Case Studies - Faults (network & hardware issues)

Small business owner has trouble with his free-call number

A small business customer offered a free-call number for his customers. The business ran a series of newspaper advertisements featuring the number.

After a few days, and having received fewer calls than expected, the customer called his phone provider to check if there was a fault on the line.

Upon investigation it was found that there had indeed been a problem with the free-call number, which the provider subsequently fixed. However the customer considered that he should be entitled to compensation for lost business and goodwill as well as reimbursement for the cost of the newspaper advertising. When his provider refused this, although it made an offer of goodwill credit, he contacted TDR.

TDR explained the limitations of the Customer Complaints Code to the customer (the Code excludes awards for indirect losses and compensation). TDR asked the customer to provide his full complaint in writing, outlining precisely what he was seeking. The provider was also asked to provide its response in writing.

When parties could not agree on a settlement at conciliation the matter was referred to an adjudicator for determination.

The adjudicator found that neither party could be expected to be aware of the problem until the customer brought the matter to the prover's attention. The adjudicator found that the fault had been repaired within an acceptable timeframe and that the terms and conditions (which the business customer had agreed to when he signed his contract for the service) stipulated that the provider was not liable to pay compensation. Because the provider had not acted outside the law or the Customer Complaints Code, the adjudicator found that the offer of goodwill was sufficient remedy in the circumstances. The complaint was therefore not upheld.