Internet giants cough up £20m in compensation payouts

Payouts (clockwise from top left): BT, TalkTalk, Sky Virgin Media and Zen

(Clockwise from top left): BT, TalkTalk, Sky, Virgin Media and Zen

BT, Sky, TalkTalk, Virgin Media and Zen Internet had to cough up more than £20m to customers in the first six months of a new Ofcom scheme, which forces broadband providers to pay automatic compensation when things go tits up.

Under the system, first announced as far back as 2016, customers who report Internet outages that are not fully fixed after two full working days receive £8-a-day automatic compensation paid as a refund on their next bill. Meanwhile, missed repair or provision appointments trigger a £25 payout and delays to the start of a new service come in at £5 a day.

The figures, released in the regulator’s annual customer service report, show there were almost 600,000 payments to customers totalling £20.7m between July and December last year, although exact details of who paid out what have not been released.

Breaking down the payments, £9.7m went on delayed repairs following loss of service, £9.5m for delayed provision of a new service and £1.6m for missed appointments.

Ofcom said just £8m was paid to customers in the first six months of 2019, before the scheme was introduced.
The automatic compensation scheme was suspended in April due to the coronavirus outbreak, with the lockdown meaning that providers are less likely to be as able to carry out repairs, install new services or make home visits than they usually would. Ofcom has yet to confirm when the scheme will be open again.

Elsewhere in its report, the regulator further noted that most providers took an average of two days to resolve faults where there was a total loss of service, and the majority were able to resolve nine out of 10 faults within a week.

It shows that TalkTalk once again attracted the lowest satisfaction rate for home broadband (78%), while Three UK was bottom for mobile (89%).

Overall 85% of fixed broadband consumers claimed to be satisfied with their service (up from 83% last year), which compares with 93% for mobile (unchanged) and 85% for landline phone (down from 86%). Subscribers to Plusnet reported the highest levels of satisfaction with broadband (93%), while TalkTalk scored the lowest (78%).

Ofcom’s consumer group director Lindsey Fussell said: “Checking the quality of a phone or broadband provider’s customer service can be the difference between you signing up to a company that keeps you connected, or one that falls short.

“Our research helps people to easily compare how providers perform on customer service, so they can choose the one that’s best for them.”

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