Ignorance and the Infrastructure

Posted: July 10, 2013 in Nissan Leaf Diary

I hate to have to write this after the last post that was so good but it is now getting to a point were it’s infuriating.

By ignorance I mean the fact that ESB eCars constantly ignore the EV drivers when we ask for information. Oh yes, you can get some information from them but is usually ambiguous and has to be dragged out of them or else a pre-canned response. Couple with the fact we have an inept Department of Transport that also ignores us just makes the situation worse. It may sound like I’m exaggerating but let me give a few examples.

Repeatedly many on the Irish EV Owners Group have asked for information on when chargepoints are going in and timelines. Occasionally you will get a reply but it is usually the same old answer about how multiple different things can affect the installation times and that they will update us later on. We used to get a fairly regular group email about chargepoint updates but this has all but dried up, with only a mail every now and again. We have asked for a simple twitter account that could give us updates on chargepoints status but this is made out as being really tough to do. Live Drive has a twitter account with updates, so does the Garda, surely these are busier. I can’t see the ESB eCars hotline ringing off the hooks any time soon. It would not take fuck all to have an operator send out a tweet on this account once a chargepoint has been reported as down or back up. The Hotline, why do I have to pay to report your service is down, 1890 numbers do not come under most people’s phone packages and usually end up costing an average of 52c per call (you might have to ring a few times to see if anything is being done about the chargepoint). And why do I have to keep giving my details each time, a simple database that can be accessed by the operators is not difficult (if you are stuck on using a PricipalID, use the registration plate number, these are unique).  A few weeks back I asked about a chargepoint in Port Laoise, I was told fairly promptly it would be up by the end of the week. When it wasn’t I repeatedly had to send emails asking when it would be up and only got an email back weeks later when they had an engineer actually at it. For the last few days the charger in Citywest has been stopping after an hour or 2 and then becomes unusable until the next day. Carra quickly looked at it but can’t find an issue and are waiting on the manufacturers. I then placed a message on the ESB eCars Facebook page complaining about this chargepoint and fact they seem to have no SLA or ability to hold manufacturers responsible for their products (shown in the past with the abysmal Chargemaster systems,  SGTE near the start and now followed on by EVVO, whose chargepoint has been in Mayfield for months and is still not on) only to find it disappeared from the front page instantly.  I guess this page is only for good news. Will I receive a reply about this soon, who knows. I mean the fact that ESB eCars is not even an actual member of the groups Facebook page shows a lot. The annoyance I and a lot of the EV owners are feeling in not because of chargers being down, it’s because of the lack of communication about the infrastructure that we are receiving from ESB eCars. Other than ESB & the Dept of Transport, all other parties are extremely prompt in keeping use in the loop, such as Carra, Nissan, DRD NI etc…

As has been raised before I would suggest that ESB eCars appoints someone to liaise with us. Someone that will actually chase after the information and will keep us up to date on the progress of things. This person could use the twitter account & group email (for those without twitter) to tell us of new chargepoints and timelines. Also the hotline could inform this person of reported downed chargepoints and Carra could inform them of the chargepoints being back up or if they need to be replaced/repaired. This would alleviate the considerable frustration we the EV Owners feel. We don’t care if it’s bad news, just tell us the news. Not knowing and feeling ignored only adds to the tension.

  1. Dan says:

    http://www.saynoto1890.com/ is I site I have used more than once, however you would need ESB eCars to give you the local number. You could say you want to phone the number from outside Ireland, and you can’t do that with a 1980 number. I even attempted to get the database that converts 1890 to a real number. Apparently PBX company telephone exchanges query some sort of database, which returns the actual number, but comreg would not supply the data. Comreg even wrote about the problem a few years back and mentioned that site’s campaign.

    As you said we all know equipment can fail, but it’s the customer service that could be quickly fixed. They have no excuse for not letting people know a charger is down, when it has been reported, as they don’t have to give an estimated time for repair, which may turn out to be wrong, just let everyone know not to rely on it for now, and then notify when it is fixed.

    Even today I looked up second hand EV car prices online (there are a few), but it’s confidence in charging infrastructure for long journeys is a big factor in that my last vehicle purchased was not electric. (that and other factors)

  2. Ed says:

    To be completely fair, I think the infra that’s been rolled out isn’t that bad. A lot of places have fast chargers and most reasonable size towns have normal chargers. But a few units give grief repeatedly and can’t be relied upon and there are black spots in the country with no access to fast chargers, eg M7 or even the N7 between J14 and Limerick. Its also been slow to get them turned on when they are installed. Two fast chargers installed in Shannon and Limerick have been lying idle for maybe a month now. Its hard to be critical when we’re not paying directly for the service, but the service is being paid for and put out there for use, so it should be stood over to a reasonable degree. But as you’ve mentioned, we’ll get over units going down, it happens and we can all understand that. Its the fact that you don’t know about it and if you report it, christ only knows when it will be fixed. The communication or lack thereof is the biggest issue with esb ecars right now. There’s good news and publicity to be had for them if they want to go and grab it, such as announcing new chargers or uptime statistics which I imagine are pretty good in the main, but instead its the generic out of the box responses with “next few weeks” being the typical timeline for everything.

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