Cashback when it all goes wrong with your broadband
We are writing this up on Sunday 31st March even though it only goes live on 1st April just to ensure people don't think it is an April Fools joke.
Starting on 1st April 2019 compensation for things like delayed repairs, engineers cancelling at short notice or not arriving at all and installations not happening on time will be automatic removing the need for people to complain and pester their broadband providers as they were forced to previously.
The providers signed up and thus ready to start handing out money on 1st April are BT, Sky, TalkTalk, Virgin Media and Zen Internet. Others such as Hyperoptic and Vodafone have also just signed up but their systems won't be ready to handle things until later in 2019. EE is expected to start with the automatic compensation in 2020 and Plusnet has agreed to joining but no implementation date is available yet.
The compensation applies equally to both broadband and telephone line services, though our understanding is that if your phone and broadband are with the same provider and the phone line breaking takes out both the broadband and phone you won't get double the compensation.
- Compensation of £8 per day for total loss of service that is not fully fixed after two calendar days.
- When a new service does not start on the agreed date compensation of £5 per day for each calendar day and this includes the start date.
- When an engineer misses an appointment or this is cancelled with less than 24 hours notice £25 compensation will be credited.
Ofcom estimates that these changes may see £142 million paid out in compensation which sounds a large amount of money but when you consider that there are over 23 million fixed line broadband connections in the UK the sum looks a lot smaller. This estimate is around nine times higher than what people manage to claw back today after problems..
The hope is that broadband providers and infrastructure operators will work hard to ensure that performance improves and that therefore people will have less outages and problems with new connections. We do have our doubts though as we are pretty sure there will be people running the numbers to determine at what point it becomes more costly to have spare capacity of engineering staff to ensure minimal payouts via the compensation scheme than it is to just pay out the compensation.
The future battleground on compensation is likely to now be those faults where half the Internet is not available or things like packet loss mean that about all that works is collecting and sending email. In some ways these intermittent faults are more annoying and are much more common that total outages.
Ultimately compensation payments if they do shoot up will be masked by price increases in the providers financial results, so the real hope is that while compensation for individuals does improve the volume seeing long outages and missed appointments drops dramatically.
One danger is that we may see some providers being less willing to take on connections in areas where compensation is well above the UK average.