For many customers of O2, the 11th of July 2012 proved to be a day of frustration when their mobiles became about as useful as a whistle on the moon! If you were one of the many thousands affected by this, it was a total outage, no voice, no SMS and no data. Twitter was awash with complaints and fury, even though O2 tried to inject some humour into the situation. The outage lasted less than a day with normal operations quickly resumed after the unfortunate event which had been blamed on a botched network upgrade managed by a third party.
O2, or any other mobile operator in the UK are not obliged to offer any form of compensation under such circumstances, as they all operate on a “best efforts” principle – effectively meaning that they do their best to provide you a service, but there is no guarantee. Despite this O2 has seen to put things right.
Having identified affected customers, they have promised to give them 3 days credit in compensation for the outage that lasted less than a day. In addition to that, O2 will be sending a £10 credit to all their customers (not just those that were affected) towards their Priority Moments discount voucher service. Consumer response to this offer has generally been very positive.
Compare this to the debacle caused by BlackBerry owners RIM in late 2011, when a global outage affected most people with a BlackBerry for up to a week. RIM do not operate a mobile network as such, but because of the unique (some may say archaic) way in which RIM operates, data for some of the more popular applications (such as Facebook and email) has to pass through RIM’s own data centre, regardless of who supplies your mobile contract. A chunk of your mobile subscription is paid to RIM from your operator for this privilege. It was this service that failed, leaving pretty much every BlackBerry owner without some of the key services which no doubt inspired them to have a BlackBerry.
This outage lasted up to a week for some countries and RIM was very quiet during this time. Only after the event did it become apparent what the cause of the problem was, shortly followed by an offer that all users would be allowed some free apps from BlackBerry Appworld. How generous!
I think this was the last straw for many, who already felt that BlackBerry had fallen behind both iOS (Apple) and Android. Being one of those users I felt very let down, and was very much inconvenienced by what happened, the timing could not have been worse. Many BlackBerry users worldwide felt the same.
The recent outage from O2 caused outrage at the time, but they have handled it very well. In the coming months it will quickly be forgotten, whereas the whole BlackBerry issue left many counting down the days until they were able to switch contracts, me included. We believe RIM could learn a lot from how O2 handled their own mini-disaster.
Were you affected by the O2 outage? How do you feel about their compensation offer?
Dicslosure: I had a BlackBerry on Vodafone up until June 2012, whereby I switched to Android on Orange.