Will I get automatic compensation if my broadband goes down during Coronavirus?

My Virgin Media broadband connection has been going down intermittently, which is really, really not what I need while I’m working from home during the Coronavirus. I read that I might be able to get some money back when that happens. Is that true? Do I have to submit a claim? Eric B, Greenwich

You’re not the only one, Bobby. That's for sure.

Although predictions of catastrophic nationwide blackouts were wide of the mark, it’s fair to say some broadband providers have coped better than others with millions of customers putting unprecedented strain on their home broadband service.

Virgin Media has been down a few times now. And at the time of writing, Sky is struggling to maintain a service in some parts of the country too.

That’s meant customers struggled to get work done and were left grasping to find entertainment options that don’t require a broadband connection.

So will you get compensation if your service goes down and inconveniences you in the same way? If so, how much? And what are the rules for claiming? We take a look.

Compensation rules explained

contract

Under regulations introduced in April 2019, a number of household-name providers at last agreed to compensate customers for loss of service.

The rules stipulate that if your broadband or landline service goes down, you’ll need to get in touch with your provider to report the fault.

Thereafter, in instances where compensation is deemed to be due, it’s paid automatically as credit on your bill within 30 days.

But there are caveats. Not least that the rules state that loss-of-service fines only come into force when a customer's service goes down and the provider fails to fully fix the situation after two working days.

Only after this point, customers are entitled to a single payment of £8 to cover those two days and then a further £8 per day in compensation for as long as their service remains fully down.

It’s also worth noting that although the likes of Virgin Media, BT, Sky, TalkTalk and Zen Internet are adhering to the voluntary compensation guidelines, the same can’t be said of all providers.

So are you entitled to compensation, then?

Alas, probably not. That's because, earlier this year the telecoms regulator suspended the compensation agreement outlined above.

The temporary change in rules effectively meant that providers are under no obligation to pay out anything for outages while we’re under what the telecoms regulator deems to be Coronavirus conditions.

What's more, in your case, Bobby, it’s unlikely that you’d qualify for compensation from Virgin Media even if providers were still adhering to the compensation scheme.

In the wake of the round of outages in late April 2020 which affected 43,000 people and a spate of problems this month (May 2020), Virgin Media announced that because the outage was intermittent and that its service was not down for 48 hours continuously, no compensation would be paid out.

However, if your service was down for a continuous 48-hour period, we’d suggest you speak to Virgin Media directly.

You’ll find contact details for Virgin Media and a range of other providers in our one-stop guide to broadband customer consumer rights.

Switching provider during Coronavirus

laptop

If you're really unhappy with your service, we'd recommend you switch to a more reliable provider.

The good news is that switching is currently pretty much business as usual, so if you decide to jump switch for another supplier you're almost certain to be up and running as quickly as before.

Need some more help? Take a look at our fully comprehensive guide to switching broadband during the COVID-19 crisis.

Compare broadband, TV & landline deals