A fault on the line
A fault on the line: When is compensation available?
Susannah* is a small business owner. She decided that having a freephone number for her calls was one way to increase her sales. After obtaining and paying for a freephone number, she ran a series of newspaper advertisements featuring the number.
After a few days, and having received fewer calls than expected, Susannah contacted her provider to make sure there was not a fault on the line.
Upon investigation, it was found that there had indeed been a problem with the freephone number, which the provider subsequently fixed. However, Susannah wanted compensation for lost business and goodwill as well as reimbursement for the cost of the newspaper advertising. The provider refused to give compensation but did make a goodwill offer of credit.
Dissatisfied, Susannah contacted TDR. The TDR facilitator explained the limits of the Customer Complaints Code to her, which excludes awards of indirect losses and compensation. Susannah accepted that, but also felt that there were direct losses in the cost of the newspaper advertisements that she should be able to recover.
The complaint was referred to the provider so they could try to resolve it themselves. They were not able to do so. TDR assigned the case to one of its dispute resolution practitioners. Susannah and her provider attempted to mediate the complaint with the practitioner’s help first, but they were not able to reach an agreement. The practitioner then adjudicated the matter and issued a decision. The adjudicator determined that neither party could have been expected to be aware of the problem until Susannah brought it to her provider’s attention.
The adjudicator determined that the fault had been repaired within an acceptable timeframe and that the terms and conditions in Susannah’s contract with the provider excluded payment of compensation. The adjudicator determined that the offer of goodwill was a sufficient remedy in the circumstances. The complaint was not upheld.
*Names have been changed to protect our customers’ identities