Guidance last updated Oct 2019
From 1 April 2019, the Automatic Compensation Scheme means residential broadband and landline customers get money back from their provider when things go wrong. Payments are due automatically without the customer having to ask for it. The scheme includes payments for delayed fault repairs, delayed installations and missed engineer appointments involving broadband and landline services. The scheme is voluntary. Signatories agree to provide payments automatically in line with the specified rules.
Ofcom is clear that disputes about the application of the scheme rules can be referred to Ombudsman Services. We will look to ensure that providers who have signed up to the scheme have applied the scheme rules correctly.
If, in our view, the rules have not been followed correctly, we will make an award that ensures the customer is compensated appropriately in line with the rules.
We can also consider whether the compensation provided adequately reflects the harm experienced by the customer. In most cases we expect automatic compensation to do so with respect to delayed repairs, delayed installations and for missed appointments. However, where the harm experienced is not adequately redressed by these payments, we may decide to make an additional award.
Providers that have not signed up to the scheme, have not agreed to provide automatic compensation payments. However, there is still an expectation that providers will treat customer’s fairly. This includes providing compensation, at an appropriate level, where a prolonged service outage has occurred and where engineer appointments have been missed.
As part of its consultation on automatic compensation, Ofcom carried out research to determine the impact felt by consumers when losing the use of a fixed line service. This also includes when appointments are missed. Ofcom concluded the amounts previously awarded by providers were insufficient to recognise this impact. Its research has established new benchmarks to represent the level of harm impacting an average customer in the event of a prolonged service outage.
Ombudsman Services will consider these new benchmarks when deciding the level of our awards. This research is the most comprehensive and most recent estimate of detriment, carried out by a reputable body.
When reviewing complaints about delayed fault repairs, missed appointments and delayed installations, each case will be considered fairly and on its own merits. However, where we decide that an award is necessary in respect of a service outage, we will be guided by the compensation levels established in Ofcom’s research.
The research sets out a level of compensation that gives a realistic assessment of the impact on the “average customer”. In taking this approach we will ensure our awards are consistent and proportional to the detriment consumers experience.
For further information on the scheme and the research referred to here, please follow the links below to Ofcom’s statement on Automatic Compensation.