RIM Faces Lawsuits Over BlackBerry Services Outage

By Nicholas Kolakowski  |  Posted 2011-10-27 Email Print this article Print

RIM is beginning to face lawsuits over the BlackBerry services outage that hit users across the globe earlier in October.

Research In Motion dealt with its global outage that left some BlackBerry users without services for days. Now, it seems, the company will need to deal with the inevitable lawsuits from that incident.

In a lawsuit filed Oct. 25 with the Quebec Superior Court (No: 500-06-000583-118), a petitioner is looking to institute a class action on behalf of BlackBerry users affected by the outage. 

"Petitioner contends that, despite the fact that the Respondent is responsible for BlackBerry users' loss of email, BBM, and/or Internet service for approximately one (1) and a half (1/2) days, it has not compensated consumers on a prorated basis for such loss of use," read the beginning of the lawsuit, "while knowing full well that BlackBerry users pay a monthly fee to their wireless service providers for data services and that they were deprived thereof."

The lawsuit demands compensation for "economic damages." Additionally, it claims that RIM's offer of free apps "does not properly compensate BlackBerry users who have paid for services that they were unable to use."

According to Reuters, a man in California has also filed a class-action lawsuit on behalf of all BlackBerry owners in the United States, arguing that the loss of BlackBerry service translated directly into lost revenue. That case is Eric Mitchell, individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated, vs. Research In Motion LTD, U.S. District Court, Central District of California, case no. CV11-8872.

As RIM wrestled to contain the original outage, RIM co-CEOs Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie insisted on an Oct. 13 conference call with reporters that the company would work to regain customers' trust following the incident.

On Oct. 17, RIM began offering free BlackBerry apps to ease customer pain. The initial apps included games such as Sims 3 and N.O.V.A., along with Photo Editor Ultimate, iSpeech Translator Pro and Shazam Encore. The company promised more to come; in addition, enterprise customers were apparently eligible to receive a month of free technical support, and "current customers" a complimentary "one-month extension of their existing Technical Support contract."

The outages smacked RIM at a turbulent moment, with the company undergoing what its executives refer to as a "transition period." In the face of declining revenues, RIM is betting big on an upcoming generation of QNX-based "superphones" that will apparently offer hardware and software parity with the company's higher-end competitors. Until those devices hit store shelves, RIM hopes that a new line of BlackBerry smartphones running BlackBerry 7 OS will help it retain market share, even as Google Android and Apple's iOS poise an increasing challenge to RIM's traditional user base. 

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Nicholas Kolakowski is a staff editor at eWEEK, covering Microsoft and other companies in the enterprise space, as well as evolving technology such as tablet PCs. His work has appeared in The Washington Post, Playboy, WebMD, AARP the Magazine, AutoWeek, Washington City Paper, Trader Monthly, and Private Air. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

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