Latest News
The latest updates on the unmetered local calls situation are here
Blair sues Telewest [27 July 1998]

Not quite what it seems ...

Blair Jones is a former Telewest subscriber who, when they went back on a promise, sued them - and won by default. In his own words:

You may be pleased to hear that I have just won a 'free calls' battle with the cable phone company Telewest.

In March 1997 I took up a 12 month 'free calls' offer with Telewest. This gave me free off-peak access to my local Internet Provider, Entanet). Just afterwards Telewest excluded Internet access from its offers and, in the summer of 1997, it decided to commence charging existing customers for calls to Internet Service Providers.

When they started charging for my calls, I pointed out that I was entitled to free calls to the Internet for 12 months. After a long battle, I issued a Small Claims Court summons last month. Telewest's solicitors initially said they were to defend the action, but last week they sent me a cheque for £408.

I fail to understand the company's logic. It would have cost them less to have honoured my contract in the first place, and they wouldn't have lost a customer. They will have to come up with an amazing offer in the future if they are ever to tempt me back again.

Of course this case is not a precedent, as the situation is quite different from ours. But it does show what one person - never mind almost six hundred - who is organised can do. Telewest were arguing in local newspaper reports that Blair is a 'unique case' and, in one sense, they are correct; he was the only person, as far as is known, who bothered to do something. Quite possibly thousands could have sued, but didn't.

Unfortunately nobody, at the time, queried the removal by Telewest of unmetered data calls (justified by the usual spurious reason of 'network congestion'); it would be very interesting, in retrospect, to find out its legality ... or illegality.

Earlier newsLater news
Text by Alastair Scott

Cable and Wireless Watch main page