Ofcom reveals automatic compensation for ripped-off broadband customers

£142 million will be automatically paid out to customers receiving a delayed service

Broadband speed

Customers who feel they've been ripped off by their broadband or landline provider will be able to get compensation automatically in Ofcom's new automatic payout scheme.

Ofcom has invited all the major broadband and landline providers to sign up for the initiative, which means customers receive credits on their bill when things don't go to plan, such as slow repairs to their service, missed appointments and delayed installations.

At present, BT, Sky, TalkTalk, Virgin Media and Zen Internet have all signed up to take part in the scheme, which means 90% of the population are covered by automatic compensation.

"Waiting too long for your landline or broadband to be fixed is frustrating enough, without having to fight for compensation," Lindsey Fussell, Ofcom's consumer group director, said. "So providers will have to pay money back automatically, whenever repairs or installations don't happen on time, or an engineer doesn't turn up. People will get the money they deserve, while providers will want to work harder to improve their service."

The new scheme will offer set amounts of money for each issue experienced. For example, if a repair is delayed after the service has stopped working and has not been fixed within two days, they will be entitled to 8 for every day that service is delayed. If an engineer misses a pre-agreed appointment, a customer will be able to take advantage of a 25 payment, while if the start of a customer's new service is delayed, they will receive 8 per day their service isn't switched on.

Ofcom said 142 million will be paid out in its new automatic compensation initiative, which is nine times the amount already being paid out to customers.

Consumer publication Which? has voiced its support for the campaign, saying it's vital providers sign up to the scheme to ensure their customers remainsatisfied with their customer service.

"We are pleased that compensation for poor broadband is going to become automatic, as it is now such an essential part of all of our everyday lives," Alex Neill, Which? managing director of Home Services added.

It's the latest move by Ofcom in its attempt to reform the UK's broadband market, which currently offers some of the slowest speeds in Europe and has in the past been accused of having misleading advertising. In October Ofcom proposed changes to its current rules that would force ISPs to guarantee minimum speeds in their adverts, and allow customers to exit contracts at any time without penalty. A final decision on these proposals is expected to emerge early next year.

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