Money back for broadband and home phone customers when things go wrong
Broadband and landline customers will get money back from their providers when things go wrong, without having to fight for it, from Monday 1 April.
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.
So, Ofcom has intervened to ensure fairness for customers, while also giving companies a strong incentive to avoid delays in the first place.
The UK’s largest broadband and home phone firms have agreed to compensate customers when they experience these delays, without the customer 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% of broadband and home phone customers in the UK.
The new scheme could see customers benefit from a total of £142m in payments – around nine times the amount they received before. As well as consumers, it will benefit the many small and medium-sized businesses who use residential landline and broadband services.
The scheme applies to new orders placed or problems reported from 1 April 2019.
This is how it works:
Sharon White, Ofcom Chief Executive, said: “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.”
We will closely watch how companies comply with the scheme, and will report next year on how it is working. If customers are not being treated fairly, we will step in and take action.
For more information on the scheme, see our guide.
Fairness for customers
The scheme is part of our Fairness for customers work, which ensures broadband, phone and TV customers are treated fairly.
- a price cap on directory enquiry services, which also comes into force on Monday (1 April). This will protect people who call these 118 numbers from high prices;
- clear, honest information for broadband shoppers – before they commit to a contract – about what speeds they will get.
- plans to make companies tell people when their contracts are coming to an end, and what their best available deals are;
- a review of broadband companies’ pricing practices, looking at why some people pay more than others;
- a review of how mobile operators charge for handsets when these are bundled with airtime; and
- easier switching for mobile customers, which comes into effect by 1 July.
EE has agreed to the new terms and expects to be able to start paying compensation automatically next year. Plusnet has also committed to the scheme.