Landline and broadband customers who suffer slow repairs or missed appointments will receive automatic compensation from their provider, without having to ask, under new plans put forward today.
Telecoms regulator Ofcom has proposed that providers pay an automatic compensation – either cash or a credit on a bill – to prevent consumers from having to go through a potentially “lengthy and difficult” claims process.
The move comes after research by the regulator found that each year 5.7 million consumers experience a loss of their landline or broadband service, engineers fail to turn up for around 250,000 appointments; and around one in eight landline and broadband installations are delayed (12%), affecting more than 1.3 million people.
However, under the proposed rules, consumers will get:
- £6 for each calendar day of delay where a provider has agreed to start a new service on a certain date. This compensation includes payment for the initial missed start date.
- £10 for each calendar day that the service isn’t repaired where it has stopped working and hasn’t been fixed in full after two working days.
- £30 where an engineer doesn’t turn up for a scheduled appointment or it’s cancelled with less than 24 hours’ notice.
Ofcom estimates that the plans would mean up to 2.6 million additional landline and broadband customers could receive up to £185 million in new compensation payments each year.
The plans will now be consulted on with a decision expected by the end of the year.
‘This should encourage broadband providers to up their game’
Lindsey Fussell, Ofcom’s consumer group director, says: “When a customer’s landline or broadband goes wrong, that is frustrating enough without having to fight tooth and nail to get fair compensation from the provider.
“So we’re proposing new rules to force providers to pay money back to customers automatically, whenever repairs or installations don’t happen on time, or when people wait in for an engineer who doesn’t turn up. This would mean customers are properly compensated, while providers will want to work harder to improve their service.”
Peter Earl, head of broadband at comparison website Compare The Market, says: “This is welcome news from the regulator. At present, the onus lies entirely with the customer to get compensation for inadequate service. This isn’t fair and allows some broadband providers to get away with occasional shoddy internet provision, suffering little or no consequence to their business. This system, if implemented, should keep broadband providers honest and hopefully encourage them to up their game across the board.”