Compensation scheme for poor UK telecoms services pays out £20m

Broadband and landline customers who suffered poor service have received more than £20m in compensation payments under a scheme designed to make telecoms companies do a better job.

The scheme, set up by the UK’s biggest providers including BT, Sky and Virgin Media, automatically pays customers for slow repairs, missed appointments and delayed installations.

The telecoms regulator Ofcom said £20.7m was paid out in compensation to customers between July and December last year.

Ofcom proposed the scheme after research found there were more than 7m instances a year when customers were let down by engineers, with only about 1 million people compensated.

Before the scheme was set up, engineers failed to turn up to about 250,000 appointments a year, and about 1.3 million people were affected by late installations.

Under the scheme, companies automatically pay out £8 for each day that a service is not repaired, £5 a day for delay to a new installation and £25 each time an engineer misses an appointment.

The amount paid out is more than double the £8m that Ofcom estimates service providers paid over an equivalent six month period before the scheme started.

Compensation had only been paid out in about 15% of cases where providers failed to meet their obligations before the scheme was introduced, working out at a meagre £3.69 average per day of lost service and £2.39 a day for delayed installations.

BT, Sky, TalkTalk, Virgin Media, Zen Internet, Hyperoptic and Utility Warehouse have signed up to the voluntary scheme, accounting for about 90% of the landline and broadband customers in the UK. Other providers including EE, Plusnet, O2 and Vodafone have not signed up.

Ofcom also published its annual “best and worst” customer service report, covering the 12 months to January this year. It found overall that 85% of broadband customers and 90% of mobile phone owners are satisfied with the service they receive.

Broadband customers signed up to TalkTalk were the least satisfied with their level of customer service, at 78%, while Virgin Media customers had to wait the longest for their calls to be answered, at 4 mins 26 seconds on average.

Three UK’s mobile customers were the least satisfied with their customer service, at 89%, and they also had the longest wait for a call to be answered.

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