Ofcom has been forced to intervene following a major customer backlash against Virgin Media, amid claims the company has reneged on its pledge to pay automatic compensation when services go down.
Under the payouts programme, launched in 2019, broadband, landline and mobile customers no longer have to seek redress themselves, but instead receive refunds automatically for any loss or reduction of service.
Virgin Media, BT, Sky, TalkTalk and Zen Internet – who together serve around 90% of broadband and landline customers in the UK – signed up at launch, followed by Vodafone and Hyperoptic.
At the time of launch, it was estimated that Virgin Media could face an annual compensation bill of up to £8m from the scheme.
And now the company has been accused of failing to adhere to the scheme and ignoring rulings by the Communication & Internet Services Adjudication Scheme (Cisas), the independent dispute resolution service that is backed by Ofcom.
According to The Times, customers have asked Cisas several times to force Virgin to cough up but have got nowhere.
This week, Ofcom said it had issued a warning to Virgin Media after The Times referred five cases in which the company had failed to adhere to a Cisas ruling. The customers were then sent compensation, in some cases within hours.
In a statement, Virgin Media denied any issue, insisting it has “a robust process in place to deal with Cicas rulings”. However, it added: “In exceptional cases there may be a delay in payment, for which we apologise, but this does not indicate general non-compliance.”
Ofcom said: “We are very concerned by the problems some Virgin Media customers are experiencing and have made it clear to the company that we expect them to up their game.
“Virgin Media has confirmed to us it has a plan to improve certain issues with its customer service and we will monitor its progress closely. Ofcom can investigate if there is evidence of company-wide issues that could be in breach of our rules.”
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