A few weeks ago, I had a brainwave. To counter some financial problems I thought I’d have a look at my business and house outgoings and see if I could cut some of them out or reduce them a little. I fully expected to find a pile of bills/services that we might be able to do without…services we might have signed up to without consideration when times were better. I suspect there’s a lot of people in the same boat now! I started off looking at the biggest bills, ie – rent (couldn’t change that), tax (couldn’t change that either..), etc, etc.. Unfortunately, I didn’t find too many bills that could be lowered but the phone bill, always shocking when it comes in and so easy to overspend on, started to stand out for me as a large leak that needed plugging..
It’s a fairly common conception especially among business owners that you need to have a landline to run a business. People will tell you that you wont be trusted if you’ve only got a mobile number on your business card or website and that the only proper broadband is DSL/Phone line. I say, feck that.. In fairness, when I moved to my current address and realised that for the first time since I moved to Leitrim, I would have access to ‘proper’, fast (7MB) broadband, I was happy as Larry. Then, 3 things happened..Money got very tight, Phone bills increased and Three installed a broadband mast locally as part of the National Broadband Scheme.
I decided to grab a Three mobile broadband dongle on a 2 week trial and see if it compared to my Eircom service. It compared very well! While the rated speed of the Three device was actually slower than Eircom, it just felt a lot faster, possibly due to contention ratios. Also, the upload speed, important to a web designer like me, was way faster. It averages out at about 3 or 4Mbps down and 1 or 2Mbps up. I also tested Skype out on it and it was crystal clear and stable. Three’s service worked out at only €15 per month (cheaper if you already have a Three mobile pay monthly plan, which I did).
The next obvious step of course was to ring Eircom and cancel my line completely. I had signed up to a monthly package on Skype, got my Skype landline number replacement and was all set to go without my landline when the guy in Eircom cancellations said I had a ‘contract’ until March next year and if I chose to break it, I’d have to pay the remainder of the recurring fees.
Apparently you sign up to a 6 month contract for the phone and 12 months for broadband. The fact they are kinda co-dependent on each other but have different contract periods is a bit weird? Your contract also seems to get restarted whenever you change your package which is even more annoying.
All of a sudden, my feeling of pride at having identified and executed a saving of about €125 per month went out the window. Now I’m no stranger to phone contracts or even breaking them but for some reason I didn’t expect landlines to be the same as the mobiles ones I’d had in the past. Also, when I moved into this house, I just knew I needed a phone line and broadband and wasn’t aware that I was signing up to an unbreakable contract. I have no recollection of seeing or even signing a contract or having anyone tell me I was entering into one. In fact, I just transferred my account from the old house to the new one and the old account had been running for at least a year or 2.
Basically, if you want to have a phone in this country, whether mobile or land based, you need to enter into an unbreakable and lengthy contract. You have no choice. That’s just the way it is. And sometimes, you’re not even made aware you’re entering into one. Not fair I say?
In the end, it was suggested that I reduce my Eircom bill to the bare minimum €49 per month for the remainder of the contract and have mobile barring activated on the line to try help keep the bill at no more that this monthly amount but it’s still €49 pm more that I want, need or can afford to pay. It also costs €25 to downgrade a package!
* UPDATE After getting on to Eircom support again over my contract issues I was told that moving house or changing package shouldn’t have changed my existing contract and if it did, I should have been told this at the time. I was also offered a contract get out without penalty so it might pay to complain! But contracts still exist.