Sally*, a pensioner living by herself, wanted to ensure she was up to date with the latest technology so she could stay in contact with her sons who lived overseas.

She called her provider to upgrade from copper services to fibre. Her provider agreed to upgrade her plan and connection, but then went silent. Sally and her son attempted to make contact over the next two months, but their calls were not returned and emails not answered. Suddenly a new modem arrived with set up instructions for a voice over internet protocol (VoIP) home phone service.  

Sally attempted to install the modem but was unable to make the service work on any of her current phone handsets within her house. Sally contacted her provider to troubleshoot but was told she needed to buy a new handset to use VoIP services, and that she could not have multiple phones around the house like on a copper connection. It was also discovered that the modem was faulty and a new one would need to be delivered. This was during COVID-19 lockdown and because her copper connection had been cut off Sally was without a phone. This was extremely distressing to her and her family, so the provider agreed to reconnect the copper connection however this took over a week to action.

Sally complained to her provider about the errors that occurred, as well as additional billing issues that arose because of the failed connection attempt. There was a significant amount of back and forth, but the issue was not resolved and deadlocked by the provider.**

Sally and her son contacted TDR who immediately initiated our formal process. TDR requested formal submissions from both the customer and provider involved and a Resolution Practitioner was assigned to assist the parties resolve this complaint.

It was clear that there had been both customer service and technical failings by the provider for the customer. Additionally, communication had broken down between the parties, with neither side responding to correspondence from each other.

The independent Resolution Practitioner helped get communication back on track, focussing on the issues and potential resolutions. Once the Resolution Practitioner ‘cleared the waters’ for both parties, a resolution was offered by the provider. Sally and her son countered this offer and it was accepted by the provider, all within two working days of the of the Resolution Practitioner being assigned.

Sally remained with the provider and has since successfully upgraded to a fibre connection.

* Names have been changed.

** TDR may determine a complaint is deadlocked if it's been six weeks or more since the customer contacted their phone or internet provider and the customer still doesn't have a resolution that they are happy with, or if a complaint raised with a scheme member by TDR remains unresolved after 15 working days, whichever comes first. When determining deadlock, TDR will take into consideration the complexity of the issue, the desired resolution, as well as whether escalating the matter will assist in resolving the complaint.