By James Sillars, Business Reporter
Broadband and landline providers have agreed a new system of automatic compensation when customers suffer poor service, the telecoms regulator has announced.
Ofcom said that issues such as slow repairs and missed appointments would result in money back from the company responsible, without it having to be claimed.
It calculated the change would bolster levels of redress to customers – including many small businesses – by 900% because compensation was currently only paid in about one in seven cases.
The watchdog's plan contains set compensation levels for certain failures. They include £25 for an engineer missing an appointment or failing to give 24 hours' notice of a cancellation, and £5 for each day missed through delays to a new contract.
But Ofcom cautioned that it would be at least 15 months before the new rules could take effect as they meant that providers including BT, Sky – the owner of Sky News, Talk Talk and Virgin Media had to make "significant changes" to their billing systems.
The regulator's consumer group director, Lindsey Fussell, said: "Waiting too long for your landline or broadband to be fixed is frustrating enough, without having to fight for compensation.
"So providers will have to pay money back automatically, whenever repairs or installations don't happen on time, or an engineer doesn't turn up.
"People will get the money they deserve, while providers will want to work harder to improve their service."
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