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Ofcom mulls Bulldog probe

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Ofcom could launch a formal investigation into Bulldog by the end of the month, according to correspondence seen by The Register.

The telecoms regulator has already appointed a case leader to examine complaints about the local loop unbundling (LLU) ISP owned by telecoms giant Cable & Wireless (C&W).

Those complaints include billing issues while others report being left stranded without phone and internet services.

A number of complaints are currently being examined by the regulator although so far no decision about a formal investigation has been made. This follows the submission of more than 130 separate customer complaints by Steve Collis, the man who has spearheaded a campaign to force Ofcom to take action.

In its reply, Ofcom thanked Collis for compiling the customer letters before saying: "Ofcom has not made any decision about possible action in relation to the complaints you have submitted. We anticipate making a decision by the end of the month, although this timetable may change once we've been through the detailed complaints."

Large chunks of the letter relate to "Bulldog's regulatory obligations and the alternative dispute resolution (ADR) process which are also available to customers who have complaints".

However, since being unable to contact Bulldog has been one of the main complaints made by customers - regardless of their individual issues with the ISP - Ofcom's rigid adherence to its own complaints process only serves to undermine confidence in the regulator.

Speaking to the The Register Collis said he'd received a further 80 emails from customers since making his original submission to Ofcom two weeks ago and urged the regulator to intervene.

"The situation is deteriorating with every passing day. Ofcom must intervene rapidly if any solution between Bulldog and their alienated customer base can be reached.

"Standardised letters from Ofcom with obvious minor amendments to suit the immediate situation do not instill confidence that this complaint is being taken as seriously as is warranted."

What's angered many people is that despite experiencing problems, Bulldog continues to aggressively market its broadband products. However, that could be about to change.

Insiders, have told The Register that the company is considering pulling a major marketing campaign due for the autumn to try and ease the pressure on the ISP.

For while it has introduced measures to try and respond to customers needs, insiders say the current backlog of orders currently stands at around 20,000 against a total customer base of some 65,000 end users.

Insiders also claim that even though two new call centres have been set up to handle enquiries, half of the 10,000 or so calls being made each day simply aren't getting through.

Bulldog declined to comment on these numbers or the news from insiders that senior execs at C&W are due to discuss future plans for Bulldog.

In a statement a spokeswoman for Bulldog said: "While we do not discuss the board agenda prior to its meetings, the board receives regular reports on all aspects of C&W business performance and that of its divisions as you would expect. Customer services remains Bulldog's top priority and focus." ®

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