Case Studies - Faults (network & hardware issues)

TDR Case Note T012179 (2012)


Faults - intermittent fault of landline services


The customer used landline and broadband services from the Scheme Member Provider (Provider). The Customer had been told by friends and relatives that they had been unable to get through to him by phone at various times. The Customer considered that the Provider deliberately failed to advise him that their phone system did not work properly in his area, and each time he was told the problem was rectified, it had not been. After several calls to the Provider the issue remained unresolved and the Customer stopped paying his bill. The Customer lodged the complaint to TDR in November 2012, seeking an order that the provider reimburse his landline and broadband payments in full from October 2011 to October 2012, about $1,480, plus advertising costs of $72.60.

The Provider responded that it had attempted to resolve all issues after being notified of them, but the Customer provided very few details of when the issues were occurring, dates and inbound members, and it was therefore difficult to pinpoint actual faults. The Provider also advised that communicating with the Customer was difficult because he did not provide a mobile or other contact number. The Provider therefore considered that the Customer's complaint was beyond the scope of TDR's jurisdiction as per clause 20.1 of the Customer Complaints Code (the Code), and maintained the Customer was liable to pay the current balance of $594.58.

Adjudicator's decision

The Adjudicator considered that the Customer's complaints related to an alleged fault with the contracted services, and an alleged misrepresentation of teh services that could be used in the Customer's area.

From the complaint documentation the Adjudicator found that the Customer twice reported to the Provider in October 2011 that his phone was not working. The Provider applied a credit to the Customer's account for $70, equivalent to one month's charge of his landline and broadband charge. The Adjudicator considered that the Provider satisfactorily resolved this first issue and the Customer did not make a further complaint until four months later.

Another complaint was made to the Provider by the Customer in April 2012 and recorded as "cannot be called", but there were no further details provided so the Provider was unable to investigate the issue any further. The issue was raised by the Customer again on August 2012 bur he again provided no details and the Provider who again was unable to investigate. In September 2012 a further issue was recorded in the provider's system as "mild frequency disconnections", that is when the VoIP (Voice Over Internet) dropped and the Customer could not receive phone calls. The Provider offered a refund of $180, which was declined by the Customer. The Adjudicator however considered that the Provider was liable to refund the Customer the sum of $175, being $35 per month for five months (April-September 2012), equivalent to half of the Customer's landline and broadband charge of $70 per month, given that the Customer's broadband was working properly and only his phone calls were affected.

In addition, the adjudicator upheld the Provider's position that most of the Customer's friends and family numbers terminated to the Customer's voicemail with the automated message informing them that the user mailbox was full and could not store any messages. The Customer confirmed that he was aware that his mailbox was often full, but that he chose not to empty it for his own reasons. Moreover, there was no greeting message in the Customer's voicemail so that if the Customer was engaged talking on his phone, the callers would be immediately connected to his voicemail but would hear only silence. The Adjudicator considered that these might be the reasons why the Customer's friends and family told him that they could not get through to him.

From these reaons, the Adjudicator considered that there was no further liability on the provider and that the Customer was liable to pay the total invoices being claimed on his account at $594.58, less the $175 for which the provider was liable, making a total Customer debt $419.58.

With regard to the Customer's claim for $72.60, the adjudicator considered that this was based on a claim for loss of income from the Customer's business, and therefore the provider was not liable as this type of claim was excluded by s 8.4 of the provider's general terms and conditions.

Final outcme

The Adjudicator dismissed the Customer's complaint and concluded that the Customer was liable to pay the current balance of the telephone and broadband charges of $594.58, minus the refund of $175, for the period of five months between April and September 2012, being a total of $419.58.