Published: Sat, November 11, 2017
Markets | By Rosalie Gross

Broadband users in the United Kingdom to get automatic compensation for poor service

Broadband users in the United Kingdom to get automatic compensation for poor service

Following a consultation on the matter, the watchdog has announced that BT, Sky, TalkTalk, Virgin Media and Zen Internet have agreed to pay their users compensation in the event of delays.

Britain's broadband firms will automatically compensate customers for fix delays, missed appointments and problems starting a new service. If a service goes down for longer than this, then customers will receive £8 credit per day until it is fixed. The new system will make it quicker and easier for customers to be compensated when things go wrong.

Major providers including BT, Sky, TalkTalk, Virgin Media and Zen Internet, which account for roughly 90 per cent of the landline and broadband customers in the United Kingdom, have committed to the compensation policy which will see £8 handed back for each calendar day the service is not repaired, £25 compensated for a missed engineer appointment and £5 returned for each day a new service is delayed. BT offshoot Plusnet and EE are also said to be joining. Despite the fact that many standard business contracts provide compensation for various only 49% of SME's did not know if they were entitled to compensation when service falls short.

Ofcom revealed that now only one in seven cases reported of broadband problems are compensated, usually in small amounts.

Although Ofcom notes that implementing this automatic process is a fair undertaking for service providers, and therefore there will be a period of 15 months to allow everything to be put into place.

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"Waiting too long for your landline or broadband to be fixed is frustrating enough, without having to fight for compensation", Oxfom consumer group director Lindsey Fussel said. The regulator says it will monitor the scheme and review it a year after implementation to make sure it is working for customers otherwise it will step in.

Ofcom's research showed that engineers fail to turn up to around 250,000 appointments a year and about 1.3 million (mln) people are affected by late installations.

Ofcom says that the automatic compensation scheme is only one of a number of areas where it is working to protect telecoms customers.

"We're so reliant on broadband that, for many, the prospect of any downtime may be practically unimaginable - especially for the 25 percent of adults who now work from home part or full time", said Ewan Taylor-Gibson, broadband expert at uSwitch.

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