Ofcom proposes automatic compensation for broadband problems

Customers would receive cash payment or credit on a bill - under a scale set by Ofcom - without having to go through a lengthy claims process, under the plans.

Ofcom said compensation was now only given to a minority of those suffering problems and can fail to reflect adequately the harm caused.

Ofcom has today put forward proposals for the automatic dishing out of compensation to landline and broadband customers who suffer from quality of service issues such as missed appointments and delays in installs and repairs.

Ofcom is proposing £10 for every calendar day that a service isn't repaired, £30 for missed appointments and £6 per day for a new connection that's hasn't been installed on time.

This will mean firms such as BT, Sky and Virgin Media face paying out £185m ($231m) to 2.6 million customers a year who suffer poor service, said the regulator.

At the moment there are 7.2 million instances where landline or broadband customers suffer delayed repairs, missed appointments or delays to new installations.

"This will mean customers are properly compensated, while providers will want to work harder to improve their service". Financial compensation, totalling around £16.3 million, is now paid out in 1.1 million of these cases.

Ofcom pointed out that at the moment compensation payments are now given ad-hoc to only a minority of those suffering problems (in up to 15 percent of cases), and can fail to adequately reflect the harm caused. Ofcom also said around 250,000 engineering appointments are missed each year while around one in eight landline and broadband installations are delayed, affecting more than 1.3 million people, representing about 12% of all installations. However, Ofcom said that these proposals do not meet its concerns.

Ofcom proposes that all SMEs should benefit from clearer, more detailed information upfront about the service on offer - including whether they are entitled to compensation, and how much, when problems occur.

A consultation on the plans is open until 5 June and a decision will be published around the end of the year, Ofcom said.

  • Zachary Reyes