First casualty

Someone would like us to try to configure a Juniper router for them to go on one of our lines.

I was inclined to say no anyway, but normally we would at least give it a try, even though we have never set these up, and he did not get it from us.

But this nagging feeling hit me - if we try - and we fail (quite likely as we have no experience of them) - we could be liable to ADR.

So I said no.

Maybe when this is all sorted I'll be less paranoid.


  1. That sounds like poor customer services to me. I'd recommend that the person with the router takes ADRs you where they're likely to be awarded a £500 "good will" payment!


  2. You jest, but that's the upshot of the whole ADR thing.. by refusing to do it you can lay yourself open to ADR anyway.

    How the hell it's possible to run a business with that hanging over your head I've no idea.

    1. Well, in most cases not - one has to be a customer. Now, they are a customer in this case, but ADR does not cover equipment we did not supply. So not providing the service means they are not a customer for that service.

      Of course you may be right - as I do not know the rules for this. Maybe I need to ask the ombudsman about this case. Actually, yes, I will.

  3. You could always have asked for help on #a&a as I'm sure that at least someone there with experience would have lent a hand :-)

    I would respectfully suggest that you need to get a grip on this paranoia that all your customers are out to sink the sharp claws of an ADR action into your company; as per your own website, you have been in business since 1997 and it sounds to me like this is the first time that someone has semi-successfully (don't forget the appeal!) screwed you out of several hundred pounds.

    It happens... but as you have been in business since 1997, you were certainly overdue for something like this to happen to A&A.

    In no way am I saying that this was deserved but there will always be those who try it on to get something for nothing and sadly some will always manage to succeed.

    I would suggest you look at the total of active subscribers in the A&A customer database and think about how many of those you might lose if you decide to fundamentally change the way that A&A deals with its' customers - trust me, it isn't worth it.

    1. Thanks for the feedback and support.

      I really hope everything is back to normal after this, and after I calm down.

  4. OK, this is what I have asked them...

    We are obviously trying to change the way we work to avoid any ADR cases and ensure no disputes.

    We have a case today where a customer for broadband service asked if we could configure a Juniper router to work with the broadband service we supply.. This is not a router we have supplied.

    Normally we would want to be helpful and at least try to do so - my concern is that if we offer to help, and they have any bad experience as a result, then this could lead to a complaint and represent what you would call a "shortfall" on our part. It is very likely that configuring this router would be tricky as we have never done one before and it may take some time and it may be that we cannot in fact do the work correctly.

    We could, of course, make some contract terms covering the configuration of the router, and that we may fail to configure it correctly, etc, etc. However, we know that contract terms mean nothing to you and you could make an award regardless of them or any agreed limit of liability.

    So, we have decided to decline - to not be helpful and try and assist our customer. To simply explain that it is not a service we offer.

    Can you confirm that this was the correct action in your view. That by not offering the service we cannot find ourselves the subject of an ADR dispute later on this matter. Was this correct?

    I look forward to your reply. However, I recognise that you often to not reply to emails or direct questions (a shortfall on your part) so I am not optimistic that you will give me a straight answer.


  5. I can see how much of a worry this whole ADR fiasco is for you at the moment and I think that it's a real shame that one idiotic (ex) customer can cause a great businessman and outstanding developer to doubt himself to such a degree. I, as one of your many customers, love the can-do approach which you embrace at AAISP and this is one of the main reasons that we work with you. If there is any way that something can be achieved, you will find a way to accomplish it.

    From reading your blog on a daily basis since you launched it, I have never known anything cause you such pain, even your favourite telco.

    Please Adrian, try to remember that this was one stupid customer who decided to go down the ADR route to prove a point. You have so many genuine customers who would never dream of doing such a thing, but I feel that your opinion of the rest of us is at risk of becoming seriously impaired.

    As the other comments have said, please don't let this bump in the road be justification for you to change how you do business with the rest of us. We are nice Adrian, we really are!!!

    1. Thank you for the support - I do hope things get back to normal soon. Yes, I have not been so stressed on anything before. It is because it undermines such well established principles in my mind - the whole logic of basic contract law. It breaks my view of the world if this is allowed.

      It is hard to see how something so radical cannot change the way we work, but I really do hope it does not.

      I hope, to be honest, we change the way ADR works. Some dream.

  6. I think I agree with Terry F.

    I totally understand your fury and stress but in percentage terms this has to be way below 1% of your customer base being utter fucknuggets which in terms of dealing with businesses is really quite remarkable. It has to be more than 1% of businesses which effectively screw people as much as possible as part of their business-plan or ethos!

    Having run (not-for-profit) events myself with an aim to be excellent (A&A makes me think of how we aim to be) I reckon our fucknugget percentage is about 3-5% and maybe one person out of 300 a year tries to screw us and probably 1 of those succeeds in one way or another. We win some, we lose some - kicking off is useful to a point (we got 50% off our bill from supplier for epic fail) but sometimes you can't do it all and keep the day to day and other important stuff going.

    Instead of worrying about the exact wording of your T&Cs and indeed if they're even legally enforceable I suspect you're better off challenging the ADR process and if it comes to it refusing to comply with the fail-decisions and taking it further. 99% of your customers won't screw you no matter what you do, and 1% will always try it on and have some way of wasting hours of your time in doing so.

    Your research and development time (you have a phenomenal output both personally and as small businesses) is worth more than that, as is your sanity!

  7. Each year a BT engineer somewhere in my exchange spills Tennant's extra on kit attatched to my line and I suffer catastrophic disconnects and line slow-downs to the point where my blood technically becomes a gas. (It's why I joined A&A in the first place). This usually last 5-10 days I have 2-3 BT engineer visits before they acccept it's an exchange fault. A&A tirelessly chase BT, A&A staff suffer from me venting to them and eventually the day after BT denies it's anything to do with them the Tennant's extra sodden engineer has dried out the faulty kit with his hair-dryer and my service resumes.

    Adrian, are you seriously suggesting that despite all A&A's support and help each time BT fail to do their job, that I could use ADR to "punish" A&A?


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