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Broadband problems? You’re now entitled to automatic compensation

UK broadband subscribers will receive automatic compensation from their provider when things go wrong, following a new guidance from Ofcom.

You could be forgiven for thinking this is a particularly cruel April Fools’ Day prank, given how notoriously difficult it has been to get broadband providers to cough up compensation for downtime in the past.

According to telecoms industry regulator Ofcom, broadband and and landline customers are failed by their provider more than seven million times each year – though refunds are only received by one out of every seven households who suffer an issue.

That all looks set to change later this year, after Hyperoptic and Vodafone joined BT, Sky, TalkTalk, Virgin Media and Zen Internet in signing up for the new Ofcom-backed automatic compensation scheme.

Under it, subscribers who experience repair delays, missed appointments, or problems starting a new service will be entitled to standardised compensation rates – which providers will now issue automatically, rather than customers having to file a claim.

The new automatic broadband compensation rates are:

  • Delayed repairs (following loss of service): £8 per day of downtime
  • Missed appointments: £25 per missed appointment
  • Delays starting a new service: £5 per day of the delay from the missed start date.

Subscribers could see a windfall of £142 million in compensation payments are a result of the scheme, which is roughly nine time what is doled out today.

Small businesses with consumer-grade packages will also be eligible for the scheme, which with the addition of Hyperoptic and Vodafone will cover more than 95% of broadband and landline subscribers in the UK.

“We think it’s unacceptable that people should be kept waiting for a new line, or a fault to be fixed. These new protections mean phone and broadband firms will want to avoid problems occurring in the first place. But if they fall short, customers must be treated fairly and given money back, without having to ask for it,” Ofcom chief executive Sharon White said in a statement.

Ofcom added that it would be monitoring compliance with the new scheme, which is part of its wider Fairness for Customers initiative.

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