Customers of former monopoly operator Eircom are facing an average 3.1% rise in their monthly bills, as well as the prospect of losing two hours of off-peak calls from March. Local press reports say though that the changes announced yesterday will allow those customers affected (mainly residential), to terminate contracts early without penalty under EU legislation. Eircom’s price increases, which come into effect from 11 March, will see call connection fees for calls made outside Eircom packages climbing to 9.5% from 5.95%; the move affects almost two-thirds of homes and businesses. The cost of the basic monthly package will not change, but any calls placed outside the terms of the price plan will increase.
Eircom claims the decision to raise prices was ‘not taken lightly’ but it has nonetheless dismayed consumer groups. The National Consumer Agency said it was ‘disappointed to see yet another price hike for consumers who have been hit hard recently,’ while Dermot Jewell of the Consumers’ Association of Ireland noted that the decision to change off-peak hours from 6pm to 7pm would be a ‘big inconvenience’ to many customers. ‘The subtlety of the manner they introduced the increase was quite extraordinary,’ he added.