Nuns left in limbo after phone line transfer hell

Judge Brennan fines Eircom after litany of screwups

A judge has hit Irish telco Eircom with a €16,500 fine, after the former incumbent left a nursing home for retired nuns without phone service for weeks, then overcharged the sisters for the privilege.

Sorting out the snafu that left the Franciscan Missionaries of the Divine Motherhood nursing home in Ballinasloe, Co Galway with limited temporal means of communication took over 50 emails and phone calls, the Journal reported.

The benighted sisters felt their hellish situation would never have been resolved they hadn’t called on Ireland’s comms regulator, ComReg, for deliverance.

The unholy mess arose when the nursing home - which looks after 27 nuns from their 70s to their 90s - sought to move to Eircom from another provider.

What should have been a straightforward move spun out of control, after the convent was disconnected from its previous provider but then left without service for three weeks - and one of its satellite homes was left phone free for eight weeks.

Eircom also incorrectly told the nuns they couldn’t keep their original number, resulting in the installation of a new line, and inevitably change of address cards, etc, before it transpired that Eircom was charging the nuns for both the old and new numbers. And they were put on an incorrect price plan. And charged €700 to cancel the new line.

Franciscans take a vow of poverty, but this is usually taken to mean turning away from materialism and giving to the poor - not to telecoms outfits.

Eircom’s counsel, Joe Jeffers, said the technical issues had been rectified, that the pricing plan issue was a result of human error, and that the nuns had been refunded. He added that the firm had offered to donate €21,000 to charity.

Of course, to err is human, to forgive divine. However, the divine was not in court this week and an unforgiving judge John Brennan, while noting the company had pleaded guilty on the first day of the hearing, hit Eircom with a €16,500 fine. ®

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