Posted: 04/03/10 by Northamptonshire Chamber
Last month saw enormous disruption to businesses across Moulton Park. Companies, large and small, found themselves without Internet/email access, without faxes, without alarm systems. The reason? Two thousand missing BT paired cables, stolen the previous night by a highly organised, efficient team of criminals, for the value of the copper therein.
The immediate commercial cost of this crime was huge to all the "victims", to BT and throughout the premises of Moulton Park Industrial Estate. There were costs in terms of time, money, business downtime, loss of man-hours, reputation; orders could not be received, processed or actioned, customers could not be reached or communicated with, employees could not get on with their work.
The Chamber for its part spent most of the resulting eight days of disruption, speaking to BT, updating as many Members as it could on progress, assisting them in finding ICT/mobile alternatives, and liaising with local Police to organise extra patrols for the vulnerable estate. And all this disruption and extra effort over the price of metal!
With things returning to normal, the Chamber contacted Moulton Park Members a couple of weeks ago, to begin to plan the next steps for businesses affected by this issue. As an immediate starting point, the Chamber furnished Members with the following advice from OFCOM, which we are happy to share with all Moulton Park companies regarding potential routes to compensation:
- · Firstly, to ask your direct Service Provider (whether that be BT or another provider) for a copy of their Code of Practice, under OFCOM regulations all companies must have one, which is often found on their website – you are specifically looking for their complaints and compensation procedures (please click here to find the relevant excerpt from the BT Code of Practice). Whilst your Service Provider might not have been responsible for the lack of service to you, you must still address your complaint to them in the first instance then they can take it up themselves with BT;
- · Secondly, to write to the appropriate address explaining the nature of disruption to your service, and how long it lasted – my view here is that you might want to outline at the same time the impact the disruption had on your ability to function as a business, and the alternative arrangements you had to make to lessen the impact (be that alternative telecoms arrangements, alternative office arrangements, alternative security arrangements, etc. As far as possible, it would seem useful to itemise the costs of those alternative arrangements e.g. mobile phone usage, etc;
- · Thirdly, when you receive a response back consider whether you feel the settlement is appropriate or not - if “deadlock” is reached, you can refer the matter to the relevant Ombudsman to resolve. Where you are a company of 10 employees or less this process is free of charge, larger companies would need to make subsequent legal arrangements.
The Chamber has spoken to its Members about two further courses of action for us - the first is to try to organise a face-to-face meeting with senior representatives from BT in the area. The second action is to write formally to OFCOM, the regulating body (who are an evidence-based organisation) with the letter from the Chamber outlining the specifics of this case, the extensive interruption to telecoms supply for Moulton Park Chamber Members, the concerns we have over the resilience of telecoms supply in the future and the growing problem that this theft of copper wiring will have on businesses, potentially nationwide. It is the Chamber’s intention that copies of this letter are sent to local MPs and regional MEPs, and to Stephen Timms MP – Minister responsible for Digital Britain, amongst others.
We hope that the above information is useful to you and your business.
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