Compensation will soon be paid automatically to people suffering problems with their broadband or landline, following a review from the regulator Ofcom.
The plans mean that customers will see compensation credited to their account when repairs are slow, appointments are missed or installations delayed, without having to submit a claim.
Ofcom says that following its intervention, BT, Sky, Talk Talk, Virgin Media and Zen Internet – which collectively account for 90% of the market – have all agreed to the initiative, along with EE and Plusnet.
Details of how the scheme will work are outlined below:
- Problem: delayed repair following loss of service. Compensation will be paid at a rate of £8 per calendar day that the service is not repaired, after two full working days.
- Problem: missed appointments. If an engineer misses an appointment or does not give 24 hours’ notice of cancellation, £25 compensation will be paid.
- Problem: a delay to the start of a new service. If a provider fails to provide the service by the promised day, the customer will be paid £5 a day, including the missed start date.
Currently only one in seven customers experiencing these problems will be paid any compensation and it is typically paid at a lower rate.
However, while customers will welcome the introduction of this new scheme. Ofcom has warned it will take as many as 15 months to implement, which would give a launch date of February 2019.
In the meantime, customers encountering problems with their landline or broadband should visit the Ofcom website for advice on rectifying the problem.
Lindsey Fussell, Ofcom’s consumer group director, says: “Waiting too long for your landline or broadband to be fixed is frustrating enough, without having to fight for compensation.
“So providers will have to pay money back automatically, whenever repairs or installations don’t happen on time, or an engineer doesn’t turn up. People will get the money they deserve, while providers will want to work harder to improve their service.”
Ewan Taylor-Gibson, broadband expert at comparison website uSwitch welcomes the move, and says that the announcement will put the onus on providers to stick to their promises: "We're so reliant on broadband that, for many, the prospect of any downtime may be practically unimaginable - especially for the 25% of adults who now work from home part or full time.
"While the level of compensation proposed – £25 per missed appointment for example – might not make up for missing a day’s work, the collective financial burden on providers will increase the pressure to improve service.”