The UK's biggest landline and broadband providers will soon begin automatically compensating customers for poor service.
The move follows a consultation by industry regulator Ofcom, which found that customers were insufficiently compensated for missed appointments from engineers and landline and broadband outages.
So what will the new compensation regulations mean? What sort of compensation can you expect? And when do the rules take effect? Read on for everything you need to know.
Under what circumstances am I eligible for compensation?
At the moment, if you receive poor internet or landline service, you have to complain to your service provider.
They will make you go through their complaints procedure, and if you want any money or credit back, you’ll have to make a claim for compensation.
The new scheme flips this on its head.
Instead of you claiming compensation, the provider will pay it automatically. So the onus is on them, rather than the customer.
How much will they pay?
It’s proposed that providers will have to pay £8 a day for each calendar day that the service isn’t repaired, if it’s not been fully fixed after two working days.
If an engineer doesn’t turn up for a scheduled appointment, or cancels with less than 24 hours’ notice, the customers will receive £25 per missed appointment.
And if a new service fails to start on the promised start date, the customer will receive £5 per calendar day of delay, including the missed start date.
What difference will it make?
The amounts aren’t huge. But they’re guaranteed money back for the customer.
While they won’t compensate, say, a missed day of work for most people, it’s hoped that the cumulative effect will cause the service providers to provider a better service.
What do the changes cover?
General poor service, which includes missed appointments, faulty broadband and landlines, and missed start dates.
Which providers are participating?
BT, Sky, TalkTalk, Virgin Media and Zen Internet have all agreed to take part. Other providers could come on board further down the line.
Is it mandatory?
No, as far as providers are concerned it’s completely voluntary. So if your provider isn't among those who are already on board, there's no guarantee they'll join in future.
When will the changes kick in?
The scheme is expected to take 15 months to implement. So expect to see it in action around spring 2019.
Why is this happening now?
Because the current situation seriously needs to be addressed.
According to Ofcom, providers refuse to pay out in 85 per cent of cases where customers attempt to claim compensation.
Each year, there are 5.7 million cases of consumers experiencing a loss of their landline or broadband, and engineers fail to turn up to an estimated 250,000 appointments.
About one in eight landline and broadband installations are also delayed, affecting more than 1.3 million people.
We’re also more reliant on broadband and phone lines than ever before.
For the increasing numbers of people working from home, they’re vital business tools, while for the housebound, they present an essential way of engaging with the outside world.