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Ofcom proposes millions in compensation for broadband customers

Fri 24 Mar 2017

Ofcom broadband

British telecoms regulator Ofcom has revealed new plans which would see consumers who experience poor service automatically compensated, in cash or credit, by their landline or broadband providers.

As part of the scheme, customers who have had to put up with delayed repairs, missed installation or engineer appointments, will be paid up to £30 in compensation, depending on the issue.

According to an Ofcom press release, 2.6 million landline and broadband customers could receive a total of around £185 million in compensatory payments each year as a result of the policy.

Under the new measures, customers will be entitled to automatic compensation without that hassle of having to go through drawn-out procedures to reclaim their money.

If a broadband connection or landline is not fully fixed after two working days, the provider would have to pay £10 per day until it is repaired. If an engineer does not arrive at an appointment or cancels with less than 24 hours’ notice, the payment would reach £30. And if a provider fails to start a service on the pre-agreed date, it would have to pay £6 for each day it is delayed.

In response to Ofcom’s proposal, BT, Sky and Virgin Media have released plans to establish automatic compensation, drafting a voluntary industry code of practice. Ofcom has argued that this is not satisfactory – ‘At this stage, we do not consider that this proposal sufficiently meets our concerns, when quality of service falls short.’

Ofcom Consumer Group Director, Lindsey Fussell commented: ‘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.

‘…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.’

All compensation payments will be set by Ofcom, and the measures will only apply to fixed broadband and landline services.

Ofcom added that there are approximately 5.7 million cases of consumers experiencing a loss of landline or broadband service every year, with engineers failing to turn up to appointments on 250,000 occasions. It also noted that each year about one in eight landline and broadband installations were delayed – affecting over 1.3 million users.

A consultation on the new plans is now open until 5th June 2017, with Ofcom due to make a final decision by the end of the year.

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