Big companies must cough up broadband compensation

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Citizens Advice has claimed "watered down" proposals will hit consumers

21st August 2017 by Gareth Jones 0 Comments

The importance of introducing compulsory compensation for broadband outages has been stressed.

People with broadband and landline telephone service problems are likely to be at least £52 million worse off under a compensation scheme proposed by telecoms firms compared to one put forward by the regulator Ofcom, new analysis from Citizens Advice has found.

In March, Ofcom began consulting on automatically compensating consumers for quality of service problems.

The regulator proposed mandatory payments for consumers in cases where they experienced a delay to repairs following a loss of service, delays to getting a broadband service installed beyond the date the provider committed to, and missed appointments or those cancelled with less than 24 hours notice.

This would be similar to automatic compensation schemes in the energy and water industries, with the compensation usually paid through rebates on people’s bills.

Responding to Ofcom’s consultation, three of the UK’s biggest broadband providers - BT, Virgin Media and Sky - jointly proposed a voluntary scheme in which providers should be able to decide the circumstances in which consumers get compensation and how much. 

The voluntary minimum payment proposed by the providers was as much as £10 less (£20 compared to £30) for a missed appointment than the minimum proposed by Ofcom.

Citizens Advice has calculated that consumers with broadband problems would lose out by at least £52m in total under the industry scheme.

Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice, said: “Thousands of people each year seek our help when their provider fails to repair or set up their broadband. Some people are left without a working internet connection for weeks despite numerous calls to their provider or no-shows from engineers.

"Broadband is now an essential service, with households relying on it for everyday activities, so a lack of a working service can make day to day tasks much more difficult.”