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Internet service provider: anyone got any idea on the law?

(17 Posts)
SomewhereBeyondTheSea Wed 19-Feb-14 20:03:38

Right, any advice anyone can give on this would be v much appreciated.
Sorry it's so long, it's a weird situation.

My internet service provider - let's call them, purely theoretically of course, Zen Internet - has cancelled my broadband line but is now trying to chase me for payment of the rest of the contract period.

Zen say that the line was cancelled by BT. BT have confirmed this, though they have no idea why they did it. And they can't reinstate a line, you just have to be assigned a whole new one. Ok, so they did that, got a new BT line.

Zen say that because my contact with them related to the cancelled line, I am liable to pay for the remaining 10 months or so of the service that I had contracted them to provide on that line.
They say I can then take BT to the small claims court to reclaim the cost from BT, since it was BT's fault.

Now, to me this seems to be the wrong way round.
My contract was with Zen. So Zen are contracted to provide me with a service. Zen, in turn, contracted the line from BT.
So Zen should write off the cost of the outstanding months on my contract, as none of this is my fault or decision, and pursue BT for the cost of it themselves - surely?

The easiest thing to have done would have been for Zen to transfer my outstanding balance to a new contract and start over again - I'd have been happy to stay with them. But they weren't willing to do that.
As a result I've had to get a new contract with another ISP, as I really need internet for work and can't wait ages while this situation is sorted out before Zen decides to let me be their customer again.

Am really disappointed with them, they've been such a great company up til now and this all just seems totally baffling and deeply frustrating. It's taken hours and hours of time on the phone to both Zen and BT to get to this point and Zen are now sending me threatening letters about taking me to court if I don't pay them £400.

Anyone got any thoughts or experience of this?

Featherbag Wed 19-Feb-14 20:20:31

No experience or legal knowledge I'm afraid, but in your situation I'd be very tempted to invite them to take me to court and let the court tell them to piss off!

SomewhereBeyondTheSea Wed 19-Feb-14 20:27:42

I'd prefer to avoid the hassle, to be honest. And if the court might go against me, then I've my credit rating to think of.
Would really like to get a sense of whether they have any legal justification on this?

JetSetWilly Wed 19-Feb-14 21:10:01

You need to start by getting a copy of your contract with zen out and having a good read. If you haven't got a copy ask them. I would also start putting everything in writing rather than telephoning (because if nothing else it must e costing you a fortune!)

UnexpectedItemInShaggingArea Wed 19-Feb-14 22:26:30

This area is really badly regulated area. I would kick up a huge fuss, maybe see if the consumer champions in the newspapers would help.

Or email the companies chief executives direct, or start a Twitter campaign?

JetSetWilly Wed 19-Feb-14 23:22:07

Have you spoken to ofcom?

SomewhereBeyondTheSea Thu 20-Feb-14 08:50:17

Thanks for the replies! I'll write back to them setting out my position and requesting a copy of the contract. Am going to send it to every senior Zen exec I can find plus press office etc.
Does Ofcom talk to random punters like me? I somehow thought it wasn't a consumer body. I'll look them up.

UnexpectedItemInShaggingArea Thu 20-Feb-14 09:42:03

Ofcom link:

I've heard that they more often than not back the company though, so go in with all guns blazing.

SuddenlySqueamish Thu 20-Feb-14 09:53:17

I had this problem with TalkTalk. If you moved house, you would be able to transfer your existing contract to your new line. This is no different. I refused to pay, they said I couldn't do this but also never contacted me again and put nothing on my credit rating and I got a new provider.

Slag em off on Twitter. They're usually quick to back down when it's so public.

SomewhereBeyondTheSea Thu 20-Feb-14 19:40:51

So glad to hear that someone else has had this problem! Suddenly - did you cite any particular law or anything in your correspondence ?

SuddenlySqueamish Mon 24-Feb-14 14:53:56

Hi Somewhere. I didn't cite any law. I just spoke to them on the phone and explained that I didn't cancel the contract myself and therefore I am not liable for any further fees. Sent a letter explaining the very same thing and heard nothing back but they completely dropped it. TalkTalk had a lot of bad press for similar problems a while back though so maybe they just decided it'd be easier to drop it.

Good luck! Just be persistent and consistent

SomewhereBeyondTheSea Mon 24-Feb-14 22:25:55

Thank you Suddenly. I have written to them, have got fingers crossed.

Terrortree Mon 24-Feb-14 22:34:00

Nip down to CAB (or give them a ring) - they will pursue this for you if it proves that you are in the right. I suspect you are:

The generic rule of thumb is that a company (zen) can cancel a contract if they are unable to provide its service but should remedy/compensate you for the loss (e.g. returning any pre-paid money such as installation costs etc). How, they provide that service is beyond your control (and indeed is their business) so it would be perceived as an 'unfair clause' if you were to be punished for their lack of provision.

I'm not a lawyer though.

SomewhereBeyondTheSea Tue 25-Feb-14 08:59:15

Thanks Terrortree - that's basically what I said in my letter.

SomewhereBeyondTheSea Wed 26-Feb-14 21:08:45

Ok so internet-company-theoretically-known-as-Zen say it's my responsibility to have a working phoneline and it says that in the contract.
So they say I have to pay them then try to reclaim from BT.
Anyone got any advice on whether I should pursue this with them? Or just pay up ( sad ) and focus on BT ?

SomewhereBeyondTheSea Wed 26-Feb-14 21:13:37

Oh and - worst case scenario that I do pay "Zen" (Or whoever they are) - surely if the original contract was a 2-year deal with monthly payments then I'd be justified in offering them monthly payments, rather than having to pay the whole amount upfront?
Because frankly that would feel more fair to me.

JetSetWilly Sun 02-Mar-14 09:32:49

Have you contacted ofcom yet?

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