Customers who receive a poor service from their landline or broadband provider could receive automatic compensation under new proposals.
Communications regulator Ofcom has put forward plans that would see consumers who endure slow repairs, missed deadlines or cancelled appointments receive a cash payment or bill credit.
Ofcom estimates that as many as 2.6 million landline and broadband customers could be in line to share a payout of up to £185m in compensation each year as a result of the measures.
Under the proposals, customers would be entitled to automatic compensation without having to go through a potentially difficult and lengthy claims process.
Delayed repair following loss of service: £10 for each calendar day, after two working days, that the relevant service is not repaired.
Delayed provisions: £6 for each calendar day beyond the promised start date.
Missed appointments: £30 per appointment missed or cancelled with less than 24 hours’ notice.
Broadband customer compensation
According to Ofcom figures, there are 5.7 million cases of consumers experiencing a loss of their landline or broadband service every year.
Engineers are failing to turn up to around 250,000 appointments, and one in eight landline and broadband installations are delayed, affecting more than 1.3 million people.
Which?’s managing director of home services, Alex Neill, said: ‘Broadband has become a modern-day essential, so it is only right that consumers should get compensation when their provider fails to deliver.
‘Ofcom now needs to swiftly push ahead with these proposals, and ensure that this and other measures help to significantly improve the service that broadband customers receive.’
Ofcom crackdown on insufficient industry response
In response to Ofcom’s plans, BT, Sky and Virgin Media have jointly put forward a draft proposal to introduce automatic compensation through a voluntary industry code of practice.
But Ofcom said it does not consider the proposal to sufficiently meet its concerns when quality of service falls short.
Lindsey Fussell, Ofcom’s consumer group director, added: ‘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.’
The proposals apply to fixed broadband and landline telephone services only. Compensation levels would be set by Ofcom.
A consultation on the proposals is open until 5 June 2017, and the regulator will make a final decision before the end of the year.