve customer communication and engagement.
  • Understand the customer better.
  • Strengthen the brand image.
  • Convert neutral consumers into promoters

For more information about harnessing the power of customer complaints, read the full article here.


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