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Plusnet, Vodafone and EE Stalled Over Automatic Compensation

Wednesday, February 26th, 2020 (7:14 am) - Score 9,765
Network cable connected to wifi router on white background.

Ofcom’s automatic compensation system for customers of UK broadband ISPs has now been in operation for almost a full year, but despite that three of the providers that originally pledged their support – Vodafone, Plusnet and EE – have yet to officially join the scheme. But this could be about to change.

The new system, which is voluntary and went live from 1st April 2019, is essentially designed to compensate consumers by £8 per day for delayed repairs following a loss of broadband (assuming it isn’t fixed within 2 working days). Missed appointments can also attract compensation of £25 and a delay to the start of a new service would be £5 per day (full summary here).

A quick glance at the regulator’s list of signatory ISPs reveals that most of the major home broadband providers have joined the scheme and the latest addition this month is the Utility Warehouse. Despite this it doesn’t take eagle eyes to spot that there are a few recognisable names still missing from that list, including some that were expected to have joined by the end of last year.

Supporting ISPs (Automatic Compensation)
BT (joined 1 April 2019)
Hyperoptic (joined 28 October 2019)
Sky Broadband – including NOW TV / Broadband (joined 1 April 2019)
TalkTalk (joined 1 April 2019)
Utility Warehouse (joined 17 February 2020)
Virgin Media (joined 1 April 2019)
Zen Internet (joined 1 April 2019)

At the time of the launch announcement (31st March 2019) Vodafone was said to have “also agreed to the new terms, and will start paying compensation automatically later this year,” but by the end of 2019 the provider was nowhere to be seen.

The same announcement also stated that EEhas agreed to the new terms and expects to be able to start paying compensation automatically next year,” while Plusnet merely said it had “also committed to the scheme” but apparently neither have been “committed” enough to actually do so.. yet. Naturally we shot off a message yesterday morning to ask Vodafone, EE and Plusnet what the hold-up was.

A Vodafone UK Spokesperson said:

“We aim to introduce automatic compensation for our home broadband customers by Summer, this year. Just recently, we supported and implemented a scheme to notify customers when their mobile contact is coming to an end. Furthermore, we are also working on applying new regulations set by the European Electronic Communications Code (EECC) that comes into effect this year.”

A Plusnet Spokesperson said:

“We remain committed to rolling out the auto-compensation scheme as soon as possible. In the meantime, when things go wrong our award-winning customer service team will do everything they can to help, which includes providing compensation on a case by case basis.”

An EE Spokesperson added:

“We’re working to provide our customers the best customer service in the UK, and are always looking to improve if things go wrong. We’re working with Ofcom and will be implementing the Automatic Compensation scheme in Summer 2020.”

We’re pleased to see that both Vodafone and EE intend to join the scheme this Summer. The odd one out above is Plusnet, which as part of the BT group (alongside EE) is one provider that we would have expected to be ready by now and yet they still seem to offer no clear indication of when they’ll join.

Separately Ofcom has also previously said that it “would welcome other providers, such as … Post Office, SSE and KCOM joining,” but so far none of them appear to have made a commitment. In fairness the high cost and technical requirements (new systems needed etc.) of supporting such a scheme often discourages providers from putting their name to it (such costs usually end up being passed on to end users via price rises etc.).

Back in 2017 Ofcom estimated that up to 2.6 million customers could receive up to £142 million per year in automated compensation payments. We did ask Ofcom if they had any statistics to show how much the scheme had been used since launch and apparently they intend to report on this during the coming Spring 2020.

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By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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17 Responses
  1. Meadmodj says:

    Sky may say they are but in the recent case of my father in-law (one missed changeover date then 5 days without any broadband on ADSL to FTTC conversion) only £3 deducted from next bill. Too many get out clauses. Complaint in progress.

    1. JmJohnson says:

      Totally different experience here with Sky.
      I had a fairly large deduction off my Sky bill with the last issue (that Openreach finally fixed).
      Explained that I had SkyQ with multi-room, On-demand etc due to the kids and without the internet working correctly then none of it works. They couldn’t even play Minecraft on their Xbox.
      Had a deduction of just under half my bill… considering I have everything except Sky Sports that’s quite a saving.

    2. Lee says:

      Being familiar with auto comp (but not at Sky) I would think the problem would be that the copper to fibre upgrade wouldn’t normally be be covered for a delay because there shouldn’t have normally been a loss of service. I’m sure with a push and an escalation as well as showing through no data usage they’ll manually adjust the payment.

      I spose it will be arguable if it should be £5 a day for delayed provision or £8 a day unjustified disconnection (minus the 1st 2 days) but I’m sure you’ll get it sorted.

  2. M_C says:

    I can tell you as a former Plusnet Employee (2014-2019 respectively) that has seen the billing system from the inside, they aren’t rolling out this because of the shambles of the system that was shoddily implemented in Sep 2018 by hiring a cheapskate dev team to build it who then all buggered off when it went to pot.

    Currently, if you miss a payment and then subsequently setup a payment plan but later down the line then change your bank and want to update the details it immediately sends you to debt recovery and ceases your line and breaks billing on your account – There are customers that get sent to Debt Recovery because of this and it can affect their Credit Scores if not resolve with the 3rd party collection companies.

    If they can’t do the basics right with this system and this is ongoing for the best part of 18 months, then what makes you think they can introduce auto compensation any time soon?

    Award winning service – Basement Budget infrastructure = A company well in decline but in denial.

    1. Simon says:

      It’s really worrying if PNs internal billing system does not function correctly based on the chain of events being triggered as outlined in your post. I’ve never had issues with PN billing.. but then again, I can’t say I’ve been late/changed payment methods either.. But from what you say: auto debt latter sent out, lines being cut and then having to deal with third party debt company sounds really bad particularly if it can effect credit scores..
      I hope they get it sorted AND participate in this compasation scheme. IMHO we do need more consumer protection when ISP have caused its customers delays, loss of service, etc.. If the shoe was on the other foot ISPs would be quick enough to send out debt Collectors, So why shouldn’t more ISPs be forced to join this compasation scheme. Another aspect is that as more & more of us are dependent on reliable access to the Internet and the Internet becomes ever more interwoven into out life style it’s only right that there are consequences for those same providers when they get things wrong.

    2. alison says:

      M_C haha indeed – back in the pre BT days it was such a better place! It really was. People gave a crap for starters.

    3. J_S says:

      M_C is absolutely correct. There are so many basic issues at Plusnet right now, it’s laughable to expect that they can implement any of the voluntary extras.

      The billing system is not supported by the company from whom it was purchased, since Plusnet Devs added changes against the contractual agreement. Staff are unable to refund more than the monthly cost, so if there is an error choosing more than that, we need to create multiple refunds (often 10-12 separate refunds of £10.99) which takes time away from agents and confuses our customers.

      Then there are the numerous agents who don’t know the bugs in – sorry, features of – the system, and set up payment plans without active payment details on accounts, such that the next month when payment fails, the bill goes to Debt Recovery, line is ceased etc etc.

      The most recent BT Employee “Your Say” survey (completed in January) was announced recently:

      “For BT and EE Service, our engagement score hit 87%.”

      “Plusnet results saw a dip with an engagement score across our frontline teams at 57% (- 5 points).”

      (both quoted verbatim from the email Plusnet Service agents were sent).

      Engagement within Plusnet 30 points lower Vs BT/EE. Management? Are you listening? We’re Plusnet – stop trying to turn us into “BT Yorkshire”!

  3. Raymond Habergham says:

    Just come off a outage of 28days with Plusnet,only compensation 28days @ the daily rate. Still took 5days intermittently on/off not even a apology

  4. Adam says:

    I signed up to BT FTTP in Jan of this year, the internet went live on its expected date but the phone line didn’t go active until 12 days later.

    I got £65 automatic compensation from BT credited to my account for the 12 day delay in getting the phone line set up even though I never wanted it or use it, I was pretty happy and surprised to say the least.

    1. David says:

      I didn’t know FTTP had a phone line? Was this VoIP or physical? Mine was just a port on the router when I had a landline of any kind – so VoIP I assume?

    2. Adam says:

      It’s just a port on the ONT modem for providing the phone service, it wasn’t a physical copper phone line that got installed.

  5. Jack says:

    The policy has helped me out back in November. Sent out a contractor who didn’t know where the line from the ground came into the flat block so he left without installing. Took 28 days of no contact or help back from Now TV to send a email out of the blue with a new engineer appointment. He got me set up within 20 minutes and 2 weeks after got £115 credit on my account which will now pay 6 months of my contract of 12.

  6. Lesley Lee says:

    As a longstanding Plusnet customer, I was without internet service for 6 weeks following a house move. Money continued to be taken out of my account during this time and I was also advised to buy a Dongle to keep me connected. The compensation offered, namely 2 months free service, was well below my expenditure during this time, particularly in view of the fact, that I had been 6 weeks without any service after paying £65 for the transfer!I checked on ISPReview and saw Plusnet listed as an ISP signed up to Ofcom’s Automatic Compensation Scheme, but as has now been disclosed, this is not the case. Plusnet claims to offer a first class, caring Customer Service. What they have is well schooled, smooth talking agents, but the actual service offered is pitiful.

    1. J_S says:

      To be clear, the Support Staff (myself included) are trying their level best, but are fighting against systems that are either not fit for purpose, implemented incorrectly, or both.

      Staff morale is the lowest I’ve seen it, and I’ve worked in a Customer Support role many years at Plusnet.

      We have a lot of middle and upper management who pay lip service to frontline staff and then either do nothing about it, or move onto their fancy new job with a fatter pay packet and a nicer chair elsewhere within BT Group.

      Meanwhile those passionate and very good agents and Team Managers get stuck where they are, because if you’re good in your current role; why would we promote you out of it? This causes disillusionment.

  7. Alan Tann says:

    I’ve only had Plusnet FTTC 80/20 since the 14th of January, with no problems. A excellent connection via BT Homehub Business Hub I bought, but I’m somewhat worried about the comments posted here. What is being posted? If my Direct Debt fails one month, that is it. The account will go straight to a debt agency & disconnection? In their terms when I signed up, it stated if the Direct Debit fails, they will use the card details supplied?

    1. J_S says:

      Sorry. For to the new billing system, we can only hold one payment method. If your Direct Debit fails, you’ll be restricted immediately (because that system is also broken) and be sent emails inviting you to log in and pay (which you can’t, since your internet access is restricted).

      You won’t be sent to Debt Recovery, unless a series of other issues (none of which are your fault) also present themselves.

  8. Jackie says:

    Everything that has been said about plusnet is entirely true. I also ply my trade with this shoddy company. Staff are leaving in droves and they basically advise you to scam customers for as much as you can.

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