Automatic compensation on hold for broadband issues during pandemic
It seems obvious that fixing faults may take longer during the coronavirus pandemic with less staff available to support customers remotely or attend to fix a fault. The announcement that support would be aimed more at the vulnerable people and those for whom a connection is critical a few days ago has now being followed up with some Ofcom specific news that impacts on some of the rules that have come into effect in the last year or so.
- Automatic compensation for things like faults or delayed installs is to be put on hold. Though Ofcom makes it clear that if someone is left without service due to a fault they should not be charged.
- The 30 day window for broadband providers to try and attempt to fix slow broadband speeds has been dropped. While Ofcom urges providers to do their best to fix issues like this, the dropping of the 30 day period is recognition that getting things fixed may take longer.
- End of contract notifications are still expected to be sent out, but Ofcom is saying it will be pragmatic if a provider delays these to manage load on call centres.
For those who are working from home and are in a situation where they think that will continue for some weeks or months it may be worth looking at your backup options using 4G connectivity either using a hot-spot on your phone temporarily or a 4G router with an Ethernet port to avoid the additional vagueries of Wi-Fi. Another option is an agreement with neighbours to share connectivity if one households connection does break.
In theory migrations between providers do continue and while a migration should involve a short 30 minutes or so of downtime, if you have a full household if there is no urgent need to migrate it might be worth putting this off for a while to avoid you being one of a small number where the migration messes up.
We would urge providers to also be kinder in how they handle migrations, e.g. Plusnet has a habit of turning off authentication on the day of a migration ahead of the user making the switch or not enabling an account until they get notification that its happened from the wholesaler. Enabling the account ahead of the migration date and not turning them off so quickly will go a long way to ensuring people are not cut off.
If you have lost your job or are on furlough and need to reduce your bills do talk to your broadband providerto see what they will do for. Obviously broadband is not the largest bill but for those now with limited financial resources stretching out what money you have will help.