One of the most infuriating things about modern life has surely got to be the internet running slowly or your broadband connection cutting off. Never mind the fact that we generally have all of the world’s information available at the click of a button – when it doesn’t load for a few minutes, all patience goes out of the window!
But if you’re paying for an internet service that just isn’t being delivered, do you have a right to compensation for this? New rules could see you getting a payout if your broadband connection is slow or cuts out – so let’s see how these would work.
Under plans announced by Ofcom earlier this year, broadband users could soon get automatic compensation if they experience a slow or patchy service from their internet service provider (ISP). Ofcom's Strategic Review of Digital Communications pledges that customers should automatically receive money back for “any loss of or reduction in service”. This would help to compensate customers who missed out due to not being able to get online, and it’s also likely that it would be an incentive for ISPs to get the service up and running again quickly.
There are no details available yet about how this automatic compensation would work – Ofcom has still got to consult on the plans and work out how to put them into practice. However, it’s hoped that it would automatically be deducted from customers’ bills and that they wouldn’t have to complain for compensation to be granted.
How much will you get?
As explained, Ofcom hasn’t consulted on the plans yet, so we don’t know how much compensation you’d get if your broadband was to go down. It’s likely that it would depend on your ISP though and for how long your internet was affected. If you experience patchy service for an extended period, you’d probably be eligible for more compensation than if your broadband is generally fine but just cut out for half an hour on a one-off occasion.
If you’re experiencing problems with your broadband currently, you won’t be able to get compensation automatically yet. Instead, you’ll have to lodge a complaint with your ISP. You should be able to do this through your ISP’s website and if they agree that you have a valid complaint, they’ll decide how much compensation they’re going to award you.
However, there’s no guarantee that they’ll agree you’re due compensation so if you’re not happy with their response, you can escalate your complaint to Ofcom or the communications Ombudsman eight weeks after your initial complaint. Keep in mind though that the Ombudsman might not rule in your favour if it doesn’t agree you’ve experienced a loss of service – and if this happens, you won’t be able to get any compensation.