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Automatic Compensation for Broadband Faults Paused


Broadband and landline customers won’t receive automatic compensation for internet outages and delayed engineer visits during the coronavirus crisis, Ofcom has announced.

The telecoms regulator has paused the automatic compensation scheme, acknowledging that the pandemic and lockdown will make it more difficult for providers to carry out repairs, install new services and make home visits.

The regulator said in a statement: “For the period that these unique circumstances apply, providers will not need to pay automatic compensation where they are unable to meet the requirements for repairs, installations and home visits in the scheme. This is in line with an exception in the scheme that applies to ‘civil emergencies.’

However, the regulator cautioned providers that they must continue to “provide the best possible service and do what is right by their customers, particularly those who are vulnerable,” This includes suspending the bills of customers who are without service.

“While we acknowledge the difficult circumstances that telecoms companies are in, that does not mean customers should be exploited. If we see evidence that is happening, we will step in and take action,” Ofcom said.

The automatic compensation scheme was introduced last April to give broadband and landline phone customers money back if they experience faults or delays in service. Ofcom had found that each year five million customers lose their broadband or landline service, nearly a quarter of a million engineer appointments are missed and more than one million broadband and landline installations are delayed.

Under the scheme, customers receive £8 per day if their service fails and isn’t repaired within two days, £25 for a missed or cancelled engineer visit, and £5 a day for any service which doesn’t begin when the provider said it would. Compensation is paid automatically and customers don’t have to apply for it.

The scheme is voluntary but the UK’s four largest broadband providers—BT, Sky, TalkTalk and Virgin Media—have all signed up, along with smaller competitors Hyperoptic, Now Broadband, Utility Warehouse and Zen Internet.

Last week following discussions with Ofcom and government, ISPs announced that they would be lifting all broadband data caps for consumers and offering "new, generous" landline packages to help consumers stay connected during the lockdown. They also pledged to "work with" consumers who are suffering financial hardship as a result of the quarantine and struggling to pay their bills.

Lauren Smith
Lauren Smith

Lauren Smith has worked as a journalist and copywriter for most of the last decade, covering technology, energy, and consumer rights, in the US and UK.

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