There’s bad news for Virgin Media customers with the firm having just come bottom of the pile in a latest broadband blackout report from Which?
According to the consumer champion, Virgin is the worst culprit among UK broadband providers for leaving customers without a connection for long periods.
In fact, Which? found that one in six (17%) of Virgin customers said they had been left with no connection for hours or days at a time.
This puts the broadband supplier behind its biggest rivals with one in 10 (8%) of BT, Sky and TalkTalk users suffering similar issues.
Although this news won’t please those who have been left without an internet connection there is some good news starting from tomorrow.
Householders who now report internet outages that are not fully fixed after two full working days will receive £8-a-day automatic compensation paid as a refund on their next bill if their provider is signed up to the new voluntary scheme.
Customers will also get £5 per day if the installation of their service is delayed and £25 per missed appointment if an engineer fails to turn up or cancels at short notice.
According to regulator Ofcom, which set up the scheme, Virgin, BT, Sky, TalkTalk and Zen Internet – who together serve around 90 per cent of broadband and landline customers in the UK – had all signed up in November 2017 when the scheme was announced.
The firms have had 15 months to implement the new scheme – which should create an incentive for them to make big improvements to the shoddy customer service that has left Virgin, BT, Sky and TalkTalk languishing towards the bottom of Which?’s satisfaction survey.
According to estimates from regulator Ofcom, consumers experience around 7.2 million service quality failures each year in their broadband/landline services. This scheme could mean consumers are paid up to £126 million additional compensation per year – almost eight times more than the £16 million they currently receive.
Ofcom says more than five million consumers lose their landline or broadband service each year, nearly 250,000 engineer appointments are missed, and over one million landline and broadband installations are delayed.
Which? says it is calling for all broadband providers to sign up to this scheme to ensure that all consumers get the compensation they are entitled to without being made to jump through hoops.
Natalie Hitchins, Which? Head of Home Products and Services, said: “Broadband customers who suffer slow repairs, missed appointments and delayed installations have up until now had to jump through hoops to get compensation, so it is encouraging that some will now be refunded automatically.
“However, for consumers to truly feel the benefit of this scheme, broadband providers must improve their service overall. If not, we expect the regulator to show its teeth and take stronger action.”
A Virgin Media spokesperson added: “Over the past 12 months Virgin Media has had a network reliability of over 99% which is a key reason why our customers were labelled the most satisfied of all major internet providers in Which?’s broadband satisfaction survey published just last week. Virgin Media was also the most likely provider to be recommended to a friend in Ofcom’s most recent satisfaction survey.
“This voluntary code is an excellent example of the industry working together to deliver for consumers. Virgin Media will give its customers a clear and consistent route to receive credits in the unlikely event that our services do not live up to the high standards we always aim to deliver.”