Telecom compensates 35,000 over duff broadband meter

UPDATE June 17: Telecom has announced details of a compensation package for around 35,000 customers affected by a haywire brandband data meter. 

A software malfunction meant some customers hit their monthly cap earlier than they should have - leading to extra charges or throttling, depending on their plan.

Affected customers should receive a letter from Telecom by August 12.

The company says the problem is now fixed.

The key details of the compo package are.:

If your monthly data cap allowance was exceeded:

  • If your speeds were slowed to dial-up, the compensation will be applied for the number of days that you were slowed down at the equivalent monthly broadband plan charges.
  • If you were charged for additional data, then the compensation applied will equal the charges billed to your account during the period of time your meter was incorrectly calculating your usage.
  • Please note that due to the progressive nature of this fault some customers may have only experienced this issue for a short period of time.
  • Due to the nature of this fault you may have only been affected for some of the time that this fault occurred.

If you changed your broadband plan:

  • If you increased your broadband plan size and cost during the period of time your meter was incorrectly calculating your usage, then the compensation will be equal to the difference in these monthly broadband rental costs.
  • If you closed your broadband plan
  • If you closed your broadband plan during the period of time your meter was incorrectly calculating your usage and were charged an early termination fee for doing so, then a credit equal to that fee will automatically be applied to your account.

See Telecom's full compo statement here.

Telecom told NBR around 8% of is broadband customers were affected by the fault, up from the June estimate of 7%.

Some were affected from November 2010 to June 2011; others for a briefer time.

June 17: In a notice quietly placed on a corner of its website, Telecom has copped to a software error with its monthly broadband usage meter.

The error lead to some customers reaching their data cap earlier in the month than they should have.

Depending on their plan, a customer is either charged extra fees when they exceed their monthly data allowance, or their broadband connection is throttled back to snail-like dial-up speed.

The message says the problem began in November last year, and is now fixed.

It affected some customers on some parts of the company's fixed-line broadband network.

The issue came to light earlier this month when members of the Game Planet Forum noticed apparent discrepancies on their broadband bills. One was told the issue was being investigated.

The Herald's Chris Barton presented Telecom with detailed evidence of two customers' apparent overcharging on June 9. At that time, Telecom said it had been unable to identify the source of the problem, despite having investigated it since February.

Now, it looks like it has.

Telecom did not immediately respond to NBR's queries about the cost of compensation, or the exact form the compensation would take - for those overcharged, and for those whose speed was prematurely throttled.

A spokeswoman did say that 7% of its customers were affected - meaning at least 20,000 accounts were hit by the problem.

[UPDATE, Telecom has now added that a prematurely throttled customer, "would receive a credit for the period of time they were slowed based on their monthly plan costs."]

In a statement, Telecom Retail chief executive Alan Gourdie apologised and said "affected customers will be identified by us and communicated with individually as soon as possible."

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