McArthur: customers must be compensated for phone and broadband failures

Orkney MSP Liam McArthur has today called for phone and broadband customers who suffer poor service to get money back automatically.

Mr McArthur said action was needed to compensate customers in light of a growing number of complaints about disruption to service.

Ofcom, the telecommunications regulator, is currently consulting on plans which could see the introduction of compensation. The proposed changes could benefit up to 2.6 million customers and pay out £185 million, according to the regulator.

In a response to the consultation, Orkney’s MSP urged Ofcom to ensure new rules included:

• Compensation when a service fails to meet expectations for telecom customers - in line with utilities companies - and the inclusion of mobile phone companies if consumer experience does not improve.
• Compensation in the event of a two week delay in restoring a service or in the event installation has been delayed at the fault of the provider.
• The inclusion of the weather related causes for poor service in compensation cases and the exclusion of a payment cap.
• Provisions to be made so that consumers do not need to await for an appointment in the event that a problem is outside the property.

Commenting, Mr McArthur said:

“In island communities like Orkney, good mobile phone and broadband connections are increasingly ‘lifeline links’. They are key to allowing businesses to compete and people to access the public and other services they need.

“The UK and Scottish governments have made welcome promises about extending coverage right across the country and guaranteeing minimum standards of provision. It is vital that these promises are kept and that places like Orkney are not left until last. This was one of the firm messages from last week’s Digital Forum in Kirkwall.

“Meantime, however, much more can be done to improve customer service and the way in which companies respond to faults in the existing network. Ofcom’s consultation on automatic compensation, for example, provides an ideal opportunity to introduce proper protection for consumers, in line with what already exists with respect to utility companies.

“I have made the case that extending such rights could help focus the minds of those providing phone and broadband services. As a customer you should expect to get the service you pay for, whether you live in Birsay or Birmingham, Longhope or London.”

Ofcom’s consultation on ‘Automatic Compensation: Protecting consumers from quality of service problems’ is open until 5 June 2017 and can be accessed on their website here.


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