/ Technology

Ask Which? – compensation when my broadband goes down

Spanner on laptop

Peter asks: We lost connection to our BT Broadband for 14 out of 18 days. We contacted them repeatedly, and an adviser asked my elderly wife to crawl on the floor to unscrew the plug and check all the connections!

They told us the problem had to be in our flat. We said we’d had the same problem a number of times before and each time the problem was in the BT exchange. After several long and frustrating conversations, they sent out an engineer.

He spent a lot of time here and eventually concluded that the problem was at the exchange. At 4pm he returned and told us that we had had absolutely no connection at the exchange and was not surprised that we had no line. He created a new connection and now all is well.

We phoned and asked for compensation for the 14 days loss of internet, frequent visits to a coffee shop to use their internet, and for the amount of time we spent on the phone to BT customer services. After a lot of argument they offered us £4.52 in compensation.

I feel strongly that BT broke their contract with us to supply a full service and took exceptionally long to reconnect us and therefore for our time and inconvenience we should have got a fair compensation.

Emily Brunwin in our Consumer Rights team responds:

This sounds like a really frustrating situation. When you have a contract with a service provider, under the Supply of Goods and Services Act you’re entitled to get the services you were promised, provided with reasonable skill and care.

As you are unhappy with BT’s response to your problem, you could try making a formal complaint using their complaints procedure, if you haven’t already.

It’s rare for the law to require compensation be paid for inconvenience. In terms of the additional expenses that you occurred while visiting the coffee shop to use the internet, it really depends on what they were. If you paid a direct fee for use of the internet, BT may consider this. However, if internet was free but you needed to buy a coffee to use it, it is unlikely that this will be compensated for, as it can be argued that you could have gone to an internet café, or library, to replace the service.

When you are seeking reimbursement, you will not be able to claim for both the loss of your internet, and the additional cost of paying for the same service elsewhere.

In terms of the money spent on calls to BT, if you can itemise your phone bill and identify the amount you spent, in your situation it’s not unreasonable to request reimbursement for this.

If you’re still not happy, and choose not to accept the reimbursement offered from BT, Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) may help you settle your complaint. All broadband providers have to sign up to an ADR scheme. BT provide ADR through the Ombudsman Services: Communications. The Ombudsman has the additional right, above the law, to demand compensation be paid for inconvenience.

If your complaint has not been solved within eight weeks by BT, and it sounds like it hasn’t been, you can take it to the ombudsman, who will look at the evidence provided by both sides to come to a resolution.

Has your broadband ever gone down? Did your ISP treat you well and give you the compensation you felt you deserved?


Hello John – According to to-Fuel Broadband,s website terms and conditions (for what they are ) your rental agreement for the upkeep of the telephone landline/broadband is not paid to BT but to Fuel broadband . As a result you cannot apply to BT directly for compensation as they only compensate those who are their rental customers so your course of action is via Fuel who can apply to Openreach for compensation . BT policy is that after 3 days out of service line rental/broadband rental will be re-reimbursed or credited to you ,they also state they cannot guarantee anybodies telephone line will be fault free . The box on the pole must have had an ingress of water which caused fault conditions on your and other neighbours telephone line . Openreach do not deal directly with the public in these matters ,in cases of claiming damages , so you will have to go through your ISP , its down to the competence of Fuel to deal with Openreach as regards compensation in addition to any Fuel might offer . I will continue checking to see if I can get deeper detail of Fuels customer policy.

I checked up on this in other companies and it seems in most cases if you phoned from a landline to a mobile number you will be charged on a connection basis at least, even if you let it ring just a few times . If an answer-phone is connected then an ongoing charge is raised ,if it is on divert charges are also raised ,if the divert goes via a foreign country ,even if unanswered it incurs, even more charges . I was right in the fact you have to deal with Fuel direct not through any other provider . You can of coarse change your line rental back to BT but leave your broadband with Fuel BUT under your contract you could be charged for this.

terri eyre says:
6 April 2016

I have had lots of problems with my broadband I have my own business in which I reply completely on the internet for. However I have had problem with it for 18 months not running or running so slow that I have to wait 15 mins for 1 page to load. As you can image this is a massive problem for me especially when I have to update stock on my website and unable to do so therefore having loss of earnings which I am now going to contact them again for the 12th time and tell them I am going to sue for loss of earnings or they can reimburse me for last 18 months of use as clearly not been able to use it and it is putting my business down hill.

terri -what is your current stable speed ,the ISP (company you are with ) and the package you are paying for ? There will be a minimum speed given if you are constantly below that then you have a case to leave and go elsewhere without financial loss . This depends on your distance from the street cabinet as to whether another ISP can provide better and if you are running a business then are you paying for a business service ? If not you would have a problem using that as a legal challenge in court. As a matter of fact if you are with BT for their landline and complain about losing business and you are paying normal home user rates then BT could and have accused many of fraud and disconnected their telephone line after they wouldnt listen and went to court , just thinking of your welfare terri. Please read the small print in BT,s contract or any other ISP /telephone company . There is nothing stopping you RUNNING a business just dont complain using that as a basis in law.

Helen Hankin says:
16 May 2016

Our new broadband infinity was down for over 48 hours. It was not clear when it was going to resume as there was a general area outage and the time kept on being put back. Bt tell me that if you have a singular problem with your line, they will compensate you, but if it is an area outage, then tough luck. When I mentioned that all the people on the train get compensated, if it runs late, then I got a lot of ‘I don’t understands’. I think local BT operators would be better when handling these issues as I got the idea that late trains in India were unheard of!

Hello Helen just to make sure I contacted BT and got their terms+conditions in a case of a cable fault in the area . Their legal position is that AFTER 3 days of no service -ie-on the 4th day still faulty you can claim a rental rebate , this is a general cable fault . The terms+conditions of business users might not be the same as they pay more for their line upkeep . In general terms there is no other compensation in a situation like this particular one . Beware ! dont try to say you are a business working from home otherwise BT legal Dept will be onto you to ask why you are not paying business rates ,which would be fraud , several people tried this , they no longer have a BT line now when they wouldnt change their position .

My internet by virginmedia is down now more then 24 hours. How to get a compensation?

Man-Virgin advise you need to be out longer than 24 hours , you take the cost of your monthly INTERNET ONLY unless you have TV with it and /or phone charge and divide it by 30 then multiply by the number of days out . Call =150 or -0345-454-1111 to get help from them. As I cannot log into Virgin Media as I am with BT you might get more info by logging into your account with them online

No Plusnet phone or broadband for six days. Eventually took the Openreach engineer five minutes to fix it . The reason – the last man working in the cabinet had “fat fingers” and had pulled my connection out!

Angus -After three days out with BT you can claim credit on your rental does Plusnet do the same ? Seems you get payed out in a pro rata basis but I am not a customer I cant log into Plusnet to check the finer details.

Jonathan Jarzembowski says:
17 November 2016

So you want to know the downside, really I am an idiot for staying with my provider for as long as I have.

Lets go to the beginning, I originally had my account with be-broadband, the best service I have ever had so far, that worked perfectly with ADSL 2+ service giving me 13 – 16 Mbps up and 1.5 Mbps down for years.

Anyway they were bought out by Sky and was essentially locked in to a company buy out scheme. This was maybe two years ago. I thought I would see how it went and unluckily I chose wrong to stay with them, but not for long.

I am a sole trader working from home as a developer in my out of hours work time. Time which is extremely valuable to me so performance is important to me to get tasks done quickly and effectively. I also run my own development servers behind it with my email on. So I have a round the clock monitor on it. Something they don’t know.

Anyway, I have this evidence along with their maintenance and repair and over the last year I have been battling with their rather poor service quality. Customer Service have been great from my point of view on the phone, but from repairing an admitted fault by BT on the underground cable, swapped me on to another copper pair, worked fine for a few months then the issue returned. I know when it goes down and comes back up, roughly 3 – 5 times a day for 15 minutes. I might not be getting email which is rather important.

Anyway as for their complaints and waiting 8 weeks. Too late you have forced me to move away from Sky and anything BT. I am going to a complete new network which has installation costs. Something I will be requesting compensation for. In addition all the downtime I have in my deleted mail box for the last year I will be requesting also.

Anyway down to the speed today of 1.99 Mbps and up 0.45 Mbps I do speed tests every now and again and this is the biscuit. Anyone know a good lawyer to sew them?

Don’t use BT anymore if you can help it. They are out dated and will not be able to keep up with what is to come, won’t replace cabling unless enough people complain, so it is generally a big don’t care from them. Not good enough Sky for sewing them on an insurance basis and no good BT for fixing what is clearly broken.

Rant over, accept helpful hints and tips for pursuing this.

As far as the legal side is concerned Johnathan I wish you the best of luck you will need to prove cause of action with BT they have clauses that exempt them in the case of line faults otherwise many in Britain would be victors in those cases .They have high power City legal firms at their disposal but I would be interested in your outcome in that direction . A much better path is to get BT to accept you have an intermittent line fault and cure it , now thats something I know well have fixed 1000,s of them . I take it you have FTTC but copper to your local DP ? That would tie up with you living over a mile from the cabinet , correct me if its less , under normal circumstances the fault is usually cabinet to DP/House -iE- D side onwards , if the copper is old and by that I mean the whole D side to your particular DP then what happens is that BT and I for that matter would try to find a “good ” pair in the cable and transfer your old pair to it , obviously that hasnt cured it , meaning the spares arent any better , and as an aside i take it your overhead wiring is up to date and isnt noisy /crackly /etc -break dial tone and listen or do a noise test ? An “intermittent dis ” isnt easy to spot and requires constant monitoring another option would be a transfer to another DP with a good UG cable , this can be done by re-routing your overhead wiring and changing the pair at the cabinet via a jumper . You mention a “completely new network ” via what ? wi-fi/ radio/ cell-net ? if its via the same old copper cable changing suppliers wont make any difference BT are the “top dogs” in this area , unless you mean a new street cable via Virgin media ? who use their own routing +cable . Narrow this info down to what your practical engineering position is please .

Hi Duncan

I know money to them is no object and they do indeed have their nice lovely legal teams, but facts are facts and when your paying for a service that you don’t even get close too they don’t have much of a leg to stand on.

Luckily I won’t be taking it to BT’s door in any way but to Sky’s. I wish it was FFTC I had with them but ADSL 2+. Kind of lucky I am a 3rd line engineer in one of the worlds top 100 companies. Knowledge goes a long way and they can’t fob me off too much with your a domestic customer rubbish.

Luckily I am going for a dedicated business line with Virgin Business for less than our phone rental with TalkTalk and cost of broadband with Sky. Well for 12 months it will be 15 pounds less.

All these service carriers to pass blame is ridiculous. I am actually less than 100 m from the cabinet about 90 m when the BT engineer first came, that is to my closest fibre linked box. They have been twice I believe through this escapade. My whole street in fact has issues which I am sure if together we complain together will cause an awful stink in small claims. It has been so bad on our street that we ended up loosing telephone numbers in some houses and their friends and family were calling people in Wales? Can you believe it?

Anyway when he came he admitted that some digging company on the road had gone through the cable running on the street and moved me on to another copper pair. This was back in March I believe and ran well for a bit and I have finally got bored with them not fixing it and picking up a better supplier on a business lease for less than the two put together. Too bad BT looses another customer and it has to be fixed in 24 hours with Vigin Business. The dial tone has no issues and is clean.

In terms of proof I have a record of the logged calls and engineers coming out. Additionally my server here has a monitor on it and I know when it is going down and coming back up. This goes back to 2014 which is perfect for my proof of downtime. That will kick up a stink.

So no more PSTN for me, it is an old technology and after seeing my friends EE 4G on his phone getting 75 Mbps downstream and 24 Mbps upstream constantly. He this week has also ditched them too. Looks like they have to change everything they do and how they do it. I however prefer a hard wired solution.

If anyone wants to see the monitor results please let me know, will be happy to name and shame.

Hello Johnathan 90 metres from the cab thats good but ,as you say its copper all the way back to the exchange . if the whole street is like that and the cable was cut it sounds like it should be renewed all the way back to the cabinet . IF you had a non business line with BT then the quality and service aren’t to the same standard as a business customer, If you are going with Virgin Cable then I take it your street has been wired by them ? I dont understand that in the sense if BT didnt think it was profitable to install FTTC for your area then I cant figure out how Virgin would think it profitable . I too prefer hard wired as other means have drawbacks , I dont know much about Sky apart from its owner who is a major world media mogul and is part of a limited number of owners of world media . Its not everybody who can get 4 G but what he gets is as good as my Infinity 2 with BT ( download better on 4G ) I take it ,if you have ASDL2+ you live in ax metropolitan area /highly populate /big city ? if so then I can understand if Virgin has cabled the area but not BT ,s technical business position. So I take it it will be FTTP/H with speeds of 300Mbps /upwards ? if in London it could be 1000Mbps +. Keep in touch I dont find many winners in law when fighting big companies like Sky

The engineer from BT basically said they would only replace the multi-core cable if enough people complained, which many have given up doing because they are purely sick and tired of a situation. My be-there broadband was a business line but the buyout unfairly pushed me on to their domestic infrastructure. Not good enough on the Competition Commission to ensure the consumer is protected and talk about letting the Murdoc enterprise take more and more competition out. It was a fab business was that and worked perfectly. Shame Sky did not learn from them. I guess knowledge lost. Street was wired years ago here by them and think goes back when the big install was going on. Well FFTC is available but not at the speed they claim which falls in with the lies the ASA has picked up on in recent days. So for a FFTC I get about 25 Mbps out of the 75 – 76 available. Thats what tests from all suppliers show. What a joke?

I live between a few large cities in a populated area but not a major city centre. I can actually get up to 300 Mbps out here in the sticks.

My friends EE on his phone is astonishingly brilliant. He has his laptop and desktop connected to work as we are at the same place and three kids watching online childrens programming all the time, or games or what ever. I think even EE will name and shame BT, Plusnet, TalkTalk, all of them really.

25Mbps for Infinity isnt that hot thats on /near the lower limit of Infinity 1 , as EE was bought by BT it shows they are allowing it some commercial freedom , unusual in this day and age most large conglomerates I know about “integrate ” a new part of their organisation into their business plan , in other words just another shop front with a different sign outside but the same as its owner inside( business badge engineering ) . Wish you the best of luck in your endevours , thanks for replying Johnathan.

susan shaw says:
28 July 2017

I have recently had no broadband for 15days. My provider Chess ICT formally TrueTelecom have told me today I am due no compensation for the loss of service as I should expect disruptions of my service from time to time. I was misled into the original contract with them and cannot wait for it to end. Thought i was moving to a sister company of BT but i wasn’t and that I had agreed a 1 year contract, which they later insisted was 3 years. I am 2 years in so far and counting the months.

Susan , Chess ICT is a company supplying business “solutions ” to businesses not the general public so I take it you are running a business ? They say they provide a virtual network meaning in cruder ( but realistic terms ) that they “piggy-back” another network telecom providers landline/ cell-net system .From that I deduce that as a previous BT customer they are using BT network lines , from such it can be deduced that if your line breaks down its Openreach who repair it . They are telling you a lot of absolute Bull , in that you should not receive compensation for loss of service UNLESS you signed a contract to the contrary (small print ) with them . BT have a “set in stone ” compensation scheme after 5 working days out of service which I would be delighted to post if anybody thinks I am not telling the truth . As far as “True ” Telcom is concerned have you read the posts on the website dedicated to its ex- employees and current ones ? . That company is a hard-sell -cold calling company according to them with bad employee conditions and ( according to them ) breaking the law by promises etc and signing up people who only inquire about something , wanting credit card details etc . They even talked a sole company business owners WIFE into a contract even though he is the sole owner of the business putting it up in his business name and saying -to get out will cost you £1700 , he is in the process of legal action saying- in that case the company cleaner could phone you and get my telecommunications changed !! he is very irate . What made you think Chess had anything to do with BT ?? you are not alone there is website full of this complaint and “5 minutes later ” BT send a -sorry you are LEAVING us letter , does that look like they are part of BT ? Many angry people Susan , BT may get torn to bits here and in the media but its just the fact they want it sold off to Americans the company is stable and at the moment its still British although the Germans want to buy it and own 10 % of it and it certainly doesn’t treat all its customers like dirt no ,matter who says what in the media . As a business owner you have a dedicated UK ONLY ! service complaint desk -high spec staffed , high priority service and benefits in your broadband connection including a fixed IP + more and that includes an Enhanced business compensation scheme . Dont let the media fool you Susan BT might have its faults but it hasn’t gone down the hard-nosed American route yet and thats because it is still British –in fact -unlike other so called “British” companies

I notice that this blog started in 2013 and here we are 4 years later and still no cash back from the providers for time off line. Come on Which, chase the watchdogs on this.

Jan Michell says:
12 November 2017

I was very pleased to hear that there will now be an automatic credit put through client accounts across the UK for loss of internet connection. In the two years that I’ve had talktalk there have been the odd occasions where internet connection has been intermittent. This is acceptable. What is not acceptable is that for the past two months, internet connection has been going on and off daily. I feel that I should get some compensation for that.

Jan that’s called “dropout ” this has to be proved beyond a shadow of doubt that there is no faults in your home . This requires testing from the Master socket for several days using a Lan cable and no Wi-Fi with the extension wiring removed. If you complain about this without testing it and the fault is in your home charges will be raised. You own the internal wiring/phones etc after the Master socket.

Steven Frow says:
16 November 2017

Steven Frow