Broadband users to net cash when kept offline

Freelancers are among the broadband customers who from yesterday will automatically get £8 for every day that their internet service is down and not repaired.

Although the new right courtesy of regulator Ofcom only kicks in after an initial 48-hour repair period, it is one of three new automated compensation pay-outs in force from April 1st.

The other two speak to home-based freelancers’ other bug bears -- that the engineer booked to repair the broadband simply doesn’t turn up, or cancels with less than 24hrs’ notice.

Then, the customer will get £25 per missed visit, much more than the nothing in compensation most providers paid previously, or above the sums a few offered as gestures.  

Thirdly, there will be a small but still significant £5 pay-out each day including the missed start date, when the provider promises to start a service on a particular date, but fails to do so.

BT, Sky, TalkTalk, Virgin Media and Zen Internet have joined the pay-out scheme, ahead of Hyperoptic and Vodafone, which will start paying compensation automatically later this year.

When totted up, Ofcom estimates that the new scheme could see customers benefit from a total of £142m in payments -- around nine times the amount they received before.

“As well as consumers, it will benefit the many small and medium-sized businesses who use residential landline and broadband services,” the regulator said.

Ofcom chief executive Sharon White reflected: “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.”

The regulator added that while it welcomed those providers who have already signed-up, it will “closely watch” how they comply and “step in take action” against them if necessary.

In a guide on the new pay-outs, Ofcom tells broadband users: “If your service doesn’t start on the agreed date, or if your engineer appointment is missed, your provider will pay compensation automatically – meaning you don’t need to take any action to receive the compensation.”

 

2nd April 2019

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