/ 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.


Whenever my BT landline rings and I answer it (or don’t) I lose my broadband connection for a number of minutes until the blue light on my router returns from – green, flashing orage and orange. With the huge amount of nusiance calls, which I generally do not answer these days, this can happen many times.

This comment was removed at the request of the user

My BT email has been erratic for weeks, probably longer but I was not aware at the time.
I have no problem receiving mail but my outgoing messages are not always received, although I am not notified that they are undeliverable and am unaware of this . If tracked it says they have been ‘processed and relayed’ . I ask for a’ read’ message but the recipient has to authorise this and does not always do this so it is not a clear indication. It was only when important questions were not answered and appointments not kept that the problem was discovered.
I have been in email contact with the ‘postmaster@btinternet’ for several weeks .
It seems ridiculous that they cannot rectify this.
I now send all emails on Gmail as well as BT as a test.
All Gmails are received but not all BT ones, especially ones with Btinternet or Yahoo addresses.

This comment was removed at the request of the user

When your e-mail popped up in my inbox, I thought “I will have a look at that” as I sometimes lose my internet connection. Guess what happened when I tried to open it? ….No Connection.

I moved from Talk Talk/AOL to BT early in the year after being with them for 18years virtually trouble free. Biggest mistake I ever made! By broadband drops out for several minutes at least five times a day, and Wednesday’s drop-out for over two hours was the last straw. I think it’s a BT ploy to get you onto fibre optic.

Jon Turner says:
21 July 2016

I wasn’t affected today, but that might be because I’ve only just switched on! I always find if I do lose connection it’s nearly always around 4pm. It’s a damn nuisance.

Peter. says:
21 July 2016

I have no problem with my broadband speed which usually exceeds 15MB. However it has taken BT Open Reach more than six weeks to fix a cable fault in the road outside our house. We had no phone or internet at all between 3rd June and 6th July, then we were given a temporary line without broadband until full service was restored on 20th July.

You might be interested to know that the knock-on effects of the BT outage in London.

I am hearing that LloydsLink has been screwed up with solicitors having to take paper forms to their nearest branch. Not easy if you do not have a branch near. The problem does not stop there as payments instructed at eleven a.m for completion monies are still sitting undebited on Solicitor’s client accounts.

If you think how many people have been badly messed about, families, removal vans, etc the level of compensation seems to have higher levels to be covered.

Dennis says:
22 July 2016

I have been with BT for broadband, telephone and TV for approximately 6 months, during this time we have hade to reset the router a least once a week. Have stopped complaining as all we are advised to do by BT is to reset the router and this will solve the problem.
Service at it’s best don’t you think!

This comment was removed at the request of the user

Another BT outageThursday. So two days in a row. Given the Wednesday one affected roughly 10% of subscribers any compensation legislation would certainly be concentrating minds.

Thought I was doing the right thing by “upgrading” to the BT Smart Hub, what a load of rubbish. My speed tonight (just after 11pm) is download 19.17 and upload 11.6. I’ve been messed about by BT for over a week, answered all their inane questions agreed to have an engineer visit but then they cancelled that and said the problem would be resolved by today. It’s even worse now. Don’t listen to the hype – this is no smart hub, just a money making machine for BT

This comment was removed at the request of the user

wow 19.17 download, mine is .58 yes, point five eight. How about that and you complain. You want to live in the real world. Peter S.

Daniel says:
23 July 2016

BT Broadband intermittent outages for 12 days between 1 July and 13 July 2016 in Aston Fields, Bromsgrove. No compensation and BT kept sending engineers out to our neighbourhood knowing full well that the problem was located in one of the ir boxes (two electronic boards needed replacement). Compensation? You must be joking

Absymal service we moved from sky to b.t £75/£80 a month & we’re getting about 6 coming into the house we were supposed to get a call back yesterday no one bothered as soon as we can were going back to sky we had no problems

We should get top quality and top speed broadband. That is what we pay for! For too long we have put up with inferior broadband reception and feeble excuses! Service providers, GET YOUR FINGERS OUT!!

Most people are paying for up to 8 Mbps, and for most people if the service is reliable that is satisfactory. Those who require top speed do, and should, pay more. If they are not getting what they are paying for there are ways to get redress.

Your comment that ‘redress is available if you are not getting what’s paid for’ is a little naive. My own personal experiences have found an industry pro-actively selling specific ‘premium’ packages and products which are incapable of achieving the ISP claims, and even though more suitable package deals are available, month after month they will say nothing and take, take, take.

As a business user for both broadband and my phone line it is good to know ofcom has decided to act on this. There is also another point I would like to raise in relation to the charges on my bills. I get charged £6.00 by bt for paying cash and they charge £8.00 for each bill, This would have cost me £192.00 a year. I have since complained and they have credited my bill for £16.00. I. Now have the bills emailed to cut costs. How can they charge people like this it can be a heavy burden for a small business.

never order a mobile phone on line, I did and it cost me £600 to come out of the contract they kept charging me from £20 a month to 36 and up, never again

I have not used a company or bought products with the name British in front of it as the product sold or the service given from a company means shoddy product/service. I grew up with the likes of BT and can remember when we had no choice but to use them. Back then they were a money grabbing, profit making Leviathan. Now they seem more interested in profits for shareholders than they have in their customer who keep them in profit/employed. BT should be stripped of ALL control of internet and land lines as their greed can only be compared to that other great British leviathan, the dreaded BBC. I have also not had a TV for may years because of their GREED.

I appreciate that many people are concerned that they don’t get the advertised broadband speed, but when you consider rural locations which have a top ‘speed’ of 0.5 mbps and a connection which cuts out if more than one person in the area is on line you may need to get things in perspective. A reliable connection with a modest speed of say 5mbps would be bliss. Think yourselves lucky if you have reliability and even a quarter of your advertised speed.

I would hazard a guess that the MAJORITY of broadband packages sold in this country have been sold using dubious and ambiguous ISP claims. Their misleading manipulation of performance claims ( most claims are ‘legal’ and within the parameters agreed by the ISP’s and OFCOM, but the spin is irresponsible) in regards to download speeds, data allowances and usage rules are as far as I am concerned, so far removed from the actual user experience that it is criminal.
You would be shocked if you knew just how poor your internet service provider would need to be before they would have to accept the service is under performing.
Admittedly OFCOM and ISP self-regulation has begun to address issues which cause the most ‘irritation.’

There is a company called mobius they affered me a Wi-Fi contract for R49 for 300mb and I agreed so the first month they debited me the R49 on the second month they took R49 plus R804 from my bank account I called them and they told me my contract is unkempt n that was not part of the agreement. I am very poor to take something with no limit they must me kidding me. I don’t want this contract anymore and I reversed my money from the bank I am cancelling this contract. I am so mad I look on facebook and there are many people com lain in get about mobius contract’s. This people are scamming us out of our hard earned cash. We need to take a stand.

This comment was removed at the request of the user

I have just switched, but my old suppler, Vodafone, are taking ages to unlock my phone. Seems like vindictiveness just because I left them. Apple can’t help – it has to be Vodafone. Not good.

This comment was removed at the request of the user