Friday, 2 March 2012

The shortfalls

People asked what "shortfalls" we had that justify a "good will" award of £500 even though it is agreed we are not in breach of contract.

Whilst I am not sure we can publish their initial decision, I am happy to publish some of our comments to them and a summary of the shortfalls.

The first part of our reply is :-
The claimant has stated to the court in their defence of Reading case XXXXXXX that they referred the matter to the Ombudsman service (Communications) on 9th January 2012. This agrees with the details of complaint statement you sent us. Unless you are accusing the claimant of perjury then this means that the matter is outside the 9 month limit defined in 9.1(c). As there are no exceptional reasons to justify the delay this puts the Ombudsman service in breach of terms with us by accepting this case. We require you to drop the case and refund the case fee. If you do not do so within 30 days we will start proceedings in the county court against you without further notice. We will also claim compensation for our time handling this case.
But the apparent shortfalls are as follows :-
  1. An installed line without annex M is too slow. Annex M was added afterwards. Note we don't guarantee line speeds so not actually a shortfall as we did not agree a target and fall short of it.
  2. Some of the dates we advised for likely install of orders changed and were inconsistent. We basically passed on what details we had as orders progressed, and did not guarantee the dates. Apparently this is bad. We have asked if they would prefer we don't pass on information we get in case it is ever inconsistent and if that would be better customer service some how.
  3. We apparently did not reply to an email - given the case file was something like 500 pages of email I am not surprised some were missed. I am not happy about it, and more than happy to apologise for losing an email. It did not change the outcome of anything or delay anything. And as we never guaranteed any response times for emails, not a shortfall. We did reply to their follow up email. Note that the ombudsman service clearly think not replying to every email is perfectly acceptable as that is what they do to us - in fact not replying to most emails we have sent.
  4. We finally managed to get all 4 lines with annex M installed in time for the event. Even the ombudsman's decision starts by saying they wanted service "in time for the Royal Wedding", which we managed. Apparently meeting the stated deadline even though not contractually required to is a "shortfall".
  5. We billed for services from the date they were supplied. Somehow this is an error and a shortfall. We are at a loss on that one.
  6. One more case later of apparently not replying to an email promptly.
So, that is what justifies £500 "good will" award, and also writing off around £700 of unpaid invoices.

Our main issues are :-
  1. They accepted a case that was outside the 9 month limit; was already resolved (in that the £6.69 claimed had been settled); was already resolved in that the proposed resolution of "let out of contract without penalty" had already been done; and that was a frivolous case (£6.69).
  2. When they took the case they failed to look for a mutually acceptable resolution and ignored the statement from the customer to them that they would be happy with being let out of contract without penalty and also our statement to them that we agreed that.
  3. They invented targets we did not offer or agree and that the customer did not even ask for, and then penalise us for not meeting them.
  4. The ignore contract law which is that there is no requirement for us to compensate someone where we are not in breach of contract
  5. The ignore the contract which limits what we are liable for and make an award for much more
  6. They make a punitive award even though not allowed
  7. The invent a figure of £500 with no explanation and call it good will, which is  contradiction if forced to pay it.
  8. They insist services from 31st May be credited even though the customer asked for them, used them, and has not disputed them. We have an email in June stating "we want to continue with the service". They do not explain why they are saying this. They also say to waive all late payment charges even though invoices are still not paid even now.
  9. They considered and acted on numerous issues with actually post date the complaint date. i.e. This case is to resolve an unresolved complaint that was made on 17th March 2011, but many of the shortfalls and remedies appear to relate to things later than that date which were never part of that complaint and have not even been part of a later complaint.
The only point I am even vaguely happy about is that we are asked to apologise for the shortfalls. I won't do that as they were not shortfalls. I am happy to apologise for some emails not being replied to promptly. I am even happy to apologise that it took longer than expected, even though we met their target. I am pretty sure we have already apologised a few times. We gave a £272.17 good will credit as well, so I think we have been more than fair as we did not have to do that.

So, an 11 page formal response is being posted to them today, including the threat of legal action against the ombudsman. We'll see what happens next.

Actually, just to condense facts to the key points here...
  • Customers asks A&A for complicated service (4 line uplink annex M bonded) "in time for the Royal Wedding"
  • A&A delivers exactly what is wanted "in time for the Royal Wedding" and customer is happy with what was delivered so much so he wants to continue the service after the event.
  • Customer thinks A&A over charged £6.69
  • A&A credit customer £272.17
Err, right, and this is a case for ADR why exactly?

7 comments:

  1. It sounds like you need to add a new term to your T&Cs - "if you take us to ADR, we reserve the right to provide migration and port authorisation codes for all services and cease services 30 days after we issue the authorization codes".

    Effectively, make it clear that going to ADR is a nuclear option, and will probably result in you no longer being acceptable as an AAISP customer.

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    1. We can already cease most services on 30 days notice (and then do not have to give migration codes, ironically) under our standard terms and don't have to have a reason. But maybe making it clear is a good idea, not sure if that could have any repercussions.

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  2. My understanding of late payment charges is that as a statutory measure, you can't waive them. You can choose not to collect them (and if you choose not to collect them for six years, they become unenforceable), but not waive them. Likewise, you can't be instructed to waive them...

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  5. Shame you can't publish the customers name and produce some sort of ISP customer blacklist. A number of my ISP customers would I am sure be first to use the blacklist! :-)

    Good luck to the company then trying to find an good decent ISP that is willing to go the extra mile only to sh*t on!

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  6. I think an industry-wide blacklist of individuals would be an excellent idea; for example, we can't refuse a MAC request even if the user owes money but it would make for interesting reading if we could log a users' MAC in a community-operated database along with a legitimate reason why another ISP shouldn't take them on (i.e. ADR).

    A MAC isn't classed as 'personally identifiable information' (except to BT Wholesale) so should be exempt from Data Protection laws.

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