Colombia’s government launched an investigation Wednesday into BlackBerry service outages that have disrupted email and instant-messaging, and said it may force the product’s maker, Research in Motion Ltd., to pay back its customers in the South American nation.
“When a customer pays for a service, they have a right to receive that service in full,” Alejandro Giraldo, who oversees consumer protection at the Colombian government’s regulatory agency for companies, said in a phone interview.
Colombia is one of many countries spread over five continents that have experienced BlackBerry outages that began Tuesday night and were blamed on an internal technical glitch. For many BlackBerry customers in Colombia, the system remained down early Wednesday afternoon.
Giraldo said the government may tell RIM to give its Colombian customers a credit on November’s bill to make up for October’s service disruptions. He said the credit should be equal to the amount of time the outage lasts.
BlackBerry customers suffered through an outage about two months ago as well that lasted several hours before full service was restored. Regulators also investigated that case, Giraldo said, but decided not to require RIM to pay back customers that time since the outage only lasted “for a very short time.”
BlackBerry products arrived to Colombia about five years ago and have become wildly popular. They are often seen as a status symbol here, as elsewhere.