Millions of telecoms customers will be in line for automatic compensation if they suffer poor service iStock

Millions of customers will be in line for automatic compensation if they suffer poor service or a missed appointment at the hands of their telecoms provider, according to the industry watchdog.

Under Ofcom proposals published today (24 March) landline and broadband customers who experience "slow repairs, or missed deadlines or appointments, would receive money back from their provider, without having to ask".

This will mean firms such as BT, Sky and Virgin Media face paying out £185m ($231m) to 2.6 million customers a year who suffer poor service, said the regulator.

Ofcom said customers should be paid by cash or by credit on their bills when:

  • line or broadband is not fixed quickly enough after it has stopped working
  • their new landline or broadband service is not up and running on the day promised
  • an engineer doesn't arrive for an appointment as scheduled

The regulator said customers should be paid £10 for each day their service goes unrepaired two full days after the service has stopped working. Firms should pay £30 to customers if an engineer misses an appointment of it is cancelled with less than 24 hours' notice. Customers should receive £6 for each day a new promised service is delayed.

Ofcom said payments should "reflect the degree of harm suffered by consumers".

It said each year there are 5.7 million cases of consumers experiencing a loss of their landline or broadband service. Also, around 250,000 engineers miss appointments and more than 1.3 million people suffer delays to promised services annually.

The watchdog said BT, Sky and Virgin Media have presented it with a joint industry draft plan for automatic customer compensation.

But Ofcom said: "At this stage, we do not consider that this proposal sufficiently meets our concerns, when quality of service falls short."

The regulator's own proposals are open for consultation until 5 June, and it will publish its decisions at around the end of the year.