RIM could still face lawsuits over BlackBerry outages

RIM could still face lawsuits over BlackBerry outages

Summary: Research in Motion may have 'compensated' its customers for a wave of outages, but its users could still bring lawsuits against the Canadian company.

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TOPICS: Outage, Legal, BlackBerry
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Research in Motion, the troubled BlackBerry maker, could be sued for taking the best part of a week to fix an outage, which took its email, browsing and data services offline across the world.

Last week's outage began in a European datacenter which spread across four continents over the course of four days, crippling all but every BlackBerry in its regional path.

Law firms in the U.S. and Canada are reported to be exploring possible consumer lawsuits against the BlackBerry maker, in a bit to recoup business and personal losses by end-users across North America. Citing reasons of "breach of contract" or "consumer fraud" claims, Reuters reports that customers' common claims could be banded together into a single suit.

(Image via Flickr)

Though it is beyond unlikely that Research in Motion could face criminal action, civil actions still may be a long shot for frustrated users, who turned to social networks like Facebook and Twitter to air their grievances.

Customers will not only have to show that they suffered damages beyond the lack of service, they will also have to prove that they were misled over the reliability of the BlackBerry service before they signed up for phone contracts. This, unlike Microsoft's 99.9 percent cloud uptime claim, which continues to be disputed, will be difficult to confirm.

Companies with a dependency, like any technology company with a reliability factor, from cloud services to supply chains, will have clauses to avoid such suits in case things go wrong. It was only a few weeks ago when the PlayStation Network terms and conditions changed to prevent a mass class-action suit over the widespread hacks earlier this year.

Along with this, a Supreme Court decision in April this year, denounced as a "crushing blow to consumers", upheld the rights of companies to enforce small-print language, forcing consumers and end-users to waive their rights to file lawsuits.

Whether Research in Motion has a clause to prevent class-action suits, it remains to be seen.

Arguably, no matter which way one looks at it, Research in Motion did compensate its customers -- though it appeared somewhat profit-focused to some. Charles Arthur with the Guardian said in a tweet that the compensation is: "to try and lock people into its platform more tightly with $100 of premium apps for free".

Whether or not any lawsuits are successful, the nail in the company's coffin will be in form of the customer distrust. If consumers bring suits against the Ontario smartphone giant, it proves that the company's customer relations have crumbled. Beyond its falling shares, it has a customer trust issue to battle with, for which it may never recover from.

Topics: Outage, Legal, BlackBerry

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13 comments
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  • RE: RIM could still face lawsuits over BlackBerry outages

    Yes, I'd be surprised if no lawsuits were filed. Whatever happens will probably affect how all those end-user agreements/contracts that specify "%99". We will most likely see many a change in the way hosted services phrase things.
    I do contest though that as far as outages go, I think customers cannot be placated when it comes to services they rely on a second to second basis.
    PS: too many RIM/Blackberry related articles have "nail" and "coffin" in them. May I suggest a thesaurus?
    SinfoCOMAR
  • NEWS FLASH !!!!

    US & Canadian companies can be sued at any time for any reason. Details at 11:00pm.
    Regulator1956
    • Exactly

      @Regulator1956

      Heck, you don't even have to be a company to be sued.
      William Farrell
  • RE: RIM could still face lawsuits over BlackBerry outages

    While I'm not one to defend RIM at the same time I feel that a lawsuit of this nature is pure steaming crap... [b]Customers will not only have to show that they suffered damages beyond the lack of service, they will also have to prove that they were misled over the reliability of the BlackBerry service before they signed up for phone contracts.[/b] I do not recall being given any sort of guarantee of 100% or any % uptime as far as Blackberry service goes when I bought my Curve. There is NO infallible technology. NO technology can guarantee 100% uptime.
    athynz
    • RE: RIM could still face lawsuits over BlackBerry outages

      @Pete "athynz" Athens In many countries you'll find that the law makes the service provider %100 responsable for the service they provide no matter what the contract specifies country law supercedes any contract). As a thing of law, when a company provides a service and fails to do so properly, it is it's responsability to compensate the customer in equal proportion to the damage caused. The burden of proof of such damage does lie with the customer who however can at least get his money back for the days without said service. How many U$D would that be times 70 millon users? ...
      SinfoCOMAR
    • RE: RIM could still face lawsuits over BlackBerry outages

      @Pete "athynz" Athens

      What carrier are you on Pete? You need to get a newer Blackberry, I likely have at least a 9650 kicking around I can ship you!

      For once we agree, similar to cable / electric consumers will get pro-rated refunds for lack of service but it will be difficult to prove a loss of income, sales due to an outage as there are other means to conduct communication.

      I'm sure a few lawyers will do their best to try though
      MobileAdmin
  • RE: RIM could still face lawsuits over BlackBerry outages

    This is just stupid. They could very easily state that within the past 10 years this is the only outage that has happened. Let's see now. 4 or 5 days out of 3650? At worst that amounts to 99.9986301% uptime. I'd think that would be damned tough to call not reliable.<br>Nobody in their right mind would implement an SLA calling for that percentage of uptime.

    Could they have handled it better? OF course! That shouldn't be cause for litigation!
    harrim47
  • Errr.....

    Funny how right away when something craps out, law firms [not people who are represented by them] can't wait to take companies to court. Why? The law firms will get a big chunk of money.
    Gisabun
  • RE: RIM could still face lawsuits over BlackBerry outages

    As a uk corporate BB bold user I lost count of the emails I got ON my BB telling me my email service was being fixed. As for the compensation of "apps" I can't install them due to corporate security policies so it all seems a bit of a storm in a teacup to me. I assume its just business as usual for the US litigation dependent lawyers who , along with the big bankers will continue to "fiddle" as Rome burns around them.
    ariapro22
  • RE: RIM could still face lawsuits over BlackBerry outages

    Why is it Americans like to sue everybody at the drop of a hat?
    rose1964
  • RE: RIM could still face lawsuits over BlackBerry outages

    @ rose1964. Because the "ambulance chaser" attorneys have found it to be very lucrative to turn us(US) into a litigious society who can often get "something for nothing".
    blueknight@...
  • RE: RIM could still face lawsuits over BlackBerry outages

    "Ambulance chaser" used to be a pejorative for an unethical lawyer. It seems to have evolved into standard practice. Along with kick a man when he is down.
    Phredom
  • Strange culture in RIM, and self-destroy political environment.

    In RIM if you figure out problem and introduce efficient approach, both manager and his buddy group member will proof their wrong approach works.
    just like someone point out driving a car is right way, pushing a car is wrong way, then both manager and his buddy group member will hate you, and proof that 3 person can also move the car by pushing it.

    This is one side of the strange culture, another side of RIM strange culture is like: because the manager and CEO are buddies as well, so people will say: yes, it is moving, pushing a car is really right way.

    RIM is not system oriented company, just self-destruct small company buddy culture, with a fat body. it is very strange company culture and strange company political environment, RIM???s management may be a typical instance in MBA course.

    CEO may want the management better, but can't reach the target.
    maxmz