So it seems Bulldog, the much-maligned Cable & Wireless owned ISP, has been let off the hook by Ofcom ... for now at least.
Prompted by a storm of complaints over inaccurate billing and a virtual absence of any semblance of customer service, the telecoms regulator launched an investigation into Bulldog earlier this year.
It was a shame to see Bulldog sink so low. Back in UK’s darkest broadband days, Bulldog helped keep the local loop unbundling (LLU) flag flying in the face of BT’s attempt to keep its grip on a broadband monopoly.
Let’s be clear, Bulldog did, and still does, offer some great products. The ISP was one of the first to offer 8 meg broadband in the UK and, on the face of it, its services offered great value. Unfortunately, Bulldog’s priorities were clearly profit first, with customer service right at the back of the queue along with painting new white lines for the company car park.
Trying to speak to the customer service department was akin to spending hours working your way through a maze only to find someone had bricked up the exit. “I’m sorry, all our lines are busy. Please try again later”. Aaaaggh. Resorting to the sales line in desperation was also a dead end - in India to be precise.
So have things really got any better or has Bulldog just managed to pull the wool over Ofcom’s eyes?
In a statement explaining its findings the telecoms watchdog said: "Ofcom is satisfied that, as a result of these measures, customers affected by Bulldog's earlier service issues will receive, in aggregate, a material level of credit,"
Back in July Bulldog announced it had opened new call centres and the ISP is also working with the my-bulldog-hell website to help resolve customer service problems. It has also promised customers compensation.
Clearly improvements have been made but if a colleague's experience today are anything to go by, further improvements are still needed. Out of 8 calls, only two managed to make it through to a human being. Unfortunately, one of these ended prematurely when Bulldog’s systems went down. The billing problem remains outstanding.
Ofcom ended its report with a word of advice: “The decision to close the present investigation does not prevent Ofcom from re-opening the investigation in the future”. Let’s hope Bulldog heeds this warning for its customers’ sake.