When John O'Hara lost 18.5 hours' worth of email access during the YahooXtra Bubble upgrade fiasco, he was not content with the week of free internet offered as blanket panacea (which O'Hara valued at $15), he took Telecom to the Disputes Tribunal. And last night O'Hara emailed to confim the Tribunal had awarded him $1,000 in compensation for the time - personal time, not work time - that he lost trying to reestablish his connection to his Xtra mail account during the August 07 disruption.
O'Hara comments: " Like many others I suffered a tortuous and inept support process making many calls to technical support in Thailand in a fruitless attempt to regain what I had before the disastrous and disingenuously claimed 'upgrade'". Incidentally it was in fact the replacement of a system with a completely new system requiring new terms and conditions to be agreed to (without any warning) before being able to used rather than an 'upgrade!'"
Our amateur consumer champ also has advice for others wondering where to start: "The Consumer Guarantee Act requires companies to provide services that are fit for purpose, to act with reasonable care and skill and within a reasonable timeframe. Where they do not ample remedies are available." (Read the Act's definition of service failure, and your right to remedy, here.)
"I was able to clearly demonstrate Telecom had failed each of these requirements and so was successful in claiming compensation for my wasted time."
"The process of taking action is against a company is straightforward and inexpensive and can be done through your local Disputes Tribunal." Find out how at www.justice.govt.nz/tribunals/disputes_tribunals.html
O'Hara adds that at the hearing, Telecom staff made comments about not wanting to set a precedent. That's not something he has a problem with:
"I'm sure if they had to pay 100,000 people $1000 each they'd do a better job next time. And that's really the point of it. One good thing about the litigious nature of the US is that companies do tend to behave better because of the threat of legal class actions!"
Incidentally, if you're wondering if O'Hara seems more feisty than the average bear, he is. During the 1990s he set up Voyager, one of the country's first independent internet service providers, and certainly the first to get into a slug-fest with Telecom when it launched Xtra back in May 1996 - Voyager, and others, were already in the market at that point, competing for New Zealand's 35,000 internet users.