Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Special Faults Investigation

In case you did not know, SFI has changed, and now called SFI2. This has a slight change in the way it is done.

The problem we have always had with SFI is that it involved paying if the engineer could not find a fault. This can happen for many reasons, including intermittent faults and faults that just "go away by themselves". The cost involved is months if not years worth of profit margin for a DSL line, so just not on.

If there is proof the end users was a numpty then we have no real problem passing on charges to them. If there is no such proof then we don't pay charges.

When it was SFI, it was sold as a "service". The service involved trying to find and fix a fault and charging more if the fault could not be found. If fact if the fault was found to be in the network the charge was £0.

This was easy to dispute - simply don't order this "service". After all we have bought and paid for a broadband service which is not working. Why would we buy another service. The broken broadband has to be fixed regardless. This works as a dispute, and we have disputed all the charges for a long time.

Now we have SFI2, and it is pitched differently. Now it is part of the fault repair process. So where can charges come in? You cannot charge for repairing a fault! So what are the charges? Well, to me they can only be viable, legally, if they are costs resulting from a breach of contract. This can make sense. After all there are missed appointment charges. If we agree to arrange access to a site, and then don't arrange access, the appointment is missed and there are costs because we did not do what we agreed to do. So the charges for an SFI2 could be because we did not do what was agreed. If we agree to test all the end user equipment and confirm there really is a faulty at the master socket, and then don't do that, and that has costs, fair enough, we have to pay.

But this means faults that go away, or are intermittent are not valid to be charged. They are not a result of us breaching the contract. They are just bad luck for the supplier and most certainly matters beyond our control. Penalties in this case cannot be valid.

What we cannot accept is someone making more business and more money from faults in their service, or making money from failing to find or fix a fault. Such arrangement encourage poor quality equipment and wiring and diagnosis. It is simply not on.

Now, I have to say that our favourite telco has not been too bad of late. We have a bit of an impasse on this but we do manage to dispute all of the charges.

Sadly there is the chance that our alternative telco may be heading the way that they used to be - lets hope it gets resolved or it will be time to name and shame. So far they have not been a problem, so we will see.


  1. Around here in the sticks we have SFI4M - Special Faults Investigation for Mates :)

    On the odd occasions I (or one of my pals in the village) gets a problem with a fault it is made to go away in an unofficial manner... usually reported in the lounge bar of the local. It's a technique I picked up in South Africa when I was a Telkom (who make favetelco look highly professional & inexpensive) customer.

  2. Today's Dilbert seems relevant here: