secretary_monkey_on_the_phone Dear Eircom,

I just wanted to write you a note to say “thanks” for the joy that is dealing with your customer service reps – a delight that I had the pleasure of experiencing for a whole two hours this morning. Of course by “delight” I actually mean an excruciating, dying-a-slow-death type pain that’s about as pleasurable as sliding down a razor blade into a pool of salty lemon juice.

I rang because I need phone service and broadband, which I assumed would be a simple enough request considering you are a phone and Internet company. But as they say, assume just makes an ass of u and me and never has this little nugget of wisdom been more true! I first spoke with a woman named Esther, who went over the offers with me. She said I could get broadband and a landline that covered my needs for €41.99 per month for the first six months and then €46.70 per month afterward. She also mentioned there would be a €29.99 connection fee for broadband, which I thought was rather excessive and that it would take at least 10 business days to connect both the phone and broadband lines and that they’d have to send someone out.


I asked her why it would take so long and she said because no one had ever activated a phone line here, which I found odd as we have an Eircom box right here in our hallway that was, in fact, activated before. She insisted it had not and I decided to try my chances at another company to see if they could do better. She gave me her “direct line” and name so I could ring her back if I decided to go with Eircom.

After ringing a few places, it turns out Eircom does offer the best price – fair play to you (I give credit where it’s due!). So I rang back Esther on the number she gave me; after all, she’d already taken all my details. But an automated voice answered, not Esther. I was hold for 10 minutes. The person who answered had no record of my previous call so I had to relay all my information AGAIN. The new guy, Trevor, had some news for me: My phone line was activated previously so it would only take 24 hours and NO visit from a technician to get it live. He also mentioned that if I signed up for broadband using Eircom’s website, I would not have to pay that €29.99 fee. Clearly Esther does not know about this deal, because otherwise she would have been obligated to share it with me, no? Perhaps she’s suffering from short-term memory loss or plain laziness; either way, it’s time to have a little chat with your employee.


Trevor also shared another gem: Though my new plan offered “unlimited” calls to local numbers, I have to hang up after 59 minutes of talking and ring the person back again if I wanted to get the call for free. I asked Trevor why, and he said – and I quote – “Eircom assumes no one would chat more than 59 minutes on a phone call, that’s why.” A phone company assuming their customers won’t talk on the phone that much? That makes about as much sense as a book on how to read! Great way to make a sneaky extra quid, if you ask me.  In any case I’m glad ol’ Trev gave me that info; now I know to clock watch whilst talking on the telephone so I won’t get charged those hidden fees.

Well despite all the hassle, I signed up and Trevor gave me my new phone and account numbers and told me to go ahead and log in online to order my broadband. Let me just say I absolutely LOVE how you make your customers jump through multiple hoops to save a few bob – us busy folk really enjoy that sort of run-around! I got online and low and behold, my telephone number was not recognized. I rang Eircom yet AGAIN, waited another 9 minutes for a human being to get on the other end and was told it would be another 24 hours before my account was activated. Apparently Trevor forgot that little piece of info but Sarah, the girl I spoke with this time, assured me it always took a day to activate. animals_monkeys_002

I believe trained monkeys would do a better job than your current staff and would certainly provide more entertainment value during the long minutes of hold time. It’s too bad there are so few choices for phone/broadband here, because I guarantee that is the ONLY reason why you’re still in business. My partner had WiMax/Imagine before but they were about as useful as a screen door on a submarine, so you lucked out. At best, you fall in the middle of a mediocre bunch – what a feat! Perhaps you should aim a bit higher.


Clare – An American in Ireland


Baked Onion Rings with Spicy Barbeque Sauce

Eircome baked rings

I spent much of the day infuriated over my wasted morning, but calmed myself down by spending the evening in the kitchen (I know, I’m weird like that). It’s amazing how much cooking soothes me; half-way into making this barbeque sauce, I felt the stress leave my body. There’s something about creating something simple and good that just takes away the anxiety of the day. And, unlike everything else, cooking is something I actually have control over!  These onion rings are the perfect comfort food, but they’re healthy, and great dipped in this spicy barbeque sauce.

Spicy Barbeque Sauce

1/2 tea cup water

1/2 tea cup of ketchup

6 tablespoons of dark brown sugar

1 tablespoon of maple syrup

5 tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce

3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 tablespoon of lemon juice

2 teaspoons of dry mustard

1 1/2 teaspoons of pure chili powder

2 teaspoons of smoked paprika

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

Pinch of ground cumin

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons tomato paste (puree)

Put all the ingredients into a saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Turn heat to low and let simmer for an additional 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Let cool at room temp and serve (keeps for 5 days in airtight container in the fridge).

Baked Onion Rings

2 onions, peeled and cut into thick slices (rings!)

4 tablespoons white flour

1 teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon sea salt

2 eggs, beaten

A few dashes of Tabasco

1.5 – 2 cups (just use a tea or coffee cup) of Japanese panko* breadcrumbs

Olive oil or plain oil spray

Preheat the oven to 200 C. Put the flour, paprika, garlic powder and sea salt into a large, Ziploc bag. In batches of a half-dozen or so, place the onion rings in the bag, close and shake so that the rings are lightly coated with the flour mixture.

Place the beaten eggs in a large shallow dish and add Tabasco and mix, and then toss the coated onion rings into the egg to give them a light coat. The flour coating has to go on first as otherwise the egg mixture will not stick to the onion.

Put the panko breadcrumbs into another large Ziploc bag. Again in batches, place the onion rings into the bag, close and shake until the rings are coated in the breadcrumb mixture.

Place the rings on a large baking tray and lightly spray with the oil spray. Bake in the oven for 12-15 minutes, or until golden brown on the outside. Serve with barbeque sauce!

*Panko breadcrumbs are available at most Asian food markets and are essential for this recipe as they are super crispy!