We all know how frustrating, disruptive and expensive it can be when phone or broadband downtime brings work to a grinding halt.
From April, five of Britain’s biggest landline and broadband providers are operating a policy of compensating customers when network issues arise.
Industry regulator Ofcom has drawn up the scheme, which entitles landline and broadband users to partial refunds should they experience downtime, installation delays or if an engineer doesn’t show up for an appointment as planned.
According to the BBC, five major providers have already committed to the scheme: Sky, Zen Internet, Virgin Media, BT and Sky. Meanwhile Vodafone, Plusnet and EE were reportedly also planning on signing up before long.
Ofcom reports that each year there are some 7.2 million cases of internet outages or repair hold-ups, but only one in seven customers had been compensated for problems.
Head of Ofcom Sharon White told journalists: “It’s unacceptable for people to be kept waiting for a fault to be fixed, or for a new line. These new protections should make firms want to avoid problems in the first place. But, if providers fall short, customers must be treated fairly, and money given back.”
Interestingly, those committed to the scheme are among the companies singled out by consumer champion Which? as being the UK’s worst performers in terms of customer satisfaction. (Yet jointly they supply some 90% of the UK’s broadband and landline connections.)
While TalkTalk, BT and Sky all rank poorly for customer service, Virgin service users were “most likely to complain about prices rises”, according to Which?
It seems that services users don’t have to take up the matter of a refund with their provider. Instead, refunds should be made automatically via your next bill.
However, if you are not happy that you have been adequately compensated, you can of course talk to your provider.
Here are the circumstances in which you can make a complaint:
A new service has not been activated on the previously arranged start date
How much can I claim?
According to Trusted Reviews, compensation is as follows:
Missed appointments – £25 for each one
Delayed repairs – £8 for each day of downtime
Hold-ups starting a new service – £5 per delayed day from missed starting date