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Broadband not working? BT, Sky and Virgin Media will now automatically compensate you for loss of service

Ofcom's automatic broadband compensation scheme applies to BT, Sky, Virgin Media, TalkTalk and Zen Internet customers

 Five of the UK’s best broadband and landline providers will now automatically compensate you if your service stops working and they fail to fix it in a timely manner.

As of 1 April, Ofcom’s automatic broadband compensation scheme will see customers getting £25 for every missed engineer appointment and £8 a day until any loss of service is restored.

When you switch to a new provider, you will also be compensated if they fail to activate your service on time, at a rate of £5 a day for each day they run over.

The communications watchdog first put forward proposals for the scheme in March 2017, and by November that year, BT, Virgin Media, Sky, TalkTalk and Zen Internet had signed up. Between them, these five ISPs serve around 90% of the country’s residential broadband customers. Hyperoptic, Plusnet, EE and Vodafone have also signed up but won’t start paying out until later this year/into next year.

Research has shown that, at present, compensation is only paid out in around 15% of cases, and even then it’s only in small amounts.

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Automatic broadband compensation scheme explained

To help you understand how, and when, you will be entitled to automatic broadband compensation, we’ve put together a guide below.

What is the automatic broadband compensation scheme?

The automatic broadband compensation scheme was established by the UK’s communications watchdog Ofcom and is designed to help customers get money back when their broadband stops working, repairs are delayed, engineers miss appointments or a new ISP fails to get you connected on time.

Which ISPs have signed up to the automatic broadband compensation scheme? 

The automatic broadband compensation scheme is available to all residential customers of:

  • BT
  • Sky
  • TalkTalk
  • Virgin Media
  • Zen

The scheme does not apply to business customers, where a company has signed up specifically on a business plan. Many of these business broadband plans already offer compensation for loss of service, alongside service guarantees, but Ofcom is putting new rules in place to help such businesses understand their rights and get compensation.

When can I get automatic broadband compensation?

Broadband issueA residential broadband or landline customer will be automatically compensated when:Amount of compensation
Delayed repair following loss of serviceTheir service has stopped working and it is not fully fixed after two full working days£8 for each calendar day that the service is not repaired
Missed appointmentsAn engineer does not turn up for a scheduled appointment, or it is cancelled with less than 24 hours’ notice£25 per missed appointment
Delays with the start of a new serviceTheir provider promises to start a new service on a particular date, but fails to do so£5 for each calendar day of delay, including the missed start date

There are, however, exceptions.

The automatic broadband compensation only kicks in when the ISP or network operator is responsible for the problem and fails to fix it quickly. You will not be entitled to automatic broadband compensation if a fault is caused by something “outside the control of the ISP or network”, such as an issue with a third-party router, or one caused by software.

How will I be compensated?

You will get compensation credited to your account and the amount you receive will be deducted from your next bill. You do not need to do anything in order for this to happen, the ISP will automatically apply the credit. However, if you feel that you have not been credited fairly or correctly, you can raise it with your ISP or Ofcom.

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The scheme is voluntary, so your ISP isn’t breaking the law by not compensating you, but it will be investigated by Ofcom should it fail to adhere to the standards it has agreed to.

What happens if my ISP isn’t on the list? 

If your broadband provider hasn’t signed up for the automatic broadband compensation scheme, you are not automatically entitled to get money back. You can still pursue a complaint but any payments will not apply automatically.

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