back to article Automatic for the people: Telcos forced to pay for giving you crap services

Purveyors of crap broadband services could have to shell out £142m in compensation, under an automatic redress scheme due to be brought in by regulator Ofcom. Anyone suffering from slow repairs, missed appointments, or delayed installations to their broadband or landline services will have their accounts credited without …

  1. malle-herbert
    Coat

    Call me again...

    When ISP's actually can get fined for NOT delivering the advertised download speeds they promised...

    1. Not also known as SC
      Coat

      Re: Call me again...

      Ah, but they advertise up to speeds so they're not actually breaking their promise (morally bankrupt as that might be).

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Call me again...

        How about I pay them up to?

  2. Will Godfrey Silver badge
    Meh

    Well, it's a start I suppose

    But what about all the random disconnects, when they claim there is no fault and it must be my hardware?

    Odd that it happens with two modems of different manufacture and different vintage.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Well, it's a start I suppose

      Not to mention latency spikes (a problem for anybody with a Puma 6 chipset modem, like all Virginmedia customers using the Superhub 3), and dramatic swings in performance.

      Broadband is a utility these days and it should be regulated. Unfortunately Ofcom's approach is similar to the crappy 19th century regulation of energy suppliers by Ofgem, and misses all the really important stuff. Even what's proposed is shite - if my broadband fails, they propose I have to wait the first part day then two full 24 hour periods before being entitled to any compensation. FFS, if it's down for an hour, I want that day's subscription back, automatically.

      Ofcom: Unfit for purpose, yesterday, today, and evermore.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Well, it's a start I suppose

        What SLA are you paying for?

        I buy services with guaranteed packet delivery, guaranteed uptime and hefty compensation if either of those fail to be met. What you probably won't like is the £700 a month I pay for each of them.

        If you buy a cheap consumer product, it comes with a cheap consumer SLA.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: SLA

          "If you buy a cheap consumer product, it comes with a cheap consumer SLA."

          Whereas if you pay hundreds of pounds a month for an SLA, you get...

          An SLA.

          And when something goes wrong, you get...

          Service credit?

          Many people paying for SLAs might be better off investing the money in properly designed and managed infrastructure. An SLA is often worth its weight in paper when something goes wrong. If you know different, verifiable real-world examples are welcome.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: SLA

            An SLA is often worth its weight in paper when something goes wrong. If you know different, verifiable real-world examples are welcome.

            I'd give that every upvote I'm allowed in a year, if I could.

      2. phuzz Silver badge

        Re: Well, it's a start I suppose

        "Not to mention latency spikes (a problem for anybody with a Puma 6 chipset modem, like all Virginmedia customers using the Superhub 3)"

        Hmm, that's a problem ours hasn't had. It's had it's share of other problems mind you...

  3. Adam Jarvis

    More of Ofcom's Pointless Fire fighting "seen to be doing something" that achieves nothing/zilch.

    Anyone who has had dealings with an incompetent Energy Provider: Incorrect billing, failing to pay back credits on leaving etc, locked out of a failed system upgrade, knows what an absolute merry-go-round waste of space, these compensation schemes are.

    There is no way of making a complaint that affects a large number of customers at once, it relies on individuals, each making their own complaint.

    You'll spend an initial 30min-2hr minimum to make a complaint, wait 8 weeks, then raise the issue with Ombudsman Services, who get more in fees per complaint than the customer does, in terms of the average level of compensation paid. For 18 months of hell as a result of a failed system upgrade, CoopEnergy ended up paying an average of £7 in compensation per customer.

    Often contacting Ombudsman Services is more a case of being told your complaint is outside their remit. For instance, with Energy, Ofgem does not regulate companies to make sure their online systems/Portal are 'fit for purpose'. If a company implements a 'lemon' of a system upgrade, where you can't read bills online properly, billing is incorrect or the system doesn't accept meter readings, there is absolutely nothing you can do about it, other than wait for an investigation by the regulator, because it falls outside the remit of Ombudsman Services/Ofgem.

    To me, it's pointless fire fighting that just reinforces Ofcom (self-serving) weasel role, it doesn't address the problem of problematic 'up to' obfuscated, bamboozled copper carcass Broadband over long lines 500m+ lines. Everyone is ignoring the real problem here.

    In effect, it's £142M+ paid in compensation that could be spent on putting in more real Fibre, instead of propping up a weasel regulator that has achieved absolutely zilch, so far in terms of getting BT to ditch new copper installs.

    So many self-interested parties that are completely failing the customer and completely missing the point. None of this solves the problem of crap 'up to' broadband over long 500m+ copper/aluminum, the usual reason for the Engineer visits.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: a complaint that affects a large number of customers at once

      "There is no way of making a complaint that affects a large number of customers at once, it relies on individuals, each making their own complaint."

      Not really true. Not for the last decade or more in the UK anyway:

      https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/what-are-super-complaints/what-are-super-complaints

      But other than that, your general points are valid.

      One important point you miss is that the people in charge of messes like this ensure that they are personally and individually very well rewarded when the organisation/business "does well" (according to some benchmark), and yet somehow are not personally and individually responsible when the business does badly (e.g. lets down the people who pay for the organisation). How does that work?

      Fix that basic principle, and a lot of generic corporate megaproblems and megacomplaints will magically disappear without too much further intervention.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: a complaint that affects a large number of customers at once

        Not really true.

        Actually largely true. The flaw in the super-complaint process is the tiny number of officially vetted quangos (and CAMRA!) who can launch a super complaint. The process is complicated, bureaucratic, and infested with civil servants, all looking to evade work and responsibility.

        Take energy: Hands up who thinks the market works for consumers? Errr, anybody? Come along now, somebody must see that the market works for you?

        So having been able to have these super-complaints for what, fifteen odd years, have widespread consumer concerns really been dealt with? I think not.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: a complaint that affects a large number of customers at once

          Dermot Nolan, head of Ofgem, needs to go ASAP. Useless beyond belief, he doesn't have the word 'pre-emptive' in his vocabulary.

          He has known for years of a potential for Government to introduce an Energy Cap, since Miliband, but decided to only look at the problem of implementation now and decided that Ofgem needs at least 2 winters to assess implementing it.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: a complaint that affects a large number of customers at once

            "Dermot Nolan, head of Ofgem, needs to go ASAP. Useless beyond belief, "

            I dunno. It sounds from what you describe that he's quite useful to the allegedly-regulated suppliers, and worse than useless if you're a customer of the energy companies. Isn't that what post-privatisation "regulation" has always been about, in the UK?

  4. Captain Scarlet Silver badge

    "an engineer does not turn up for a scheduled appointment"

    What happens if you are waiting for an engineer who has fixed it without access to the premises, i.e the local Exchange. Its happened to me before, I was still expecting the engineer on site to investigate a fault only to find out later the issue was already resolved (The router just needed an initial power load to get it back working).

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "an engineer does not turn up for a scheduled appointment"

      I've had that, waited TWO full days for the engineer to turn up, and he had fixed it at the exchange - except no one bothered to tell me my line was fixed, not even a sorry from BT.

      As for £25, nice if you are unemployed, but most employed people having to take a day off to wait in vain are out a lot more than that; one of my jobs paid £100 per hour, when will BT et al, pay me £800 for waiting in all day and for them not to show up??

  5. Pollik

    What about resellers?

    I am with Uno...if my broadband goes down, Uno are reliant on BT Openreach...who pays who what if repairs not done in time?

    1. katrinab Silver badge

      Everyone except Virgin is reliant on BT. Uno would pay you, and presumably claim it back from Openreach.

    2. anthonyhegedus Silver badge

      It's Openreach, not BT Openreach. But anyway, my concern is that are Openreach actually going to compensate the provider? Are they going to favour BT, because they always seem to have?

  6. Mike Scott 1

    Why do the most high tech businesses take the longest to execute changes to billing and customer services? This is all window dressing, and will be caveat-ed by so many exemptions and exclusions it'll end up worthless, if anyone can remember in 2019 it comes into action.

  7. MrBanana

    15 Months?

    So it will take them 15 months to update their systems to provide compensation. And yet, it takes them less than a day to update their systems to account for increased charges to the customer.

    1. tfewster Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: 15 Months?

      No, it will take them 15 months to push through the price increases to cover the compensation they might have to pay out. Plus a bit for bonuses for Directors for implementing this new "customer care" scheme.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: 15 Months?

      If you think it takes less than a day to roll out a price change release onto an ISP's billing system you're a moron.

  8. Fuzz

    £25 for Cancelled appointments

    £25 is OK for 24 hours notice but if an engineer just doesn't turn up I'd want the same £129.99 Openreach would charge me if I didn't show up. Chances are I've taken all or part of a day off of work to wait in.

  9. Harry Stottle

    No excuse for the 15 month delay

    In addition to MrBanana's comment, the 15 month delay might well be justified as the date by which the compensation will be handled AUTOMATICALLY, but there's no reason at all why we shouldn't be able to lodge MANUAL claims today...

    Would be nice to add a small legal tweak to the effect that any claims not dealt with within, say, 30 days, will automatically be approved if submitted to a small claims court (with appropriate evidence of course).

    That should make the buggers' eyes water...

  10. druck Silver badge
    Flame

    Too late

    It's come too late for my disastrous house move; PlusNet were booked to come and install 2 days after moving in, I noticed they had the address wrong, so instead of correcting it they cancelled the appointment and rebooked it for 2 weeks later. The engineer missed that appointment and rebooked another for a month later. I had to drag out of them that the engineer claimed the house builders had not signed off the wiring - but I knew they had from the site manager. After the engineer came it still took 8 days before ADSL was enabled, and then it didn't work due to the new installed master socket being faulty, which took another week to sort out. At least the upgrade to fibre went through on the claimed date 3 weeks later, but was capped to the wrong profile, so it was another week before it was up to the full 76/19.

    In all it probably cost me over £250 in 4G data for the dongle and tethering on the phone, and all I got was a refund of £56 for the line rental and broadband fees during the time I had no service. Nothing for the stress and frustration of dealing with incompetence on an industrial scale.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Too late

      Yos pays penuts, yos gets monkeys.

      When my old line got SLAMed by my old ISP, my new ISP got me a cancelled appointment and a new phone line installed in 10 days, and the Fibre guy 2 days later.

      BT were quoting 2 months......

  11. Outer mongolian custard monster from outer space (honest)

    Once upon a time I was owed a tidy sum by BT under work not being delivered compensation, when it took them 7 months to provision a line that I had been committed to getting within 30 days back in the modem days, because they had ran out of pole capacity locally and oversold it. At one point they split a sold as a modem line with a dac's unit to give me two useless lines, until I made them remove it.

    All the way through the months the standard line to fob me off was dont worry, you will get compensation. Until it was due, and by which time It had amassed up to 800 quid in compensation fees. The nice lady dealing with me told me that was too much and breached some department limit and they were only permitted to award up to 250 quid. I threatened them with the ombudsman and all sorts, but in the end settled for 450 pound after a few more months which they made "as a gesture of good faith, as we had already provided you with a solution" (the dacs), all of which was swallowed by call charges in the first quarterly bill (it was a modem line to my office... people forget how much we paid for basic connectivity back then). I did enquire during the process if what I owned them was subject to departmental hard limits with a grin on my face and was brushed away.

    So, I'll believe it when I see reports of the actual agreed figures being honored on time...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I threatened them with the ombudsman and all sorts, but in the end settled for 450 pound after a few more months

      Well there was your mistake. You should have contacted the ombudsman because it doesn't cost anything, or prejudice your rights, but as soon as they take a case, the service provider cops a circa £400 case fee. If you'd been able to separate your various woes into distinct complaints you could have cost Bastard Telecom thousands.

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