Company directors Iain and Gavin McConnon leave punters irate over

premium phone promotion

Callers furious over being duped

A COMPANY, which charged people to get junk mail, is facing an investigation after a flood of complaints from enraged punters. The Easter Bank Holiday marketing campaign left hundreds of Eircom customers furious after falling for the trap to call an expensive toll number. The postcards, telling people that an overseas package was awaiting collection, successfully duped hundreds of callers.

The Sunday World can reveal that flash businessman Gavin McConnon is behind the money-making scheme. The 26-year-old whiz kid drives a luxury BMW and has offices in upmarket Ballsbridge. He also lists an apartment at the exclusive Irish Financial Services Centre as his address in company records.

McConnon’s younger brother Iain has an address at a plush Tempe Bar penthouse on Fishamble Street. His Parcel Plus company sent out postcards all over Ireland this week after being registered as a company on 30 March. Last night Parcel Plus director Gavin McConnon defended his company’s actions.

“Any promotion that we have there is


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 always a certain element of people call it a scam whether it’s the scratch card or the cheque book that we’ve done. We done lots of different promotions over the years and some people will call them a scam,” he told the Sunday World.

He pointed out that the promotion was approved by RegTel – the body that regulates premium phone lines. McConnon also blasted RegTel chief for suspending the 1580 number used in the promotion. “By them suspending it they are causing even more problems by people not being able to get through on the premium rate number,” he said. He added that he plans to get the number restored to service on Tuesday morning.

The post card which caused this week’s furore, was printed in green and cream colours similar to those used by An Post. Only by reading the small print was it made clear that the card did not come from An Post. Calls to the 1580 number cost €1.90 a minute and callers were kept holding by an automated service. The voice told people that they had to get a four digit number before their package could be forwarded or collected.

Calls lasted for at least four minutes but some callers told the Sunday World they were on the line for up to nine minutes. When the Sunday World called to the Parcel Plus “distribution centre” at Bluebell last Thursday we found two young people in an unfurnished office.

On production of the postcard the young man disappeared behind the counter and returned to hand over a small white box with the customer’s name hand written on the front. Nothing suggested that it had come from overseas. In the box was a DVD for the 1992 Pierce Brosnan movie The Lawnmower Man, a promotional brochure and a questionnaire from another marketing company in Laois.

The goods news is that the punters caught out by the mean-spirited marketing operation may not have to pay the bill. Following the deluge of complaints, RegTel who regulate premium phone lines, suspended the 1580 number pending an investigation. A spokesman for the regulator said that people should write to them and send in a photocopy of their phone bill. Regulator Pat Breen added on RTE’s Liveline show that the service appears to be in breach of his agency’s code of conduct.

At the Parcel Plus “centre” last Thursday a steady stream of irate customers arrived to discover they had been targeted by a marketing company.

Tipperary woman Jennifer O’Dwyer was highly annoyed by the tactic. “We made a special journey to come. I would have ignored it only I was so waiting for something.”

Another woman, Annagh from Celbridge, travelled into the city with her seven-year-old son. “I feel extremely annoyed. I really thought it was genuine,” she said.

Director of Consumer Affairs Carmel Foley warned Parcel Plus is one of many direct marketing campaigns likely to annoy people.

“I’m disgusted. I thought marketing was an honourable profession. I’m now having to revise that opinion because there are clearly people who sail as close to the wind as they can. People should know that this is only one in a long line of what will be very dubious practices. This is the Parcel Plus one. The company was only set up at the end of March. I’m glad RegTel have suspended this service and I do welcome the offer to get people their money back. But please be aware there will be more and more of these. Every time one scam is uncovered they’ll invent another one,” she said.

However, unrepentant Parcel Plus boss Gavin McConnon lashed the consumer affairs crusader: “If she called it a scam we should look up the definition of scam and see if this falls within it and I don’t think you’ll find this does.”

Meanwhile An Post said they are legally obliged to deliver the cards but added that it was at the company’s insistence that a sentence was printed on the card to say it did not come from An Post.


- Eamon Dillon, Sunday World, 11 April 2020.

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