Full stream ahead for new broadband rules

You are entitled to compensation if your broadband installation is delayed. Picture: Rui Vieira
You are entitled to compensation if your broadband installation is delayed. Picture: Rui Vieira
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Good news on broadband. Two schemes launched by industry regulator Ofcom have come into effect. One means you’ll get the download speeds you were promised when you took out a contract. The other means you’ll be automatically compensated for missed appointments or service problems.

As always, there are caveats. The schemes are voluntary but all the big players have signed up to them. And if they don’t deliver you can complain or go to the ombudsman. Here’s how the new rules work.

◆ Download speeds. The nation has been collectively gnashing its teeth over broadband speeds since the service infiltrated our homes and became indispensable. The download speeds we got varied hugely from the ones that were promised thanks to dodgy claims and advertising and the ability of the network.

But the new rules mean you have to be told the peak time (8pm to 10pm) speeds you can expect when you sign your contract. This is the average speed that at least 50 per cent of the firm’s customers receive when the network is busiest – not what the top 10 per cent got (as was previously the case). You’ll also be guaranteed a minimum speed under the same criteria.

If that isn’t delivered, then you’ll be entitled to leave the contact without an exit fee. You’ll need to prove this, of course. So download one of the free apps that check your broadband speed if you’re disputing the speeds you’re getting and take screenshots.

◆ Automatic compensation. New rules mean you automatically get compensation for problems with broadband or landline installations, delayed repairs or missed engineer appointments.

We’re not talking huge amounts of money here. But problems with appointments have been the source of huge amounts of frustration for people across the land for years now, so this ruling will go some way towards making things right for fed- up telephone and broadband customers.

1. For repairs you will get £8 per day the problem is not repaired (after the first 48 hours).

2. For missed appointments you will get £25.

3. For delays starting up a new service you’ll get £5 a day.

Now just because these rules are in place doesn’t mean everything will go seamlessly. So if you are affected by a missed appointment check to see you’ve got the cash.

That’s not all though. Check out these other new rules that have come in to play or are on the horizon soon.

◆ A price cap on directory enquiry services. This reduces the amount you’ll spend on directory enquiries made though 118 numbers. If you’ve been ripped off in the past, you can still complain. Resolver can help you get started. There are plans to make companies tell people when their contracts are coming to an end – and if there are better deals available.

◆ A review in to broadband pricing has been announced, including the dreaded loyalty charge – where loyal customers can be paying more for their contracts than new ones.

There are still lots of other problems to deal with though. Exit fees, customer service problems, restrictive contracts and TV packages still drive lots of complaints to Resolver. These things aren’t covered by the new rules. And I’ll be telling you how to tackle these problems soon.

James Walker is the founder of online complaint-resolution service Resolver.co.uk