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James Mather
James Mather,
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 22629
Experience:  Senior Partner at Berkson Wallace
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We are a small telecoms and IT company (10 employees) and have

Customer Question

We are a small telecoms and IT company (10 employees) and have recently been building out a small internet network. This has resulted in us dealing with more residential customers and we are starting to get 'threats' from a very few of them (less than 2% of customers) around the occassional network failure i.e. many seem to want a guaranteed 24*7*365 solution for the few pounds they pay each month.

The two most recent complaints make reference to 'You are in breach of contract as you did not supply a “satisfactory” router/service which was “fit for purpose” and nor did you “deploy reasonable skill and care” in your diagnosis of the problem and so contrary to the Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982' - and they go on to threaten to claim for compensation for costs incurred or consequential loss.

Our terms and conditions are listed on our web site and can be found here

These clearly state that we are not responsible for consequential loss or replacement of service costs shoudl ours fail etc.

However, as these few customers seem to take an inordinate amount of effort and expense to deal with, we would like the ability to withdraw/cease service at our sole discretion (perhaps with a certain/reasonable notice period) at any time WITHOUT any liability then being incurred e.g. if we withdraw service it is not uncommon, due to the industry process, for the customer having no internet for two weeks i.e. our service has to be 'ceased' before they can order a new 'provide' which typically takes one to two weeks.

Could you please advise:

1. If our current terms and conditions cover us for serving such notice/withdrawing service and if not
2. Wording that can be added to our terms and conditions for future customers that would allow us to cease/withdraw service at our sole discretion (with no consequential liability).
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  James Mather replied 5 years ago.

are unable to draft documents for you.

can tell you that a very good personal friend of mine and the client runs a
similar IT company to yours. In fact, this question could have come from him,
although he does not deal with residential customers.

drafted his terms and conditions about five years ago and we tweak them every
time a problem occurs.

has not had a challenge on them now for the last 12 months. That is not to say
that they are perfect, but they are as good as they get. He paid for them when
he was simply a client before he became a personal friend and it was his
immense satisfaction with them which led us to become friends. He paid over
£2000 for them in the first time yet to realise on them, it saved him more than
that. Unfortunately, I am unable to let you have them. I give you that scenario
purely to illustrate that I first-hand experience of doing exactly what you
were looking to do.

you are looking to do is remove liability. It may be unreasonable under the
Unfair Contract Terms Act and are therefore I suggest that rather than try to
remove liability, you limit it. I would probably limit it to however much money
they pay under the term of the contract. The difficulty you have in terminating
the service if they are a pain in the backside is that either you are providing
the service for a period of time or you are not.

suggestion would be to make sure that your service standard dictates exactly
what they are going to get, and in what timescale.

example, with my friends, business, his initial terms, said that he would
respond within four hours of a fault being logged. The faults came in by email,
nobody read the email, nobody dealt with it and then the customer was jumping
up and down. It now says that the response time is four hours from when the
fault is logged and it is acknowledged.

think you could cover yourself with regard to ceasing the service by covering
that with two, three or four weeks notice for them to able to get another
provider in that period.

don't know whether you were talking about broadband support or IT hardware and
software support.

also cannot say whether you supplied a satisfactory route or not, or whether
you did deploy reasonable care and skill in diagnosing the problem.

can tell you that if these are private individuals, they have probably got
little chance of claiming any consequential loss because they have no
consequential loss. Even in business, this is pure economic loss and even if
they lost profit as a result of the system being down, unless you were advised
before entering into the contract that if the system fell over it would cost a
zillion pounds per hour for all the time it was down, their claim fails. There
is already case law in this respect.

you let me have your proposed wording, I am happy to comment or amend.

most important things to remember in your terms and conditions is that they
should say exactly what you are going to do and in what timescale, exactly what
equipment, you're going to do it to, and it should also say exactly what you're
not going to do and exactly what you are not going to do it to.

example, you need to exclude repairing obsolete equipment.

I could put you in touch with my

I help further?

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The thread remains open. Thanks