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 landline customers who suffer delayed repairs, installations or missed engineer appointments have received compensation from their provider; and even then, only in small amounts.
So Ofcom has intervened to ensure fairness for customers, while giving companies a strong incentive to avoid delays occurring in the first place.
The UK’s largest broadband and landline providers have agreed to compensate customers when they experience these delays, without 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 agreed to the new terms, and will start paying compensation automatically later this year. Together, the firms that have committed account for more than 95% of broadband and landline customers in the UK.
The new scheme could see customers benefit from £142m in payments – around nine times the amount they receive today. As well as consumers, it will benefit the many small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) who choose residential landline and broadband services.
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.”
Ofcom 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, we will step in and take action.
The compensation scheme is part of Ofcom’s Fairness for Customers programme of work to ensure that broadband, phone and TV customers are treated fairly.
NOTES TO EDITORS
1. Ofcom figures suggest there are 7.2m cases each year where broadband or landline customers suffer delayed repairs, installations or missed appointments. Financial compensation, totalling around £16m, is currently paid out in 1.1m of these cases. We estimate people receive an average of £3.69 per day for loss of service, and £2.39 per day for delayed installations.
2. If a customer loses service from 1 April, they will simply have to report the fault to their provider. They do not then need to ask for compensation, as providers will start paying out automatically if the repair takes too long.
3. 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.
4. The new automatic compensation scheme applies to residential fixed broadband and landline telephone services. Around a third of SMEs take a residential package. Our analysis indicates that the number of mobile customers likely to lose service for more than 24 hours is low, and mobile customers generally receive more compensation than broadband and landline customers.