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Landmark Ruling Says Users Can Sue Telcos Over No Signal

Gordon Kelly

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Landmark Ruling Says Users Can Sue Telcos Over No Signal

Could this finally put an end to the black spots which still plague our mobile phone reception?

In a tremendous moral victory for the consumer late last week Orange subscriber Tom Prescott successfully sued his network over a lack of signal. Prescott had asked Orange to cancel his 18 month contract after discovering he had no reception at either his Richmond home or place of work. He has received £500 and had the contract annulled.

"As soon as I realised I could not get a signal, I tried to cancel my contract," he explained. "However, it has taken me three months in court to get it cancelled. I felt bullied by the company, and dealing with Orange was awful. I hope people who have the same problem now realise they can do something about it."

Prescott had sensibly argued he should have a reasonable expectation of service both at home and in the office upon signing the contract. Orange countered it wasn't its responsibility, but the courts thought differently. In fact Orange even maintained after the ruling that "Continuous network coverage cannot be guaranteed and network coverage can be affected by factors outside of our control." Legally however this no longer stands up.

The knock on effect could be hugely beneficial too as networks need to find ways of boosting their signal and 3G in particularly is notoriously bad at passing through bricks and mortar. The answer could be femtocells - tiny mobile phone cells which can be fitted into a base station (such as a DSL/cable router) and connect to a service provider's network via broadband.

The problem here is rarely do owners have the same telco and broadband providers, let alone all members of the household using the same service so an open approach would need to be used which could lead to horribly convoluted negotiations. On top of this femtocells are still too expensive to be incorporated into everyday routers.

Whatever the answer however one thing is now delightfully clear: with the law now on the side of the consumer regarding signal reception, the telcos need to clean up their act... and fast.

Link:

via ThisIsLondon

Martin Daler

February 23, 2009, 1:01 pm

great, but lets hope the compensation remains at proportionate levels otherwise we will all see our payments rise to line the pockets of lawyers and professional plaintiffs.

Ijster

February 23, 2009, 1:32 pm

Hmmm no. The case is not a landmark case as it was decided only in the County Court. It is not senior enough for precedence to have been created....

Kevsta

February 23, 2009, 4:57 pm

Having been an Orange customer years ago, I see that their customer service levels haven't improved.

Robert Pontin

February 23, 2009, 5:40 pm

"In fact Orange even maintained after the ruling that 'Continuous network coverage cannot be guaranteed and network coverage can be affected by factors outside of our control.' Legally however this no longer stands up"





Actually Orange are 100% legally correct! The "factors outside of our control" are local council planning permissions which are absolutely uncontrollable. There are many instances when a telecoms company wants to put up a mast to improve coverage but it gets rejected by the council because of local residents complaining.





This decision is only relevant to people in a similar situation. It has no legal effect that can force companies to improve coverage.

Soxfest

March 14, 2009, 1:44 am

I haven't read the case but from the article it doesn't appear to set up anything other than those rights already held under the various consumer protection legislation, ie expectation that the service or product you buy will be provided to a suitable standard (be fit for purpose). T-mo sensibly let you check connectivity for your main useage areas before buying. If the service didn't match that info, you could rescind the contract. No doubt a key factor is the fact that the Claimant provided his address when purchasing the service. You cannot sell a service to someone and expect the contract to be enforceable where you have actual or constructive knowledge that you (Orange) cannot supply the service contracted for, to that customer.





I'm sure TR didn't mean to suggest otherwise, but for example we won't be able to sue any of the telcos for the shocking breaks in connectivity on the Virgin train journey between Manchester and London!





(these comments are merely my own opinion, I accept no responsibility etc etc and other disclaimer stuff!)

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