Major broadband providers have agreed to implement an automatic compensation scheme from 2019.
Currently, millions of customers in the UK are suffering from major broadband providers’ failure to deliver fast and reliable technical services, such as replacing and repairing hardware, which causes unwanted delays.
The new plan, led by telecoms regulator Ofcom, will tackle this issue by providing fixed amounts of compensation to be paid automatically to the customer, without the usual hassle of having to chase the broadband provider.
This agreement currently covers customers of BT, Sky, Talk Talk, Virgin Media and Zen Internet – which makes up around 90% of broadband customers in the UK – and it is expected that EE and Plusnet will follow suit at a later date.
From 2019, if their provider fails to repair a fault within two days of it being reported, the customer will receive £8 per calendar day until the fault is rectified. For every day a new service is delayed, including the missed start date, he/she will receive £5. And for every missed engineer appointment, or if the engineer fails to meet the 24-hour cancellation notice period, the customer will receive £25.
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,”
“So providers will have to pay money back automatically, whenever repairs or installations don’t happen on time, or an engineer doesn’t turn up.
“People will get the money they deserve, while providers will want to work harder to improve their service.”
At the moment, only 15% of complaints actually result in a payout and even then it is estimated that the aggrieved customer receives an average of £3.69 per day for loss of service, and £2.39 per day for delayed installations. This new agreement has annual payout projections of £142m, around nine times the current level, and will affect approximately 2.6 million people across the UK.
It is not just residential customers who will benefit from this change in policy. Many small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) use residential broadband and landline services, which are the ones affected by this policy change. Larger corporations already have similar automatic compensation schemes, and an Ofcom survey found that around 49% of SME didn’t know they were entitled to any repayment or compensation.
Alex Neill, Which? Managing Director of Home Services, said: “We are pleased that compensation for poor broadband is going to become automatic, as it is now such an essential part of all of our everyday lives.
“For all consumers to get what they’re entitled to, it’s vital that all providers play fair and sign up to this scheme.”
In order to allow time for the retraining of staff and necessary adjustments to telecoms payment systems, there will be a 15-month implementation period. Therefore, customers can expect to see this plan take effect in early 2019.