North Cornwall MP Scott Mann has welcomed proposals by communications regulator Ofcom to compensate landline and broadband customers if they suffer from poor service or slow repairs.
Under the proposals which have been put to a public consultation, customers would be entitled to automatic compensation without having to go through a potentially lengthy and difficult claims process.
The automatic compensation would occur when their landline or broadband is not fixed quickly enough after it has stopped working, their new landline or broadband service is not up and running on the day promised, or an engineer doesn’t arrive for an appointment as scheduled.
Ofcom estimates that the plans would mean up to 2.6 million additional landline and broadband customers could receive up to £185 million in new compensation payments each year.
Lindsey Fussell, Ofcom’s Consumer Group Director, said:
“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, 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.”
Compensation payments would be set by Ofcom and designed to reflect the degree of harm suffered by consumers
The compensation scheme would see customers receiving £10 per day when their service is lost and not repaired after two working days, £30 if a technician fails to turn up to an appointment, and £6 per day if the start of a new service is delayed.
Scott Mann said:
“I’m very pleased to see Ofcom bringing forward these proposals. My office is contacted every week by constituents who have a poor broadband service or who are waiting day, after day, after day for a technician to turn up.
“Whether you live on the middle of Bodmin Moor or in the centre of London, a customer must get the service they pay for. Poor levels of service particularly affect small businesses, and it’s right that they get compensated.
“The threat of compensation will make communication companies act faster and more efficiently, and I hope these proposals are implemented in the near future after public consultation.”
Analysis by Ofcom suggests that each year:
- There are 5.7 million cases of consumers experiencing a loss of their landline or broadband service.
- Engineers failed to turn up for around 250,000 appointments.
- Around one in eight landline and broadband installations were delayed (12%), affecting more than 1.3 million people.
When they occur, these problems can leave customers unable to keep in touch with friends and family, or use the internet, while one in four people (26%) who experienced a missed appointment have taken a wasted day off work to wait at home for an engineer.
Compensation payments are currently given ad-hoc to only a minority of those suffering problems (in up to 15% of cases), and can fail to adequately reflect the harm caused.