BROADBAND and phone customers will get automatic refunds of up to £8 per day for problems with their service, from Monday.
A compensation system launched by the regulator Ofcom will see customers get pay outs for delayed repairs and installations.
More than 5million consumers lose their landline or broadband service each year, nearly 250,000 engineer appointments are missed, and over 1million landline and broadband installations are delayed, Ofcom figures show.
But under the new scheme, customers will get £8 for every day their service is down, if it is not fixed within two working days.
And new customers whose service does not start on time will get £5 for every day of delay.
There will also be automatic refunds of £25 every time an engineer fails to show up for a booked appointment.
From April 1, if a customer loses service they must report the fault to their provider – this will automatically trigger a compensation payment if the repair takes too long.
Until now, just one in seven customers who had problems with their broadband or home phone got compensation – and usually only small amounts.
Ofcom figures show there are 7.2 million cases each year where broadband or landline customers suffer delayed repairs, installations or missed appointments, but only around 1.1 million people get compensation.
Average refunds are currently £3.69 per day for loss of service and £2.39 per day for delayed installations.
The new scheme aims to put an end to customers having to fight for money back, as providers will pay out automatically.
It is also expected to push companies into providing a better service.
WHICH PROVIDERS PAY OUT
Five of Britain’s biggest broadband providers – BT, Sky, TalkTalk, Virgin Media and Zen Internet – signed up to the scheme when it was announced in November 2017, with Vodafone and Hyperoptic joining today. EE and Plusnet are also expected to join.
It means 95 per cent of customers in the UK will be covered.
Ofcom said compensation payments could grow nine-fold from £16 million to £142 million under the new system. It said it would “step in and take action” if customers were not treated fairly.
Chief executive Sharon White said: “We think it’s unacceptable that people should be kept waiting for a new line, or a fault to be fixed.
“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.
“We welcome the companies’ commitment to this scheme, which acts as a strong incentive to improve service for customers.”
Research by consumer magazine Which? found Virgin Media customers were most likely to suffer service blackouts.
One in six Virgin Media customers said they had been left without service, compared to one in ten at TalkTalk and 8 per cent at Sky and BT.
Which?’s annual broadband satisfaction survey found new Vodafone customers were most likely to endure a long wait before their service started, with one in six waiting at least a month.
But under the new guidelines, customers will only get compensation if the provider does not install the service on the agreed date – there is no specific time frame.
The survey also found SSE customers were most likely to face a long wait for an engineer visit, with one in 14 customers reporting problems. But these customers will not get compensation as SSE is not signed up to the new scheme.
Natalie Hitchins, of Which?, said:“Broadband customers who suffer slow repairs, missed appointments and delayed installations have up until now had to jump through hoops to get compensation, so it is encouraging that some will now be refunded automatically.
“However, for consumers to truly feel the benefit of this scheme, broadband providers must improve their service overall. If not, we expect the regulator to show its teeth and take stronger action.”