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Ofcom proposes automatic compensation for broadband failures

Friday, March 24th 2017 by Phil Wilkinson-Jones

Ofcom wants broadband and landline customers to get automatic compensation from their providers when things go wrong.

Under plans set out by the regulator today, customers who suffer slow repairs, missed appointments or delayed installations would receive money back without having to ask.

The compensation would come in the form of either a cash payment or a credit on a bill.

Ofcom is proposing that providers get two working days to fix a broadband or landline service if it has stopped working.

If it is not, the customer will get £10 for each subsequent calendar day the service is not repaired.

Ofcom is also suggesting that providers pay £30 every time an engineer misses a scheduled appointment and £6 for each day of delay when a new service is not installed on the date promised.

The regulator said broadband and landline customers experience a loss of service 5.7m times a year, while there are 250,000 missed engineer appointments.

Around one in eight (12%) landline and broadband installations are delayed, affecting more than 1.3m people.

Ofcom is not proposing to extend its automatic compensation scheme to mobile services as less than 1% of mobile customers lose service for more than 24 hours and operators already make "significant" compensation payments.

Lindsey Fussell, Ofcom’s consumer group director, said: “When a customer’s landline or broadband goes wrong, that is frustrating enough without having to fight tooth and nail to get fair compensation from the provider.

'Properly compensated'

“So we’re proposing new rules to force providers to pay money back to customers automatically, whenever repairs or installations don’t happen on time, or when people wait in for an engineer who doesn’t turn up.

“This would mean customers are properly compensated, while providers will want to work harder to improve their service.”

Ofcom estimated that around 2.6m customers could receive a total of £185m in compensation under the new scheme. Providers currently pay out around £16m a year.

A consultation on the proposals is open until 5 June at 5pm and Ofcom says it will publish its final decision at the end of the year.

BT, Sky and Virgin Media have already put forward a draft code of practice under which they would pay £3 a day for delayed installations (with a cap on the total amount payable) and £20 for missed engineer appointments.

They would also have three working days to fix faults and pay £3 a day for each day of delay (again up to a capped total amount).

Ofcom has said the providers’ proposal does not sufficiently meet its concerns.

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