What are network faults

These are your rights in the event of network disruptions

Berlin. After a malfunction at Telekom, hundreds of thousands of customers have lost their internet and telephone connections since Sunday. Above all, if the malfunction is not rectified quickly, consumers ask themselves about alternatives or compensation from the provider. We clarify with the consumer advice centers what rights internet customers have in the event of a malfunction.

Do I get my money back if the problem persists?

If a disruption lasts longer, customers can ask the provider to reimburse part of the monthly price because the contractually stipulated service was not provided. This can be the case, for example, if the customer incurs additional costs as a result of the failure. However, the economic damage must be proven and clearly differ from the other costs.

For example, if you need the internet connection urgently and you switch to an internet café or other device, you can claim the costs from the provider. "The user should definitely collect possible bills for Internet cafés or surf sticks and present them to the Internet service provider," says Dorothea Kesberger from the Berlin consumer center. The customer should then ask that the expenses be deducted from the current or an upcoming monthly bill.

In theory, the same applies to telephone network disruptions. In the event of a failure in the fixed network, mobile phone calls could incur higher costs. When asked, the consumer center in Hamburg pointed out that the user had to prove and justify the additional costs. In case of doubt, he would even have to be able to prove that a certain cell phone call was made because the fixed network was down. Customers of mobile phone flat rates usually have no additional costs if they have to switch from the fixed network to the mobile phone.

Does the provider have to provide me with replacement devices such as a surf stick?

The customer has no right to such devices. However, the provider is obliged to rectify the disruption. Although this can also be done using replacement or alternative devices, this variant is unlikely to be practical with surf sticks.

By the time the service provider sends such a device via the central customer service and the customer has put it into operation, the malfunction should be resolved in most cases. It is faster if the customer takes action himself and visits a store owned by the provider or the competition.

Can I also claim damages?

Customers are only entitled to compensation if the network provider is to blame for the failure. To do this, he would have to have acted willfully or with gross negligence. But that is precisely what is firstly difficult to prove and secondly is seldom the case.

What do I have to do to get my rights?

The consumer advocates recommend documenting the connection failures. "Customers should write down exactly when a fault occurs and how long it lasts," says Dorothea Kesberger, press spokeswoman for the Berlin consumer center. Users should provide this data to the provider and ask for the problem to be rectified.

Consumer advocates believe that setting a deadline for resolving the problem is impractical for most network disruptions. Large-scale disruptions at Internet and telephone providers rarely last longer than a day. Most of the deadlines are therefore usually behind the problem-solving date.

The situation is different if the fault is foreseeable to last longer - for example because a certain line has been damaged. Then the customer should set a deadline.