The advertisement referred to the following:
“eir Fibre rollout map
Click to zoom in on our map and discover if eir Fibre has arrived in your area.
This map is an illustrative guide only and not a guarantee of availability. For precise results, use our eir Fibre availability checker below.
“eir Fibre rollout availability”(each timeframe was colour coded to indicate availability)
• “3 Groups of broadband cabinets
• Available now
• Within 6 weeks
• Within 6 months
• Within 1 year
• More than 1 year
• Not in your area yet?
Register your details and we will contact you as soon as it becomes available.
See more at: https://www....
Three complaints were received in relation to this campaign.
Availability in Mayo
The first complainant said in February of this year eir’s website indicated that the Liscarney Mayo Exchange would be Fibre broadband enabled within six weeks. On that basis the complainant said he decided not to change service provider and waited for eir to provide him with the service, within the timeframe indicated. Some weeks later the service was still not available to him.
Availability in Clonmel
The second complainant said that in April of this year eir’s website had indicated that eir Fibre broadband would be available in the Clonmel area. Some weeks later the service was still not available to him.
Availability in Cobh
The third complainant said that towards the end of June this year eir’s website indicated that his line in Cobh would be Fibre broadband enabled within six weeks. On that basis the complainant said he decided not to change service provider and waited for eir to provide him with the service, within the timeframe indicated. He said that some weeks later the service was still not available to him.
In all cases, the information on the expected timeframe had not been updated i.e. if the expected availability in June was 6 weeks, some 12 weeks later, the expected availability was still given as 6 weeks.
All complainants said the advertising was misleading.
The advertisers said they had clearly indicated on their website that the rollout map was “an illustrative guide only and not a guarantee of availability”. They said to ensure visibility, this statement was positioned directly beside the rollout map search panel and in the centre of the page. Moreover, they said, this text directed customers to the eir Fibre availability checker which was located on the same web page for more “precise results”.
The advertisers also said that the indicative timeframes appearing on their website came directly from eir’s wholesale division open eir which was a separate department which sold telecommunications services to various telecommunications operators including eir. For regulatory purposes, they said, eir was treated in exactly the same manner as any other operator by open eir and the information which was on the eir.ie website was given to all operators who used the open eir telecommunications network. They said open eir send all operators who use its network an updated file once a month showing its planned rollout of fibre.
In conclusion the advertisers said the provision of the availability dates was outside of the control of the eir retail team. While the eir retail team reviewed the timelines forwarded to them, by open eir, these could change due to factors outside of their control.
The Complaints Committee considered the details of the complaints and the advertisers’ response.
The Committee noted the examples given above where in one case expected availability had been given as “6 weeks” for a twelve week period. Whilst accepting that the information on availability timeframes had been described as “illustrative”, they considered that the timeframes should be kept under review and updated accordingly on receipt of relevant information in relation to updated timelines from open eir, in order to ensure consumers were not mislead. As they had seen no evidence that this was the case, the Committee considered that the advertising was in breach of Sections 4.1, 4.4, 4.9, 4.10, 4.27 and 4.28 of the Code.
The expected availability time frames should be kept under review to ensure their accuracy.