Determinations

TDR Case Note T003726 (2009)

Issue

Customer service with regard to complaint handling standards and procedures.

Background

The customer subscribed to broadband services with the Scheme Member Provider (Provider) but was not satisfied with the speed of his connection.  As a result of making numerous calls to the provider about this issue, he was placed on the provider’s ‘frequent caller list’. After a 7-month period of unsuccessful attempts to have himself removed from this list, he lodged a complaint with TDR and claimed that he was treated by the provider’s frequent caller team with “arrogance and ignorance”.  The customer sought financial compensation for unreasonable and unnecessary inconvenience, stress and expense.

The provider denied the allegations of improper treatment and said that the customer was placed on its frequent caller list so as to best manage his angry responses and inappropriate language. The provider advised that the customer’s attitude and behaviour were the cause of the difficulties in the relationship. The provider also submitted that the customer was seeking legal representation with a view to taking legal action, and that the complaint was therefore excluded from the scope of the scheme.

Adjudicator’s decision

The adjudicator said that as the customer’s name was removed from the provider’s frequent caller list after the conciliation, it was unnecessary to further consider that complaint. The adjudicator found that three essential issues remained.

Firstly, with regard to the issue of exclusion from the scope of the scheme, the adjudicator considered that clause 20(k) of the Customer Complaints Code (the Code) was designed to avoid issues of competing jurisdictions.  In this case, the customer simply indicated that he was seeking legal advice with a view to possibly taking some form of further legal action. There was no evidence suggesting that either there was legal action in train or that the matter was being pursued in any other forum. The adjudicator therefore considered that the remaining issues were within the scope of the TDR scheme.

Secondly, the adjudicator noted that the customer was annoyed and angry at the provider’s continual refusal to remove him from the frequent caller list. However, with reference to clauses 7.1 and 24.6 of the Code, the adjudicator found no evidence of any specific instances of treatment that would constitute a breach of the Code.

Thirdly, with regard to the customer’s compensation claim for unreasonable and unnecessary inconvenience, the adjudicator referred to clause 33.8 of the Code, which provides that issues regarding the provision of compensation for inconvenience and mental distress are beyond the scope of the scheme.

Final outcome

The adjudicator concluded that: (1) The customer’s request to remove his name from the frequent caller list was accepted and implemented by the provider after the conciliation and it was therefore not necessary to consider; (2) The customer’s complaints regarding inappropriate treatment by the provider’s frequent caller team were not upheld and the claim for financial compensation for inconvenience and mental stress was beyond the scope of the scheme. There were accordingly no breaches of the Code and no remedies or orders.