It is rather interesting that OFCOM are reviewing the whole ADR process, and the fact that some ADR cases have been mishandled. It won't get us any money back, sadly, but is good news. It also looks to have been a long running review, so whilst I expect our case has been a factor we can't really take any credit for OFCOM getting involved. I'll be considering the response carefully over the next week or so.
I had an interesting issue this week though, and I think, really, this is a knock on effect of the ADR case, albeit more indirect. The case has created a change in attitude in the whole company, not just my changes to clarify terms and dispute processes, but everywhere. We are all more paranoid about disputes and mistakes.
It may seem odd blogging about a case where we did screw up. I can't say it never happens, and we always aim to learn from it. We had a case where a bug in the on-line order form meant the chosen cease date for a line was not handled correctly when a customer was moving house. It meant the cease went in too soon, and they were to be without Internet for 2 weeks. Obviously, there has been some detailed investigation and we believe the bug is rectified now. We made a mistake.
From a harsh contractual point of view the answer is simple - we don't charge the customer for those two weeks (even if there would normally be 30 days notice to pay). Not charging when the service is not working is the limit of the liability agreed in the terms. That is harsh, it is a low margin industry, but in practice this is clearly a case where we would offer some good will over and above the contractually agreed terms. I don't want customers inconvenienced because we messed up.
However, with a degree of paranoia that I can only assume is ADR induced, one of my staff decided to send the customer a 3G router and SIM to cover the two weeks. This is very very nice of us, and something we have done once for a business customer before (where it was not our screw up that time). Where we do this, we are obviously careful to consider the costs as mobile data costs us a lot more.
In this case, we are talking about a residential customer that also has mobile phones with Internet access anyway (not with us). Being without wired Internet for two weeks is clearly inconvenient to them, but did not stop them getting email, accessing web pages, on-line banking, etc, etc.
But somehow, nobody mentioned that the mobile data costs a lot, or to use it sparingly, and before we know it we have a near £2000 data bill for this customer. Obviously we are not charging them for this. They were not even told to be careful with the usage. They just used it as they would their normal Internet connection. Ultimately this comes out of my pocket. And really, this is not their fault and I don't want them to feel guilty about it.
Had we not had the ADR case I am sure that the 3G router would not have been offered. Yes, we screwed up, but some compensation, even a free installation, would have been much more appropriate for this customer than spending £2k on data.
Now I have the challenge of steering the company a little more towards common sense again. At least we have changed ADR now, and the previous lot have confirmed that we do not need to give notice and that the contract is ceased (funny that).