Ofcom proposes automatic compensation for broadband failings

James Pearce
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UK regulator could force broadband providers to automatically payout millions to customers who face slow repairs, missed deadlines and cancelled appointments

UK broadband providers could be forced to give customers automatic compensation for poor service under new proposals from Ofcom.

The UK regulator has published proposals which could force providers to pay for slow repairs, missed deadlines and cancelled appointments.

The scheme could cost telcos up to £185 million a year, according to some estimates, as they are forced to offer compensation in the form of a cash payment or credit for every day of lost service.

Ofcom has launched a consultation over the proposals. They would see a customer receive £10 per day if a broadband or landline is not fully fixed after two working days. Providers who fail to switch to a service on the agreed start date will have to pay £6 per day.

The providers would also have to pay out if an engineer cancelled an appointment or fails to attend – up to £30 per incident.

“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,” said Lindsey Fussell, Ofcom’s consumer group director.

“We’re proposing new rules to force providers to pay money back to customers automatically, whenever repairs or installations don’t happen on time, or when people wait in for an engineer who doesn’t turn up.

“This would mean customers are properly compensated, while providers will want to work harder to improve their service.”

UK-based broadband comparison site Cable.co.uk praised Ofcom’s proposals, saying they could act as a strong deterrent for bad practice within the industry.

Dan Howdle, consumer telecoms expert Cable.co.uk, said: "This proposal will act as a powerful motivator to ensure broadband and landline providers fix problems efficiently and keep their promises. It will ensure that investment in prompt maintenance and customer support becomes a preferable option to letting customers down.

"Broadband and fixed line providers need to take responsibility for the costs incurred in both time and frustration to customers without vital services. This proposal means that taking a day off work to wait in for an engineer who doesn't show up, or being without this essential utility for extended periods comes at a cost to the provider."