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Should Compensation Always be Mandatory for Broadband ISP Outages

Friday, January 25th, 2013 (8:59 am) - Score 2,115

Sooner or later all ISPs will suffer some form of service disruption that can result in the loss of your internet connectivity. Most of these outages are resolved quickly but some can last for days, weeks or occasionally even months. Now a court in Germany has ruled that everybody has the right to compensation after an internet disruption.

The Federal Court of Justice in Karlsruhe was apparently overseeing the case of a man whom had lost service to his DSL broadband, phone and fax line for a period of two months between late 2008 and early 2009.

According to Reuters, the man had already been compensated for having to use his mobile phone but he also wanted compensation for the loss of internet access. In German law the loss of any “essential material items” can be compensated and the court ruled that the internet is now an “essential” part of life.

In the United Kingdom most ISPs, just like many other commercial businesses, typically adopt a relaxed attitude towards compensation and will rarely reimburse a customer proactively. On the other hand there are methods by which you can claim compensation for a broadband and or phone outage, such as simply by writing a letter of complaint, although few people ever even attempt this.

The telecoms regulator, Ofcom, advises ISPs to be fair with their customers and there are also plenty of schemes, such as Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) procedures, that exist to help encourage this approach. In our own experience we’ve often been able to gain compensation for a lengthy loss of service simply by requesting it and credible smaller ISPs sometimes do this proactively.

But wouldn’t it be wonderful if, from a consumer’s point of view, all ISPs were required to proactively compensate you for any outage that lasted longer than a certain period of time (e.g. 24 hours?). Unfortunately ISPs would probably find this to be a headache, especially given the often grey area of responsibility that exists between an ISP and their suppliers, such as BTOpenreach. The point is “if you don’t ask, you don’t get” so ask first.

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By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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