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Bulldog will face court over service failures

One furious customer wants to see Bulldog's chief executive in the dock over the problems that plagued hundreds of users last year

A UK businessman who suffered weeks of disruption after agreeing to sign up for a broadband account with Bulldog is taking the company to court.

The case is being brought by Phillip Oppenheim, managing director of Cubana, a London bar and restaurant.

Oppenheim is seeking damages from Bulldog for losses his business suffered through the lack of a broadband connection. He also hopes to force its managing director into the witness box to answer charges that Bulldog kept advertising its service and signing up new customers even though it knew it was struggling to deliver new connections.

The case will be heard at West London county court on 10 March.

Oppenheim told ZDNet UK that he had agreed to move to Bulldog in July 2005. A couple of days afterwards, he heard reports that Bulldog customers were suffering problems and tried to cancel the installation. He claims that Bulldog's sales team refused to allow this.

"They said I had to speak to customer services. But even though I protested, a week later I was transferred to Bulldog," said Oppenheim.

Once he became a Bulldog customer, Oppenheim says he was unable to get an Internet connection, and it took two weeks before he was back on a BT connection, and another two weeks before he was returned to his previous ISP.

"We were effectively off broadband for a month. It took three or four times as long to do the work," said Oppenheim.

Oppenheim then attempted to win compensation from Bulldog, arguing that the company should have allowed him to cancel his contract before he was transferred to their network. After failing to get his concerns addressed, he contacted Ofcom — at which point he says Bulldog offered him £45 compensation. After attempting to get Bulldog to join in an arbitration process with CISAS, the Communications and Internet Services Adjudication Scheme, he eventually initiated court proceedings.

Oppenheim has asked the court to force Emanuele Angelidis, Bulldog's chief executive, and the salesperson who sold him the service to both give evidence in the case. He has also asked for internal documents to be brought to court. A decision on this is expected within a couple of weeks.

Oppenheim says that he hopes to prove Bulldog knew that it was suffering problems with its service when it signed him up.

A Bulldog spokeswoman said on Thursday afternoon that the only issue which is in dispute before the Court will be the level of compensation to which Mr Oppenheim is entitled.

"It is Bulldog's policy to deal with claims by negotiation where all parties are being reasonable. Mr Oppenheim's claim arose out of particular facts in July 2005. We have since fully addressed these issues. Bulldog is committed to providing a good service to all its customers. Each customer claim is looked at on its individual merits," she said.

ZDNet UK reported in early July 2005 that Bulldog customers were complaining of problems. Since then, we have received several hundred complaints from users. Oppenheim plans to use some of these Talkbacks as further proof of the extent of Bulldog's problems.