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Broadband failure? Customers set to receive automatic compensation

Written by: Paloma Kubiak
Broadband customers are set to receive automatic compensation when things go wrong with their service, the government has announced.

As part of the Queen’s speech, the Digital Economy Bill will push forward legislation that would see customers compensated when their broadband service fails.

However, no timescale or compensation amounts have yet to be announced, although the Department for Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) did confirm it would be similar to the amounts given by energy and water companies for outages.

As an example, electricity customers receive upwards of £70 if power is lost for a day as a result of unplanned disruption to service, while with water, customers get £20 for the first day of lost service, followed by £10 per day after that.

DCMS said it would now be working with Ofcom, the communications regulator to work out how the automatic compensation system would look and the amounts involved.

The move comes as DCMS said claiming compensation can be a “long-winded” and “complex process” and many people don’t bother claiming when their new broadband package doesn’t go live on the day they were promised, or if the repair person doesn’t turn up.

Bringing in automatic compensation will also mean broadband providers are held to account on the terms agreed with customers and the regulator, meaning a better service will be delivered, DCMS added.

Telecoms is now an essential service

Alex Neill, Which? director of policy and campaigns said: “We welcome the government’s commitments to ensure every UK household will have legal right to a fast broadband connection, the right to automatic compensation when service fails and improved telecoms switching.

“We know that consumers now view telecoms as an essential service so we look to the government to bring these plans into force as soon as possible and ensure that they significantly improve the service that mobile and broadband customers receive.”

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