Eircom and ComReg in spat over sales tactics

20 Dec 2007

Telecoms regulator ComReg has accused Eircom of failing to take remedial action over a situation that allowed Eircom sales staff to have an unfair advantage over competing salespeople in alternative telecom firms.

ComReg said it initiated an investigation in 2006 into Eircom’s retail sales channels where sales are initiated by a salesperson calling on the potential customer.

Although contrary to internal Eircom guidelines, it was possible for the incumbent’s salespeople to access customers’ Universal Account Number (UAN) from internal Eircom systems.

If a customer is changing service provider the new operator would require the UAN – which appears on every phone bill – to transfer the customer to their service.

While Eircom can legitimately hold this information as a service provider, its sales staff is not supposed to access the information.

It is alleged that seven salespeople at Eircom accessed the UAN from internal Eircom systems.

ComReg ruled that this was not an approved process at the incumbent, but at the same time systems preventing this practice “were insufficiently robust to prevent discriminatory, inappropriate and unauthorised access and use, resulting in Eircom sales staff having an effective advantage over the sales staff of other authorised operators.”

Eircom had proposed to put controls on its internal IT systems where the UAN is located and several meetings took place regarding the remedial procedures.

In May ComReg conducted a review of the new system and identified a number of methods still available to Eircom retail staff to access UAN information.

Although Eircom told ComReg that it planned further remediation in the last seven months, ComReg last night said it has no evidence to date of this.

The regulator also said that it is not satisfied that the remediation programme has been completed and that Eircom retail staff only have access to the same levels of information as other operators.

It said that Eircom is in breach of its current non-discrimination obligation under its designation as a significant market player and under European regulations has published this decision.

By John Kennedy