Sunday, 19 November, 2017

UK ISPs will automatically compensate customers for shoddy service

Automic Brits set for £142m windfall as broadband firms are forced to pay automatic compensation
Juana Turner | 11 November, 2017, 01:01

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.

Ofcom says compensation is now only paid out for around one in seven broadband or landline problems, and at the moment customers who are given compensation only receive an average £3.69 a day for loss of service, and £2.39 a day for delayed installations. If a phone or broadband connection goes down, and isn't "fully" fixed within two working days, for each subsequent day that the connection isn't functional, the customer will get £8.

New customers can also benefit.

Ofcom says mobile customers aren't covered by the new automatic compensation scheme as they are less likely to lose service for more than 24 hours, and now receive more compensation than broadband and landline customers.

Users connected through BT, Sky, TalkTalk, Virgin Media and Zen Internet - which Ofcom says is around 90 per cent of the United Kingdom population - are set to benefit, with Ofcom expecting Plusnet and EE to join as well.

Ofcom said that, overall, they expect compensation levels to increase around nine fold. There will be a 15-month implementation period before the scheme comes into force to give providers sufficient time to adapt their billing systems, online accounts and call centres.

"The risk of a financial penalty should encourage providers to step up and quickly solve problems rather than letting them drag out", he said.

Real Business also reached out to all of the broadband providers which have signed up to the new voluntary policy.

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".

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.

"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. "Ofcom will closely monitor the industry scheme, and review it one year after being implemented to ensure it's working for consumers".

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