O2 disruption: Operator offers compensation over outage

O2 shopImage copyright Getty Images

Mobile operator O2 has said it will compensate its customers following a day of disruption to its data networks.

Pay Monthly customers will be credited with two days of monthly airtime subscription charges in January.

Pay As You Go customers will get 10% credit on a top-up and Pay As You Go mobile broadband users will get 10% off a Bolt On purchase, in the new year.

On Thursday, O2 issued a joint apology with mobile network equipment supplier Ericsson for the shutdown.

The compensation for Pay Monthly customers includes SMB business and mobile broadband users.

O2 has 25 million users and also provides services for the Sky, Tesco, Giffgaff and Lycamobile networks, which have another seven million users.

Services such as bus timetable information were also affected, while many businesses faced disruption.

How were people affected?

Luke Stagg runs a plumbing business and depends on his phone, but he could not get through to customers or use his sat nav.

He said that he would never know how many jobs he had missed out on during Thursday. In addition, he could not contact those he was supposed to be visiting, and his day was wasted.

“I’m 36 years old, so I know how to use a map, but I could not make calls,” he said. “Mine was not a proper emergency but there is a wider point – I want to know what happens if it went down for even longer.”

Image caption O2 customers Mischa Bittar, Omeran Amirat and Luke Stagg have all suffered disruption

He said when he lost data coverage on a previous occasion, he was offered vouchers to use in the O2 shop. However, he was not impressed with the offer.

Mischa Bittar, also a plumber, said he had been “unable to contact any of my engineers or customers via email, unable to use our mobile systems to contact any engineers at all, so everyone’s just had to down tools”.

“A lot of money lost and the first thing I know about it is via the BBC website, no contact from O2 at all, disappointing,” he added.

Omeran Amirat said he had lost bids for presents he was supposed to be buying for his children on internet auction site eBay. However, it is unlikely that he will receive compensation from O2 for this.

What caused the problem?

Ericsson president Börje Ekholm said “an initial root cause analysis” had indicated that the “main issue was an expired certificate in the software versions installed with these customers”.

The company was carrying out “a complete and comprehensive root cause analysis”, he added.

Image copyright Getty Images

O2 said voice calls were not affected by the problem, but some customers said they could not make calls or send texts either.

O2 is owned by Spain’s Telefonica and has the UK’s second-largest mobile network after EE, which is part of BT. It is the company that bills customers, so it holds the responsibility for compensation.

Mr French, of Which?, said the company should “do the right thing” for customers, with the option of offering additional perks alongside refunds.

Are there any other considerations for customers

Many people would have used public-access wi-fi if they were unable to access data through the O2 network.

Mr French said this created additional risks if people were exposing personal information on these networks.

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