Thousands of broadband and landline customers will no longer have to fight for compensation from their providers when things go wrong. As of today (1st April), customers will automatically get money back if they experience delays with their service, regulator Ofcom has said.
Previously, only around one in seven broadband or home phone customers who suffered delayed repairs, installations or missed engineer appointments received compensation from their provider. And even when they did, this was only in small amounts.
But the media watchdog has stepped in to ensure fairness for customers, while also giving companies a strong incentive to avoid delays in the first place.
Under the new guidelines, all the UK’s largest broadband and landline providers have agreed to compensate their customers when they experience these delays, without them having to ask.
BT, Sky, TalkTalk, Virgin Media and Zen Internet had already signed up to the scheme. Ofcom has today announced that Hyperoptic and Vodafone have also signed up, and will start paying compensation automatically later this year.
Together, the firms that have committed to the scheme account for more than 95 per cent of broadband and home phone customers in the UK. And thanks to the new scheme, customers could benefit from a total of £142million in payments – around nine times the amount they received before.
Sharon White, Ofcom chief executive, says, ‘We think it’s unacceptable that people should be kept waiting for a new line, or a fault to be fixed. These new protections mean phone and broadband firms will want to avoid problems occurring in the first place. But if they fall short, customers must be treated fairly and given money back, without having to ask for it.
‘We welcome the companies’ commitment to this scheme, which acts as a strong incentive to improve service for customers.’
Mark Pocock, home comms expert at broadbandchoices.co.uk, comments, ‘This is great news for broadband users. Whilst the Ofcom scheme is not compulsory, it is good to see some of the big names joining in a bid to make their customers happier.
‘This scheme will not only see loyal customers being treated fairly if services do not work but it will also help prevent providers from slacking, hopefully ridding the need for customers to be compensated in the first place and ensuring they receive a consistent service.’
How much broadband compensation will I get from my provider?
Your provider has two full working days to fully fix your service once it has stopped working. After this time, you will be paid £8 for each calendar day that the service is not repaired.
If an engineer does not turn up for a scheduled appointment, or your appointment is cancelled with less that 24 hours’ notice, you will receive £25 per missed appointment.
If your provider has promised to start a new service on a particular date but doesn’t deliver, then you are automatically entitled to £5 for each calendar day of delay, including the missed start date.
Ofcom said it will carefully monitor companies’ compliance with the compensation scheme, and report on how it is working next year. If customers are not being treated fairly, it will step in and take action.