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Broadband compensation scheme

By Claire Nottage | Wednesday, July 28th 2021

Not getting the broadband service you are paying for is extremely frustrating, so it’s good to know that you are at least entitled to some financial compensation when your connection falls over. Plus, the introduction of the automatic compensation scheme by Ofcom has made things simpler when it comes to putting in a claim.

However, there are rules and regulations regarding how much compensation you can get that depend on how long you have been without a service. This guide examines the details of how much you can expect to get and what exemptions are in place.

The Ofcom automatic compensation scheme

In April 2019 Ofcom introduced an automatic compensation scheme for all fixed-line broadband customers. Prior to this there were no guarantees of compensation for customers who had lost their broadband connection.

This new scheme states that if the provider fails to fix a fault after two working days then the customer can claim compensation simply by reporting the fault to their provider. Customers are also entitled to compensation for missed engineer appointments and delays to installation.

What compensation you're entitled to

Once you have reported the loss of service to the provider, an £8 payment is due to cover the first two days. After this, another £8 is due for every day the fault remains unfixed up to a maximum of 60 days.

If the provider fails to send an engineer on the date agreed, then the customer can claim £25 and if there is a delay to starting a new broadband service, the customer can claim £5 for each day without a live connection if the service is still not activated by one minute to midnight on the date provided on sign up.

Why have I not received compensation?

Compensation may now be automatic but it is still subject to certain conditions. You won’t get compensation for loss of service if the problem was caused by something on your property, such as poor wiring or incorrect use of a router. Plus, if you are in any way in breach of your broadband contract you will not receive any payments either.

You will also not get any payments if you turn down an engineer appointment when offered one to fix a fault, or if the engineer could not access your property at the agreed time because you were out or simply did not answer the door.

Note that the automatic compensation scheme does not apply to customers who use satellite broadband services or who use 4G or 5G home broadband service.

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Can I still claim compensation during the pandemic?

During the national lockdown Ofcom temporarily halted the scheme, but it has now resumed. However, caveats to this do exist. If an engineer cannot gain access to a property with a fault due to the resident self-isolating or shielding, or if the engineer has to self-isolate and a replacement cannot be found in time, then unfortunately no compensation payments will be made.

Which providers are on the automatic compensation scheme?

Since the automatic compensation scheme started, all the major broadband providers have signed up, including BT, Hyperoptic, Sky, NOW Broadband, TalkTalk, Virgin Media and Zen.

Providers that have not yet signed up include Plusnet, Vodafone, and EE, amongst others, so customers currently signed up to these providers will not receive automatic payouts if they put in a claim.

How quickly will I receive compensation?

Compensation payments should be made within 30 days of the problem being fixed. For example, if you report loss of service for two days on day 1 and your service is fixed on day 10, you should receive your compensation by day 40. If the problem remains unresolved after 30 days, the provider is obliged to offer you an alternative service or give you the option to cancel your service completely without penalty.

You can be compensated for up to 60 days for total loss of service or delayed activation – if you wanted to wait that long – but you are free to terminate your contract and switch to a new provider after 30 days without service.

If you experience a delay in activation of your service and choose to cancel the service completely before it is activated, you will be paid compensation up to the date that you cancel.

Automatic compensation payments will normally be made in the form of a credit on your bill, unless you have agreed alternative arrangements with your provider.

What to do if you don’t receive compensation when it is due

If you believe you are entitled to compensation but your provider is not issuing the funds, then you should contact an ADR (Alternative Dispute Resolution) scheme. An ADR acts as an independent middleman to resolve disputes. Every provider is legally obliged to be a member of an ADR and will be signed up with either CISAS or the Ombudsman Service: Communications, both of which are approved by Ofcom. You can ask your provider which ADR it is with or contact Ofcom to find out.

Frequently asked questions

Can I claim compensation for someone else?

No. Unfortunately it has to be the bill payer who has to put in the claim for compensation.

How long does it take to fix a fault?

Most faults should be fixed within 48 hours but depending on the problem it can take longer – at which point you can claim automatic compensation.

What is considered a total loss of service?

Total loss of service means you cannot get online at all for two days using a wired connection. Intermittent loss, wifi problems or a drop in your download speed does not constitute a total loss of service.

How can I report loss of service?

You should call your provider on the customer helpline or contact them directly online to report loss of service. Posts on social media will not be acknowledged as verifiable reports.

Can I cancel my contract and still receive compensation?

Yes, subject to being eligible, you are still entitled to receive payment for loss of service if you cancel your contract and move to another provider.

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