/ Technology

Win! Auto-compensation for bad broadband and landline service

Broadband compensation

The telecoms regulator Ofcom has announced today that it will introduce automatic compensation for broadband and landline customers. Is this good news for you?

Today we’ve welcomed a huge win for our broadband campaign as Ofcom has revealed plans for automatic compensation to be introduced across the broadband and landline market.

Currently, BT, Sky, TalkTalk, Virgin Media and Zen Internet have signed up to this scheme. While these providers serve 90% of landline and broadband customers in the UK we want to see all providers signed up.

Auto-comp win

In recent years broadband has increasingly been seen as a third utility, and a vital one at that. People now value it just as much as energy or water. While expectations are rising, satisfaction is falling.

In our latest broadband customer satisfaction survey, only two providers achieved above the 70% satisfaction mark. And it would appear that the regulator would agree with this sentiment, it noted that that telecoms companies haven’t kept pace with customers’ needs when it comes down to the quality of service.

Now, I don’t know about you, but I will claim compensation when I believe I’m entitled to it. I submit for compensation for rail delays or problems on the tube, and I recently helped my parents claim compensation when their holiday was thrown into disarray in the British Airways IT meltdown.

There are, however, lots of people who don’t seek compensation when they deserve it. The process can be tedious and inaccessible and often people aren’t even aware what they are entitled to.

That’s why we have been campaigning for automatic compensation across a number of sectors, including the broadband and landline market. We believe that you’re let down by your provider, you should be adequately compensated without having to jump through hoops.

Well, Ofcom’s plans will see customers automatically compensated for slow repairs, missed appointments and delayed installations.

The automatic compensation will be a standard compensation amount across providers and come into effect in 15 months time. The regulator has outlined how this compensation scheme will work:

Getting better broadband

While today should be welcome news for those who are left frustrated by shoddy service from their broadband and landline provider, we need reassurance that all providers will play fair and sign up to this compensation scheme.

The regulator believes consumers will benefit from up to £142 million per year in automatic compensation payments, but fundamentally it’s important that this compensation acts as an incentive for providers improve their service levels and deliver genuinely better customer experience.

What do you make of today’s news? Is it a much needed boost for customer experience in the broadband market? Will it make lives easier for consumers to get the compensation they deserve and make providers smarten up on their customer service?

Comments

We’ve been plagued with poor internet with BT for over six months now, and was eventually persuaded to convert over to fibre – which has made no difference to dropout, and only a small increase in speed (7 to 10 Mb/s). I have repeatedly reported the dropouts to BT, who have then run tests – but because their tests reveal no problem, they won’t send out an OpenReach engineer. Great system. However… we use BT wifi extenders here (not powerline) and I realised rather slowly that these may be part of the problem. Turning them off has definitely helped our broadband up time. I’ve bought (yet another…) extender, this time a BT powerline/mini Wifi hot spot one, and this seems to behave better. Still getting dropout on a daily basis, though…

Alan, sad to the BT support team does not have a great set of tools for reporting on line issues and getting to the route of any problem – but they have also been trained up to believe there is nothing better (as far as I can tell). From the sound of it, if you are using extenders, your setup may not make the following particularly easy but the only way to get to the bottom of it and prove the issue to be on the openreach network is to plug everything into the master socket and work from there. If you eliminate your hardware and internal wiring there is nothing left but the box on the wall and the outside network – both the responsibility of openreach. At that point BT have no leg to stand on and have to send an engineer. Are you ringing BT up every time you have a dropout? Soul destroying and apparently time wasting as that may seem it is what you need to be doing.

Do you have access to a second router so that that can be eliminated as a source of the issue?

Julia Bywater says:
11 November 2017

This should go further and make it illegal to treat long standing customers unable to get the deals that they are trying to entice new customers with. I’m not on about the 1/2 price for 6 months etc., but some of the bundles they are offering at the full price is still far cheaper than the bundles they can offer customers of 25 years with far more extras included.

Broadband contracts don’t last 25 years. Once you get to the end of your 12/18/24 month contract you can push for a better deal before taking out the next one. In fact it is even possible to get enhancements on your current deal that give you extras. You just have to be pushy, tell them what you want and ask what they can do to get you that – or how close they can come. If you didn’t recontract, so are still on the previous deal, then ask what better bundle they can offer you but don’t sit and wait for the deals to come to you, there are very few ISPs who proactively hand out better deals to existing customers.

P. Bryan says:
11 November 2017

This is good news. I have lost track of the number of calls made to BT about problems with the service. The threat of having to pay a large amount of money if the engineer should find that the fault did not lie with BT. The appointments missed, length of time without a service and not getting the broadband speed promised. At least if they have to pay for this shoddy service there will be some incentive for them to improve it.

Graham Townsend says:
11 November 2017

There are some days where I hardly have any Broadband at all, some days it is just so slow, I have had to go on the Fiber but have not had anyone come to convert it, I am with SKY at the moment, I have complained many times, to give them their due they normally have sent someone to try to sort it out but I understand we are too far from the sub junction box so it never is cured. I have written to SKY but have not received a reply. The whole system is rubbish. No one seems to really care.

Does anyone realise the dangers of using wi-fi broadband, smartphone data etc? No, because it’s deliberately being kept out of mainstream media. Aside from slowly cooking your internal organs via microwaves, more people than ever are getting cancer, lymphoma, brain tumours, dementia/memory problems, fybromyalgia, demyelination of nervous system, skin problems, eye dryness, insomnia through melatonin destruction and an extensive list of other serious symptoms. Here’s what to do:-

1. Either buy or hire an Acoustimeter AM-10 RF Meter and measure the emission level that you are being exposed to at work, at home and whilst you are outside.. Working next to a wireless modem can push upto 6 volts through every cell in your body. Any extra RF radiation from neighbour’s wi-fi(s) and smartphone(s) will add to this. Smart meters emit even higher voltages in the form of continuous pulses. Whilst you have the meter with you, check the radiation level from your microwave oven while it’s heating something.
(All microwave ovens leak), also check emissions from your internet enabled TV. Then, when you get over the shock of learning this:-

2. Use a copper cable instead of wireless for all your devices and convince your neighbours to do the same. Most modems actually require the wi-fi switching off at the provider’s website. It is not enough to just plug a cable into the modem. (Check with your provider for confirmation).

3. For more information (which is currently kept hidden from you) check out the ES-Uk website.

David Reay says:
11 November 2017

I have been frustrated for years with broken promises and poor service from Broadband providers. I pay for 50mg, they deliver 5-10mg There is no comeback at the moment, they can get away with this behaviour. Other service providers, water,gas, electric etc. have responsibilities and the customer has comeback with them, so how come the broadband guys don’t. I have had accounts with most of them and none of them deliver properly. Because it’s so common, I assume it’s the UK infrastructure that can’t cope with spiraling demand of the IOT.
Companies who built domestic equipment dependent on broadband access, aside from computers, should be made to contribute finance to rapidly expand the infrastructure to support it. Why should the consumer pay increasing payments towards something happening too slowly. Nobody saw this coming?? I don’t believe that.

Mike d'Apice says:
11 November 2017

On our last pre-planned, pre-ordered house move we lost internet connectivity for >3 days when keeping to the same supplier, BT. We then spent 10 years exposed to adverts promising >20mbps connectivity with free Sport, etc. for less than we paid per month for NOT getting 1mbps – so routinely were unable to connect to BBC I- Player between 17:00 and 23:00 hrs and then streaming a 1hr programme would take >90mins on a good day. Now upgraded by BT to “Fibre to Cabinet” our BB is “Upto 52 mbps” but todate have yet to measure it at >10mpbs … when its working long enough to test! I know of no other commodity where you are sold in measures of “Up To”, a litre bottle in a supermarket holds a litre , not randomly anything from empty to 1000mls , a kWhr is exactly that, a Pint is a Pint and a pair of size 9 shoes are never a size 1 … so why bandwidth????

Thanks for the lunchtime laugh Mike. I don’t know why but the thought of a pair of size 9s being a size 1 bandwidth just tickled my funny bone for some reason.

Gordon Hastie says:
11 November 2017

This is real progress. However, it doesn’t look as if there will be any compensation for when internet connection is lost, which in my case has happened occasionally, sometimes for 24 hours or more. I’ve always thought it fairly extraordinary that we have to pay for a service we don’t receive.

My only concern is that the companies will find another way to get the money out of their customers to pay for the compensations they owe.

On the face of it this sounds good. However, there are some problems with this because BT often don’t even recognise or admit there is a problem. I have given up trying to get an explanation from BT as to why I get numerous instances where the broadband service just comes to a complete stop. These interruptions can last for minutes at a time. Reporting this to BT simply ends up with a conversation with a first line support person who is clearly simply reading from a script and which inevitably results in them diagnosing the problem to be a wifi issue. When I challenge them on this they try to persuade me to make some configuration changes and say something along the lines of “…trust me this will solve your problem…”. On many occasions I have followed BTs own list of things to check to resolve the problem but it never does. Unfortunately there will be no automatic compensation for this type of problem. I am not alone in having this issue as pretty well all other BT customers I talk to have the same unresolved problem. I have now registered my interest with Airband to see if they can offer a more reliable service. Unfortunately this solution isn’t yet available where I live but it is planned for end 2019 at the latest assuming there is enough demand of course! Has anyone used this service ?

GOM42 -Airband are a small wireless broadband company which in many rural circumstances can make a large difference to your BB speed . They are a “go to ” organisation in cases like that .Up to 100 Mbps -public version NOT business, can be obtained BUT like all wireless high frequency installations they are “point to point ” IE -the transmitters have to have near line of sight . Mostly rural southern England +Wales are covered but only parts . I cant get a price list as I need to input a home address but otherwise I have not heard of negative comments –so far . I am Pro- this sort of thing because for those that can afford it it provides an answer to very slow BB speed . Business users can obtain a much higher speed — at a price .

No experience with Airband per se but there is a similar privately owned setup in my area. My next door neighbour and theirs are connected, myself and the neighbour on the other side have been waiting with bated breath for connection for more than 2 years.

The local setup is similarly priced – a tenner a month. As to how well it works, that seems to depend on who you speak to. Rural folks like us seem to think it is the bees knees, Townies are less impressed. But when you have spent 10 years being grateful to achieve a stable half meg connection to be able to watch a video without buffering is so exciting, whilst those more used to having the whole family online plus 3 different TV channels coming into the house all at the same time find there is too much lag on the system – made worse by the fact that all these locals who have never seen internet TV in their lives switch it on at 8 in the morning and leave it on until the dot comes on (and there ain’t a dot no more, sad to say).

Poor weather is supposed not to affect the service but I get the impression it does. Since it acts in a similar fashion to satellite, I would imagine any build up of snow or ice would out paid to any service until that was cleared and there aren’t many will clamber over the roof to be doing any clearing.

So the same as any other service – swings and roundabouts. One point to note is that, since it isn’t on the terrestrial network, there will be a disconnection fee as and when you terminate any service you currently have – this is to pay the little man in the office to walk along the corridor and push a switch that allows them to free up your port and sell it on to some poor sucker they have waiting in line.

Colin Smith says:
11 November 2017

Having worked in Telecommunications for 30+ years, with around 7 years in Broadband and Fixed Line faults, I think I’ve a pretty good understanding of this area of Telecoms! It doesn’t look like Ofcom and people who don’t work in the industry, understand that it isn’t necessarily the Service Providers that are causing the delays in repairing faults, it’s Openreach! Apart Virgin Media, all other Service Providers rely on Openreach to install telephone lines and fix faults on the telephone network between the exchange and the customer site. So, when you order a new line or report a fault, the Service Provider will then give the job to Openreach to complete and it is Openreach who regularly miss the target times they give.
They often don’t have enough engineers or the engineer doesn’t do a proper job. So, unless Service Providers are allowed to claim off Openreach, they will be paying customers compensation because Openreach have not met their own targets.

Colin -thank goodness for a word of reason in this anti-BT jungle I hope some listen to you , one ex BT engineer to another .

I think Ofcom have partially recognised the problem, Colin, because it has been driven home to them by the non-BT service providers who were getting very frustrated that BT’s in-house Openreach arm was giving priority to BT’s service requirements and repairs. As a result Ofcom has forced BT to virtually divest itself of Openreach, the infrastructure provider, which has become a new entity operating at arms length from BT the telecom service provider. Openreach is now a virtually autonomous subsidiary of the BT Group having its own board and operations organisation below Group level. Openreach has been instructed to deal equitably with all the service providers that use the original BT lines and cables in terms of priorities and service delivery and to not delay the installation of competitors’ new cables and other infrastructure. It was quite apparent that BT was taking advantage of its dominant market position and adversely affecting the customers of the other service providers. That this was occurring while BT was building up its rival TV services via broadband had not escaped Ofcom’s attention.

Sorry but I have to step in here and offer a little defence of Openreach whether you worked for them or not. Yes I agree that the issue often does not lie with the service provider – even BT – who as the frontline operation is most often in the firing line. I also acknowledge not all engineers are equal (not by a long chalk) since, especially as broadband became big business and the workforce grew exponentially, I have had engineers turn up at my door with less knowledge of their job than I had. However, with a ‘from day 1 ongoing longline fault’, I too have I ‘worked’ closely with those guys over a similar period of time (so much so that at one point I knew the all the guys in the exchange by name, could recognise their voices over the telephone and still count one of them amongst my circle of close friends) and time and time again we batted our heads against the wall that was BT Wholesale. Every single fixed line broadband customer in my locale has recently had their service drop by a minimum 50% and become unstable because Wholesale decided to upgrade the exchange by replacing the exchange equipment with a make already proven not to work on our long lines and there was not a thing that the engineers could do about it even though the old equipment was still physically in the building. Nothing that is except apologise to all those customers whose problems were suddenly no longer resolved. Openreach engineers are the go to guys for a line fault but they do not control the entire infrastructure so, until such time as they do, there still has to be debate about where the blame lies even if it is not with the ISP. I know which moron gets my vote!!

I appreciate what you are saying Foxcliffe, but customers cannot go to the Openreach guys, unfortunately. They have to raise a fault or a problem with their telecom service provider and hope for the best. I guess the blockage is frequently to be found in the administrative process that turns a customer’s complaint into a repair requisition.

Openreach customers may well be service providers – it does not make them any less Openreach customers nor does it counter my claim that whilst Openreach are the guys they go to BT Wholesale well may be the owner of the issue – most certainly were as far as their actions undid months, if not years, of work the Openreach engineers had undertaken in my locale – yet it is that Openreach engineer who is getting the blame.

I am not sure if this makes the issue any clearer, but where I used the word ‘customer’ in my post I should have used the word ‘subscriber’ – the person on the end of the line. Subscribers – the people with a telecoms service contract with a telecom service provider [BT, TalkTalk, etc] – cannot deal directly with Openreach whose only customers are those said telecom service providers who rent capacity from Openreach. So when you have a fault you have to contact your telecom service provider who then needs to transmit a repair order through to Openreach which, under the contract terms with their customers, are required to attend to it within a specified period. One problem in this chain is that the telecom service providers are not diligent enough to track the repair fulfilment and get it done within the specified time unless their subscriber contacts them again to complain.

Another term for the customer is “End User”. When I first started working for BT during the 7o’s (Then known as the GPO), they used to refer to customers as Subscribers! 🙂

Any decent Service Provider should first ask you to run through some First Line Checks, which may mean you have to call back for a second time but, once you’re at a stage that a fault needs logging to Openreach, the Service Provider should raise the fault whilst you’re on the phone to them.

That way, the Customer/Subscriber/ End User (eu) can be informed of the appointment details or the “Estimated Response Time” that has been set by Openreach.

It then depends on what Care Level you are on or how busy Openreach are in your area, as to how long it will take the fault to be fixed.

Michael Campbell says:
11 November 2017

Of course all providers should be forced to compensate for shoddy service though I’m pretty damned sure they will find some loop hole to swiftly dive into. I would appreciate the speed advertised be the speed that I am actually getting.Example I am currently supposed to get 38mb though rarely is this achieved. Infact I am lucky if I get 28 on a good day. Slow broadband speeds should also incur compensation being paid out to those affected. Glossy adverts draw people in but rarely offer what the adverts say I will or should be getting.

james says:
11 November 2017

optic fibre only works fully if it come right up to your equipment .Usually it goes to a fibre box where a copper wire to your equipment is used slowing down the rate promised.My BT infinity modem keeps going down usually late at night .when I phone BT they say no work or cable faults in your area .we test our equipment and everything tests ok .watching catch up on TV we get the little arrow chasing its tail sometimes we see you have lost your internet connection please check your equipment .The infinity box shows a lovely shade of red for a few minutes Neighbours with virgin have similar problems even though they have just laid a fibre cable network . who gives what they claim they give ?

G Thomas says:
11 November 2017

I went with a particular company as I thought it would be cheaper and more efficient. They lost my old number which was ex-directory and thereby a whole load of friends could no longer contact me- this was despite my informing them several times that they had got the number wrong.

When I insisted on speaking to a manager about this problem, they said that someone would ring me back in the next 4 HOURS! ; they didn’t. These telephone calls, of which there were several, left me waiting for 20 minutes each time for an advisor. I couldn’t contact them online as I had no internet – and had cancelled VERBALLY and by text – strangely enough, calls are only recorded in their favour. They sent me a customer satisfaction survey text where I confirmed the cancellation – they acknowledged this, yet continued to send me demands for money.

I had received the router later than promised and did not connect it as I was unhappy with their customer service.

Eventually, they cut off my phone for outgoing calls as I had cancelled the direct debit since they were not providing the service that I thought had agreed to – the person who I had spoken to online originally, had a filthy cold and insisted on rattling through the contract at a speed which was not really intelligible and therefore not realistically viable as a verbal contract.

I sent them a recorded delivery letter outlining the above, yet they continued to text and email me (I picked up my emails at work) , threatening me with putting the account in the hands of debt collectors.

They have now raised “question whatever” as I was able to email them from another source – who knows what excuses for ripping me off they will now come up with – my recorded delivery letter insisted on them providing me with an invoice and a bank sort code and account number to pay them for the calls I made before they cut off the line – I cannot realistically be expected to set up a direct debit nor give my card number to a company who refuses to acknowledge cancellation of a non-viable contract

There are so many people complaining of drop outs that it needs investigated . Now this isnt confined to BT but ALL the other providers not just in the UK but the USA/Australia etc all using different routers and different ISP,s To eliminate me giving a long list of internal household faults it could be the only sane and engineering answer is to do this– OPen up the Master socket –disconnect ALL internal wiring by unplugging the front plate held ijn by two screws –then plug in your router/modem and with ONLY a LAN cable connect that to your router after DISABLING Wi-Fi –try that for a minimum of two days and see if it still drops out . never shut off your router in aid of “ecoism ” all you are dong is causing your router to run slow for several days as the exchange equipment thinks there is a fault and intentionally reduces speed as your router TALKS to the exchange ( digitally ) THis is the only sure way of blaming an external fault . Yes you can be told to reset it and turn off this or that but just bypass all that and do what I say , then come back and comment but don’t cut cirners or leave Wi-Fi on for your wife, child etc otherwise its a pure waste of time . Nothing else is going to be acceptable to your ISP A hint –when you get a drop out the router resets itself CHANGE the RESET time to= ZERO – ie- “O”.

harry ross says:
12 November 2017

twice i have been without phone or broadband,, from thursday to the next tuesday,,,with no compensation,,they just treat customers as trivial nonsense,,,,,,,,

Jason says:
12 November 2017

Remember when Buzby (BT) was sold off in the 1980s and we were told that the consumers would be the ones to benefit? I beg to differ.

And so did all the engineering staff including myself Jason. I still have my Buzby cup. THe mass media expertly built up the public into a state of “we hate the GPO/BT ” ” -sell-sell-sell. Who profited ? not the public . Now the chickens have come home to roost and the public don’t like that either . Shows how easily they are influenced by the mass media . Next step — sell to the Americans – watch the build up –and suffer the long term consequences .

And there was I thinking the public were clamouring to buy shares in British Telecom when the government put them on the market! I suppose the wrong people got rich, including a lot of employees. The BT Group is probably now largely owned by pension funds and investment vehicles. There seems to be no evidence that they are looking to sell up at the moment, though, since big profits are still rolling in, albeit slightly less than last year but that’s because they’ve tapped a new seam of sport and entertainment, which is costing a lot to acquire, in the hope it will deliver mega profits through the UK’s most extensive communications infrastructure.

As far as I know, the public and employees who bought shares would have profited and, if they had held on to them, would still have a share in the business.

PRAKASH PATEL says:
12 November 2017

The broadband con has been going on for ever since they started providing this service & connection.
not only should compensate but also they should pay for time that the service was not connected for at minimum of £125.00 per day and in the case for commercial customers they should pay for loss business profit and also a letter to pass onto the customer’s client’s that the broadband was down due the providers fault.

Jean Lee says:
12 November 2017

I am with Virgin media , If there is ever a problem ,which is very seldom
it is dealt with immediately. Excellent service.

Barry Gilbert says:
12 November 2017

All well and good, IF, they acknowledge. We’ve currently had random internet for about 2 months, sometimes 28, sometimes 1.5, WHEN WORKING. Talk Talk insist on delaying with repetitive line checks and the fault just runs on, usually with being placed on hold and no response. It’s a good day when they actually respond. The engineer has been promised for about 4 weeks and there is no way to get above the arrogant operators.
A fixed contract rip off. Plus, many others in the area report the same behaviour from operators and the same unreliable broadband ‘service’. Obviously, Talktalk are not bothered about their business performance and are investing elsewhere.

Barry the shares are currently down and the finance director has left , its not all “bright and rosy ” although telecoms generally are not too bad.