Footwear distributor Overland has swapped network suppliers after a string of problems with telecommunications giant Cable & Wireless (C&W).
The £700,000 contract has now been awarded to network specialist Vanco after C&W's performance began to have a direct effect on Overland's business. Overland distributes shoes for companies including Caterpillar and Paul Smith.
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Overland IT manager Cormac McCarthy said, "The situation was a nightmare. It effectively refused to recognise we had an account with it. When the network went down the supplier would ask us for circuit numbers [packet IDs for routing], which had never been supplied to us, and then say it could do nothing for us when we said we did not have them. It took us hours to get the network back, which meant lost sales.
"We had senior [C&W] staff and board members visit us, promising to put project teams on the case, but all they did was generate paperwork. I gained a few grey hairs," added McCarthy.
The company's contract with Vanco has a strict service level agreement (SLA) with financial penalties built-in if service levels are not met. The SLA now specifies a minimum uptime of 98.5%. Should levels fall below this, the supplier forfeits all payment for that month. Network installations are guaranteed with a penalty of £500 per location, per week, in the event of delays.
Besides improving uptime, the new contract includes increased bandwidth and bolstered fault tolerance, with an ISDN back-up line provided, as well as dual routers to allow immediate switchover in case of faults.
A C&W spokesperson said, "Customer service is very important to us. We are concerned at the apparent problems Overland has had and are looking into the matter."