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XLN Telecom introduces Business Assurance to avoid repair bill shock
Tuesday 10 December 2013 13:33:35 by Andrew Ferguson

We spotted via Adrian Kennard's blog yesterday an interesting approach to the problem of Special Faults Investigation charges that are levied by Openreach. It would appear that XLN Telecom is tired of the moans from customers over what many feel are unreasonable charges from Openreach when responding to a report of a fault on a broadband or telephone line service.

Openreach exists to offer an equal service to all operators that buy its products, and this means regulated pricing and this has lead to an increasingly wider ranging price list, and it has to be observed that while some charges have decreased over time, fault charges appear to be a more regular occurrence and cost more than they used to.

In theory if the fault is deemed to be in the Openreach network the fault and its repair is covered by the standard line rental (irrespective of whether its a Wholesale Line Rental or LLU service), but an increasingly common thing is for faults to be billed as down to customer wiring (extensions wiring) or customers hardware (filters/telephone/broadband modem) and a charge raised. These charges are not small and figures of £180 are leading to some people not pursuing faults as people accept a slight intermittent fault rather than risk a charge of this size.

The XLN Telecom policy of adding a Business Assurance charge to the bills of its customers seem draconian, but as its only £1.95 per month, and their line rental is generally lower than BT Retail charge for a business line customers are not likely to revolt. Letters have gone out to XLN customers explaining the situation, so hopefully all the news coverage will not be a shock.

This raises an interesting debate, as to how should Openreach operate and the whole moral debate of what are reasonable profit levels for large companies. The current billing situation seems to be to operate within the rules, but when there is the opportunity to charge more and as a commercial entity this is what almost any large business would do in the face of increasing pressure to reduce prices in certain parts of their business. There will be some clear cases where a fault was clearly down to something beyond the Openreach network and in the mists of time engineers might have resolved this in return for tea and Hob Nobs but with the resource management and level of accounting now involved it is difficult for engineers to step outside the box.

The length of time it can take to get faults fixed or new services installed suggest that Openreach is under resourced, but then more staff increases costs and either means increased prices for things like rental and the fibre based services or ancilliary charges take the brunt.

We all want our telephone and broadband as cheap as possible, but in the regulated rush to a highly competitive retail market has the constant push for lower retail prices backed us into the current corner where everything is cheap until something goes wrong. Some will suggest a 'nationalised' operator, but those who remember the days of the GPO and waiting lists may be less sure that is a good route.


Posted by csimon over 3 years ago
Technology, industry, services etc evolve extremely rapidly. Looking back to the nationalised GPO era (between 1970 and 1984 according to Wikipedia) seems like centuries ago & since then they've had 30 years to get it together, which makes it even more surprising that there are still so many complaints and doubts about how they are operating, levels of profit, overcharging, service levels (2 months to replace my frazzled master socket), under-resourcing etc.
Posted by zhango over 3 years ago
I'm not pleased with BT's decision to introduce charges for Caller Display & 1571 next month but I've had 2 line faults this year and they were both fixed quickly. 1st reported Sat and fixed following Thurs morning; 2nd reported Fri and fixed Mon afternoon. Both times the BT engineer phoned to say phone was working and both faults were underground line faults. Perhaps I was lucky?
Posted by chrysalis over 3 years ago
yeah adrian is one of the isp's boss's who has his head screwed on right. The point he is making is that for £180 BT think they offering value for money by doign a quick quality pair test, for £180 I expect every joint checked, a pair swap, a line card swap, a dropwire swap, a nte5 swap, and the junction box been checked. Only then could BT reasonably say they have not found a fault. Even if this took 3 hours its still £60 per hour, not cheap. Its baffling ofcom accept this.
Posted by YaZiN over 3 years ago
Article aside, XLN Telecom should be avoided if you don't want extremely poor customer service, tacked on charges (such as the Assurance charge which has been in existence for several years before today) and massive cancellation fees even after giving them full written (and massive amounts of time) notice.
Posted by tommy45 over 3 years ago
@ YaZIN: You forgot to add the standard 2yr min term,They resell TT LLU not sure if they require the BTW line to be LLU'd as well but it wouldn't supprise me if they do,I wouldn't recomend them to my worst enemy

As For BT retail and faults The last fault i had took them over 10days before an engineer was tasked with the job,I have a PSTN fault now sheduled eta is Friday,
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