Automatic for the people: Telcos forced to pay for giving you crap services

BT, TalkTalk engineer a no-show? ... £25 for you

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Purveyors of crap broadband services could have to shell out £142m in compensation, under an automatic redress scheme due to be brought in by regulator Ofcom.

Anyone suffering from slow repairs, missed appointments, or delayed installations to their broadband or landline services will have their accounts credited without having to ask.

The automatic compensation plans, nine times higher than the current level, are intended to benefit millions of people who suffer from poor service.

BT, Sky, TalkTalk, Virgin Media and Zen Internet, which serve around 90 per cent of landline and broadband customers in Blighty, have already agreed to introduce automatic compensation.

However, the plans won't come in for 15 months, due to the complexity of changing providers’ billing systems, online accounts and call centres, said Ofcom.

Customers will receive the compo if:

  • services have stopped working and are not fully fixed after two full working days, meaning customers will be entitled to £8 for each day it is not repaired;
  • an engineer does not turn up for a scheduled appointment, or it is cancelled with less than 24 hours' notice, with punters getting £25 per missed appointment;
  • a provider promises to start a new service on a particular date, but fails to do so - with compensation of £5 for each day of the delay, including the missed start date.

Lindsey Fussell, Ofcom’s consumer group director, said: “Waiting too long for your landline or broadband to be fixed is frustrating enough, without having to fight for compensation."

She added: "People will get the money they deserve, while providers will want to work harder to improve their service.”

Dan Howdle, consumer telecoms analyst at broadband comparison and advice site, said: "When in place these measures should go some way towards ensuring consumers are fairly compensated both for days taken off work to wait for engineers who never arrive, and for days spent without service.

"This should be viewed more as a way to force providers to spend money improving service-levels across the next 15 months (when these measures will finally be implemented) so these problems do not occur in the first place – to vastly increase the cost of their failure."

In September, TalkTalk was named worst UK internet provider for the fifth consecutive time, according to a biannual survey of providers by consumer charity Which? BT and Plusnet have also regularly topped Ofcom's quarterly list of most whinged-about providers. ®


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