87P!

That’s how much cus­tomers hit by mo­biles may­hem will be awarded in com­pen­sa­tion

Scottish Daily Mail - - News - By Sean Poul­ter Con­sumer Af­fairs Ed­i­tor

MO­BILE gi­ant O2 is fac­ing de­mands to pay mean­ing­ful com­pen­sa­tion to mil­lions of cus­tomers af­ter some vic­tims of a dis­as­trous net­work melt­down were of­fered just 87p.

Ex­perts say the com­pany should be pay­ing £10 per head to the 32mil­lion cus­tomers in­volved, plus ex­tra for those who suf­fered greater losses.

But last night O2 an­nounced a good­will pack­age of com­plex dis­counts and in­cen­tives that will be worth pen­nies to many of those who lost out.

On Thurs­day cus­tomers were cut off from the in­ter­net, emails, maps and other ser­vices for ap­proach­ing 24 hours fol­low­ing a soft­ware prob­lem suf­fered by Bri­tain’s sec­ond big­gest mo­bile net­work. The ser­vice was only fully re­stored at around 6am yesterday.

Some 25mil­lion O2 users were af­fected, along with an­other seven mil­lion from Tesco, Sky, Gif­f­Gaff and Ly­camo­bile who run ser­vices over the same net­work.

Now an­gry cus­tomers have bom­barded O2’s so­cial me­dia sys­tems with de­mands for com­pen­sa­tion for the loss of ser­vice, with many threat­en­ing to leave the com­pany.

The mo­bile gi­ant re­sponded by of­fer­ing to credit its pay monthly cus­tomers with two days of monthly air­time sub­scrip­tion charges. Con­sumer ex­perts at Which? said this was likely to be worth be­tween 87p and £2.33.

Alex Neill, of Which?, said: ‘Con­nec­tiv­ity is now such an in­te­gral part of our lives, it is time for the reg­u­la­tor to con­sider whether it should in­tro­duce au­to­matic com­pen­sa­tion for the in­con­ve­nience caused by se­vere out­ages.’

Con­sumer com­plaints ex­pert He­len Dewd­ney said only a pay­ment of £10 per head would be enough to pla­cate cus­tomers and pre­vent a mass ex­o­dus.

She said: ‘A fig­ure of £10 is prob­a­bly more than most peo­ple lost in terms of miss­ing out on one day of ser­vice, but it would show good­will and fewer peo­ple are likely to leave.’ She said O2 would be able to off­set the cost by mak­ing a claim against its equip­ment sup­plier Eric­s­son, which has ad­mit­ted re­spon­si­bil­ity for the out­age.

The tele­coms reg­u­la­tor Of­com has drawn up plans for au­to­matic com­pen­sa­tion of £8 per day to con­sumers whose home broad­band ser­vices are cut off. How­ever, this regime, which comes into ef­fect next year, does not ap­ply to mo­bile phone ser­vices.

The out­age was a blow to a num­ber of cus­tomers that rely on smart­phones with in­ter­net ac­cess – such as Uber drivers, who re­quire a sat-nav to find their way, and those who use tech­nol­ogy to mon­i­tor var­i­ous health con­di­tions.

Mark Evans, chief ex­ec­u­tive of O2, apol­o­gised for the ser­vice fail­ure and said the com­pany would ‘find an O2 way of mak­ing it up to our cus­tomers’.

Eric­s­son said the prob­lem oc­curred be­cause a usage cer­tifi­cate on a key piece of soft­ware that runs the mo­bile net­works had ex­pired.

The firm’s pres­i­dent Börje Ekholm said such cer­tifi­cates ‘act as au­then­ti­ca­tors for ma­chine iden­ti­ties – au­tho­ris­ing ma­chine-to-ma­chine con­nec­tions and com­mu­ni­ca­tions’.

‘Such an in­te­gral part of our lives’

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