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Broadband providers to offer automatic compensation to customers

Customers will no longer need to claim for compensation when they experience issues with their broadband or landline service. Following an Ofcom review into automatic compensation, providers have agreed to a voluntary scheme. They’ll give money back to consumers if they are slow to repair faults, miss or cancel scheduled appointments, or delay installations.

Credit will be added to the customers’ account with no need for phone calls or emails. The nations leading providers have agreed to the terms of the plan. BT, Sky[1], Virgin Media[2], TalkTalk[3] and Zen internet[4], which together serve 90% of broadband and landline customers in the UK, will all introduce automatic compensation. Alex Neill, Which?

Managing Director of Home Services, said: ‘We are pleased that compensation for poor broadband is going to become automatic, as it is now such an essential part of all of our everyday lives. ‘For all consumers to get what they’re entitled to, it’s vital that all providers play fair and sign up to this scheme.’

Automatic compensation will come into effect in 15 months, allowing providers time to change their billing structure and allow for any problems. Best broadband providers[5] – see which providers we recommend.

How much compensation could you be entitled to?

Research by Ofcom has found that only one in seven cases of broadband or landline issues result in compensation. To make matters worse, when compensation is paid, the amount typically is very low.

Ofcom estimates that customers receive just ?3.69 per day for loss of service and ?2.89 per day for delayed installations. All that is set to change thanks to standardised amounts agreed on by members of the scheme. While the amounts aren’t as high as Ofcom initially proposed, the automatic compensation scheme will see amount of credit received rise sharply.

Problem When would a customer be entitled to compensation? Amount of compensation
Delayed repair following loss of service. Their service has stopped working and it is not fully fixed after two full working days. ?8 for each day that the service is not repaired.
Missed appointments. An engineer does not turn up for a scheduled appointment, or it is cancelled with less than 24-hours’ notice. ?25 per missed appointment.
Delays with the start of a new service. Their provider promises to start a new service on a particular date, but fails to do so. ?5 for each calendar day of delay, including the missed start date.

Are any providers not on board?

Currently, even though they are both owned by BT, Plusnet[6] and EE have not formally joined the scheme, but Ofcom has said that it expects both providers to agree to the plan going forward.

The scheme will also be reviewed by Ofcom a year after implementation to ensure it’s working for consumers. Ofcom’s proposed changes will also benefit small business owners, around a third of which use residential broadband and landline services. Ofcom found that almost half of small business owners did not know if they were entitled to compensation.

Ofcom plans to make sure that all small and mid-sized business owners are given clearer information about what level of service they should expect and whether they are entitled to compensation, should any problems arise.

Help Which? fix bad broadband

Awarding automatic compensation is a step in the right direction for consumers, but it doesn’t solve the underlying issues that are affecting thousands of internet users across the country: slow speeds, dropouts and poor connections.

We’re campaigning to make sluggish internet a thing of the past and you can help by completing our online speed test[7] today.

References

  1. ^ Sky (www.which.co.uk)
  2. ^ Virgin Media (www.which.co.uk)
  3. ^ TalkTalk (www.which.co.uk)
  4. ^ Zen internet (www.which.co.uk)
  5. ^ Best broadband providers (www.which.co.uk)
  6. ^ Plusnet (www.which.co.uk)
  7. ^ online speed test (campaigns.which.co.uk)

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