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O2's Companion halted

New billing system hates BlackBerrys

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Some O2 customers being migrated to their new all-singing-all-dancing billing platform, known as Companion, have discovered their bolt-on data packages have been cancelled and are being threatened with no connectivity until the next billing cycle in March.

One Reg reader, on discovering that his data bolt-on had vanished was told he'd have to wait until the next billing cycle for reactivation: leaving him in disconnected limbo for the next 28 days with no recourse other than cancelling the connection and porting the number to a new contract (which would not be on Companion). Understandably apoplectic about why he should take responsibility for sorting out O2's mistakes, he contacted us instead.

O2 tells us they have now re-enabled those missing bolt-ons and contacted the "small number" of Blackberry users affected, though as of publication our reader remains disconnected - he's been promised they'll work on it over the next 24 hours, though he was also told that yesterday.

Companion is an advanced billing system that O2 has been working on for the last 3 years at least, to replace the sticky-tape-and-glue system that's been in place up until now. Upgrading a whole billing system is no small matter and occasional glitches are unsurprising, but it's how those glitches are dealt with that matters. Telling Blackberry users they'll have to do without data for the next 28 days, unless they complain to the press, is hardly a sensible way to do business.

The exact cause of the problem remains a mystery, but O2 has halted the migration of customers to Companion until it can establish what's going on - so at least the situation shouldn't get any worse. ®

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