The more you expect from a technology, the more you will be disappointed when it doesn’t perform up to your expectations. With telephony going to IP and cloud based platforms, you may need to know what recourse you have when your Network Service Provider does not meet your expectations. The issues may range from something as simple as call latency and call jitter to continual service outages and inaccurate billing.  Since you are most likely under contract, you may feel helpless when you call Customer Service and they say, “This is the first time I’ve heard of this.”

There are avenues of recourse that you, the consumer, have available for conflict resolution. They are:

  1. The Better Business Bureau
  2. Your state’s Commerce Commission. It may be known as the Public Utility Commission, your state’s Department of Commerce or State Commerce Commission to name a few.
  3. The Attorney General’s office of your state

Let’s discuss them in logical order.

The Better Business Bureau (www.bbb.org) would be your first avenue of redress. The Better Business Bureau gathers and archives information it receives about businesses, both locally and nationally. Its stated purpose is to collect information on business reliability and act as mutually trusted intermediaries between consumers and businesses to resolve disputes.

When you file a complaint with the BBB, they will be forward it to the business within two business days. The business will be asked to respond within 14 days, and if a response is not received, a second request will be made. You will be notified of the business’s response when they receive it (or notified that they received no response). Complaints are usually closed within 30 business days. Neither your company nor the Network Service Provider need to be members of the BBB to use this service.

Your state Commerce Commission is your next and best avenue of resolution. Your Commerce Commission or its equivalent is a quasi-judicial tribunal which regulates public utility services in your state. Their mission is to pursue an appropriate balance between the interest of consumers and existing and emerging service providers to ensure the provision of adequate, efficient, reliable, safe and least-cost public utility services. The most visible part of this mission is the setting of rates and charges for service by public utilities. This includes private companies serving the public, but not municipal utilities.

Typically before a utility, or in our example, a Network Service Provider, can change anything of which it is regulated; rates, territory, etc; they must address all complaints submitted to the Commerce Commission. These complaints need not be settled but they must be addressed. The paperwork the Network Carrier needs to submit is quite extensive. This can be your most effective leverage tool in resolving your problem.

If you are unsuccessful with the Commerce Commission, your last avenue of recourse is the Consumer Protection Division of your state Attorney General. Typically complaint forms are available on their website. The information you submit will be used by attorneys, investigators, and other members of the Attorney General’s staff. Although their attorneys cannot represent an individual in a lawsuit, their mediation program can assist in resolving disputes or complaints filed by individual consumers. Do not underestimate their effectiveness. They carry a big stick.

Conflict resolution is neither simple nor quick but having a game plan may be your avenue to a successful outcome.

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