/ Money, Technology

Update: We want statutory compensation for broadband and phone outages

Broadband wires

How many times has your broadband gone down? What about losing your mobile phone signal when you needed it most? And yet there’s no statutory compensation for all your telecoms services.

For many of us, broadband access is essential. Like gas, water and electricity, we’ve come to rely on all of our telecoms services, whether broadband or mobile, and we expect them to work whenever and wherever.

Yet, your rights when things do go wrong are nowhere near as strong as with gas, water or electricity. Sometimes your internet could be out for days, or your phone line is down when you’re waiting for an urgent phone call. Some of you have told us about the annoyance this causes, such as Bryan:

‘When there is no service I cannot work or communicate with the outside world, my work, my family, my neighbours, my GP, my food sources, my TV. Compensation should be paid even if there are only short breaks in the service. People’s lives can depend on it.’

When you experience an outage or loss of service to you electricity, gas or water supply, you’re entitled to statutory compensation for the inconvenience. For example, if your electricity supply is cut off for over 12 hours, you could receive a payment of £75. For low water pressure you can receive £25 in compensation. But there’s no such scheme if your broadband goes down.

Broadband down for months

There are occasions when providers do offer compensation, but as a customer it’s difficult if not impossible to find out how you might go about claiming or what criteria needs to be met when things go wrong. Lin had a terrible experience:

‘I was once without service for several months, which caused no end of inconvenience. I spent hours, sometimes seven consecutively, on the phone to their service line which kept cutting off, putting me through to a new and clueless person each time, which led to me breaking down and sobbing with frustration nearly every day.

‘In spite of trying to leave my contract, I could not without penalty. After many weeks and trying to escalate complaint, I was offered compensation of the measly sum of £1 per day for no service which I derided.’

Statutory compensation in telecoms

That’s why we think there should be a statutory scheme for automatic compensation in telecoms. We think this compensation should be simple, easy and fair and should be based on the expectations of customers rather than an arbitrary figure or unclear criteria.

Ofcom is due to announce the results of its first review of the telecoms sector in 10 years, and we hope that it announces measures that will make the sector work for consumers. We will find out tomorrow and we’ll be sure to keep you updated.

Have you suffered from bad broadband or poor mobile signal? Did you attempt to get compensation? How did that go?

Update 25 February 2016

Ofcom has published the conclusions from its first strategic review of the communications sector in 10 years. It includes an announcement on automatic compensation.

Ofcom said it intends to introduce automatic compensation for when things go wrong with your broadband, landline or mobile. You won’t have to battle with getting compensation yourself; instead you’ll receive automatic refunds for any loss or reduction in service. Ofcom will consult on this proposal this year.

Update 6 July 2016 – Digital Economy Bill

Yesterday the government published its Digital Economy Bill which included lots of measures to improve mobile and broadband services in the UK and action to clamp down on nuisance calls.

The Bill means that you will now have a legal right to broadband and to request an internet connection, through the creation of a Universal Service Obligation. More action can be taken against companies who break the rules on direct marketing which will give you greater protections from nuisance calls.

You will be entitled to automatic compensation when you don’t get what you’ve paid for or something goes wrong with your service. And it will be easier to switch mobile phone services as your provider will do all the hard work, not you.

Telecoms is an essential service so we welcome these measures in the Digital Economy Bill and we’ll be working with government and others to make sure they are introduced swiftly so that all mobile and broadband customers receive a better service and are protected from nuisance calls.

Update 20 July 2016

BT Broadband customers have been suffering internet access problems today with outages reported in several areas of the country.

Problems with the service came to light at around 9.30am this morning after affected customers and businesses took to Twitter to complain. BT stated that around 10% of its customers were affected.

Today’s problems come only a day after MPs warned BT to reform and improve investment in its Openreach network or face a break-up.

We think customers who face outages like today’s should be automatically compensated. That’s why our campaign is calling on the Government to push forward its Digital Economy Bill ​to give broadband customers this right as soon as possible.

Comments
Guest
brian bisseker says:
7 September 2016

hi i am having a problem with EE i had an upgrade to i phone 5 the sales man told me being has i had been a long term customer i could have a tablet for £29 after 3 months my wife said why were EE taking so much money from our bank i went to the store to sort this out he told me the sales man had not informed me they were charging me £16 for the tablet plus the phone which he said would cost £23 which ended up £26 do you think i have a case for mis/selling

Guest

Brian , when a company are selling to you they must give you all the details of the contract you are entering into , thats why many radio ads and TV ads comment on “terms+ conditions ” . If you were not given those then that could be a case of mis-selling , even if you are with the company already , you are in effect agreeing to a change in your contract which must be spelled out ,if not then that is mis-representation of the facts.

Guest
Shane Greene says:
14 September 2016

Is anyone else have serious issues with their Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge screens? I have dark grey lines over the whole screen, unless I use it on full brightness, which is a battery killer.

Guest

Got it Shane – A whole webpage of the same complaints and they are bang up to date NOT old posts only a couple of months ago . The fault is the integrated graphics chip, a poster had it replaced and –fault cured ! The problem ? Samsung will argue with you ,you have to persevere

Guest

A statement by EE in March 2016 stated they would offer to unlock phones for free to end-of-contract users by summer 2016. As summer has now come to a close and no such offer has been introduced, I have asked EE for clarification… turns out a lot of other users are asking the same question… so far EE has been rather cagey in their responces!

Guest
Paul says:
1 October 2016

We need to be able to block reverse billing messages and subscription charges. We need to be confident that we can afford to provide a phone for our children and those we care for.
The Network Providers like Three say the Bill Payer has to take responsibility, however there is no choice to opt out of these additional services.
Failing to allow us to block these services unfairly disadvantages those of us that care for our relatives.
The first Network to allow the blocking of reverse billing should be championed as the Network that cares about all it’s customers.

Guest

My contract expired with PLUSNET on October 2016. In August I got 2 Emails to renew it , but I refused what PLUSNET done is to reduce our Down Load speed. to 0.40 . It made it impossible for us to use the Net every time we click to any page it say you are not connected. So I went back to PLUSNET & they told me that is my problem & go to TECHNICOLOUR & solve it by my self. But I told them that every time we CLICK it say we are not connected, they just did not want to know. We had 2 months left of our contract left thats what they done to us. they took money from my account for nothing they stole that money. & they came recommended by which MAG

Guest

I moved house on 10th February 2018, the landline, broadband and TV package was due to be installed on Monday 12th February an Engineer called but could not complete the installation due to wiring problems within my sheltered housing accommodation and informed me that he would return the following day Tuesday 13th February  with a more experienced Engineer who was familiar with complex wiring. 

I waited in all day and missed an appointment with my Parkinson’s clinic but the Engineer failed to show up. I contacted BT customer service and was told that no Engineer visit had been booked or was booked but an Engineer could be booked for Thursday 15th February,  I accepted the appointment  but raised a complaint because of the poor/no service I received. 

The Engineer arrived on Thursday cut a whole in my newly decorated wall and tried to install new wiring but again was unable to complete the installation again due to the complex set up of the Sheltered housing wiring (or lack of it) he said he would arrange for a even more experienced Engineer to call back and that Engineer would need to arrange a meeting with a member of the sheltered housing maintenance team to try to decipher the complex wiring of the sheltered housing. My Daughter in law then called BT customer service and was able to arrange an appointment for Monday 19th February and passed on the Sheltered housing maintenance Engineers number and contact details she was assured by the customer service agent that everything was in place for a visit on Monday 19th February. I contacted BT online chat on the Morning of Monday 19th February and again was assured that everything was in place and the Engineer would call, I waited in all day and the Engineer failed to show yet again.

 My son called BT customer service and was passed on to the BT connections team who informed him that there was no note of the appointment for Monday 19th February but indeed a really truly very experienced Engineer would need to call at the sheltered housing complex to carry out a risk assessment due to the complex wiring and possible presence of Asbestos in the sheltered housing comeplex. I informed my son that I now wished to cancel my order and all my contracts with BT because I no longer wished to give them my money due to the poor/ lack of service , the advisor then cancelled the order but informed myou son that unless Virgin media was available in my Area I would have no other option but to accept the poor/no service of the BT/BT Openreach if I wanted a landline installed.

I am a 77 year old with Parkinson disease so i find it difficult to use modern mobile phones and I sit looking at a hole in my possibly Asbestos ridden wall were the Bt box should be and I now face a bill from BT for the early termination of my BT Contracts. Is there any action in can take against BT/BT Openreach ?