Relax, alopecia sufferers or those unfortunate enough to be genetically pre-disposed to baldness. You'll never again – or at least not nearly as much – need to pull your hair out in frustration over crap broadband services.
From today, a bunch of service providers have agreed to automatically pay pre-defined compensation to disgruntled customers under a new voluntary scheme introduced by UK comms watchdog Ofcom.
This initiative was first talked of in November 2017 and took a while to come to fruition as providers updated their billing systems, online accounts and call centres. BT, Sky, Talk Talk, Virgin Media and Zen Internet have all signed up, and combined they account for 95 per cent of British broadband customers.
If web access grinds to a halt and is not fully fixed after two full working days, customers – consumer and businesses – of those providers can claim £8 for each day the broadband is borked.
If the customer has sat in all day twiddling their thumbs, waiting in vain for an engineer to turn up, or if that appointment is cancelled with less than 24 hours notice, some £25 will be owed by one of the five companies.
Delays to the start date of a service is another customer bugbear that will now lead to automatic compensation of £5 for each calendar day.
The broadband providers are expected to repay this money to clients without them having to fight for it. This, at least, is the theory. The same measures are available to phone line customers.
Ofcom research showed just one in seven broadband or home phone punters that suffered one of the three ignominies mentioned above were given any financial reparation. And even then it was generally considered to be a paltry amount.
The new scheme could see customers benefit from a total of £142m in payments, roughly nine times the amount received a year before.
Sharon White, Ofcom CEO, said it was "unacceptable" that punters should be forced to await a new line or for a fault to be rectified.
"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," she said.
White claimed the regulator will "closely watch" the Fairness For Customers measures to ensure "companies comply", and will report in 2020 on the way it worked.
"If customers are not being treated fairly, we will step in and take action," she said. ®