Ofcom is putting forward plans to ensure telephone line and broadband providers pay compensation to their customers who have suffered the consequences of slow repairs.
The communications watchdog wants customers to automatically receive money back from their provider without having to go through a time-consuming and tedious claims process. This could amount to £185 million a year in compensation.
Ofcom research suggests there are nearly six million cases of consumers losing their landline or broadband service every year.
The amount of compensation payments would be set by Ofcom to reflect the degree of harm suffered by the customer. Currently, compensation payments are given on an ad-hoc basis, with Ofcom saying only a minority of those suffering problems receive pay-outs.
For home users, losing their broadband is irritating, but for business users, it can be very damaging. Research from business internet service provider Beaming found that UK businesses lost £7 billion to internet outages in 2016, with more than three quarters of businesses experiencing at least one connectivity failure.
It makes you wonder why any business would rely on broadband. It is a message we try to bring home to our potential business customers on a regular basis!
When there are reliable alternatives that come with service level agreements (SLAs) equating to fixes guaranteed within hours as opposed to no SLAs at all, as is the case with broadband, why do businesses use broadband at all?
Sure, broadband offers a cheaper alternative which for the most part seems to do the job, but when it fails or there is an outage, businesses cannot access their email, CRMs, banking services, other apps and online services.
Businesses need to know about the alternatives available to them and need to be prepared to pay a little more for them to ensure they do not incur the financial losses that occur when broadband fails.
A real-life example of this would be petrol station and food store near my home that struggled without broadband for weeks. They could not take any card payments during those weeks and had to warn potential customers with signs erected at the entrance saying they could only take cash payments. How many customers just drove onto the next petrol station? I did.
Potential financial losses
Ofcom’s move to automatically compensate broadband customers has to be a good one but it has to highlight the frailties of broadband too. Businesses cannot rely on this residential connectivity service. Even with compensation, the potential financial losses are too great to risk hoping an outage will never happen to you.
If you want advice on alterative internet connectivity options, contact me and I will put you in touch with one our experts.