Broadband customers at risk of being short-changed out of £52m in compensation

New study shows 

Citizens Advice is calling on the telecoms regulator Ofcom to keep its proposed automatic compensation scheme mandatory.

People with broadband and landline telephone service problems are likely to be at least £52 million worse off under a compensation scheme proposed by telecoms firms compared to one proposed by the regulator Ofcom, new analysis from Citizens Advice finds.

Broadband and landline consumers are already particularly unlikely to get compensation when they receive a poor service. Separate research by Citizens Advice on complaints finds that currently only 15 per cent of consumers who complain to their telecoms providers receive any kind of financial compensation. By contrast twice as many (30 per cent) consumers who had complained about other essential regulated services - such as energy and water - received financial compensation.

In March, Ofcom began consulting on automatically compensating consumers for quality of service problems.

The regulator proposed mandatory payments for consumers in cases where they experienced a delay to repairs following a loss of service, delays to getting a broadband service installed beyond the date the provider committed to, and missed appointments or those cancelled with less than 24 hours notice. This would be similar to automatic compensation schemes in the energy and water industries, with the compensation usually paid through rebates on people’s bills.

Responding to Ofcom’s consultation, three of the UK’s biggest broadband providers, BT, Virgin Media and Sky, jointly proposed a voluntary scheme in which providers should be able to decide the circumstances in which consumers get compensation and how much.  

The voluntary minimum payment proposed by the providers was as much as £10 less for a missed appointment than the minimum proposed by Ofcom.

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