Affected by O2 network downtime issues – your rights to redress

O2 coverage and network status

On 6 December 2018 O2 had a problem with data services on its network. At the time of publishing this blog post it still has a problem. O2 says the coverage and network issues are due to a third party software failure and that mobile operators around the world could also be affected.

Your rights

Under the Consumer Rights Act 2015  you are entitled to services to be carried out with reasonable skill and care. It is irrelevant that the problem is caused by a third party problem. Your contract is with O2 and so therefore O2 is in breach of contract and you are entitled to redress.

You are entitled to a full refund of the cost of the time you are without use of your phone. You are also entitled to redress for any out-of-pocket expenses you incurred due to not being able to use anything on your phone. E.g. you incurred bank charges because you couldn’t transfer money or had to use a payphone. You can claim for consequential loss due to O2’s breach of contract.

How to complain to O2

Once the system is back up and running, calculate your losses. Write do not phone so you have a record of evidence. Outline the problems you had and any costs you incurred and provide evidence for this. State what you want as redress and mention that it is because of a breach of the Consumer Rights Act 2015, as outlined above.

Get in quickly, a huge queue of complaints will soon grow.

You can also jump the queue of complaints and complain to the ceo. Go to ceoemail.com for contact details. The CEO won’t respond personally but the matter does get escalated and dealt with by a different team to customer services.

Follow Top 20 Tips for complaining effectively when you write.

If you do not get a satisfactory response you can take the matter to Ombudsman Services: Communications of which O2 is a member. You will need to ask for a deadlock letter or wait until 8 weeks has passed since you started the complaint.

Contract with another provider using the O2 network

Other providers such as Giff Gaff and Tesco use the O2 network. In these cases you will need to follow the advice above but with your provider directly not O2. Always complain to the company with whom you have the contract and pay the money!

Check whether your provider is with Ombudsman Services: Communication or CISAS.

Update on compensation from O2

O2 disruption: Operator offers compensation over outage  The BBC article states the following:

“Mobile operator O2 has said it will compensate its customers following a day of disruption to its data networks.

Pay Monthly customers will be credited with two days of monthly airtime subscription charges in January.

Pay As You Go customers will get 10% credit on a top-up and Pay As You Go mobile broadband users will get 10% off a Bolt On purchase, in the new year.”

“The compensation for Pay Monthly customers includes SMB business and mobile broadband users.”

Update on compensation from Sky

Sky has announced that it is giving affected customers a day of free unlimited UK data this Saturday 8 Dec. Customers will not need to do anything to get this.

Further help for complaining to telecom providers

lap top on woman's knees phone in one hand

All you need to know about complaining to telecom providers which provides lots of posts relating to differing telecom issues.

 

book Logo cartoon cow at a laptop of book cover. How to Complain: The Essential Consumer Guide to Getting Refunds, Redress and Results!

 

 

For lots of information, advice, tips, consumer laws and template letter GET THE BOOK! How To Complain: The ESSENTIAL Consumer Guide to Getting REFUNDS, Redress and RESULTS!

 

 

The funny side of the O2 problem

Some people saw the funny side of the issues facing O2 customers.

Emergency tariff released following O2 signal failure a great post by Trafford Express.

Businesses and consumer alike got in on the act.

 

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5 myths about Ombudsman providers busted

Ombudsman separating the truth from the myth

Alternative Dispute Resolution providers which include ombudsmen, provide services for business and consumers. When you can’t get your complaint resolved and the trader is a member of a scheme you can take your complaint to an ADR provider. Alternative Dispute Resolution: What it all means

In April 2018 the Government produced some research, Resolving Consumer Disputes. The findings included “…in cases where the ADR provider decided in favour of the consumer 83% of consumers perceived the process to be fair. This dropped to 17% in cases where the decision was in favour of the trader or a compromise. A similar, but less extreme, variation was seen for consumers who had used the courts (90% v. 53%).” Not exactly surprising.

lots of images of people shaking hands

The myths about ADR

Being in the world of consumer rights and stuff I talk about this area a lot. However, so often I hear the same inaccurate assumptions and beliefs from members of the public, including journalists. Sometimes these come from personal experience, sometimes guesses, sometimes from inaccuracies reported in the media and sometimes from I don’t know what! There are a lot of issues with the sector but these are mainly to do with oversight of the approval.

But here I am going to bust a few of those popular myths and hope it helps make things clearer! I’m using the term Ombudsman for ease but ADR provider is still the same in terms of these myths. (However, an Ombudsman has to be members of the Ombudsamn Association which has higher standards than for non members as shown by their minutes of a meeting revoking the Retail Ombudsman’s membership. See The Retail Ombudsman is no more and the minutes in appendix  J of More Ombudsman Omnishambles.

1) Ombudsman are consumer champions

Nope. A consumer champion will fight for the consumer. An ombudsman is an unbiased service. Each case is looked at individually and decisions are made on the evidence provided.

2) Ombudsmen are paid by the traders so will always see in their favour

Nope. The traders pay yes. The alternative would be for consumers to pay at least a proportion! The traders pay a yearly fee plus a case fee. If the case goes to arbitration then in some cases, such as with the Furniture Ombudsman and an independent inspection is required, the trader pays for this too. Therefore it is actually in the traders’ interest to try and resolve the matter and for it not to go to the Ombudsman. If you look at providers’ annual reviews you will see the breakdown of percentages of cases won by trader etc. If the consumer were made to pay as well you might as well go to court and these schemes are there to provide an ALTERNATIVE! An Ombudsman service gets paid the same win or lose so there is no incentive to find in favour of either party.

As an example:

In the period November 2016 to October 2017, Ombudsman Services closed 49,117 energy complaints. Of those, it helped resolve 8% without investigating because the energy company was willing to provide the consumer with their desired resolution.

Of the complaints that Ombudsman Services investigated, it:

  • upheld 66% (finding that the energy supplier had done something wrong and had not done enough to put it right).
  • maintained 26% (finding that although the energy supplier had done something wrong, it had already offered a fair resolution to the customer).
  • did not uphold 8% of complaints, (concluding that there was no substance to the original complaint and the energy supplier had treated the customer fairly).

3) All ombudsmen are funded by Government

Nope. All providers in the non-regulated sector, such as furniture and airlines are funded by the industry. Providers in the regulated sector such as the Financial Ombudsman, energy and telecoms are also funded by the industry so that services are free to consumers. Others, such as  the Local Government Ombudsman are funded with public funds.

4) If the trader doesn’t want to pay up it won’t

In the regulated areas of finance, energy and telecoms if a trader doesn’t abide by an ombudsman’s decision then it will be reported to the regulator. Financial Conduct Authority, Ofgem and Ofcom. They will investigate and if found to be in breach of the rules can be shut down. In the non-regulated areas if the trader doesn’t abide by a decision they will be expelled from the scheme. The rate for non compliance is very low.

ADR scheme Year No. Reason for expulsion
The Motor Ombudsman 2016 3 2 Non-cooperation with scheme, 1 with outcome
The Motor Ombudsman 2015 8 Non-cooperation with scheme
The Furniture Ombudsman 2016 0 N/A
The Furniture Ombudsman 2017 1 Non compliance

There are however issues with compliance in the aviation sector, particularly with AviationADR members. See more details in More Ombudsman Omnishambles and Landing in Court with Ryanair.

5) There are lots of people who have gone to court when not happy with Ombudsman decision

If the Ombudsman doesn’t see in your favour it doesn’t necessarily mean it is wrong. It could be that you didn’t provide enough evidence and the same could happen in court. See Energy ombudsman shows how to keep heat on your supplier for an article from the Energy Ombudsman on how best to present your case.

The court option always remains open to you. But actually very few people do this. An ombudsman will usually be open to looking again at any case if you have more evidence. A judge can only look at evidence. There are cases where people go to the Small Claims Court, but often these don’t get reported accurately in the media which is misleading. For example, one recent case was reported in the media as the judge seeing in favour of the consumer where the ombudsman hadn’t. Actually it was because the trader didn’t attend and so a default judgement was made.

There are issues with ADR

Yup. Not a myth!

Westminster Business Forum seminar Next steps for consumer protection in the UK – dispute processes, enforcement and the consumer markets green paper. 15/11/18 Alternative Dispute Resolution – approval and oversight in the loosest possible sense of the words…

There are many issues regarding ADR and Ombudsmen providers. These are to do with the oversight by the approval bodies. See Government and regulators continue to fail on resolving consumer disputes and Landing in Court with Ryanair. These articles include links to reports (Ombudsman Omnishambles and More Ombudsman Omnishambles in particular). They also link to articles from Which? and The Independent that describe a number of problems which are not the fault of providers and provide  warnings about one provider, Consumer Dispute Resolution Limited run by Dean Dunham which runs RetailADR, UtitlitiesADR and AviationADR.

man talking to couple

 

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