Action Desk: Sheffield MP welcomes Ofcom plans for automatic compensation for poor broadband service

Sheffield MP Gill Furniss has welcomed the plans
Sheffield MP Gill Furniss has welcomed the plans
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Ofcom’s plans for automatic compensation for millions of broadband and landline customers who suffer from a poor service has been welcomed by a Sheffield MP.

OFCOM’s plans for automatic compensation for millions of broadband and landline customers who suffer from a poor service has been welcomed by a Sheffield MP.

Gill Furniss, Shadow Minister for Steel, Postal Services and Consumer Protection, said companies have had a ‘free pass’ for too long when offering an unacceptable service.

The changes mean consumers who ‘suffer slow repairs, or missed appointments, would receive money back without having to ask’.

The proposals would affect up to 2.6 million people receiving a share of £185 million in compensation each year.

Compensation would only apply to fixed broadband and landline customers.

Customers would be repaid through cash or on their credit bills when: line or broadband is not fixed quickly enough after it has stopped working; or their new landline or broadband service is not up and running on the day promised; or an engineer doesn’t arrive for an appointment as scheduled.

A delayed repair such as loss of service that is not fully restored after two full working days would mean the customer receiving £10 per calendar day when the service is not repaired.

Consumers will also be allocated £30 if an engineer misses a appointment for that day without giving more than 24 hours notice.

If a provider fails to start a service on the agreed date, it would have to pay £6 for each day of delay, including the missed start date.

BT, Sky and Virgin Media have jointly put forward a draft proposal to introduce automatic compensation through a voluntary industry code of practice, but Ofcom said: “At this stage, we do not consider that this proposal sufficiently meets our concerns when quality of service falls short.”

Ms Furniss, MP for Sheffield Brightside and Hillsborough said: “Ofcom’s plan is good news for consumers. For far too long providers have had a free pass while offering an unacceptable service, while it is left to consumers to fight for the compensation they should get as a matter of course.

“Ofcom’s own statistics show that currently in the majority of cases no compensation is given for delayed repairs, missed appointments or delays. These changes should increase the overall pay-out given as compensation to a much bigger group of customers.

“However, the proposed compensation levels could be much higher to ensure providers are properly incentivised to provide a decent service. If all providers do is factor in these pay-outs and continue business as usual, Ofcom should to step in to increase the compensation.

“Let’s not forget broadband suppliers have already been getting paid for connection delays. But those payments are only now getting anywhere near the customers.

“This is a good starting point towards proper regulation that protects consumers. It is plain fairness that if consumers don’t get what they paid for, they should be properly compensated.”