Eircom price hike angers watchdog

Irish operator Eircom has raised its mobile charges by an average of 3%, sparking outrage from the Consumers' Association of Ireland (CAI).
Eircom said it would start rounding billing for “out of bundle” minutes up to the next minute, instead of the current per-second basis.
It will also introduce a flat rate for calls to competing operators O2, Vodafone and Meteor, instead of variable fees depending on the operator.
The changes will have the cumulative effect of increasing average bills by around 3%, Eircom said. The price hike will affect the company's 500,000 customers on bundled packages who exceed their allotted minutes.
“We understand that any price change in the current climate is a concern to people,” said Stephen Benyon, Eircom's group MD for consumer and small business. “[But] a significant portion of our customer base will be unaffected by today's changes.”
Despite the platitudes, CAI chairman Michael Kilcoyne told The Irish Independent that the price hike was not acceptable.
Inflation has been on the decline in Ireland, and fell 2.1% in April, he said, making the increase difficult to justify.
“Someone should tell Eircom to tighten its belt -- everyone else is being told to do so,” he said.
Eircom last week reported a 7% decline in revenue to €455 million, but operating profit jumped by 235% to €321 million.
The company has also been bleeding customers, and lost 21,000 mobile subscribers and 15,000 PSTN lines during the quarter.