Landline and broadband customers who suffer the headaches of bad service, from slow repairs to missed deadlines, could get money back without having to ask.
New plans outlined by regulator Ofcom would require providers to pay automatic compensation, either as a cash payment or a credit on a bill, to customers who suffer poor service. It anticipates up to £185m in extra compensation will be paid out each year as a result of the proposed change.
Customers would be entitled to automatic compensation without having to go through a potentially drawn out and difficult claims process, when:
- Their landline or broadband isn't fixed quickly enough after it has stopped working
- Their new landline or broadband service is not up and running on the day promised
- An engineer doesn't arrive for an appointment as scheduled
Currently, there are 7.2m instances where landline or broadband customers suffer delayed repairs, missed appointments or delays to new installations, but Ofcom said financial compensation (totalling around £16.3m) is paid out in 1.1m of those cases.
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.
"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," she added.
"This would mean customers are properly compensated, while providers will want to work harder to improve their service."
The regulator said its consultation period on the proposals will last until 5pm on 5 June and it will publish a decision around the end of the year.
In response to Ofcom’s plans, BT, Sky and Virgin Media have jointly put forward a draft proposal to introduce automatic compensation through a draft voluntary industry code of practice.
However, Ofcom said: "At this stage, we do not consider that this proposal sufficiently meets our concerns, when quality of service falls short."