DISPUTE BETWEEN SHELLEY CLARKE AND COLUMBUS COMMUNICATIONS SVG LTD (FLOW)
On June 9, 2020, Mr. Shelley Clarke filed a Complaint Form 1 against Columbus Communications. Mr. Clarke stated that Columbus Communications has done nothing to address his complaint in a manner that is satisfactory to him and as a result filed a Complaint Form 2, received to the Commission’s office on July 13, 2020.
In Mr. Clarke’s complaint he outlined that he is the owner of a camera security system with 4 cameras and 8-port Network Video Recorder, NVR. He has had this system since 2015. Up to about one or two years ago he had no problems with its functioning. To view the cameras remotely, the security company used the method of Port Forwarding through the Router to allow access to view the cameras through the NVR from any location. The system was purchased from Security Camera Warehouse (SCW) in the United States.
Mr. Clarke stated that sometime during the past two years, he had some problems with the system, a faulty cable, a damaged connector, and he also lost his online viewing capability. As all these appeared to happen at the same time, he did not contact the security company, then, to try to rectify them, since he could still record and check back any recording. However, after having now corrected most of those problems, during April 2020, repairing the cable and fixing the damaged connection, he then contacted the company SCW to reorganize his online viewing.
Since these problems occurred to date, he stated that Flow has changed routers at his residence, and it appears the system has also changed in that a cable was run for internet as against the use of the one telephone line for telephone and internet. Mr. Clarke stated that Flow claimed this would result in accessing the much faster internet service available. He further stated that no other advantages or disadvantages were outlined to him at the time. He gradually ran into problems of not being able to reconnect the security system online using Port Forwarding in the router.
A technician from SCW on two different occasions spent hours trying to do Port Forwarding and failed. Mr. Clarke stated that he and the technician realised that one problem was the router’s inability to recognise the devices connected by ethernet cable, while it appeared only to recognise devices connected by Wi-Fi.
After Mr. Clarke communicated with Flow by their online Chat, the issue was corrected. Flow agreed to send someone to replace the router, which was done on Monday 25th May, 2020. During discussions, Mr. Clarke stated that he was given the assurance by one official and also two technicians from Flow, that Flow was in no way responsible for the failure to reconnect to his cameras and they were not blocking any ports in the router.
After changing the router and it now recognised all devices, connected by both Wi-Fi and cable, a technician from SCW again spent an afternoon trying to do Port Forwarding and again failed. The technician informed Mr. Clarke that there was some other problem and asked if it was possible to speak with a technician from Flow. Mr. Clarke indicated that this would not be possible.
Mr. Clarke indicated he again used the Chat online, asking to get to a technician or the manager and was told there was no such mechanism to do that. There was also a problem with identifying his internet account and he was informed he must go into the store.
Mr. Clarke indicated that he went into the Kingstown store on Saturday 30th May 2020 and eventually found out that with the changeover to a new system (ADSL to HFC), faster speeds were offered, however, the new system did not allow Port Forwarding which he claimed was the underlying issue creating the problem he was facing.
2. Decision of the Tribunal
The Commission asked Mr. Clarke if he would be willing to migrate back to the previous ADSL network if it is possible to which Mr. Clarke indicated that he would have to think about it as this would mean a slower speed and eventually lead back to the same issue when Flow has made that network obsolete. The Commission then asked Mr. Hull if Flow would be willing to give a discount on the static IP Address to Mr. Clarke for a period of time or waive the fee entirely to which Mr. Hull responded he would need a few days to reply. The Tribunal was adjourned, pending a response from Flow. By letter dated 3rd December 2020 Flow replied indicating that any concessions made to the customer in respect of charges applicable to the IP Address services should reside with them. The Commission is not in agreement with this.
It is apparent that Mr. Clarke did not realize that in migrating his internet service to Flow’s HFC’s network, that he would no longer be able to view his security system online. Flow was unable to confirm to the Commission’s satisfaction or at all, that it provided/published the necessary and relevant information to its customers, as to the potential consequences or possible repercussions to upgrade to Flow’s new network. In this instance, Mr. Clarke’s migration, resulted in his subsequent inability to view his security system online. Additionally, in Mr. Clarke’s case, to rectify this problem, he would be required to purchase a static IP address and incur an additional monthly cost, in order to access his security system online, which he had enjoyed prior to the migration.
The Commission holds that within one (1) week hereof, Flow is to provide Mr. Clarke with a static IP Address at a cost of EC$5.00 per month for the next two (2) years. Thereafter, Mr. Clarke has the option to pay full price for a static IP Address or purchase new equipment, if he so chooses.