30,000 Eircom customers face bloated backdated bills in payments blunder

Thousands of Eircom customers are to be hit with significantly higher bills after a payments blunder at the company.

The telecoms giant failed to collect direct debits at the start of the year, with some subscribers now being charged for several months at a cost of up to €500.

The systems has left some 30,000 customers facing backdated demands, which are in some cases up to between €300 and €500.

The phone and internet company is blaming the introduction of the Sepa payments system. It says it is not sure exactly what went wrong, but that there are no further issues.

Eircom admits the failure is the company's fault, but will still be asking customers to pay for several months in one go.

Some of those customers are up to five months in arrears, with no payments taken since October.

Eircom's Director of Corporate Affairs Paul Bradley says they will work with customers who are unable to pay in one go.

"We've written to customers to inform them that despite us saying on their bill that their bill has been paid, in actual fact the money was not taken from their account," he said.

"We will work with customers so they understand that that money is still owed and needs to be paid.

"And we will work with any customer who has any difficulty in making those payments to put an appropriate payment plan in place."

Eircom has said it will work with customers who have difficulties in paying, but that this will be on a case-by-case basis.

The Chairman of the Consumers Association of Ireland Michael Kilcoyne said it was "a bit rich of Eircom" to expect people to pay out large sums within the next month or so. He called on the company to credit half the amount owed to customers' bills.

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