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Irate Bulldog user settles court case

Bulldog has agreed a settlement with businessman Phillip Oppenheim after he called for full disclosure of the facts behind last year's service failures
Written by Tom Espiner, Contributor

A UK businessman who suffered weeks of disruption after signing up to Bulldog has agreed to settle out of court for a substantial sum.

Phillip Oppenheim, managing director of Cubana bar and restaurant, launched legal action against Bulldog after his business suffered a disrupted broadband service last year.

The case was due to be heard at a London court last Friday, but it is understood that Oppenheim has agreed to accept an undisclosed sum from Bulldog in compensation.

Oppenheim has demanded full disclosure of documents from Bulldog, which would have made any customer service issues experienced by the company a matter of public record. He also demanded that Emanuele Angelidis, Bulldog's chief executive, answer charges in the witness box that Bulldog kept advertising its service and signing up new customers even though it knew it was struggling to deliver new connections.

Oppenheim 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 claimed before the case 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," Oppenheim told ZDNet UK last month.

Once he became a Bulldog customer, Oppenheim said 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.

Bulldog did not initially respond to Oppenheim's request for compensation. When he sought intervention from Ofcom, Oppenheim was offered £45 compensation by Bulldog. 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.

Bulldog was expected to rely heavily on its damage-limitation waiver, which attempts to limit its liability for loss of business or profits caused by broadband service disruption.

If the court had ruled that the damage-limitation waiver did not apply, because Oppenheim had not been allowed to cancel his subscription in July, then Bulldog could have been liable for damages.

Bulldog confirmed on Friday that the case had come to an end.

"Regarding the case with Mr Oppenheim, the case was dismissed and therefore litigation has come to an end," a Bulldog spokeswoman told ZDNet UK.

Bulldog suffered severe customer service problems last year, with many customers complaining of broadband service and billing problems.

"They can get away with things like this because most small customers, like me, can't afford a big enough law firm to get them to take interest," said one ZDNet UK reader.

If the case had been heard and Oppenheim had won, it would have been a test case and could have encouraged other dissatisfied Bulldog customers to sue.

ZDNet UK's Graeme Wearden contributed to this article.

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