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Standard User 3MbBik
(learned) Fri 14-Oct-16 14:47:00
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Zen supports automatic compensation for customers


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Zen supports automatic compensation for customers

Gary Hough

October 13, 2016

compesnation 5 crop

At Zen we like to think we put our money where our mouths are when it comes to giving customers the best possible service.

For example, all our customer service and support staff take full ownership of any issues and faults and discuss all cases with their managers. The team will work hard to help resolve the fault as quickly as possible. Where appropriate a goodwill gesture will be offered to our customers to help accommodate the inconvenience caused. We think that’s only fair. But perhaps surprisingly, the issue of compensation is a hot topic among Internet Service Providers (ISP) right now, because industry regulator Ofcom is proposing to give consumers an automatic right to compensation when things go wrong.

Zen is one of a very few ISPs broadly supportive of the proposals. Here’s all you need to know.

What is Ofcom proposing?

We communicate, shop, bank and conduct business online these days, making a reliable internet connection increasingly essential to everyday life.

Ofcom thinks it is so important that it is proposing an automatic compensation scheme for customers who experience breaks in service or unacceptably slow speeds. That would bring ISPs into line with utility companies like water and energy suppliers.

Ofcom’s proposals state that customers have a right to compensation when they experience “a loss or reduction in service” but adds that not all faults will be covered and those that are, need to be “objectively defined and measured”.

Faults that are liable for compensation will need to originate with the ISP, rather than the customer’s own equipment or wiring.

“That’s similar to Zen’s own voluntary position. We’re generally happy to offer a goodwill gesture for poor connections when the problem is something within our control”, says Gary Hough, Zen’s Regulatory expert.

But not, he adds, “when it’s the result of, for example, actions customers have undertaken, such as internal wiring, software updates on hardware we haven’t recommended, or third party hardware we might not support.”

What’s in it for consumers?

So why is Ofcom making this proposal now?

Partly it’s because some ISPs make claiming compensation a long and arduous task.

Ofcom says that, at the moment, consumers generally have to make a complaint, prove they have received a substandard service, and then have the ISP agree.

The system can be longwinded and confusing, and complaints can take up a lot of time, effort and – in cases where the ISP challenges the complaint – money. Even then, the amount of compensation is likely to be small.

Ofcom states: “As a result, even engaged consumers who are negatively affected by a service issue may not consider it worth claiming redress.”

Ofcom’s proposed system would automate the process, making it much simpler for consumers to receive compensation when they experience poor service.

What do suppliers think?

Most ISPs are against automatic compensation.

They say it would actually drive up prices for consumers, as suppliers try to claw back money spent funding compensation claims. Service quality may also suffer, they claim, as suppliers divert funds from network support to customer pay outs.

There are also complexities around who, exactly, is to blame for service faults. Some providers don’t own any of the network they use, relying on third party infrastructure.

In that case, who is actually liable for compensation, the provider (who has an agreement with the consumer) or the company operating the underlying infrastructure (who doesn’t)?

What does Zen think?

We are committed to building a resilient network and fixing faults as soon as they occur, and think that our standards should also be industry standards. For those reasons we are broadly supportive of the principle of automatic compensation.

“Ofcom is still in the consultation process and we are waiting to see the details, such as what faults would attract automatic compensation. Some issues – like street cabinet vandalism, say, or flooding – are clearly beyond our control,” says Gary.

“But in general we think that ISPs should be happy to offer automatic compensation to customers when the fault is ours. We know that our residential and small business customers rely on a fast and reliable service from Zen. When something goes wrong it is only right that we both compensate customers and fix the fault as quickly as possible.”

How can Zen serve you better? Here’s what you told us…


1 Comment


Reply from a previously happy customer who has been with Zen over 10 years;

October 14, 2016 at 2:29 pm


Awaiting moderation

Gary,

Does this mean that if your previously loyal customers and staff once again experience months of degraded multiple download speeds and dramatically slow single thread download speeds during the working day, down from 75 mbps to 5 mbps, when the congestion through your London hub seriously inconveniences them, will you actually relent and allow these poor customers to leave your severely reduced service without having to pay an early exit penalty?

Godfrey.
Administrator MrSaffron
(staff) Fri 14-Oct-16 16:22:35
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Re: Zen supports automatic compensation for customers


[re: 3MbBik] [link to this post]
 
"Faults that are liable for compensation will need to originate with the ISP, rather than the customer’s own equipment or wiring."

There in lies the fun part, since it may need someone to attend to prove its not the consumers kit, otherwise very easy to have people claiming or rigging testing so that they get low speeds and compensation.

Another issue will be the size of the compensation, what's a fair amount for say 1 evening of speeds that are less than 50% of the normal speed? Or will speeds have to drop to just 10% of normal?

The author of the above post is a thinkbroadband staff member. It may not constitute an official statement on behalf of thinkbroadband.
Standard User 3MbBik
(learned) Fri 14-Oct-16 17:22:24
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Re: Zen supports automatic compensation for customers


[re: MrSaffron] [link to this post]
 
Hello Andrew, I must admit that Zen's unsolicited flyer irritated me, even though I had been a very happy Zen customer throughout the previous ten year period.

Early into my 12 month 80-20 VDSL contract, hard wired to my router, and with a short high quality connection to my local FTTC cabinet, like several other customers and Zen staff members I found to my cost that whilst I could always obtain a download speed around 76 mbps between the hours of midnight and the start of the next working day my multiple download speed was often halved with my single thread download speed yet one sixth of the multiple thread speed. (4-5 mbps)
To make it even worse, at the very same time, if I plugged a cheap Wi-Fi adaptor into my desktop to receive a rather weak distant Wi-Fi BT Fon Guest connection I could achieve a single thread download speed, from my neighbours 40-20 VDSL HomeHub, that was over twice the speed of my Zen VDSL service via the same cabinet.

After several months I asked to be released from the early termination fee, but that request was refused and we were all forced to await the capacity upgrade in Zen's London Hub which immediately restored our service quality to a full 24/7 service.

It is my strong personal opinion that Zen should have offered to release those of us, that suffered this degradation of service quality for several months, from having to pay an early exit charge.



Godfrey.


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Standard User 23Prince
(member) Fri 14-Oct-16 17:40:36
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Re: Zen supports automatic compensation for customers


[re: 3MbBik] [link to this post]
 
In reply to a post by 3MbBik:
I must admit that Zen's unsolicited flyer irritated me


Their unsolicited chasing of money not owing to them is starting to annoy a lot of people too.

They seem to love using debt collection when they are hard up!
Standard User cssuk
(regular) Tue 01-Nov-16 21:34:56
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Re: Zen supports automatic compensation for customers


[re: 3MbBik] [link to this post]
 
look at the ofcom voluntary code of practice which Zen is fully signed up to it actually says you can leave early should the offer not be up to scratch

Log the problem as a technical fault if the actual access line
speed is at or below the minimum guaranteed access line
speed, or if it is otherwise appropriate to do so. As soon as
possible after the problem is logged as a technical fault, the
ISP must tell the customer their minimum guaranteed access
line speed and explain that if the technical fault cannot be fixed
then the customer will have the opportunity to leave their
contract immediately and without any penalty provided this is
within a three month period of the start of their contract (or
longer if the ISP so chooses). The ISP must then take steps to
ensure the fault is corrected;

it is of course down to the ISP if the 3 months is up
Standard User cssuk
(regular) Tue 01-Nov-16 21:46:55
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Re: Zen supports automatic compensation for customers


[re: 3MbBik] [link to this post]
 
i left Zen a while back due to poor service and "tech" teams that didnt know there backside from there elbow and went to sky, i got told by lots of "in the know" people i would regret it and you know what the service has been faultless totally and its unlimited ping typically 12 ms to a NL based game server etc etc

http://www.thinkbroadband.com/speedtest/button/14780...
Standard User dsf58
(newbie) Wed 02-Nov-16 10:53:06
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Re: Zen supports automatic compensation for customers


[re: 3MbBik] [link to this post]
 
In reply to a post by 3MbBik:
...
In that case, who is actually liable for compensation, the provider (who has an agreement with the consumer) or the company operating the underlying infrastructure (who doesn’t)?
...

“Ofcom is still in the consultation process and we are waiting to see the details, such as what faults would attract automatic compensation. Some issues – like street cabinet vandalism, say, or flooding – are clearly beyond our control,” says Gary.


If my contract is with Zen and they cannot provide because say a BT street cabinet has been vandalised, it is clearly nothing to do with me - my contract is with Zen not with BT. Zen will have chosen to use BT's infrastructure (may not have had much choice), but none-the-less it is either a BT issue (BT to compensate Zen) or a Zen issue (they chose BT).

Either way, the consumer should not pick-up consequences of something further up the supply chain.

If Zen (or any ISP) want us to take responsibility for our hardware that is outside their control, they should expect BT to take responsibility for their hardware which whilst similarly outside Zen's control is none-the-less part of a supply chain that Zen has contracted to use.
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