Broadband and landline customers will not receive automatic compensation from providers for issues surrounding service or engineer visits for the time being, after telecoms regular Ofcom paused its scheme due to the coronavirus outbreak.
The scheme usually means that customers of certain providers are automatically compensated if they are left without service or if an engineer fails to turn up or cancels at short notice.
But current circumstances mean that providers are less likely to be as able to carry out repairs, install new services or make home visits than they usually would.
While it says the decision was not taken lightly, Ofcom has decided that the rules of the scheme will be relaxed temporarily. In the meantime, providers have committed to ensure vulnerable customers and those who are self-isolating receive alternative methods of communication where possible, if they are unable to fix issues with their broadband or home phone services.
Ofcom has also said that providers should make their customers aware of any decision not to pay compensation and must also stop charging any customers who are left without service.
Browse all the latest news and advice on COVID-19 on the Which? coronavirus hub.
What is the automatic compensation scheme?
The scheme was introduced in April 2019. It’s designed to ensure that broadband and landline customers get money back from their provider if things go wrong, without having to ask for it.
It’s voluntary, but the UK’s biggest providers have all committed to it. The signatories are:
Providers that have committed to the scheme will usually provide compensation for delayed repairs following a loss of service, missed repairs or provision appointments, and delays to the start of a new service.
|Problem||When would a customer be entitled to compensation?||Amount of compensation|
|Delayed repair following loss of service||Their service has stopped working and is not fully fixed after two working days||£8 for each day the service is not repaired|
|Missed engineer appointments||An engineer does not turn up for a scheduled appointment, or cancels with less than 24 hours notice||£25 per missed appointment|
|Delays with the start of a new service||The provider promises to start a new service on a given date, but fails to do so||£5 for each calendar day of delay, including the missed start date|
Ofcom installed the scheme after its research found that each year, more than five million consumers lose their landline or broadband service, nearly 250,000 engineer appointments are missed, and more than one million landline and broadband installations are delayed.
What should I do if I have broadband issues?
If you experience problems with a slow connection, the first step is to establish whether there’s anything you can do to help improve your connection – head to our guide on how to speed up slow broadband to get started.
Broadband outages are no more likely than usual, but if you do experience problems check your provider’s website or social media pages to see whether there’s an issue in your area. Bookmark our guide on how to contact your broadband provider for easy access to phone numbers, links to service status pages, social media accounts and troubleshooting tips.
If there’s no apparent issue in the area, and you’d like to explore ways to fix things, we’ve created a guide on five ways you can speed up and fix broadband in the home.