Blackberry Outage: RIM Should Compensate Users

For the second time in a week, a Blackberry outage has left North American users without access to e-mail on their handsets.

Bloomberg reports that two recent versions of Blackberry's Messenger program could be to blame, and that Research in Motion, which makes the handsets, has released software to fix the glitches. Customers are encouraged to download the latest version if their last upgrade was after December 14.

Thanks for the tip, RIM, but two outages in five days deserves more than a patch and a half-hearted "we apologize for any inconvenience." Show your customers the money.

It doesn't have to be much. Maybe a $5 or $10 credit, arranged with wireless carriers. Or maybe a $20 voucher off the purchase of a new Blackberry phone. Something to show that customer satisfaction is a priority and that RIM doesn't intend to make a habit of e-mail outages.

RIM doesn't have a flawless track record for responding to outages. In 2007, it took the company a few days to explain a day-long outage, causing outrage among users. Crisis management consultants said RIM should've communicated early and often, even if the company didn't fully grasp on what went wrong.

RIM appears to have learned that lesson, keeping the press updated during last week's outage, even when the exact cause wasn't known. But with two outages in short succession, it could be time to go the extra mile with compensation.

Some customers appear to have already worked the system. On the Crackberry forums, user "climbguy" said he received a $25 credit from AT&T after the December 17 outage by complaining and following up. Another user said he got a $5 service credit from his carrier by complaining about today's outage.

But if RIM really wants to make good on its recent failings, it'll spare customers the hoop-jumping and cough up the dough.

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